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Package of Practices
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micronutrient management in rice cultivation

  • The term micronutrient refers to the relative quantity of a nutrient that is required for plant growth. It does not mean that they are less important to plants than other nutrients.
  • Plant growth and development may be retarded if any of these elements is lacking in the soil or is not adequately balanced with other nutrients.
  • Micronutrients constituents take part in metabolic activities, enzymatic process/ catalysts etc. Thus these all directly and indirectly help in plant growth and development.
  • There are 8 essential plant nutrient elements defined as micronutrients like boron (B), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), copper (Cu), molybdenum (Mo), chlorine (Cl) and silicon (Si). They constitute in total less than 1% of the dry weight of most plants.
  • Organic sources like FYM, Compost, vermicompost etc. may contain less quantity of these nutrients but presence of these help the plant in their growth and development.
  • They also called trace elements or minor elements. They are required only in small amounts (5 to 200 ppm, or less than 0.02% dry weight).
  • The visual symptoms may be caused by more than one nutrient. Deficiency of one nutrient may be related to an excess quantity of another.
  • Nutrient deficiency symptoms are observed only after the crop has already suffered an irretrievable loss.
  • When soil supplies more quantity of

New techniques for sustainable production of rice

  • Resource Conserving Technologies
  • Conservation agriculture is a broad term and it includes mainly three conserving techniques that conserve resources
  • Soil cover, particularly through retention of crop residues on the soil surface
  • Sensible, profitable crop rotation; and
  • A minimum level of soil disturbance

A practice that conserves resources and ensures their optimal utilization and enhances resource or input use-efficiency is called resource conserving techniques (RCTs). Mainly these techniques includes zero or minimum tillage (save fuel and time), direct seeding, permanent or semi permanent residue cover, new varieties that use nitrogen more efficiently, laser assisted land levelling, system of rice intensification (SRI), direct seeded rice (DSR), precision farming, use of leaf colour chart (LCC) and integrated crop management (ICM).


Major challenges for sustaining rice productivity

  • Soil degradation
  • Decline water table
  • Inadequate plant population
  • Drop in soil organic matter
  • Nitrate pollution in ground water
  • Emergence of multiple nutrient deficiencies
  • Appearance of new weed biotypes and resistance to applied herbicides
  • Cultivation of rice on light-textured soil
  • Inadequate and imbalanced use of fertilizer
  • Weather aberration

Strategies and modern techniques to enhance rice production in NER

Out of the present deficiency of 1.6 million tones of food grains in the region, 1.0 million tonne deficiency is in rice alone. Main strategy to increase rice production should be through:

  • Developing altitude specific varieties and packages in a participatory mode involving farmers in selection process of such varieties to achieve an average production of 2.2 tfha from the present level of l.8 t/ha from 3.5 million ha of rice area i.e. a gain of 1.4 million tones.
  • Introducing double cropping in at least 25 - 30% of valley land areas of l.5 million ha. i.e. a gain of l.12 million tones.
  • Promoting irrigation facilities by tapping both surface and ground water resources. Present irrigation potential is only 0.88 mhm which needs to be increased to at least 1.6 mhm by tapping the water resources of 42.5 mhm in the region.
  • Breeder seed production for the developed varieties by the concerned institute/ universities, easy access to such seeds need to be ensured. Encouragement and training to youth groups and SHGs for seed production and delivery.
  • In addition to the above, rice varieties for the shifting cultivation areas should be developed to achieve an yield of 1.2 t/ha from the present level of 0.7 t/ha i.e. a gain of 0.8 million tones of rice particularly of glutinous type.
  • Protection and characterization of existing and new germplasm and appending the information to already available database for sharing the information at regional and national level as well as for future use. This is needed to develop a statewise bioresource inventory by the year 2015 and categorise risk level of various germplasm.
  • Molecular characterization of important germplasm for protection of IPR issues and to find out gene flow pattern in highly endangered species of agricultural importance.
  • Establishment of a communi

Distribution of problem soils in India cropped to rice

While the diversity in agro ecological environment in the country provide opportunities for growing  numerous commercially viable cropping and farming systems towards a robust agriculture, efficient and sustainable management of natural resources especially soil and water for enhanced soil productivity is vital for over all economy of the country.  Although soil productivity depends largely on a number of its diverse physico - chemical and biological characteristics, the ultimate output is governed by the precise agronomic operations, matching production systems with land capability, efficient management of external inputs like seed, water, nutrient etc., and maintaining a synergy between conservation and exploitation of resources such as soil and water.

