Effect of tillage and crop establishment methods on yield and economics of cotton
Effect of tillage and crop establishment cotton performance
Conventional cotton production practices encompass several tillage operations, including land planning, levelling, harrowing, chisel ploughing, and cultivation for weed control and maintenance of irrigation furrows. Tillage operations may lead to degradation of soil structure, oxidation of organic matter and soil loss through wind and water erosion. Zero tillage is an alternative production system that may offer several economic and environmental benefits. Over the period of time, crop residue on the soil surface may increase the infiltration of water into the soil as compared to conventional tillage practices, reduce crusting and decrease the effect of wind and temperature on soil water evaporation from the soil surface. In Haryana (India) cotton is generally sown with conventional tillage practices in the month of April/May. At this time temperature is very high, which leads to burning of emerging plant. Also pre - monsoon showers after sowing result in crust formation, hence hampering germination. So farmers have to sow the cotton again. Keeping all these points in view, an experiment was conducted with farmers’ participatory research mode during 2011, 2012 and 2013 at farmer’s field in village Hajwana of Kaithal district (Haryana, India) in randomized block design with three treatments (Farmers’ Practice ie conventional planting, Bed Planting and Zero tillage) and seven replications. Cotton sown with zero tillage technique resulted in approximately five percent higher yield ie 136.3 kg ha-1 over conventional tillage. Mean returns over variable cost of all the three years were 10.8 percent ie ₹ 11794 ha-1 more in zero tillage over conventional tillage. Benefit: cost ratio were 3.86, 3.86 and 4.61 in conventional method of planting, bed planting and zero tillage technique, respectively. Zero tillage planting of cotton reduced fuel consumption by 93.4 % and 91.7 % compared to bed planting and conventional planting respectively. In bed planting method, 425 minutes were required for seed bed preparation and planting operations in one hectare while, these times were 312.5 and 37.5 minutes for conventional and zero tillage methods, respectively . Net monitory saving in seed bed preparation and planting under zero tillage over conventional tillage and bed planting in cotton is ₹ 6375 and ₹ 7625 respectively.