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Crop diversification, crop and energy


productivity under raised and sunken
beds: results from a seven-year study
in a high rainfall organic production
system
ARTICLE in BIOLOGICAL AGRICULTURE AND HORTICULTURE APRIL 2014
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Crop diversification, crop and energy


productivity under raised and sunken
beds: results from a seven-year study
in a high rainfall organic production
system
a

A. Das , D.P. Patel , G.I. Ramkrushna , G.C. Munda , S.V.


a

Ngachan , M. Kumar , J. Buragohain & Naropongla


a

ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Umiam, Meghalaya,


793103, India
b

National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management, Baramati,


Maharashtra, 413115, India
Published online: 31 Oct 2013.

To cite this article: A. Das, D.P. Patel, G.I. Ramkrushna, G.C. Munda, S.V. Ngachan, M. Kumar, J.
Buragohain & Naropongla (2014) Crop diversification, crop and energy productivity under raised and
sunken beds: results from a seven-year study in a high rainfall organic production system, Biological
Agriculture & Horticulture: An International Journal for Sustainable Production Systems, 30:2,
73-87, DOI: 10.1080/01448765.2013.854709
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01448765.2013.854709

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Biological Agriculture & Horticulture, 2014


Vol. 30, No. 2, 7387, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01448765.2013.854709

Crop diversification, crop and energy productivity under raised and


sunken beds: results from a seven-year study in a high rainfall organic
production system

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A. Dasa*, D.P. Patelb, G.I. Ramkrushnaa, G.C. Mundaa, S.V. Ngachana, M. Kumara,
J. Buragohaina and Naroponglaa
a
ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Umiam, Meghalaya, 793103, India; bNational Institute
of Abiotic Stress Management, Baramati, Maharashtra, 413115, India

(Received 31 March 2013; accepted 9 October 2013)


Low productivity, crop diversification, employment and income are the major constraints
of existing production systems of the high-rainfall north-eastern hill region (NEHR) of
India. Field experiments were conducted for seven consecutive years to evaluate crop
performance, production and energy balance of cropping sequences under raised and
sunken bed (RSB) systems in mid-hills (950 m above mean sea level) of subtropical
Meghalaya, India. Five vegetable-based cropping sequences on raised beds and six ricebased sequences on sunken beds were tested and compared with rice monocropping
(control) under an organic production system. On raised beds, tomatookraFrench bean
gave highest rice equivalent yield (REY; 44.7 t ha21) followed by carrotokraFrench
bean (42.5 t ha21). Rice (cv. Shahsarang 1)-pea (cv. Prakash) gave highest REY (17.3
t ha21) on sunken beds. Among raised bed sequences, tomatookraFrench bean
recorded greatest production efficiency (162 kg ha21 day21) and carrotokraFrench
bean recorded highest land use efficiency (77%). Employment was enhanced by 187%
with potatookraFrench bean and 181% with tomatookraFrench bean on raised beds,
whereas ricepea sequence on sunken beds enhanced employment by 62% over
monocropping of rice. The energy productivity (energy output/input) was also higher with
these cropping sequences. The adoption of RSB land configuration facilitated 244%
cropping intensity (gross cultivated area/net cultivated area 100) compared with 100%
in rice monocropping. There was a significant improvement in soil chemical and biological
parameters due to continuous organic production under RSB land configuration, indicating
potential for organic farming in the subtropical hill ecosystem of India.
Keywords: cropping sequence; hill farming; land configuration; organic farming

Introduction
The north-eastern hill region (NEHR) of India receives very high rainfall (. 2000 mm
year21), characterized by the too much too little syndrome. On the one hand, there is heavy
rain, water logging, runoff, erosion and drainage problems in the rainy seasons, and, on the
other hand, during post/pre-rainy season (December to March/April), there is acute shortage
of water (Ghosh et al. 2009). This water situation is mainly due to undulating topography,
less or no rainfall during dry season and non-adoption of appropriate soil and water
conservation measures. Due to lack of proper water management practice, only 0.88 million
hectare (Mha) meter out of a total 42.0 Mha meter of the water resources has been utilized
(Munda et al. 2009). The irrigation potential of the region remains untapped and about 80%
of the cultivated area is rainfed. In the NEHR, rice is the major food crop, occupying about

*Corresponding author. Email: anup_icar@yahoo.com


q 2013 Taylor & Francis

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A. Das et al.

