Evaluation of alternative tillage and crop establishment methods in a rice-wheat rotation in North Western IGP - 2010
Peer-review: Yes - Open Access: Yes|http://science.thomsonreuters.com/cgi-bin/jrnlst/jlresults.cgi?PC=MASTER&ISSN=0378-4290
The rice-wheat rotation covering 13.5 million ha in the Indo-Gangetic Plains is vital for food security. Its sustainability is at risk as the current production practices are inadequate resulting in high cost of cultivation and inefficient use of inputs (i.e. water, labor and energy). In a field study, we evaluated resource conserving and cost-saving alternative tillage and crop establishment options with an aim to improve system productivity and efficiency. Treatments included transplanting and direct-seeding of rice after reduced and no-tillage, followed by wheat after no-tillage. Conventional-tilled (puddled) transplanted rice followed by conventional-tilled wheat was included as a current practice. Rice yields of transplanted rice were similar irrespective of tillage/puddling. However, both dry and wet direct-seeded rice yielded 0.45?0.61 Mg ha−1 lower than puddled transplanted rice. Wheat yield after no-tillage was either higher or equivalent to conventional practice. Wheat provided more economic return (US $35 ha−1) than rice. No-till wheat was 6% more profitable than the conventional practice (T1). Rice transplanting with or without puddling had similar water application but dry direct-seeded rice had 10?12% lower and wet direct-seeded rice 20?24% higher. Machine labor without tillage was lower by maximum of 51 and 43% in rice and wheat, respectively. Similarly, human labor was also 9?16% lower in no-till rice compared to other practices. Two years results consistently showed $35 more net income when rice was transplanted without puddling than that of conventional practice. Direct-seeded/un-tilled rice had variable response in 2 years; US $16 more in year 1 and similar in year 2 to the puddled transplanted rice. Direct-seeded or transplanted rice after no-tillage can be more efficient and profitable alternatives to current practice (puddled transplanted rice), however, require further refinement in areas of cultivar development for no-till direct-seeding condition, nutrient, water and weed management to harness maximal potential.