Rice-wheat system of Pakistan spread over 2.1 Mha, consumes a large proportion of the region’s water resources. Negative environmental effects related to over irrigation and poor water management lead to dropping water table in some areas and increased water logging and salinity in others. In addition, tubewell irrigation is becoming costly in view of increasing energy prices.
Rice-wheat system of Pakistan spread over 2.1 Mha, consumes a large proportion of the region’s water resources. Negative environmental effects related to over irrigation and poor water management lead to dropping water table in some areas and increased water logging and salinity in others. In addition, tubewell irrigation is becoming costly in view of increasing energy prices. Since mid 1980s, researchers, farmers, extensionists, machinery importers, and local machinery manufacturers have been working to adapt resource conservation technologies (RCTs) to rice-wheat cropping systems. Among RCTs, zerto tillage (ZT) planting of wheat after rice has received most attention in Pakistan Punjab. The obvious advantages of ZT drill are the reduction of energy costs due to less tractor use compared with conventional tillage methods, but also reducing the amount of time that tube wells must be operated. The use of ZT drill also allows wheat planting sooner than conventional methods leading to reduce the turnaround time. This is an important consideration for the rice-wheat belt, where late planting of wheat is one of the major causes of low yields. The overall objective of the study was to evaluate the impacts of ZT technology to productivity and profitability of rice-wheat system. The study draws data from three primary data sources: a survey of ZT drill manufacturers, a formal adoption survey of rice-wheat farmers and a village level survey of the owners of ZT drill.
The study confirmed notable adoption of ZT wheat (19%) in the rice-wheat system of Pakistan’s Punjab, but also prominent dis-adoption (14%). Driving adoption are the significant ZT induced cost savings for wheat cultivation. ZT has non significant effect on wheat yield, reflecting similar crop establishment times. Lack of yield enhancement is a major contributor to farmer disillusionment and dis-adoption. The present study could not confirm a significant water saving effect of ZT, only that ZT saved diesel and tractor time. ZT induced effects primarily apply to wheat crop establishment and production costs, with limited implications to subsequent rice crop and the rice-wheat system as a whole.
The ZT has been primarily adopted by the larger and more productive farmers. The structural differences between the adopters and non-adopters/dis-adopters in terms of resource base, crop management and performance thereby easily confound the assessment of ZT impact across adoption categories. For most indicators ZT and conventional plots of adopters do not differ significantly from each other in our sample, although they consistently suggest ZT indicators to be typically superior to conventional till. In the end, ZT is primarily a cost saving technology.
A more objective approach to ZT is needed for its promotion as its adoption has been severely hampered by the polarization of the field in terms of ZT advocates and ZT opponents. There is a need to more emphatically stress timeliness of wheat establishment by ZT drill sowing. There is a need to enhance the accessibility of ZT drills, particularly to smallholders. There is a need to address some of the operational problems of ZT drill like raking of loose residues during drilling, clogging of pipes and breakage of tines. There is scope for improvements in both the operation and in their design and quality. ZT must be duly projected as one option of wheat planting in a campaign run through mass media by the Department of Agricultural Extension and MINFAL.
Iqbal, M., M. A. Khan, M. Z. Anwar. (2002). Zero-tillage Technology and Farm Profits: A Case Study of Wheat Growers in the Rice Zone of Punjab. The Pakistan Development Review. 41: 665-682.
Sheikh, A. D., T. Rehman, C. M. Yates. (2003). Logit Models for Identifying the Factors That Influence the Uptake of New ‘No-Tillage’ Technologies by Farmers in the Rice-Wheat and the Cotton-Wheat Farming Systems of Pakistan’s Punjab, Agricultural Systems. 75: 79-95.