80% of the total cultivated area (Das, Baiswar, et al. 2010). During the rabi season, because
of severe moisture stress, farmers leave the upland fallow after harvest of rice. Conversely,
in the lowland, excess moisture due to seepage from surrounding hillocks does not allow
growing of vegetable crops. Rice cultivation is not possible in the lowland during the rabi
season because early onset of low temperatures restricts growth and causes spikelet sterility
(Das, Patel, et al. 2010). Therefore, monocropping of rice is the traditional practice in valley
land, and land remains fallow for more than six months a year, especially at mid-altitudes. In
order to make the region self sufficient in food grain production, there is an urgent need to
enhance the cropping intensity (CI) from the present low level of only about 120% in the
region (Munda et al. 2009). Besides, in the NEHR of India, per capita energy availability and
consumption is very low, and there is an urgent need to identify energy efficient cultivation
systems in the context of climate change (Das, Patel, et al. 2010).
India has about 4.43 Mha under organic certification (Yadav 2012). Agriculture in the
NEHR of India (Arunachal Pradesh, Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur
and Sikkim), occupying a geographical area of about 18 Mha, has largely remained
organic by default (Sanwal et al. 2007). The region has a number of advantages for organic
food production such as minimum use of fertilizer (, 12 kg ha21) and pesticides, plentiful
availability of plant biomass (weeds, shrubs and forest litter), favourable climatic
conditions and reasonable amount of organic manure for growing a wide range of crops
(Das et al. 2008). Vegetables constitute an important part of the diet of the north-east
Indian population. Growing of rabi vegetables such as carrot, potato, tomato and French
bean, and pulses such as pea and lentil after rice increases the CI and utilizes the land
efficiently in addition to enhancing employment and income of the resource poor farmers
of the region (Das et al. 2008). Organic production systems have the potential to achieve
sustainability of agricultural systems (Rigby & Caceres 2001; van Diepeningen et al.
2006; Saha, Pandey, et al. 2007). Higher levels of organic carbon, available nitrogen (N),
soluble phosphorus (P) and microbial activity were reported from organic soils than from
non-organic soils (Mader et al. 2002; Saha, Pandey, et al. 2007). Organic production
systems influence soil productivity through their effect on soil physical, chemical and
biological properties (Ramesh et al. 2009). Higher crop productivity under organic than
non-organic systems has been reported by several researchers (Das et al. 2008).
Proper land configuration encourages effective utilization of residual soil moisture,
promotes crop diversification and enhances productivity and profitability. A simple land
configuration of raised and sunken beds (RSBs), developed at the Indian Council for
Agricultural Research (ICAR) Research Complex for NEHR, Umiam, Meghalaya, India, is
a useful technology for effective land and water management in the lowlands, and inter-plot
water harvesting in the uplands to increase CI. This land configuration would increase the CI
as well as the farmers income. Standard width ratio of RSB was evaluated in the NEHR for
better crop production (Mishra & Saha 2007). There is tremendous scope for cultivation of
vegetable crops with adoption of RSB technology in the lowland rice landscape for organic
food production at mid-altitude. The present study was therefore conducted to evaluate
different crop combinations in standard RSB land configuration for productivity, energy
balance and income for year round sustainable crop production under organic production.
Materials and methods
Experimental site
The field experiment was carried at the experimental farm of the ICAR Research Complex
for NEHR, Umiam, Meghalaya, India (258 410 N, 918 630 E, 980 m above mean sea level)

