posted Oct 15, 2015, 1:29 AM by Rowena Baltazar (IRRI)
by Y.P. Singh, V.K. Mishra, Sanjay Arora, D.K. Sharma,
and Sudhanshu Singh
Agriculture in vast areas of Uttar Pradesh is affected by soil sodicity
and salinity. In the past, technologies have been developed to manage these
soils for crop production to meet the demand of food for the burgeoning
population. Mr. Abhay Shankar Trivedi, a farmer and former primary school
teacher from Narsinghauli Village, Sitapur District, Uttar Pradesh, inherited 16
ha of severely salt-affected land, which has been left untilled and barren since
the time of his forefathers; they were not able to make the land productive
because of poverty and the lack of knowledge on reclamation technology. Mr. Abhay
Shankar Trivedi is married and has a son and two daughters. His son, Shrishant,
had an interest in farming, but Abhay persuaded him to pursue higher education.
In 1977, Abhay
left his teaching job and Shrishant graduated with a degree in computer science.
By this time, the full responsibility for the livelihood and food security of the
family members lay on the younger man’s shoulders. Though having already
obtained a degree, Shrishant was still more interested in agriculture than in
getting a job and preferred to make his 16-ha sodic land productive. One day, he
listened to a radio talk broadcast by All India Radio in Lucknow on “reclamation
methodology of salt- affected soils”. It was delivered by a
scientist from the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI). Shrishant
went to the CSSRI Regional Research Station in Lucknow and sought out the help
of experts on the protocol for reclamation of salt-affected soils. CSSRI
scientists elaborated on effective reclamation technology, which involves applying
gypsum at 50%, followed by ponding of water to flush out the sodium salts and,
thereafter, cultivating salt-tolerant rice and wheat varieties developed by the
A 16-ha block of sodic soil belonging to Mr. Abhay Shankar Trivedi.
Although he was convinced and had agreed to take up
the technology to reclaim his barren, sodic land, the cost of reclamation was
beyond what Shrishant can afford. In addition, gypsum was not easily available
in the open market. He sought the help of the project manager of the Uttar
Pradesh Land Reclamation Development Corporation (UPLDC) in Sitapur in April
2012 and requested for available gypsum. The project manager arranged to supply
500 bags of gypsum (25 tons) at subsidized rates. Following reclamation
protocol, Shrishant was asked to install a tube well at his farm to meet the
water requirement necessary for leaching salts after gypsum application, and
for use in crop production as well. Immediately, Shrishant applied for a loan and,
by May 2012, Shrishant managed to install a diesel-operated tube well to start reclamation.
Initially, he made bunds on 8 ha of his land and leveled them with a tractor-mounted
leveler. Before gypsum application, he also collected soil samples and had them
analyzed in Sitapur’s soil testing laboratory. After leveling, he applied
gypsum to his fields according to the gypsum requirement. The gypsum was
applied in only 3.2 ha of the land, and the fields were ponded with water for
10 days to leach down the salts. Out of the remaining 8 ha, 4.8 ha were applied
with press mud from the local nearby sugar mill. According to Shrishant, the
total expenditure for the reclamation of 12.8 ha of land was Rs. 160,000. In kharif
2012, Shrishant planted NDR 359, a traditional rice variety, on all 12.8 ha of treated
land. He harvested a good crop with an average yield of 3.22 t ha-1,
and sold it in the local market for Rs. 9,000 t-1. In rabi 2012,
Shrishant sowed Lok-1, a traditional high-yielding wheat variety, and harvested
an average yield of 1.6 t ha-1, which fetched him Rs. 12,000 t-1.
After harvesting the wheat, Shrishant grew Sesbania
in 8 ha of his land and mixed it into the field 40 days after sowing.
Lok-1, a traditional variety of wheat.
In 2013, Shrishant purchased
gypsum and reclaimed his remaining 3.2 ha of land, following guidelines given
by CSSRI scientists. They suggested growing CSR 30—a scented, salt-tolerant basmati rice variety—on his farm. Shrishant grew CSR 30 on 4 ha of land and
NDR 359 on 12 ha. He followed the package of practices for cultivation of
basmati and harvested 2.62 tha-1 from the 4 ha. He sold basmati at
Rs. 56,000 t-1 and earned Rs. 448,000, with an average income of Rs.
112,000 ha-1. However, traditional variety Narendra 359 only yielded
3.62 t ha-1 and was sold at Rs. 13,000 t ha-1, getting an income of Rs. 324,000 from the 12-ha land, with an average income of Rs. 27,000 ha-1.
In rabi 2013-14, following the advice of the CSSRI
scientists, Shrishant grew salt-tolerant wheat variety KRL 19 on his 16-ha land,
and followed all matching management practices developed for salt-tolerant
varieties. He harvested wheat with an average yield of 3 t ha-1 and
sold it at Rs. 12,800 t-1. In two years, Shrishant reclaimed his
salt-affected soil and earned a net income of Rs. 600,000‒800,000. He paid off his loan and purchased a tractor.
In 2014, Shrishant was advised to grow CSR 30 on the same land. With his
efforts and the adoption of scientific approaches and technical support from
CSSRI, Shrishant’s barren land has become bountiful. The successful reclamation
of salt-affected soils paved the way for more and more farmers’ lands to be
Salt-tolerant wheat variety, KRL 19.