Table : Distribution of problem soils in India cropped to rice
Soils Area(M.ha) States Sodic 2.5-3.0 Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu Inland Saline 2.4 Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Potential (15.0) Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Coastal saline 2.5-3.0 West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh,  Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra Acid soils 49.0 (15.0) North East Hills, West Bengal, Orissa, North Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Bihar Acid saline 0.5-1.0 Kerala, West Bengal Nutrient problems Deficiency N,P,Zn,Fe,S,K,Ca,Mn Toxicity Fe,H2S,Al, As,Se  

Soil and management related constraints

Soil and management related constraints in rice production in India can be delineated in following points:
  • Increasing area under soil salinization (8-10 M ha) (salt affected) - major portion is cropped to rice,
  • About 15 M.ha of rice soils are acidic associated with toxicity of Fe, Al, Mn, As, deficiency of K, Ca, Mg, B, Si, and P fixation,
  • About  8.0 M.ha of rice area is deficient in zinc (Zn)
  • Nearly 50 and 80% of Indian soils are responsive (low to medium) to potassium and phosphorous, respectively,
  • Blanket fertilizer management/recommendation over large domains,
  • Nutrient depletion (N, K, S) and loss of soil organic matter in intensive cropping systems,
  • About 3.0 M ha in northwestern states under rice-wheat cropping system affected by Mn deficiency
  • Nutrient problems of deficiency of N, P, K, Zn, Fe, S, Ca, B, and toxicity of Fe, Al, H2 S, As, Se and
  • Overall stagnation or deceleration of growth in productivity of crops and cropping systems    
  • Wet season rice followed by dry season fallow causes considerable buildup of nitrate in soil profiles.
  • This NO3 gets lost from the soil when fields are reflodded  and puddled for planting rice in the following wet season
  • Data indicate that iron (Fe) content of ground water in all the districts is high due to high content of Fe-bearing minerals in soils, and such ground water is not suitable for irrigation unless properly managed Continuous use of such irrigation water causes Fe-toxicity and other nutrient imbalances in crop plants. 
  • It also greatly reduces P-availability in the soil.  
  • Precipitation of iron in surface and subsurface layers may clog the pores of the soils. 
  • As a result, drainage is impeded and crop plants suffer from inadequate O2 supply in the root zone.

Loss of soil organic carbon (SOC)

  •  In India SOC content is most of the soils range from 0.2 to 0.5% (2-5 g/kg soil) which works out to 21 and 156 billion tons up to 30 and 150 cm soil depth, respectively while total soil inorganic C pool (SIC) is about 196 billion tons. 
  • Loss of SOC is alarming due increasing atmospheric temperature and changing rainfall pattern.
  • Extensive mining of soil fertility, removal or burning of crop residues, soil degradation, inappropriate soil tillage and poor crop management, besides accelerated soil erosion (34 – 50 Tg C/yr) are the major reasons for loss of SOC and decline in crop productivity.
  • Technological options for soil C sequestrations in India include INM, green manuring, mulch farming, conservation tillage, residue recycling, and choice of cropping systems, balanced nutrient use with high nutrient use efficiency etc. 
  • Available information on loss of productivity due to soil degradation indicates that it is higher in red soils compared black and alluvial soils.
  • This warrants a knowledge based alleviation of soil problems, and management of soils and inputs keeping in view the resource quality, cropping system, and nutrient flows in the system for the overall sustainability. 
Table :9 Expected loss of productivity due to soil acidity
Soil pH Degree of acidity Loss inProductivity (%) >6.5 Nil Nil 5.5-6.5 Slight Upto 10 4.5-5.5 Moderate 10-25 3.5-4.5 Strong 25-50 <3.5 Extreme >50

