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Improved crop and nutrient management for efficient use of residual soil moisture and nutrients under rainfed lowland rice fallow conditions

Improved crop and nutrient management for efficient use of residual soil moisture and nutrients under rainfed lowland rice fallow conditions

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Published by Grace Cañas
2011 SoilNutr_2010-032
2011 SoilNutr_2010-032

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Categories:Types, Research, Science
Published by: Grace Cañas on Jan 19, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Soil, nutrient, and water management
International Rice Research Notes
Improved crop and nutrient management forefficient use of residual soil moisture andnutrients under rainfed lowland rice fallowconditions
A. GhoshCentral Rice Research Institute, Cuttack 753006, India
The rich natural resources in the rainfed medium-deep (0–50 cm) lowlandecology could not be properly exploited with rice monocropping alone. For ages,farmers have practiced monocropping. But, even if they do grow medium- toshort-duration crops after rice, they follow this culture inconsistently.Nonetheless, mere broadcast seeding of crops under no or suboptimalmanagement results in meager yields and this necessitates improved crop andnutrient management approaches (Ghosh 2002). Efficient natural resourcemanagement using leftover soil moisture and nutrients that remain in the soilafter the preceding rice crop could turn lowland rice farming into a profitableenterprise (Maclean et al 2002). This study, carried out from 2007 to 2009 at theCentral Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, India, aimed to develop improved agro-management practices, giving farmers better rice fallow management options inorder to enhance the total system productivity of this complex, diverse, and risk-prone ecology.In the initial year, short- to medium-duration legumes such as chickpea,green gram, cowpea, and horsegram were grown in rice fallow to assess theiradaptability and efficacy. Of the various crops evaluated, green gram (
) and cowpea (
Vigna unguiculata
) showed promise. They were furtherassessed under residual soil moisture conditions in 2008 and 2009, comparingimproved crop and nutrient management with the farmers’ practice. Under theimproved management scheme, green gram and cowpea seeds were sown in lateDecember (after the preceding rice crop was harvested) at 15 and 25 kg ha
,maintaining 30 × 10 cm and 30 × 15 cm spacing, respectively. Soil at theexperimental site was sandy clay loam (Aric, Haplaquept). The preceding ricewas treated with 60-30-30 kg NPK ha
and the residual soil (pH 5.8) had 0.83%organic C, 0.09% total N, 22 kg P ha
, and 128 kg K ha
.Improved nutrient management—application of P and K at half therecommended dose (40 and 20 kg ha
)—was compared with the farmers’
Soil, nutrient, and water management
International Rice Research Notes
practice of broadcasting seed in soil with residual nutrients only. All fertilizerswere applied during sowing. Treatment combinations were arranged in a split-plot design with crop type as the main plot and nutrient management as thesubplot. There were five replications. The entire experiment was laid out inpermanent plots that grow rice in the wet season and legumes in the dry seasonas per treatment combination. Growth and yield data were collected from bothvegetative and reproductive stages and were subjected to standard analysis ofvariance using the statistical package CROPSTAT. Treatment differences werecalculated using the least significant difference (LSD) test and compared at
<0.05 level of significance. To make the study more comprehensible to farmers,the usual empirical derivations showing intercropping advantages were notestimated; instead, system productivity of the rice-legume rotation and economicreturns were determined.The good germination of green gram (80–85%) and cowpea (75–80%)seeds resulted in adequate crop emergence. The ambient soil moisture conditionsprevailing in that fallow condition ensured an adequate amount for the crops’vigorous growth. The residual soil moisture satisfactorily met the water needs ofthe plants across all growth stages until maturity. Crop growth was foundsatisfactory with improved crop and nutrient management, and this was morepronounced in cowpea. However, differences brought about by varying plantpopulations were not discernible (Table 1), implying that plant population maynot necessarily depend on variable nutrient availability. Although total plantpopulations in larger areas remained the same in both cases, population densitywas not uniform in broadcast-sown crops across the field. As a result, improvedcrop and nutrient management considerably boosted plant vigor; both cropswere significantly taller than broadcast-sown crops under residual fertilityconditions. This may be attributed to the supplementary contribution offertilizers applied ex situ, satisfying the “plant nutrient demand” during thegrowth period. Subsequently, the increase in plant height appreciably inducedpod emergence (Yadav et al 2003). Nutrient management rather than residualfertility conditions induced pod setting in both crops, with a significantly greaternumber of effective pods observed in fertilized plants. Proper pod filling resultedin boldness of seed.
Soil, nutrient, and water management
International Rice Research Notes
Table 1. Performance of green gram and cowpea grown under residual soilmoisture and varying nutrient status in rainfed lowland rice fallow.
Plant populationm
(no.)Plant height(cm)Effective podsplant
(no.)Seed yield(t ha
)Growth and yieldparameterTreatment2008 2009 2008 2009 2008 2009 2008 2009CropGreen gram 39 40 28.6 30.5 7 12 1.02 1.12Cowpea 35 38 140.8 145.0 10 16 1.26 1.36Growing environmentFarmerspractice 34 38 75.5 80.4 6 7 0.97 1.05Improved crop &nutrientmanagement40 45 87.8 90.3 10 12 1.31 1.45CD (
= 0.05)Crop ns
ns 10.22 9.35 0.66 0.70 0.016 0.021Nutrient status ns ns 10.50 9.50 0.70 0.75 0.018 0.025
ns = nonsignificant.
 No significant variation in rice grain yield was seen, 4.50 and 5.25 t ha
 across the year, while the yield of the succeeding legumes increased appreciably(Table 1). Cowpea consistently produced significantly more seed than greengram. Crops under improved crop and nutrient management significantlyoutyielded those under conventional management in both years. Supplementingnutritional demand with improved nutrient management enhanced the growthand yield of both crops (Ghosh and Jha 2002) (Table 1).The interaction of crops with improved management also revealeddifferential crop responses (Table 2). Cowpea was found responding better toimproved management than green gram. This may be attributed to the variablegrowth patterns of the crops tested. Green gram, with its shorter growthduration, survived both nutrient conditions, so it could not respondproportionately to fertilizer application. In contrast, the longer growth durationof cowpea facilitated greater absorption and use of the applied nutrients;previously, it had poor growth and development, the consequence of inadequatenutrition as it depended on residual fertility alone. Across crops, improved cropand nutrient management resulted in 35% more yield compared with thefarmers’ practice. Cowpea responded better to improved management, achievingmore than 50% yield enhancement as compared with green gram’s 18%.

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