Organic crops on raised and sunken beds

75

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for seven consecutive years (2004 2005 to 2010 2011). The area falls under the mild
tropical hill zone and the climate is perhumid. The range of daily temperature (maximum
and minimum) during a year varies widely between 2.68C (January) and 32.78C (August).
The study site receives an average annual rainfall of 2450 mm with high degree of
temporal and spatial variations. Eighty per cent of the annual rainfall is received during
May to October. Annual rainfall during 2006 (1966 mm) and 2009 (2111 mm) was about
20% and 13.8%, respectively, lower than the normal rainfall at Umiam, Meghalaya. The
soil of the study area was acidic in nature (pH 4.9), classified as Typic Hapludalf. The soil
was clay loam in texture, high in organic carbon (1.74 g kg21), low in available N (180 kg
ha21) and P (13.5 kg ha21) and medium in available K (217.6 kg ha21).
Land configuration
The RSBs were made in sequence for efficient drainage and inter-plot water harvesting
with a fixed width of 1 m for raised and 1.25 m for sunken beds. The length of all the plots
was 8 m. The surface soil layer from each sunken bed was removed and deposited on the
adjacent area marked for raised bed making a bed height of about 30 cm. All the crop
residues and weed biomass were placed below the raised beds and covered with the soil
from sunken beds. All treatments were replicated three times in a randomized block
design.
Nutrient management
Farmyard manure (FYM) was used for all the crops except pea/lentil for which
vermicompost was used to meet crop nutrient requirement on a N equivalent basis.
Phosphorus requirement was complemented through rock phosphate. The rate of nutrient
supply for rice, carrot, tomato and potato was 80:60 (N:P) kg ha21, whereas the nutrient
dose for French bean was 50:60 (N:P) kg ha21 and that of pea and lentil was 20:60 (N:P)
kg ha21. The FYM contained 0.70% N, 0.21% P and 0.31% K on a dry-weight basis.
Vermicompost contained 1.3% N, 0.40% P and 0.90% K. Vermicompost was used for pea
and lentil for easy application in narrow furrows owing to its finer particle size. Neem cake
at 150 kg ha21 was applied uniformly for all the crops to manage soil-borne insect pests
and diseases and to supply some additional nutrients (4.5% N, 0.85% P and 1.48% K).
Crop culture
Transplanted rice cvs. Shahsarang 1 and Lampnah was grown during the early kharif
season, transplanted in the first week of July, and cvs. Shahsarang 1 and IR64 grown as
pre-kharif crop, transplanted in the first week of May in the sunken beds. The
monocropped rice (cv. Shahsarang 1) was also grown organically and transplanted using
25-day-old seedlings in the second week of July. FYM was applied 20 days before
transplanting crops and incorporated into the soil during ploughing. Twenty-day-old
seedlings were transplanted, for early kharif and pre-kharif crops, with spacing
25 15 cm, and other management practices were followed as recommended. The prekharif, early kharif and monocropped rice were harvested during the last week of August,
end of October and first week of November, respectively. Wider row spacing facilitated
the use of a mechanical weeder in rice. Rice yield was recorded at 14% grain moisture
content. The vegetables, potato cv. Kufri Jyoti, pole type French bean cv. Naga local, bush
type French bean cv. Arka Komal, carrot cv. New Kuroda and tomato cv. Rocky were

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76

A. Das et al.

grown during the pre-kharif (January to May) followed by okra in the kharif season (June
to August/September) and French bean pole type in the rabi season (September to
November) on raised beds. After the early kharif rice in sunken beds, pea cv. Prakash and
lentil cv. DPL 15 were grown under zero tillage with vermicompost. A narrow furrow was
opened in between two rice rows using a manual adjustable furrow opener, and pea/lentil
seeds were sown and covered with soil. Pre-kharif rice was harvested by leaving at least
15-cm standing stubble during the last week of August and kept for ratooning. For pea/
lentil on sunken beds, the rice field was drained at physiological maturity, whereas for
ratooning of pre-kharif rice, the water was conserved in the field. Other intercultural
operations were followed as required. Staking was provided to pole type French bean.
French bean and pea were harvested as green pods through multiple picking.
Insect pest and disease management
Insect pests and diseases were managed through organic means for all the sequences and
monocropped rice. As far as possible, pest- and disease-tolerant varieties were used. The
botanicals, neem oil (2.5 ml l21) and Derisom (2.5 ml l21) were applied at critical stages
including flowering and pod/grain formation. Blister beetle in okra was managed
manually. Whenever possible, the infested plants and leaves were removed to reduce the
insect pest and disease problems.
System productivity and land use efficiency
System productivity was obtained by adding economic yields of all the crops within a
sequence. The yield of various crops of the respective cropping sequences was converted
to rice equivalent yield (REY) based on the price prevalent in the local market. Production
efficiency (PE) was calculated from the REY values of the sequence divided by the total
duration of crops in the sequence (Tomar & Tiwari 1990). Crop intensification was
measured by calculating land use efficiency (LUE) by dividing the total duration of
respective cropping sequences by the number of days in a year (365 days) and was
expressed as a percentage. CI was calculated using the formula (Balasubramanian &
Palaniappan 2007):
CI% Gross cultivated area=net cultivated area 100:

Soil sampling and analysis


Soil samples were collected at a 0- to 20-cm depth from raised and sunken plots during
2004 (initial sampling) and 2011 (at the end of seven cropping cycles) to analyse various
chemical and biological parameters. The soil pH was determined in a 1:2.5 soil:water
suspension (Jackson 1973), soil organic carbon (SOC) determined by Walkley and
Blacks (1934) method, available N by the alkaline potassium permanganate method
(Subbiah & Asija 1956), available P by Brays method (Bray & Kurtz 1945) and
available K by the ammonium acetate extraction method (Jackson 1973). To estimate
soil microbial activity, soil microbial biomass carbon (SMBC) and dehydrogenase
enzyme activity (DHA) were determined. The SMBC was determined by the ethanol-free
chloroform fumigation extraction method (Vance et al. 1987) using constant (Kc) value
of 0.45 (Jenkinson & Ladd 1981), and DHA was determined by an assay method (Casida
et al. 1964).

Organic crops on raised and sunken beds

77

Energy calculation
Energy input and output were calculated by converting the various inputs used such as
labour, fertilizer and FYM, and outputs such as grain and straw into energy units (MJ) as
indicated by Devasenapathy et al. (2009). Energy productivity (EP) was calculated using
the formula:
EP Energy output MJ ha21 =energy input MJ ha21 :

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Economics analysis
The cost of organic amendments, and other inputs and outputs were estimated at the
prevailing market price. The gross returns, net returns and benefit:cost (B:C) ratio of
different nutrient management systems were assessed by computing the cost of the inputs
and price of the produce/output. Prices of produce used for the economic analysis
were: rice grain at $140 t21, rice straw $10 t21, tomato $160 t21, potato $160 t21, carrot
$200 t21, French bean (green pod) $200 t21, pea (green pod) $400 t21, lentil $600 t21 and
okra $200 t21. The B:C ratio was computed by dividing gross returns by cost of cultivation.
The employment generated (8 h 1 man day) under various cropping sequences were
also compared with monocropped rice and expressed in term of man days ha21 year21.
Statistical analysis
Analysis of variance (Panse & Sukhatme 1978) was used to statistically analyse data. The
significance of differences was tested by error mean square of Fisher Snedecors F test at
probability level ( p 0.05). In the summary tables of the results, critical difference to
compare the difference between the treatment means is provided.
Results and discussion
Productivity and equivalent yield
The fresh vegetable yield of pre-kharif carrot (22.1 t ha21) was statistically similar to
tomato (21.5 t ha21) and potato (18.6 t ha21) but superior to French bean (12.6 t ha21)
from raised beds (Table 1). The yield of okra during the kharif season ranged from 6.8 to
8.2 t ha21 and that of French bean during the rabi season ranged from 5.3 to 6.7 t ha21
under different cropping sequences on raised beds. The highest REY was achieved with
the tomato okra French bean sequence (44.7 t ha21), followed by carrot okra French
bean (42.5 t ha21) and potato okra French bean (41.8 t ha21), which did not differ
significantly, these three being significantly superior to the other cropping sequences
studied. The sequence productivity of tomato okra French bean (pole type) over the
years ranged from 30.4 to 39.3 t ha21 (Figure 1). The increase in REY compared to rice
monocropping (5.3 t ha21) ranged from 511% with French bean (bush type) okra French
bean to 743% with tomato okra French bean sequences. The higher productivity and
equivalent yield due to inclusion of tomato and carrot during the pre-kharif season has
been reported by other researchers (Saha, Ghosh, et al. 2007; Das et al. 2008).
The grain yields of rice under rice monocropping as well as various rice-based
cropping sequences in sunken beds were similar (Table 2). The rice productivity in sunken
beds ranged from 4.8 to 5.3 t ha21 under various sequences. Rice pea sequence recorded
significantly higher productivity over rice lentil and rice monocropping, and remained
at par with rice ratoon sequences. Sequence productivity of rice lentil was significantly

18.6
21.5
8.5
12.6
22.1
3.60

8.2
7.8
7.5
7.9
6.8
0.80

Kharif

Note: CD, critical difference; NS, not significant.


a
French bean (pole type) in all sequences.
b
Figure in parenthesis indicates total duration (days) of the cropping sequences.