Soil affected due to water erosion

  • About 149 M.ha is affected due to water erosion, 13.5 M.ha by wind erosion, 14.0 M.ha by chemical degradation and about 12 M.ha by physical degradation (Yadav, 2007). 
  • Loss of fertile top soil by water erosion  is about 5000 M.tons per year of which about 29% is lost into sea, 10% deposited in reservoirs, 59% is deposited as alluvium.
  • About 3.5% of the total land area is affected by water logging and 18.2 M.ha are wastelands not suitable for agricultural production.
  • Chemical degradation of the soil due to human intervention is around 13.6 M. ha of which salinization accounts for 10.1 M.ha, and nutrient and organic carbon loss in 3.7 m.ha.
  • Salinity and alkalinity are soil problems associated with low rainfall and high evaporative demand, improper drainage and excessive flooding causing significant loss to crop and soil productivity 
  • More than 90% of NEH region is acidic of varying degrees which restrict the crop choice. Fertilizer use in the region and its efficiency are poor.
  • Poor structural stability of the fine textured clay soils (Vertisols) renders agricultural practices very difficult.
  • Unscientific crop intensification with imbalanced use of fertilizers has led to much management related nutrient problems like decline in productivity and sustainability,  
  • Extensive use of ground water through tube wells has resulted in significant lowering of water table which could result in serious productivity declines during low rainfall years. 

Estimated area (M ha) affected with Soil Physical Constraints

 Estimated area (M ha) affected with Soil Physical Constraints
Constraint Area Distribution Crusting 10.25 Haryana, Punjab, West Bengal, Orissa, Gujarat Hardening 21.57 Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar Sub-surface hardpan 11.34 Maharashtra, Punjab, Bihar, Rajasthan, West Bengal, TN Shallow depth 26.4 Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Kerala & Gujarat High permeability 13.75 Rajasthan, West Bengal, Gujarat, Punjab& Tamil Nadu Water logging 6.24 MP, Maharashtra, Punjab, Gujarat, Kerala, Orissa

Soil degradation and related production constraints

 The country accounts for >2 % of world soil resources with ample diversity in agro climatic condition for producing wide range of crops and vegetation. Several soil and management related constraints, however, hinder sustainable production of food and fodder. Physical degradation like soil erosion, soil crusting and compaction, chemical degradation like loss of organic matter, soil fertility, multi nutrient depletion and deficiencies, salt accumulation, pollution, etc., are some of the major soil and management-related problems reported which account for nearly 60% (188 M.ha) of the total land area (Table). Soil group Soil order Land area(M.ha) Soil related constraints Red and lateritic soils Inceptisols, AlfisolsUltisols 172.2 Erosion by water, weak soil structure, nutrient imbalances, low OM, crusting, compaction, acidification, P fixation, loss of bases (Ca, K, Mg), nutrient (Fe, Al, Mn, H2S) toxicities Black soils Vertisols, Inceptisols 73.5 Massive structure, poor tilth, drought stress, water erosion, nutrient deficiencies, salt accumulation,  Tarai Soils Mollisols 8.0 Micronutrient deficiency, Alluvial soils Entisols, Inceptsols 58.4 Erosion, nutrient depletion, low OM, secondary salinization Desert soils Aridisols, Entisols 30.0 Drought stress, nutrient depletion, wind erosion, desertification, secondary salinization   Soil acidification is a natural soil-forming process accelerated by high rainfall, low evaporation, leaching of bases, and high oxidative biological activity that produces acid. The soil acidity plays major role in determining the nutrient availability to plants and in many instances by specific mineral stress problems. Production constraints are more intense on acid soils, which cover 30% of the world’s land area. Acid soil infertility is a syndrome of problems that affect plant growth in soils with low pH. This co
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