NATURAL sources, particularly water, soil and air, collectively represent a biosphere, which makes agriculture doable. Thus, any depletion and/or degradation of those sources can have a direct unfavorable influence on the survival of people and animals. In Punjab, agricultural insurance policies have chronically ignored useful resource biking, leading to unsustainable depletion and degradation of those sources. Such a state of affairs has been caused by subscribing to a tunnel vision-like production-oriented mannequin about 5 a long time in the past. The general outcomes of agriculture can’t be the identical as what they had been a long time in the past.
Main transitionary steps are required to reorient our agricultural manufacturing. It’s important that numerous stakeholder teams change their mindset from mere manufacturing to manufacturing coupled with conservation. Nevertheless, it’s essential that an excessive strategy that eliminates chemical enter use to pursue an natural manufacturing mannequin on a serious scale is discouraged. There are dangers related to dissociation from chemical inputs that largely emerge from inadequate trialling & analysis. General, we have to curb extreme use of inputs.
A production-oriented standpoint got here into being when making certain meals safety and eliminating hunger was prioritised by coverage. The intention was to maximise agricultural output with out a lot concern about useful resource consumption, making farmers’ profitability the only operate of the yield. Free electrical energy for irrigation water, subsidised fertiliser inputs, technological advances and incentives for adoption of high-yielding varieties together with assured procurement on the minimal help worth within the late Nineteen Sixties ushered within the Inexperienced Revolution in Punjab, Haryana and western UP. These incentives culminated in an amazing development in rice and wheat productiveness and a cropping depth of 206%. Whereas this strategy could also be justified within the brief time period, it’s being allowed to proceed lengthy after the unfavorable influence on pure sources grew to become evident.
A key shift that policymakers can lead and farmers can observe is to prioritise effectivity over manufacturing. A resource-efficient mannequin of agriculture seeks to provide the utmost quantity of meals (or fibre) utilizing the least or optimum amount of sources, corresponding to water, vitamins, chemical compounds and fossil fuels. Below this shift, the profitability of the farmers shall be ruled not solely by the yield, however by the enter prices as properly. Enhancements in useful resource use effectivity will be achieved by counting on Built-in Enter Administration based mostly on the ‘3-Is’.
Built-in water administration: An efficient irrigation technique would account for exactly assembly crop water necessities and avoiding nutrient losses. A cropping system-view that accounts for water tradeoffs between completely different crops is required to realize optimum water use. An irrigation technique that seeks to maximise water use effectivity reasonably than crop yield will at all times be extra worthwhile in situations the place water and its extraction are monetised for people or the state. Thus, to maintain water availability, an built-in strategy must be adopted for the cropping system as a complete. For paddy-wheat, greatest practices corresponding to laser land levelling, optimum puddling depth and irrigation plot dimension, short-duration varieties, optimum depth and timing of irrigation, intermittent irrigation, stoppage of irrigation on the scheduled time earlier than crop harvest, need-based pre-sowing irrigation for wheat, recycling of paddy straw into the soil by way of mulching or incorporation, accounting for rainfall between irrigations, and so forth. must be practised for optimum use of irrigation water. Furthermore, crop-selective breeding must concentrate on water-efficient crop cultivars reasonably than on higher-yielding cultivars.
Built-in nutrient administration: Punjab has the very best per unit consumption of chemical fertilisers within the nation. When it comes to vitamins (N-nitrogen, P-phosphorus and Okay-potassium), it consumed 254 kg/hectare (ha) in 2021-22 in comparison with 215 kg/ha 5 years in the past (2017-18). Larger use of chemical fertilisers has led to water high quality degradation and lack of soil micro-biodiversity. It’s the want of the hour to concentrate on integrating the usage of farmyard manure, inexperienced manure and recycling of crop residue to scale back dependence on chemical fertilisers for plant vitamin. Fertilisers and water ought to be managed collectively in order to maximise their uptake by the plant and keep away from threat of loss to the atmosphere. The built-in nutrient administration modules must be developed holistically in order that they account for the entire cropping system reasonably than particular person crops. Policymakers ought to incentivise constructing an atmosphere the place farmers can comfortably undertake beneficial nutrient and irrigation software charges.
Built-in pest administration: Pest administration modules for particular person crops have been efficiently developed by Punjab Agricultural College and have stood the check of time. Nevertheless, these modules must be revisited for the complete cropping system, together with the intervening intervals between the 2 crops. As well as, these modules also needs to take into accounts the water and nutrient administration practices for the crops as pest growth and inhabitants are influenced by water and vitamins being utilized to the crops.
Thus, main transitionary steps are required to reorient our agricultural manufacturing. It’s important that numerous stakeholder teams change their mindset from mere manufacturing to production-cum-conservation. Whereas doing this, nonetheless, it’s essential that an excessive strategy that eliminates chemical enter use to pursue an natural manufacturing mannequin on a serious scale is discouraged. There are dangers related to such dissociation from chemical inputs that largely emerge from inadequate trialling and analysis. General, we have to curb extreme use of inputs to get probably the most bang for our buck.
The writer is Member, Punjab Water Regulation & Improvement Authority, Chandigarh