Experts promote maize as future crop in Punjab
The rice-wheat cropping system has led to an alarming situation and some parts of Punjab have been declared as dark zones; under such circumstances, it becomes essential to go in for alternative cropping systems, which may help in saving of water along with sustaining the income of the farmer.Updated: Jun 02, 2013, 22:22 IST
The rice-wheat cropping system has led to an alarming situation and some parts of Punjab have been declared as dark zones; under such circumstances, it becomes essential to go in for alternative cropping systems, which may help in saving of water along with sustaining the income of the farmer.
With maize as the 'future crop', the Punjab government and the state agriculture department have decided to promote its cultivation in the state. Three out of the five revenue blocks of Moga district and its adjoining areas in the heartland of the Malwa belt have already been declared as 'dark zones' by the Central Water Commission due to fast depletion of the water table.
Agriculture experts say that to prevent the water table from depleting further, the farmers should diversify the area from paddy crop to other crops, like maize, sugarcane and basmati.
According to agriculture department officials, the state government has urged farmers to adopt cultivation of maize, the sowing of which began this week and would last for another three weeks.
While inspecting the demonstration plot of spring maize at Puranewala village in this district, agriculture development officer (ADO) Dr Jaswinder Singh Brar and agriculture officer (AO) Dr Harnek Singh said the wheat-paddy crop cycle had taken its toll on the natural resource of water.
Brar said the need of the hour was that the farmers should go in for alternative cropping systems. "We have hybrid varieties of maize and scientific methods for its cultivation, which can help raise production as compared to paddy or other crops, ensuring comfortable and equitable returns. The practice of trench method for cultivation of maize and other crops will help conserve water. It will also help control the weeds, thereby resulting in a better yield," said Brar.
Studies conducted by various agriculture universities and the state agriculture department indicate that the optimum row spacing in trenches should be 60cm with a plant population of 70,000 per hectare to get maximum yield.
Both agro-scientists said the experts of agriculture department provided practical knowledge to the farmers on scientific cultivation of maize by using maize transplanter by making trenches.
"Maize can be grown in winter (October 25 to November 30), in spring (January 20-mid-February), in summer (mid-March to mid-April) and in kharif season, early June is good time for sowing maize," they recommended.
Brar said that besides saving water, the trench method could also help farmers reduce the consumption of power in the interest of the state during the peak paddy season. Maize is extremely susceptible both to excessive water and moisture stress. "Maize can withstand heavy rain; however, the water should not be allowed to stand in the field any time during the maize growth. Water stagnation even for a small period as six hours can destroy the crop. On the other hand, the farmers are happy as they expect a good yield from the spring maize crop," he added.
Progressive farmers Jaspal Singh, Lachhman Singh and Bhupinder Singh of Puranewala village said if the state government seriously wanted diversification in Punjab, it should fix the support price of maize before the sowing of the crop.