Innovation in Agriculture Sector


Courtesy: State Bank of Pakistan
By: Dr. Abdul Haft
innovation in agriculture sector

It is a general complaint that our scientists are not doing useful agricultural research leading to increase in productivity.


This in not so. It may be possible that some of them are keeping themselves busy in conducting unrelated research, the results of which have no impact on enhancement of the production. It is an admitted fact that many useful results are available which have not been properly diffused amongst the farmers. The reasons being that most of the scientists remain busy in digging holes without. Looking around.


They have a very little push or vigour; or determination or the lack of right approach for outreach activities. The scientists also receive very little extra support from the department or extension service, which least bothers to learn new technologies. After contemplating intensively on this issue the author has prepared a detailed list of sucliuseful results under the heading of innovations in Agriculture. At present their number is 100, divided into 13 Sections but it may further increase in the long run. These innovations, which are based on experimental findings are reproduced in the text with a hope that the farmers will adopt them after testing, and the Government will provide the necessary support involving both the research and extension services. It is of no use doing research if the results already available are not implemented.


It is rightly said that God helps those who help themselves. We must bring changes in the traditional methods to Match the growing food demands of our increasing population. Otherwise We would be doomed forever and will continue living in poverty and hunger. The main innovation are reproduced below:

Plant production

Plant Production

Overcoming three main defects in our crop production i.e.. late sowing, use of low seed rate and heavy weed infestation, can double the crop yields.


Example-1: In Pakistan, about 60 per cent wheat is sown late i.e. by the end of December or 1st Week of January, reducing the per acre yield by 20-25 maunds. If this is corrected through broadcasting the overnight-soaked wheat seed by 3rd week of November in weed free standing cotton crop, the yield is more than doubled (i.e. above 40 maunds per acre).


It can increase the total production of wheat by 10 million tonnes, making the country not only self sufficient but also surplus in wheat. Similarly, sowing wheat immediately after the rice harvest in residual moisture can avoid delay in sowing giving high yield.


Use of low seed rate gives only 100-120 wheat ears in one sq. meter while 600 wheat ears can give up to 100 maunds per acre. This can be achieved by increasing the seed rate to 60 to 80 kg/acre. Weed infestation can decrease the yield by about 40 per cent. The weeds can be controlled by running bar harrow twice cross wise after first and second irrigations in wheat. The same principles apply to other crops.


Example-2: Early sowing of maize using high seed rate and early control of weeds gives two and a half time more yield than late sown maize with low seed rate no weed control.


Example-3: Drilling rice seed © 10¬12 kg./ acre in vattar soil gives as much yield as by nursery transplanting. This reduces cost of production and saves water.


Example-4: Sowing of Rhizobium -coated soybean seeds in February after cotton gives 3 times more yield than summer planting and also enriches the soil for the succeeding cotton crop.


Example-5: Spring planting of maize and of sunflower gives double the yield than that of summ er plantings. Growing of healthy maize nursery in 4 marlas for each acre and then transplanting after one month can give yield up to 130 maunds/acre.


Since our fields have salty patches the seed germination is low. This, handicap can be overcome by flooding the field with water to allow seepage of salts and then broadcasting the wheat seed in 1/3" standing water. It improves seed germination plant population and yield.


If each fanner sows 4 kannis under season (Canola variety), the entire edible oil requirements of the country can be met from the local production, saving more than 1.0 billion U.S. dollars per year now being spent on imports. This can be done by enacting a law, distributing seeds and purchasing the produce at remunerative price for extraction of oil.


The export of vegetables and fruits can be much increased and regularized by establishing Export Production Zones in suitable localities involving local farmers and the traders.


Ridge sowing and furrow application of water can save about 50 per cent of water and gives higher yields. For example, ridge sowing in cotton can help maintain optimum plant population, saves irrigation water, facilitates weed and pest control besides increasing the yield up to 3 times.


Adoption of this method i.which was demonstrated in 1979-80) has given outstanding results, increasing lint yield per hectare to 769 Kg. and total production to 12.8 million bales (in 1991-92) from 350 Kg. and 4.2 million bales in 1979-80 respectively.


Siphon-application of water instead of through cuts in the water channel can save the water as well as help in its even spread and equal distribution with increase in yield.


Farmers can _produce their own seeds if they are trained in seed production methods. The farmers need not purchase the seeds every year and can save money.


Cultivation of wheat and medic in rotation can help developing integrated production of wheat and sheep without applying nitrogenous fertilizers to wheat.


This is possible in highlands of Balochistan on an area of 20 million hectares, revolutionizing agriculture Sowing wheat on carpet of clover can give as much yield as with application of nitrogenous fertilizers.


