Rice-wheat crop rotation enhanced the prosperity of farmers and ensured the food security of the nation, but had resulted into the fall out in terms of depleting water table, impaired ecology and the deteriorated soil health. For sustainability in agriculture it becomes essential to go for some alternative cropping systems which may help in saving of water along with sustaining the income of the farmer.
A progressive farmer Ajay Sood, resident of Salina in district Moga has decided to permanently change his cropping pattern in future from rice-wheat to potato-maize-basmati, maize-potato-maize and maize-potato-mentha or summer moong in his own 20 acre field and becomes a role model for other farmers.
Now the department of agriculture Punjab has decided to organize the farmers training camps and demonstrations, to prevent the water table from depleting further, the farmers should diversify the area from paddy crop to other crops like maize, sugarcane, pulses, oilseed crops, medicinal, spices, vegetables, and basmati crops along with their processing and marketing by the farmers himself for earning more profit.
Maize in India, contributes nearly 9 % in the national food basket. In addition, to staple food for human being and quality feed for animals, maize serves as a basic raw material as an ingredient to thousands of industrial products that includes starch, oil, protein, alcoholic beverages, food sweeteners, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, film, textile, gum, package and paper industries.
Due to increasing maize demand for diversified uses in India, the maize is used as human food (23%), poultry feed (51%), animal feed (12 %), industrial (starch) products (12%), beverages and seed (1 % each).
While demonstrating transplanting technique of maize nursery at village Salina, Dr Jaswinder Singh Brar said, "Maize can be successfully cultivated by transplanting in winter season in the fields where it is not possible to vacate the field on time for planting of winter maize, the chances of delayed planting exists and due to delay planting crop establishment is a problem due to low temperature, so under such conditions transplanting is an alternative and well established technique for winter maize."
He further said that for that situation where fields are vacated during December-January, it is advisable to grow maize nursery in the November, for planting of one acre maize crop, sow 10 kg seed in 16 merla area by kera, keeping a row- to-row distance of 20 cm as recommended by PAU. "The age of seedlings for transplanting should be 30-40 days old (depending on the growth) and farmer can transplant maize nursery in the month of December-January in furrows to obtain higher yield," ADO added.
Dr Brar said that maize reqiures considerable moisture and warmth from germination to flowering. Most suitable temperature for germination is 21 C and for growth 32 C. Maize can grown in winter (25 October- 30 November),in spring( 20 January-mid February), in summer(mid March-mid April) and in kharif in last week of may-end June.
Former agriculture minister jathedar tota sinhg said that the rice- wheat system provides good returns to the farmers as compare to other crops but has created a problems ofsoil health as well as depletion of ground water mainly in central Punjab. "Punjab government impressed upon the union government to immediately sanction sufficient funds for crop diversification programnee in the state to shift the majority of cultivable area from paddy to cash rich crops like Maize, oilseeds, legume crops, fruits, vegetables and others as well as to evolve a long term state agriculture policy to overcome the stagnation in the agriculture sector by making agriculture profession remunerative and economically viable," he said.