The frequent erratic monsoon, which is said to be the impact of climate change, has resulted into long droughts and floods in some parts of the country. According to the agriculture scientists, there are considered solutions to overcome drought, moderate flood and soil erosion and to improve water availability and ultimately increase fodder and agricultural production on a sustained basis. MOHD MUSTAQUIM highlights such strategies which can push climate smart agriculture in India
1. Weather forecasting on micro level
There is a need for accurate and early forecasting of weather to allow farmers and agencies dealing with droughts to meet the challenges. Some institutions issue such medium range weather forecast and guiding agricultural and allied activities. For instance, the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore and India Meteorological Department are doing this every Tuesday and Friday. The issuing of seasonal rainfall forecast for both southwest and northeast monsoon can help farmers for their crop planning. Such customise approach needs to be taken up for district and regional level across the country.
2. Crop planning
The crop varieties for dryland areas should be of short duration, drought resistant, which can be harvested within rainfall periods and have sufficient residual moisture in soil profile for post-monsoon cropping. The farmers can be encouraged to cultivate millets, sorghums and pulses that are drought hardy in nature and shorter in duration.
3. Cropping systems
In rainfed red soil, pulses like cowpea can be raised as companion crop with base crop of sorghum. In black soils, cowpea + sorghum, cluster bean + cumbu (bajra) and short duration red gram + groundnut can be followed. A scientist in TNAU suggested adopting this model.
4. Integrated farming
In order to increase the farm income and to minimise the crop failure, there is a need to adopt integration of agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, poultry and fisheries according to the available resource. The Bihar Agriculture University in Sabor has implemented it successfully which has led others to replicate this model of farming. On the lines of that varsity, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi has replicated this model in one hectare of land. This model can significantly increase the income of small and marginal farmers. And therefore, there is a need to promote this model with them with required financial supports.
5. Pre-monsoon sowing
In many of the black soil areas, sowing is done immediately after the receipt of monsoon, which leads to difficulties in sowing operation and also to avoid loss of considerable amount of soil moisture. Farmers can go for pre-monsoon sowing / dry sowing of seeds 10 days before onset of monsoon. By this operation, good crop establishment and better crop production can be ensured. To get better results of dry seeding, seed hardening with recommended chemical is necessary and also sowing will be done with mechanisation at optimum depth.
6. Organic manures and fertilisers
Application of organic manure improves water holding capacity of the soil and also increases fertiliser use efficiency which enhances the drought tolerance with the crop. It extends the soil moisture for longer period, avoiding the crop from water shortage in the post monsoon period.
7. Alternate land use
In frequent drought-hit areas, pasture management, ley farming, dryland horticulture and agro-forestry systems including alley cropping and silvi-pasture can be encouraged.
8. Rainwater/stream water harvesting
There is significant yield gap in rainfed areas at the time when drought occurs. The rainwater harvesting and small irrigation projects would have significant impact on increasing the crop yields.
9. Watershed management
Watershed management is an approach to optimise the use of land, water and vegetation. During the heavy downpour, water is not retained by the soil which flows out as surface runoff. Under this condition, contour bunding in fields and ploughing across the slopes will hold the rain water and also prevent the soil erosion. These are considered as solutions to overcome drought, moderate flood and soil erosion and to improve water availability and ultimately to increase fodder and agricultural production on a sustained basis.
10. Groundwater development
The dug wells and recharge wells can be very easily converted into a form of ground water recharge structure where water received during monsoon or floods can be recharged into the ground. It would upgrade the water table which can be sustainably pumped in the non rainy season.
11. Development of information system at local-level
There is a need to set up a strong information system at the village level for the benefit of farmers, which requires decentralisation of responsibility and capacity building of people at the local level. The training and keeping one climate manager or monsoon manger at the village level to sustain water resources and agriculture at the village level would help manage the water resources.