Rain water can be preserved by deep ploughing the fields before monsoon to receive water through penetration, which can then be conserved by running disc harrow. This u.n help to conserve the water up to 35¬/10 per cent of the total rainfall and facilitates sowing crops on time without waiting for the rains in barani areas.


Introduction of hoeing can conserve soil moisture, control weeds, provide aeration to root zone, control soil erosion and increase the yield (e.g. upto 5 maunds in case of wheat). Contouring and mulching (including vertical mulching) in uneven soils can increase soil moisture, control soil erosion and increase the yield.


Introduction of rye, rhode grass, mat and sada bahar can revolutionize fodder and forage production for enhancing livestock production.


Sowing of soybean in February after cotton gives more than 3 times yield than the summer planted crop. The succeeding cotton crop after soybean does not need nitrogen application, reducing the cost of production. Similarly, spring plantation of sunflower s more beneficial than sowing in summer.


Inclusion of legume crops (forage legumes or grain legumes) in the rotation adds about 40-80 kg. nitrogen per acre, enhancing the fertility of soil and lowering the production costs besides increasing total production of forage crops and pulses. Similarly, use of green manuring is beneficial. It increases soil fertility, humus and microbial activity. This is why advanced countries are now using organic farming which is natural and also controls environmental pollution. Use of bio fertilizers (such as biopost and bioab) is highly beneficial in maintaining soil fertility and enriching the soil by early decomposition of organic matter.


Sowing of soybean (Rawal I or Hajvari variety) both in rainfed and irrigated areas in July produces green pods in October (to replace peas) and increase income per acre besides giving substantive quantity of green fodder and enriching the soil for the succeeding crops.


Plantation of turmeric and ginger crops with maize or under the shade of trees can increase farmer's income and can make the country self-sufficient in these commodities.


Increase your wheat production and decrease cost of production by not sowing it in degraded land or saline fields, using optimum irrigation and doses of fertilizers. Instead sow other suitable crops in saline soils (e.g. barley, lentil etc.)


Cultivation of peanuts in rainfed areas after deep plouging increases the farmer's income by enhancing its yield and that of the succeeding wheat crop.


Introduction of sprinkler irrigation or drip irrigation (for which the government provides subsidies) can double the crop yields in rainfed areas. This needs construction of tube-wells and or private and public dams in barani areas and uplands.


Sowing wheat after autumn potato crop in early December or maize in February triples the wheat production and doubles the maize yield, without application of inorganic fertilizers.


Field leveling improves seed germination, saves water, improves plant population and ensures even spread of irrigation water apart from increasing the yield. Integrated agriculture including crop production, livestock, forestry fishery and agro-industries (poultry, sheep, honey bee) brings more income to the farmers.


Production of gram can be supplemented and stabilized by growing it in some areas after rice crop in irrigated localities. Always use seeds of blight resistant varieties, particularly in barani gram growing areas (Paidar 93, Punjab 93 and Noori 93).


Shortage of pulses can be overcome by introducing the cultivation of both annual and perennial pigeon peas (arhar crop) which is meeting 40 per cent of the pulses demand in India.


Similarly, sowing of field peas in between two cotton crops can considerably increase farmers income per acre as well as soil fertility.


Practicing mulching of soils under precious crops or vegetables in early stages through spreading of plant debris and leaving the crop stubble's in tact has numerous advantages including water conservation, weed control and control of soil erosion. Mulching is also useful, if done around the fruit trees.

Practicing CHOWIS

(i.e. C=Clean Cultivation; H=Healthy Seed; 0=Optim urn Plant Population; W=Weed Control-early; I=Irrigation-controlled; and S=Soil Fertility) not only doubles the production but also produces healthy crops.


Using better er crop rotations has many advantages. it enriches the soil, control weeds, soil erosion and increases crop production. In Egypt 90 per cent cotton follows berseem. Introducing new field crops, vegetables, medicinal plants, fruit trees and condiments can help the farmers to increase the income.


Crops can be saved from the bad effects of high temperature by carrying out the following cultural operations: Sowing tomatoes in one foot deep ditches filled with dried leaves and plant debris. Not pruning the lower parts of lemon plants. Tying of stems of 5-6 plants of onion and garlic in groups to increase maturity time. Cutting the plants of lucern or berseem below soil level. Sowing maize and ginger in alternative patches. Sowing of lentil variety No.93 can increase the income of farmers considerably. It can be sown either in ratoon sugarcane or in September-sown sugarcane or in separate fields, using 10 kg seed per acre and getting yield up to 800 kg. Similarly, there is a scope of mixed sowing in case of gram, lining, mash and cowpeas.


