Evaluating the trade-offs and sustainability of minimum tillage and crop-residue addition for food production in the dryland tropics
Keywords:Biomass, Carbon-sequestration, Cropping-systems, Crop-residues, Tillage
A long-term study was carried out at ICRISAT farm, Patancheru (India) during rainy (kharif) season 2009–18
with an objective to evaluate impact of tillage (minimum/conventional) and residue (addition/removal) management practices on production capacity and sustainability of maize-chickpea sequential and maize+pigeonpea intercropping systems. The experiment was laid out in spilt plot design with 4 replications. The effects of residue addition were inconsistent till the third year of experiment. However, yield benefits from residue addition became apparent fourth year onwards. After 7 years, residue addition showed significant yield benefits to the tune of 9–25% during 2016–17 (8th cropping cycle) and 18–31% during 2017–18 (9th cropping cycle) in both cropping systems. Residue addition also resulted in additional net income of `16,900/ha to `22,980/ha compared to no-residue addition. Minimum tillage in general tended to result in yield loss over normal tillage since beginning. During 8th and 9th cropping cycles, there was net annual loss up to `5400/ha under minimum tillage. Alongside productivity and economic benefits, at the end of 8th year i.e. 2016–17, residue addition showed improved soil health and sequestered around 300 kg carbon/ha/year.
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