While the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has been recommending bed planting, a system of wheat cultivation, many progressive farmers of the Malwa region have started adopting the new technique.
The union ministry of water resources has constituted a Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for carrying out nationwide surveys on ground water resources and guiding the states appropriately in scientific and technical matters relating to ground water.
The Punjab agriculture department has started organising block-level meetings and training camps to create awareness as well as to educate farmers and public about the situation of ground water resources across the Malwa belt.
According to information, in Moga district it has been proved that bed plantation can be more rewarding than traditional farming. Interestingly, many farmers have saved groundwater and earned extra money by adopting bed plantation method for wheat cultivation in the region.
Three out of five revenue blocks of the district, including Moga-1, Nihal Singh Wala, Moga-2 and its adjoining areas, had already been declared 'dark zones' by the CGWB, due to fast depletion of the water table.
Agriculture experts state that to prevent water table from depleting further farmers should adopt new technologies developed by PAU such as bed planting in wheat and other crops, use of laser leveller, tensiometer-aided irrigation, ridge planting in cotton and drip irrigation in fruit crops that save water to varying degrees.
"Bed plantation can be very successful technique for saving water along with intercropping and crop diversification. Sowing wheat on beds recorded significantly higher grain and straw yield as compared to conventional method. This planting system facilitates mechanical weed control, improves water as well as fertiliser use efficiency, reduces crop lodging and lowers seeding rates," said agriculture experts.
Agriculture development officer (ADO) Jaswinder Singh Brar while demonstrating bed plantation technique with a bed planter at the state government's seed farm at Raunta village said the furrow irrigated raised bed system (FIRBS) of wheat sowing is a relatively new technology in India, wherein the wheat sowing is accomplished in two or three rows on raised beds.
"Farmers can get extra income from additional mentha crop sown in mid-January between beds in wheat crop. By adopting bed plantation method, 35-40% irrigation water is also saved. Bed plantation helps use chemical fertiliser in a better way as the plant roots are more concentrated," said the ADO.
The agriculture officer added that, "Using simple and effective technique of planting wheat, maize and legume crops on raised beds, farmers are getting more crops per crop and can reduce irrigation requirements by up to 35%. The experimental results indicated that FIRB technique is not only save water, nutrients and labour but also facilitates diversification of the rice-wheat cropping system and improve the physical properties of soil. This method has been evolved to economise irrigation water in which raised beds of prepared to accommodate three rows of wheat between two furrows.
Moga deputy commissioner Arshdeep Singh Thind said, "Farmers should adopt improved technology along with improved agronomic strategies, which will help save underground water." By bed-planting system a farmer can get better yield out of medium to heavy soil with efficient use of inputs such as water, fertiliser, seed, weedicide to enhance productivity, he added.