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Strategic double cropping on Vertisols: a viable rainfed cropping option in the Indian SAT to increase productivity and reduce risk


Nageswara Rao, V and Meinke, H and Craufurd, PQ and Parsons, D and Kropff, MJ and Anten, NPR and Wani, SP and Rego, TJ, Strategic double cropping on Vertisols: a viable rainfed cropping option in the Indian SAT to increase productivity and reduce risk, European Journal of Agronomy, 62 pp. 26-37. ISSN 1161-0301 (2015) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2015 Elsevier

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.eja.2014.09.003


Our study suggests the possibility for transformational change in the productivity and risk profile of some of India's rainfed cropping systems. In the semi-arid regions of Southern India, farmers traditionally crop sorghum or chickpea on Vertisols during the post-rainy season, keeping the fields fallow during the rainy season. This practice avoids land management problems, but limits the potential for crop intensification to increase systems productivity. A long-term (15 year) experiment at ICRISAT demonstrated that cropping during the rainy season is technically feasible, and that grain productivity of double cropped sorghum + chickpea (SCP–SCP) and mung bean + sorghum (MS–MS) sequential systems were higher than their conventional counterparts with rainy season fallow, i.e. fallow + post-rainy sorghum (FS–FS) and fallow + post-rainy chickpea (FS–FCP). Without N application, mean grain yield of post-rainy sorghum in the MS–MS system was significantly greater (2520 kg ha−1 per two-year rotation) than in the FS–FS system (1940 kg ha−1 per two-year rotation), with the added benefit of the mung bean grain yield (1000 kg ha−1 per two-year rotation) from the MS–MS system. In the SCP–SCP system the additional grain yield of rainy sorghum (3400 kg ha−1 per two-year rotation) ensured that the total productivity of this system was greater than all other systems. Double cropping MS–MS and SCP–SCP sequential systems had significantly higher crop N uptake compared to traditional fallow systems at all rates of applied nitrogen (N).

The intensified MS–MS and SCP–SCP sequential systems without any N fertilizer applied recorded a much higher median gross profit of Rs. 20,600 (US $ 375) and Rs. 15,930 (US $ 290) ha−1 yr−1, respectively, compared to Rs. 1560 (US $ 28) ha−1 yr−1) with the FS–FS system. Applying 120 kg of N ha−1 considerably increased the profitability of all systems, lifting median gross profits of the sorghum + chickpea system over Rs. 60,000 (US $ 1091) ha−1 yr−1 and the conventional system to Rs. 20,570 (US $ 374) ha−1 yr−1. The gross profit margin analysis showed that nitrogen is a key input for improving productivity, particularly for the double cropping systems. However, traditional systems are unviable and risky without N application in the variable climates of the semi-arid tropics. Together, our results show that on Vertisols in semi-arid India, double cropping systems increase systems’ productivity, and are financially more profitability and less risky than traditional fallow post-rainy systems while further benefits can be achieved through fertilizer application.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:rainy season fallow, vertisol, long-term experiment, crop intensification, grain legume, gross profit, stochastic dominance, risk assessment
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Agriculture, land and farm management
Research Field:Agriculture, land and farm management not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Plant Production and Plant Primary Products
Objective Group:Grains and seeds
Objective Field:Sorghum
UTAS Author:Nageswara Rao, V (Mr Vajaha Nageswara Rao)
UTAS Author:Meinke, H (Professor Holger Meinke)
UTAS Author:Parsons, D (Dr David Parsons)
ID Code:95763
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:5
Deposited By:Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture
Deposited On:2014-10-08
Last Modified:2017-11-06

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