Using approved, healthy and certified seed can ensure bumper and healthy crops because as you sow so shall you reap. Dipping the seed in water and removing the floating damaged seeds can improve the seed germination, plantstand and crop yields.

Plant protection

Plant Protection

Use of Bordeaux mixture spray does not only control fungal and bacterial diseases of fruit trees and vegetables but it is also cheap, safe and more economical. The 100th anniversary of Bordeaux mixture was celebrated in 1984 in France, declaring its superiority overall the available fungicides.


Prevention is better than cure. About 80 to 90 per cent pests and diseases can be controlled by using preventive measures which includes pruning and burning of diseased plant debris. Using cultures of Tricho Pak and Aspergo-Pak (mixed with wheat straw) @ 8-12 kg. straw/ he can control soil-borne diseases and increase the yield considerably, particularly of vegetables by 4-5 times.


Malformation of mango inflorescence can be controlled by lowering Ph value of soil through combine application of gypsum, F.Y. ammonium sulphate and single super phosphate around each tree. Gram blight can be controlled and production increased by using seeds of resistant varieties (Paidar 93, Punjab 93, Noori 91 and Ilainsafar).


The citrus diseases (canker and withertip) can be controlled and quality and yield increased by proper pruning (and burning the diseased plant parts), followed by Bordeaux mixture sprays.

Many pests of fruit trees, vegetables and cotton can be controlled by using IPM (Integrated Pest Management) for which private service is now available Sugarcane pyrilla can be controlled by spreading sugarcane trash in the field for the population development of useful insects which attack and kill pyrilla pests.

Skimming the ear-cocWe(inumni) grains from wheat seeds dipped in 4 per cent salted water can control the disease and increase the yield.


Fruit fly of stone fruits can be controlled by using traps in which small pieces of cotton wool dipped in Methyl eugenol are placed. This is very useful practice to be followed in Balochistan. Codling moth of apple can be kept under control by tying gunny bag pieces on tree stems near the ground. All the larvae hide themselves during winter under these pieces. These can be then collected and killed. It is cheap and an efficient method.


Mango hoppers can be controlled by fixing glued bands on stems of trees 4 feet above the ground. The hoppers when going up on the trees get stuck up. These are then collected and killed. Rice and pulses can be safely stored after sun drying by rubbing the grains with turmeric power mixed in sarsoon oil. The same results can be achieved by mixing dried neem leaves with the grains.


Using one tablet of Phosphine for 10 bags of wheat covered under a plastic sheet for 24 hours can ensure safe storage for one year period. Controlling aphids in oil seeds crops with tobacco decoction spray can double the production. This is cheap and an effective method.


The various cotton borers can be kept under control by cutting sticks of the previous crop below ground level and burning the cotton bolls lying on the ground.


Use of IPM against white fly and other pests is very effective. To achieve this sow lantana hedge around the cotton fields and plaht lucern in patches inside the cotton fields. This helps in increasing population of predators which kill the harmful pests.


Stop using dangerous and costly insecticides which are not only adulterated and ineffective but also pollute the ground, water and atmosphere besides killing human beings, animals and birds.

Manures and Fertilizers

Manures and Fertilizers

Use of organic manures (farm yard, compost and green manuring) with judicious use of acidic fertilizers (ammonium sulphates, nitrophos and single super phosphate) can considerably increase the yields and also keep the soils healthy and enriched.


Use of 15-20 bags of gypsum per acre along with organic and inorganic fertilizers does not only increase the yield but also keep the soils healthy and fertile. Similarly, application of 1-2 bags of gypsum around each fruit tree lowers soil Ph and enhances production.


Use of Farm Yard Manure, compost and green manuring increases the soil organic matter, population of micro-organisms, soil fertility, water holding capacity of soil, and soil fertility, enhancing crop production.


Proper application of inorganic fertilizers can save 50 per cent of fertilizers going to waste, reduces the cost of production and increases the yield. Drill application is one of the methods to reduce sue of fertilizes to half.

Sailine or Sodic Soils and Waterlogged Soil

Sailine or Sodic Soils and Waterlogged Soil

Sowing on sides of ridges or in furrows made in salty soils can help increasing crop production.


Saline water of tube-wells can be corrected by passing it over gypsum blocks placed in water tanks (made in front of water fall and in water channels.


Saline soils can be improved by heavy watering of the fields for leaching of salts while sodic soils can be rectified by adding gypsum at the rate of 2-6 tons per acre depending upon the intensity of sodi city.


Growing of crops like rice senji, berseem, guava, banana, jantar, bamboo, popular and eucalyptus in water logged areas improves the sail through water drainage and evaporation.

