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Soil Moisture Conservation by Different Levels of Tillage and Mulching

Soil Moisture Conservation by Different Levels of Tillage and Mulching

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Soil Moisture Conservation is a new area of interest for the scientists to work for the benefit of the poor farmer of the kandi area and in this paper we tried some of the combinations of tillage and mulching to conserve the moisture in the root zone .
Soil Moisture Conservation is a new area of interest for the scientists to work for the benefit of the poor farmer of the kandi area and in this paper we tried some of the combinations of tillage and mulching to conserve the moisture in the root zone .

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Rajan Bhatt, M.Sc (Soil Science) on Feb 01, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/08/2013

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Soil moisture conservation and productivity of rainfed maize(
 Zea mays
) as affected by tillage and different modes of strawmulch application in foothills of Shivaliks
Rajan Bhatt
 Assistant Professor (Soil Scinece) Krishi Vigyan Kendra,Kapurthalarajanbhatt79@rediffmail.com(98159-63858)
Abstract
Rainfed agriculture has the problem of low productivity due to low moisturecontent in the root zone profile during the dry season. Light texture, poor fertility andlow water retentivity of such soils restrict the crop productivity. Further, among thevarious challenges faced by the hilly agriculture, soil erosion is one of the mostdominating which decreases the productivity of soil. The submontaneous tract of Punjabcomprising 10% area of the state is prone to the problem of the soil erosion by water.The soils of the area are coarse in texture, low in organic matter and poor in fertility.High intensity rains during the monsoon season result in the fertile topsoil removal.There is an urgent need to check the problem of soil erosion in this region so as toimprove the soil productivity. Keeping this in view, a field study to evaluate the effect of tillage and different modes of straw mulch application on growth and yield of maize(
 Zea mays
) cultivar ‘Parkash’ was conducted at Zonal Research Station for Kandi Area(ZRSKA), Ballowal-Saunkhri, district Nawanshahr (Punjab). The treatments comprisedof two levels of tillage viz. minimum (T
m
) and conventional (T
c
) in the main plots andfive modes of straw mulch application viz. mulch spread over whole plot (M
w
), mulchspread on lower 1/3rd of plot (M
1/3rd
), mulch applied in strips (M
s
), vertical mulching
1
 
(M
v
) and unmulched control (M
o
) in the subplots in a triplicated split plot design. Therate of mulch application was 6 t/ha under all the modes of straw mulch applications. Ascompared to the unmulched control, the application of mulch on the whole plot resultedin 4.0 to 5.1% and 3.5 to 7.1% higher soil moisture content in 0-15 cm and in 15-30 cmsoil depth under minimum tillage, respectively. The plant height was 68.1, 44.5, 37.1 and17.4% higher in M
w
, M
1/3rd
, M
s
and M
v
respectively as compared to the control M
o
whileminimum tilled plots had 4.8% higher plant heights as compared to the conventionallytilled plots. Leaf area index in M
w
plots was 79.3% higher LAI as compared to M
o
 plotswhereas minimum tilled plots had 32.3% higher LAI as compared to the conventionallytilled plots. As compared to conventional tillage, the test weight of 100-grain wasobserved to be 3.2% higher in the minimum tillage treatment but these differences couldnot reach the level of significance. Straw mulching reduced the maximum soiltemperature and helped in conserving soil moisture thus improving the edaphicenvironment and favoured the various growth parameters. Minimum tillage coupledwith straw mulch application on the whole plot was found to be highly effective in promoting the various plant growth and yield parameters by providing maximum surfacecover and improving the physical conditions of the soil.Key words: Mulching; tillage; LAI; Plant height; edaphic environment
Introduction
The conservation of soil and water is very essential for sustainable production,environment preservation and balanced ecosystem. Almost 50% of our total geographicalarea needs conservation measures. It is reported that during the last 40 years, about one-third of the total arable land of the world is being lost by soil erosion and it continues to be lost @ 10 million hectare per year (Pimental
et al 
., 1995). Dryland area in India,constitutes about 68% of arable land (144 millon ha) contributing about 45% of food
2
 
grain production. Further in Punjab, this contributes about 10% of the total area of thestate. But, dryland agriculture is characterized by a higher frequency of unevendistribution of rainfall in time and space. This often causes dry spells of even two weeksor more resulting in moisture stress conditions. If these occur at the critical growth period of crops, the yields are seriously impaired (Virmani
et al 
, 1981). Thus the major  problem of establishing a rainfed crop in the dry season is the lack of adequate moisturein the seed zone. Maize is a major kharif crop grown under rainfall conditions insubmontaneous tract of Punjab. Another hinderance in the successful cultivation of rainfed crops is the problem of soil erosion. In India, the problem of soil erosion is quiteserious as about 18.5 % of the total soil erosion occurs here and about 5334 milliontonnes of soil is being lost annually (Dhruvanarayana and Ram Babu, 1983) along with10 million tonnes of fertilizer (Kanwar, 1973) and other essential elements. In thesubmontaenous tract of Punjab, about 0.47 million hectare of the area is suffering fromthe problem of soil erosion mainly by water due to uneven topography, high soilerodibility, low fertility of soil and high erosivity of rains (Khera and Singh, 1995). Thesoils of the area are generally coarse in texture (loamy sand to sandy loam), low inorganic matter (> 0.4%), deficient in N, low to medium in available P (5.0 to 20 kgha
-1
)and medium (118 to 280 kgha
-1
) with respect to K (Singh
et al 
, 1984). The area receivesan average annual rainfall of 1000 + 304 mm, 80% of which is received in two and half months of the whole year during the monsoon season. However, rains are highly erraticin nature and are of high intensity which normally prevails for a shorter period of time.The monsoon rains are received in 20 to 30 rainstroms, out of which 8 to 12 producerunoff (Hadda and Sur, 1987). Flowing runoff water carries soil particles along with thefertile nutrients. Although the positive effect of straw mulching on the plant growth andyield is well established, only a limited number of studies have been conducted to study
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