Potato okra French bean (270)b


Tomato okra French bean (276)
French bean (bush type) okra French bean (248)
French bean (pole type) okra French bean (246)
Carrot okra French bean (280)
CD ( p 0.05)

Pre-kharif
6.2
6.3
6.7
6.3
5.3
NS

Rabia

Yield of raised bed crops


(t ha21)

33.0
35.6
22.7
26.8
34.2
2.16

Sequence
productivity
(t ha21)
41.8
44.7
32.4
38.3
42.5
1.60

REY (t ha21)

Yield, REY, production efficiency and LUE of various cropping sequences on raised beds.

Cropping sequences (duration in days)

Table 1.

155
162
131
156
152
0.76

Production
efficiency
(kg21 ha21 day21)

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74.0
75.6
68.0
67.4
76.7

LUE (%)

300
300
300
300
300

Cropping
intensity
(%)

78
A. Das et al.

Organic crops on raised and sunken beds

79

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System productivity (tha1)

45
40
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
200405 200506 200607 200708 200809 200910 201011

Figure 1. System productivity of tomato okra French bean (pole type) sequence over the years
on raised beds. Error bars show critical difference at p 0.05.

lower than rice pea mainly due to low yield of lentil. Rice pea sequences gave
significantly higher REY than other sequences. The organic production system improves
the soil structure and chemical and biological properties, encourages the growth and
activity of beneficial micro-organisms in soils and alleviates the deficiency of secondary
and micronutrients, all of which enhance productivity (Tomar et al. 2001; Das, Tomar,
et al. 2010). Higher sequence productivity with rice pea and rice ratoon sequences than
with rice monocropping under mid-hill conditions has been reported by earlier researchers
(Munda et al. 2009; Ghosh et al. 2010). These results are in conformity with the findings of
Singh and Yadav (2006).
Production and land use efficiency
In the case of raised bed sequences, highest PE of 162 kg21 ha21 day21 was obtained with
tomato okra French bean closely followed by French bean (pole type) okra French
bean (155.6 kg21 ha21 day21) (Table 1). On sunken beds, the PE varied between 72 (rice
cv. Shahsarang 1-pea) and 38.4 kg21 ha21 day21 (rice cv. IR 64-ratoon). Rice
monocroping in flat lowland had a PE of 41.4 kg21 ha21 day21 (Table 2). Higher PE due to
inclusion of vegetables in rice-based sequences than with monocropping was also reported
by Kumar et al. (2005) and Saha and Ghosh (2010). Carrot okra French bean (76.7%)
and tomato okra French bean (75.6%) cropping sequence gave higher LUE over French
bean okra French bean on raised beds because of efficient utilization of land whereas,
among the sequences in sunken beds, rice (Shahsarang 1)-lentil (67.1%) and rice
(Shahsarang 1)-pea (65.7%) sequences utilized land most efficiently. The lowest LUE was
recorded for rice monocropping as the land remained fallow for a longer duration than
with other cropping sequences. Doubling CI with cultivation of vegetables on temporary
raised beds after the lowland kharif season rice has been reported by Das et al. (2008).
Cropping intensity
The RSB land configuration facilitated better drainage compared with lowland fields
without configuration during heavy rain, especially for raised beds and conserved moisture
during dry seasons in the way of inter-plot water harvesting. Due to greater soil depth on
raised beds, there was adequate soil moisture throughout the year. The water level always
remained above field capacity except for the period of January to March for raised beds,

4.9
4.8
4.8
4.8
5.0
5.1
5.3
NS

Rice (Shahsarang 1)-pea (Prakash, green pod) (240)a


Rice (Shahsarang 1)-Lentil (245)
Rice (Lampnah)-pea (238)
Rice (Lampnah)-Lentil (245)
Rice (Shahsarang 1)-Ratoon (220)
Rice (IR 64)-Ratoon (210)
Rice (Shahsarang 1) monocropping (145)
CD (P 0.05)
4.4
1.0
4.3
1.1
3.1
3.0

2.3

Pea/lentil/ratoon

Note: CD, critical difference; NS, not significant.


a
Figure in parenthesis indicates total duration (days) of the cropping sequences.

