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  • ANUP DAS (a1), P. K. GHOSH (a2), M. R. VERMA (a3), G. C. MUNDA (a1), S. V. NGACHAN (a1) and D. MANDAL (a4)...


The north eastern region (NER) of India receives a high amount of rainfall (2450 mm) both in terms of intensity and frequency. Most of the precipitation goes waste because of improper conservation measures and inadequate rainwater harvesting. Growing a second crop during winter (rabi) season on hill slopes and uplands without moisture conservation measure is almost impossible. A simple and very low-cost technique of in situ soil moisture conservation in maize (Zea mays L.)–toria (Brassica campestris L.) system has been developed using residue of preceding rainy season maize crop and mulching with locally available weed biomass Ambrosia artemisiifolia. Six residue mulching combinations tested were viz. control, Maize stalk cover (MSC), MSC + Ambrosia sp. 5 t/ha, MSC + Ambrosia sp. 10 t/ha, MSC + farmyard manure (FYM) 10 t/ha and MSC + Ambrosia sp. 5 t/ha + poultry manure 5 t/ha under zero tillage (ZT) and conventional tillage (CT) systems. Results showed that in situ residue retention of preceding maize crop along with green biomass of Ambrosia sp., applied before sowing of toria, maintained optimum soil moisture for good growth and higher yield of toria. The soil moisture content was consistently higher under residue mulched plots than that under control. All the residue mulching measures recorded higher crop yield for maize and toria than those observed under residue removal (control). The productivity of toria was enhanced by about 99%, only due to retention of MSC as mulch. Mulching with MSC + Ambrosia sp. 5 t/ha + poultry manure 5 t/ha recorded the highest seed yield of toria (four-year average: 641 kg/ha), which was 228% and 64% higher than no mulching (control) and MSC alone. MSC + FYM 10 t/ha (568.3 t/ha) and MSC + Ambrosia sp. 10 t/ha (517.4 t/ha) were found equally effective and produced significantly higher toria yield than that of control. MSC + Ambrosia mulch 10 t/ha gave the highest net returns and B:C ratio of the maize–toria system. The overall B:C ratios were better under ZT than CT. Thus, the study indicated that the integrated management of crop residues and weed biomass (Ambrosia sp.) under ZT created favourable soil moisture to support double cropping with high yield in hill eco-system of northeastern Indian Himalayas.


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