Water Productivity in Cropping Systems Alternate to Rice-Wheat under Conservation Agriculture Practices | Original Article
Identification of a cropping system (CS) alternate to rice-wheat system in the Indo-Gangetic Plains under conservation agriculture (CA), which can improve crop and water productivity, is needed. Therefore, the experiment was undertaken at IARI farm, New Delhi in collaboration with CIMMYT-India during Kharif and Rabi season of 2011-12 and 2012-13 on a sandy clay loam soil. Treatments comprised of 3 cropping systems, viz., cotton-wheat (C-W), pigeon pea-wheat (P-W), maize-wheat (M-W) and 7 tillage-and residue-management practices, viz., conventional till flat-sown, zero-till (ZT) permanent narrow bed (PNB), zero-till permanent broad bed (PBB) with residue (R), zero-till flat bed with R, zero-till flatbed conventional (flat sowing after normal tillage), laid-out in a split-plot design with three replications. Results revealed that in all cropping systems, system water productivity (SWP) was highest in zero-till broad bed with residue. Among CSs, C-W resulted in higher water and system productivity compared to P-W and M-W systems. It was found 60.3, 67.9 and 63.5% irrigation water savings whereas total water savings of 49.4, 56.1 and 58.7% in C-W, P-W and M-W CSs, respectively and 215.4, 172.5 and 150.8% higher SWP compared to conventional till transplanted rice wheat system. PBB + R and ZT + R technologies have a wide scope for adoption in these cropping systems in this region and similar agro-ecological conditions, as both technologies had much higher system grain and water productivities compared with farmers’ practice.