Rice

Yield of sunken bed crops


(t ha21)

9.2
5.9
9.0
5.8
8.1
8.1
5.3
1.1

Sequence
productivity
(t ha21)

Yield, REY, production efficiency and LUE of various cropping sequences in sunken beds.

Cropping sequences (duration in days)

Table 2.

17.3
9.2
16.9
9.3
8.1
8.1
5.3
3.2

REY (t ha21)

72
38
71
38
37
38
37

Production
efficiency
(kg ha21 day21)

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65.7
67.1
65.2
67.1
60.3
57.5
40.3

LUE
(%)

200
200
200
200
200
200
100

Cropping
intensity
(%)

80
A. Das et al.

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Organic crops on raised and sunken beds

81

during which life saving irrigation was provided. Since three crops (pre-kharif, kharif and
rabi) were grown on raised beds (Table 1) and two crops (pre-kharif/kharif and rabi) on
sunken beds (Table 2) during a single year, the cropping intensities were 300% and 200%,
respectively, for two land situations. Considering the whole field as a single unit, 56% of the
area was under sunken beds (bed width 1.25 m) and 44% of the area was allotted for raised
beds (bed width 1.0 m). The CI for the whole field was (200 56% 300
44% 112 132) 244%. Thus, by adoption of RSB, the CI was enhanced by 144%
over monocropping (100%) and 103% over the average CI of the Meghalaya state of India.
There was effective utilization of the land as no land was lost to bunds or channels. Increase
in CI due to RSBs system of cultivation in high rainfall areas of north-east and north-west
Indian Himalayas has been reported by earlier researchers (Sharma 2003; Saha, Ghosh, et al.
2007).
Energy productivity
The data on energy input, output, output/input and EP are presented in Tables 3 and 4. In
general, energy input, output and EP values were much higher for cropping sequences on raised
beds than on sunken beds. This was mainly due to higher input requirement and productivity of
vegetables than of rice. However, energy output/input values were higher for sunken beds
indicating that, even with minimum input, more output could be achieved with rice-based
sequences. The output/input values were highest for the riceratoon sequence, mainly due to
very low input requirement for ratooning as field preparation, and transplanting were not
required and comparatively high output was achieved under ratooning (Munda et al. 2009).
Soil fertility
At the end of seven cropping cycles, French bean (pole type)-okra-French bean cropping
sequence under raised bed resulted in higher pH (5.2), SOC (2.37%), available N (269.70 kg
ha21), P (24.72 kg ha21) and K (265.71 kg ha21) than other cropping sequences (Table 5).
The increase in SOC, and available N, P and K compared with their initial values were 36%,
50%, 83% and 22%, respectively. In sunken beds, improvement of soil chemical properties
was greater than that in raised beds due to deposition of nutrients from raised beds. SOC, and
available N, P and K values of 2.80%, 276.97 kg ha21, 27.64 kg ha21 and 271.36 kg ha21,
respectively, were recorded in the rice cv. Lampnah-lentil cropping sequence which were at
par with all other rice pea/lentil sequences but significantly superior to rice monocropping
(Table 6). Improvement in SOC ranged from 32% to 82% compared with the initial value.
The DHA and SMBC of soil after seven cropping cycles in RSB are presented in Figure 2.
Though the DHA under RSBs was similar, the SMBC in sunken beds was on an average
15% higher than that in raised beds. Mader et al. (2002) also reported higher microbial
activity and microbial biomass carbon in organic soils than in inorganically managed soils.
Continuous applications of organic amendments were reported to improve the SOC, and
available P and K in soil, thereby sustaining the soil health (Panwar et al., 2010). Increase in
SOC due to organic farming has been also reported by other researchers (Wade & Sanchez
1983; Goldstein & Young 1987; Babhulkar et al. 2000; Stolze et al. 2000).
Economic analysis and employment
Economic analysis of the various cropping sequences (Table 7) revealed that the cost of
cultivation varied with the types of crops grown and the associated cultivation practices.

