Challenges and solutions of rice-wheat cropping system
Ahmad Latif Virk*1, Naeem Ahmad2, Muhammad Umair Yasin2, Ghulam Hasan3 and Muhammad Wasim Shoukat3
1 Agro-climatology Lab, Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
2 Crop Nutrition and Irrigation Management Lab, Department of Agronomy, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
3 Integrated Pest Management Lab, Department of Entomology, University of Agriculture, Faisalabad.
*Corresponding Author Email: [email protected]
Farmers in the continent of Asia have practiced more than 1000 years rice-wheat system. Many yield reducing and yield limiting factors, which delayed planting of wheat and rice. Continuous cropping of rice-wheat system for several decades declining production, productivity and sustainability of this system. In this region shortage of inputs like energy, labor are increasing day by day. Continuous cropping of these two crops have resulted in increased pest pressure, nutrient mining, and decline in yields in some areas. In many areas, yields of these two crops are at below potential level due to low input use efficiency. Soil organic matter and productivity of soil is decreased due to crop residues burning and sowing of exhaustive crops. Burning of crop residue has also increased environment pollution in the form of smog. Soil organic and nutrient status of soil can be improve by adding well decomposed organic matter or by growing leguminous crops. The water table has receded at several places in the region. In addition, there is a reduction in biodiversity due to large area coverage by a single cultivar.
The rice-wheat growing areas in Pakistan are mainly located in central Punjab that includes Gujranwala, Sheikhupura, Narowal and Sialkot. The rice-wheat cropping system in Pakistan is covers an estimated area of 1.6 million hectares. In this system, rice is traditionally grown by transplanting 25-35 days old seedlings in well-puddled and continuous flooded field. This method of rice establishment is a time-consuming and involves high cost of labor, water, and land preparation. Wheat sowing after the paddy harvest is delayed due to late maturity of rice crop resulting into poor crop stand and low grain yield. Wheat crop is also affected by flood irrigation due to poor drainage of clay soils of that region. Rice grows well on puddled clay soil, whereas wheat grows best on well-drained soils. The hardpan developed with puddling operation is important for water retention and weed control in rice, but compacted soil creates problems of waterlogging for wheat. In addition to this, the traditional land preparation after rice harvest results in later wheat sowing dates than optimum. Due to management differences and traditional cultural cultivation practices, the productivity of the rice-wheat system is low that threaten its sustainability.
This can be possible if the planting techniques of rice or wheat crops are improved resulting to time saving, cultivation cost and irrigation water. Resource conserving technologies (e.g. zero-tillage, bed planting or direct seeding of rice) can be helpful in to sustain and improve the productivity of the system. Broadcasting of seed results in seed placement at many different depths and with different soil moisture contents, with resulting poor germination. The problems of late planting of wheat and poor plant stand can be solved by various resource-conserving tillage and crop establishment techniques described below, whereas rice can be sown with traditional way or sown directly into the soil.
Use of Happy Seeder drill
This practice involves sowing using a seed drill, without prior land preparation. This has been practiced in Pakistan by agriculture department for last years. The practice is more relevant in the higher yielding, more mechanized areas of Pakistan.
Bed planting of wheat:
In bed planting system, wheat seeds are planted on raised beds. This practice has increased dramatically in the last years. There are following reasons to adopting this technology.
- More precise irrigation method.
- Easy way to control weeds in the field.
- Herbicide use is reduced due to hand weeding and rouging.
- Mechanical instruments between the beds can control weeds.
- Wheat seed rates are lower.
- Plant population is better.
- Less lodging of wheat.
Such technologies are helpful foe the farmers, in such a way that they increase production and lower costs, resulting in higher profits, cheaper food that ultimately improve farmer livelihoods.