Zero tillage in wheat saved resources and enhanced income

14 May 2010

Sahab Singh, a farmer of Ramba village, Karnal district of Haryana has a holding of nearly 42 ha in 600 mm rainfall area.  He grows cereal crops like wheat and  paddy (twice in a season), fodder crops i.e. Trifolium alexandrinum, sorghum, maize, etc. in the sandy loam soil. He was impressed with the gains of zero-tillage technology being adopted by fellow farmers in Pehowa area in Haryana. He adopted the technology on his farms in 1999, but the gained   benefits were not as good as expected. Later on, he  got guidance from scientists of Directorate of Wheat Research, Karnal and Haryana Agricultural University. On the advice of scientists, he purchased two zero tillage machines, each costing Rs 16000 in year 2000 and 2001. The machines are fitted with two boxes, one each for fertilizer and seed. Fertilizer is placed below the seed. The tines are fixed at 21 cm with knife points.  Before adopting zero tillage, he had to plough the field 8-10 times which consumed 75-88 liter diesel per ha area. There was lot of pollution due to more fuel burning.  

He observed that sowing wheat in full paddy residue is somewhat problematic, therefore, he  tried rotary disc drill too. With slight modifications, it can be a fancy machine for the farmers. At times, he  had to use reaper to remove residues in fields  but he  found that crops under residue are better than removal with high moisture content.

Zero tillage has saved a lot of labour. He uses clodinafop once in three years so that there is no build up of seed bank of Phalaris minor , whereas, the other farmers have to use it every year due to which it has developed resistance against some molecules.   During 2007-08, the average wheat yield at his farm was 6.0 ton per ha using zero tillage which is at par with conventional practices.  Wheat was sold as seed @ Rs 11200 per ton to seed growing companies. The operational expenditure was Rs 10000 per ha. Therefore his net profit was Rs  5,72,00 per ha. Without compromising on wheat yield, he  saves at least Rs 2500 to 2900 on account of ploughing. A minimum saving of Rs 2,50,000 is simply due to adoption of zero tillage technology.

(Source: NAIP sub project on Mass Media Mobilization, DIPA)