17,943 18,544 55,031

17,943 18,544 48,462

18,544

11,975

Total

17,943 18,544 58,558


17,943 18,544 54,443
17,943 18,544 55,031

Rabi

22,071
17,956
18,544

Kharif

French bean (pole type) in all the sequences.

PotatookraFrench bean
TomatookraFrench bean
French bean (bush type)
okra French bean
French bean (pole type)
OkraFrench bean
CarrotokraFrench bean

Pre-kharif

Input (MJ/ha)

39,030

38,340

97,290
37,420
23,350

Pre-kharif

Energy balance of cropping sequences on raised beds.

Cropping sequences

Table 3.

Rabi

Total

51,920 19,250 110,200

63,010 22,950 124,300

63,580 19,970 180,840


60,820 20,880 119,120
58,250 22,630 104,230

Kharif

Output (MJ/ha)

Productivity (kg/MJ)

3.26

2.06

4.40
2.08
1.25

2.89

3.51

3.54
3.39
3.24

1.04

1.23

1.08
1.13
1.22

2.27

2.26

3.09
2.19
1.89

1.85

0.68

0.84
1.20
0.46

0.38

0.44

0.46
0.44
0.42

0.29

0.34

0.33
0.34
0.36

0.88

0.70

0.71
0.82
0.59

Pre-kharif Kharif Rabi Total Pre-kharif Kharif Rabi Total

Output/input

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82
A. Das et al.

21,148
21,148
21,148
21,148
21,148
21,148
21,148

Rice
Rice
Rice
Rice
Rice
Rice
Rice

(Shahsarang 1)-pea
(Shahsarang 1)-lentil
(Lampnah)-pea
(Lampnah)-lentil
(Shahsarang 1)-ratoon
(IR64)-ratoon
monocropping

Kharif
14,354
13,619
14,354
13,619
2944
2944

Rabi

Total
35,502
34,767
35,502
34,767
24,092
24,092
21,148

Input (MJ ha21)

Energy balance of cropping sequences on sunken beds.

Cropping sequences

Table 4.

178,089
171,398
175,080
163,825
184,015
188,720
176,660

Kharif
96,465
79,794
95,122
83,835
96,739
94,762

Rabi

Total
274,554
251,192
270,202
247,660
280,754
283,482
176,660

Output (MJ ha21)

8.42
8.11
8.28
7.75
8.71
8.92
8.35

Kharif

6.72
5.86
6.63
6.16
32.86
32.19

Rabi

Output/input

7.73
7.23
7.61
7.12
11.65
11.77
8.35

Total

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0.23
0.23
0.22
0.22
0.23
0.24
0.25

Kharif

0.30
0.08
0.30
0.08
1.06
1.01

Rabi

0.49
0.26
0.48
0.27
0.34
0.34
0.25

Total

Productivity (kg MJ21)

Organic crops on raised and sunken beds


83

84

A. Das et al.

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Table 5. Chemical properties of raised bed soil after seven cropping cycles.
Cropping sequences

pH

SOC
(%)

Available
N (kg ha21)

Available
P (kg ha21)

Available
K (kg ha21)

Potato okra French bean


Tomato okra French bean
French bean (bush type) okra
French bean
French bean (pole type) okra
French bean
Carrot okra French bean
CD ( p 0.05)
Initial

5.14
5.13
5.17

2.16
2.20
2.29

250.9
257.2
266.6

21.0
22.5
22.2

260.0
262.6
262.4

5.21

2.37

269.7

24.7

265.7

5.10
NS
4.90

2.21
NS
1.74

263.4
3.6
180.0

21.9
1.1
13.5

260.9
NS
217.6

Note: CD, critical difference; NS, not significant.

Table 6.

Physico-chemical properties of sunken bed soil after seven cropping cycles.

Cropping sequences

pH

SOC
(%)

Available
N (kg ha21)

Available
P (kg ha21)

Available
K (kg ha21)

Rice (Shahsarang-1)-pea
Rice (Shahsarang-1)-lentil
Rice (Lampnah)-pea
Rice (Lampnah)-lentil
Rice (Shahsarang-1)-ratoon
Rice (IR-64)-ratoon
Rice (Shahsarang-1) monocropping
CD ( p 0.05)
Initial

5.20
5.19
5.14
5.24
5.08
5.08
5.12
NS
4.90

2.67
2.97
2.64
2.80
2.67
2.30
2.46
0.34
1.74

266.42
275.92
270.70
276.97
259.42
263.42
270.65
4.31
180

23.83
26.28
25.90
27.64
22.83
21.22
23.65
1.56
13.5

268.66
269.64
265.87
271.36
269.67
264.94
270.61
2.10
217.6

Note: CD, critical difference; NS, not significant.

