Agriculture has been a means of livelihood for centuries now and every few years, one has seen a new phase evolving in agriculture. The transitions and evolutions in agriculture mainly emerged to adapt to the factors of change in the environment. One such technique that emerged was what is known as dry farming or dryland farming. Dryland farming a method of agriculture that helps crops grow in areas where rainfall is low and water is scarce.
Farmers sow crops that are drought evasive and have the ability to grow in conditions with minimal water quantities and soil that cannot retain moisture content. The most important method used in dryland farming is the use of mulching. Mulch such as straw, crop stubble or husk is used to cover the ground, which acts like a sponge and draws water from below the ground to the surface of the ground. Multiple cropping and crop rotation are other means of cultivation that are used for dryland farming. Alternating and cultivating deep rooted crops and shallow rooted crops will help preserve soil nutrients and moisture content for a longer time.
In India, dryland farming is a popular practice used by Indian farmers and more than half the net sown area in the country is dryland which receive scarce rainfall and therefore farmers have found the necessity to undertake agricultural practices that involve the constant preservation and management of the moisture content in the soil. The government has also introduced many initiatives to promote dryland farming in the country. For example, The eighth plan by the planning commission of India, aimed at giving a boost to the cultivation of pulses and oilseeds through the use of dry farming. NABARD and other co-operative banks have extended support to farmers to adopt dryland farming in various parts of the country.
Thus far I have spoken about the traditional methods of dryland farming. In the next blog I will elaborate on how plant science and innovation is playing a role in increasing the yield of crops in dry areas.
– Dr. Pankaj Bihani, Scientist, Mahyco