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CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE IN THE INDOGANGETIC PLAINS OF INDIA: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

  • PETER HOBBS (a1), RAJ GUPTA (a2), RAJ KUMAR JAT (a3) and R. K. MALIK (a4)

Summary

This paper follows the progress made in India for research and farmer adoption of conservation agriculture (CA) since the publication of Erenstein (2012), who contested the idea that zero-till (ZT) establishment of wheat in rice–wheat systems could be further developed into full CA systems. Data presented in this paper show that research has successfully found solutions for both the wheat and rice phases of the rice–wheat systems of the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) in the past 8 years. It shows that by finding solutions in both the rice and wheat phases, yields, water use efficiency and profits increased, while labour needs reduced. Indian scientists have also confirmed these benefits in participatory on-farm research in various locations, both east and west regions of the IGP. Farmers see for themselves through experimentation that they get higher yields with less cost and with more efficient use of inputs and water. A key factor has been the development of improved seed drills with the help of Indian private sector manufacturers of agricultural equipment. Indian scientists have also successfully conducted CA research on several other crops and in other regions besides the IGP. The paper shows that it is better to introduce parts of the CA management practices in a step-wise fashion first, rather than introducing the entire package at once since farmers first have to test and evaluate a new technology to understand how it benefits them personally before they will adopt it. The paper concludes that in the rice–wheat systems of South Asia, adoption of CA is indeed possible to achieve although it is still a work in progress. CA is a complex technology package and it takes time to overcome all of the contested issues mentioned in Erenstein (2012).

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Corresponding author

Corresponding author. Email: ph14@cornell.edu

References

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