DHA

300

SMBC

250
200
150
100
50
0

Initial

Raised bed

Sunken bed

Figure 2. Dehydrogenase enzyme activity (DHA, mg g21 TPF) and soil microbial biomass carbon
(SMBC, mg g21 dry soil) of soil under raised and sunken bed after seven cropping cycles (average of
treatments).

Organic crops on raised and sunken beds

85

Table 7. Gross return, net return, B:C ratio and employment opportunity of various cropping
sequences.

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Cropping sequences
Raised bed sequences
Potato okra French bean
Tomato okra French bean
French bean (bush) okra French bean
French bean (pole type) okra French bean
Carrot okra French bean
Sunken bed sequences
Rice (Shahsarang 1)-pea (Prakash, green pod)
Rice (Shahsarang 1)-lentil
Rice (Lampnah)-pea
Rice (Lampnah)-lentil
Rice (Shahsarang 1)-ratoon
Rice (IR 64)-ratoon
Rice (Shahsarang 1)-monocropping

Gross
Cost of
Net
Employment
return cultivation return B:C (days ha21
($ ha21) ($ ha21) ($ ha21) ratio
year21)
5856
6260
4540
5360
5950

2840
2400
2210
2310
2306

3016
3860
2330
3050
3644

2.06
2.60
2.05
2.32
2.58

460
450
430
410
425

2472
1342
1345
1345
1201
1208
722

880
860
860
860
795
795
560

1592
482
485
485
415
413
162

2.81
1.56
1.56
1.56
1.52
1.52
1.29

260
260
260
260
235
235
160

The greatest cost of cultivation was in the potato okra French bean sequence ($2840
ha21), mainly because of higher seed and staking costs, followed by tomato okra French
bean ($2400 ha21). Among the sunken bed sequences, the cost of cultivation for rice cv.
Shahsarang 1-pea was greatest ($880 ha21) followed by rice lentil ($860 ha21). Among
different cropping sequences on raised beds, the greatest net return was with tomato
okra French bean ($3860 ha21), followed by carrot okra French bean ($3644 ha21) and
French bean (pole type) okra French bean ($3050 ha21). Among different cropping
sequences on sunken beds, the highest net return was with rice cv. Shahsarang 1-pea
(green pod) ($1592 ha21), followed by rice lentil ($425 ha21). The highest B:C ratio, in
the case of raised bed sequences was with tomato okra French bean (2.60) followed by
carrot okra French bean (2.58), whereas, among sunken bed sequences, rice pea (1.81)
gave the highest B:C ratio. The cost of cultivation, net return and B:C ratio remained much
lower for rice monocropping than for other cropping sequences. These results are in
conformity with the findings of Saha, Pandey, et al. (2007) and Saha and Ghosh (2010).
Potato okra French bean and tomato okra French bean sequences created 460 and 450
man days employment, respectively, on raised bed, and rice pea created about 260 man
days employment on sunken beds compared with only about 160 days for rice
monocropping on flat beds (conventional practice). Thus, employment was enhanced by
187% with potato okra French bean and 181% with tomato okra French bean on
raised beds, whereas the rice pea sequence on sunken beds enhanced employment by
about 62% over monocropping of rice, the farmers conventional practice.

Conclusions
Based on the seven-year study, it was established that RSB technology is an economically
viable option for enhancing CI, farm productivity and farmers income under the lowland
situation of the mid-altitude eastern Himalayas, India. The cropping sequences of tomato
okra French bean on raised beds and rice pea on sunken beds are recommended as
suitable for diversifying the lowland rice landscape and for higher productivity and
income. Inclusion of vegetables on raised beds and rice ratooning on sunken beds enhanced

86

A. Das et al.

EP of the sequence substantially. The potato okra French bean sequence on raised beds
and rice pea on sunken beds created the greatest employment opportunities. Continuous
organic farming in a RSB system sustained crop productivity and improved soil health.

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