Farmer Chamkaur Singh in his wheat field in Fatehgarh Sahib district, Punjab, India. The field was sown with a zero tillage wheat seeder known as a Happy Seeder, giving an excellent and uniform crop. Photo: P. Kosina/CIMMYT
EL BATAN, Mexico (CIMMYT) — A study from CIMMYT scientists has revealed new insights on the respective benefits of conventional tillage (CT) and zero tillage (ZT) in north-west India.
Degradation of natural resources, increasing farm labor scarcity, and high production costs are major threats to north-west India’s rice-wheat cropping system.
Sustainable intensification practices, like switching from puddling then transplanting of rice to dry seeding, together with changing from CT to ZT for wheat with surface retention of rice residues, have proven to be very effective in maintaining or even boosting crop yields while preserving environmental resources.
However, whether using ZT for both crops brings additional benefits to either crop is not known. The effects of surface retention of rice residues in wheat on the subsequent DSR crop are also unknown, nor how this is affected by tillage for DSR.
In response, a field study was conducted during 2012-2014 to investigate the interactions between CT and ZT for rice and wheat, and both conventional and sustainable rice residue management, on the performance of a dry seeded rice-wheat system.
Researchers found that while surface retention of rice residues improved the growth of ZT wheat and this effect appeared early during the first crop, rice residue retention in wheat had an adverse effect on growth of the subsequent DSR crop in the first year. In addition, tillage treatment for rice did not affect wheat performance, and vice versa, over the first five crops.
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