Mechanization

Mechanization

Efficiency of tractor use can be considerably increased by introducing suitable implements for canying out various functions, numbering at least 20 instead of only 2 being performed now (ploughing and trolley hauling). Use of rice nursery transplanter can reduce the cost of labour and increase yield.


A network of tractor-repairing workshops can be developed by selecting andborganizing small repair shops now existing on roadsides of small towns. The Government should provide technical know-how and loans.


The unsatisfactory situation of small implements and tractor-drawn implements can be revolutionized by opening manufacturing plants throughout the country in private sector under the guidance of the government.


The availability of tractor-drawn machinery can be much improved by organizing a network of centers in the private sector for renting various types of machines to the farmers. Breaking the crust resulting from rainfall (after seeding) either by running a bar harrow or by application of light watering can normalize seed germination and production. Cleaning the tractor, checking oil in the tank, water in the radiator, air pressures in tyres, brakes, battery etc. doubles the life of tractor and increases its efficiency.


Chiselling the heavy soils for breaking of hard soil pan can double the crop yields. This should be practiced after every second or third year.


Remodelling of village water channels can save 25-30% of water which otherwise goes waste in transit from canal to fields. Farmers must utilize the facilities provided by the Government for this purpose.


Building of small dams in rained areas cannot only increase water resources but also • ensures more production. The cotton sticks, if rotavated into the soil, can increase the yield of the succeeding crop from 25¬30 per cent.

Weed Control

Weed Control

Giving rauni or pre-sowing watering before seed bed preparation followed by ploughing can control weeds and increase the yield. Progressive farmers use two raunies in case of cotton crop. Mechanical weeding (hoeing, mulching or interculturing) should be preferred over using hazardous weedicides.


Mulching can help in controlling weeds and saving water in vegetable crops and increase the yield Weeds must be controlled within 4¬5 weeks after sowing because late weeding does not pay except waste of time, money and labour. If seeds are set then one year seeding equals to 10 years of weeding.

Fruit Trees

Fruit Trees

Spraying Jaman trees with water every day when the fruits are developing can double or even triple the fruit size as well as income. Delaying water application to citrus trees when fruits are manufacturing can considerably increase the sweetness. This method is being followed in China. Putting nylon nets overapple trees in hilly areas can control the damages caused by hailstorms.


Hand pollination of date palms with a pollinator can greatly increase the fruit setting and production. There are 119 varieties of date palm in Pakistan. Out of which only a few are good. The date palm production and quality can be much improved by replacing the existing varieties of low quality with tissue-cultured baby plants of selected good varieties.


Conducting pruning of fruit trees at the right time has many advantages. It keeps the trees in shape, protect against diseases and pests besides improving the quality of fruits.

Planting citrus nursery plants at 10' x 10' distance and keeping the plants medium-sized by occasional pruning doubles the income per acre.


Using new methods of grafting (side grafting and layer grafting) are more successful in producing healthy nursery plants which ultimat ely give higher yield. Similarly, side grafting in guava is superior to using of seeds. For transplanting nursery plants use new methods which are more productive.


Placing the buds after removal from stock inside the mouth before grafting on scion can greatly improve the grafting efficiency and success as the buds do not dry up because of imbibing saliva. Efficient grafters follow this practice.


Alternate bearing of fruits can be controlled by applying double the quantities of inorganic fertilizers and organic manures in heavy bearing years to encourage vegetative growth.

Forestry

Forestry

Growing of eucalyptus can improve the sandy soils as well as waterlogged areas besides giving income. Use of agro forestry as a system of farming increases farmers income. All the degraded lands unfit for crop production should be used for growing forest trees profitably.

Fishery

Fishery

Fish farms can be established in all types of degraded lands, increasing the income of the farmers. Saline water can be used for raising fish and lobsters in tanks provided the salinity resistant species are used.

Agricultural Research

Agricultural Research

Reorientation of agricultural education, research and extension can greatly help in enhancing the status of agricultural productivity in the country. In China 30% of scientists work at the private farms to solve local problems.

Agro Industries

Agro Industries

There are many agro-industries which can be developed if the farmers are allowed to become share holders as they provide the raw materials and labour. The income of the farmers can be greatly increased by promoting artificial mushroom cultivation in the private sector. The materials and the know-how are available in Pakistan.

There are many valuable medicinal plants which need promotion in the private sector to reduce their imports and increase farmer income.

Livestock

Livestock

Making of silage from plant debris, grasses, jawar and maize plant, wheat bhusa, rice husk can provide nutritious feeding material for cattle, enhancing their growth and milk production.

Livestock production farms should be opened in suitable locations in the private sector as there are big land areas available in various localities of Pakistan (e.g. 20 million hectares of highlands in Balochistan) Similarly different livestock rations can be prepared from all types of plant debris available at the farm by using known methods.