Paper Tube Nursery Technique
Cotton transplanting Paper tube with size of 1 cm diameter and height of 20 cm were filled (top 1 cm left unfilled to supply water) with equal portion of vermi compost, sand and soil and packed gently. Compactness of packing should be ensured in every tube for proper germination. Healthy single seed was dibbled in each tube and water was applied from the top. Tubes were kept in iron tray filled with moist sand (moisture is maintained by sprinkling water) at bottom and covered with wire mesh facilitate to keep paper tubes in upwards. Seedling at the age of 20 days were transplanted in hole made by crow bar and pressed gently to avoid air pockets and irrigated immediately
Conservation Agriculture – Cropping systems
Bed and furrow planting system was identified for raising cotton and component crops with minimum tillage and residue recycling. Cotton – black gram – maize produced higher cotton equivalent yield than the conventional cotton – fallow system under conservation agricultural practices in irrigated conditions. Soil penetration resistance was reduced up to 9” soil depth with residue recycling compared to the Farmer’s practice
Intercrops lend stability to the cropping systems and reduce risks. Under rainfed conditions, several intercrops were evaluated, of which, black gram, green gram, soybean, cowpea and cluster bean was found to be suitable options. On a long-term basis, cultivation of legume intercrops reduced dependency on fertilizer-N. This was very much evident with the high biomass producing crop such as Desmanthes under irrigated conditions. Cotton + Desmanthes grown in alleys of the cotton rows significantly improved soil organic C and Seed cotton yields.
Significant response to application of fertilizer nutrients resulted in a mad rush to apply more of the fertilizers to realize higher seed cotton yields. Fertilizer use more than doubled in a decade from <100 kg ha-1 (2002) to >200 kg ha-1 (2015). But such high application rates lead to an increased risk of nutrient losses, higher cost of cultivation. Growing concerns relating to land degradation, and threat of environmental pollution from inappropriate use of inorganic fertilizers, lead to development of integrated nutrient management (INM) techniques. INM relies on crop residue-based organic manures. Crop residues are usually considered as waste materials and disposed of by burning. Bioconversion of cotton stalks into bio-enriched compost can bring down the dependency on inorganic fertilizers for sustainable cotton production apart from safe disposal of cotton wastes. This bio-enriched compost improves soil nutrient status, especially the soil organic matter and seed-cotton yields. Poor soil fertility is a major production constraint in rainfed calcareous soils. Seed treatment with humic acid (2 mg kg-1) and soil application of 125% recommended dose of fertilizer with four splits of nitrogen, two splits of phosphorus and potassium and soil application of Zinc Sulphate (ZnSO4) with 10 kg ha-1, Borax at 5 kg ha-1 and 0.5% chelated micronutrients at squaring stage and combined with erection of ridges and furrows at 45 days after sowing.
Nutrient Expert System
Nutrient Expert fertilizer decision support system was developed and validated for hybrid cotton. The tool, developed on the principles of site-specific nutrient management offers better nutrient stewardship for hybrid cotton and their prescriptions to farmers aimed at bridging the yield gaps and improved use efficiency.
Weeds can reduce crop yields and cause loss to an extent of 25% because of their fast-growing nature as compared to the cotton plants. Therefore, innovative and sustainable weed control measures that can be implemented to reduce weed pressure will help safeguard the productivity of agriculture. Allelopathy as an alternative weeds management strategy Timely weed management is difficult for cotton grown on the rainfed Vertisols because the soil becomes sticky and wet immediately after rains. Cover crops that produce allelochemicals are a possible option to reduce weed density during the crop growing season. It offers an added advantage in terms of additional soil moisture conserved. Effective cover crops are sun hemp, sorghum, forage cowpea, thornless Mimosa, and Desmanthes.
Low-cost drip system for Bt cotton In low cost drip system, polytubes (150 micron) were used instead of LLDPE lateral. The polytubes were punctured at single side at regular intervals (60 cm) and placed within the pair (60 cm) of paired rows planted cotton (120-60 cm). Low-cost drip systems produced yields equivalent to existing drip system. The cost of polytube drip system (Rs. 31,252/ha) is 58% less than existing drip system (Rs 74,080/-).
Alleviating soil compaction – a production constraint in cotton
Soil compaction is one of the factors that leads to land degradation. A better understanding of the causes and effects of soil compaction in cotton-based systems, will lead to strategies and management practices to alleviate compaction.
Soils rotated with deep rooted crops – pigeon pea, sunnhemp, daincha and radish had less penetration resistance than those without a rotation. The least resistance was observed with the deep sub-soiling treatment. However, deep sub-soiling treatment had a high fuel consumption of 9.5 lph compared to 7.2- 7.8 lph for the shallow sub-soiling treatments. Sub-soiling in alternate rows reduced fuel consumption by 50%. Seed cotton yields were the highest in the rotation plots, except radish.
Deep sub-soiling and rotation with deep rooted crops such as pigeon pea, radish, sesbania, sunnhemp produced greater yield than the non-sub soiled control. Among rotation crops, sesbania was followed by sunnhemp, soybean and pigeon pea.
Exploring the productivity potential of long-linted G. arboreum cotton
The project provides location-specific long linted arboreumstailored with an agronomic package to maximize their productivity of cotton despite the uncertainties posed by climate change and rainfall aberrations.
Among six medium long to long linted genotypes of G. arboreumL. (PA 812, PA 760, PA 528, PA 402, DLSA 17, CNA 1041) and a short staple check- Phule Dhanwantary were evaluated at two spacing (60 × 10/15 cm – HDPS and 60 × 30 cm-normal) on two dates of sowing (timely with the onset of the monsoon (D1) and late around 14 days after the first (D2) indicated that, genotypes CNA 1041 and PA 528 were the highest yielders, followed by PA 812 and PA 760. Yield was higher at 60×15 cm spacing.
Quantitative estimation of carbon and moisture fluxes over the cotton based agro-ecosystem: Integrating ground observations, satellite data and modelling
The project aims at a quantitative assessment of carbon/moisture fluxes and energy balance components over the cotton-based agroecosystems. The understanding and quantification of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the carbon, moisture and energy fluxes and stocks would help in modeling the net carbon sequestration at regional level. Eddy-covariance (EC) based estimation of carbon exchanges is ideally suited for addressing the magnitude and variability of the terrestrial carbon sink and moisture fluxes over terrestrial ecosystems. The outputs would be helpful for making policy decisions on environmental issues.
Cotton crop behaved as net carbon source during night time due to respiration. Whereas, it acted as a net carbon sink during day time as photosynthesis rate was more than respiration rate. The night Net Ecosystem Exchange (NEE) was 5-10 mol m-2s -1 for cotton crop. The day time NEE reached its peak during 12:00 to 14:00 hrs depending on the net radiation and clear sky condition. The peak NEE during 1 Aug (nearly 30 DOS) was found to be -10 mol m -2 s -1. It has increased to -20 to -25 mol m -2 s -1 during September- November at flowering and peak boll development stage.
The cumulative, seasonal values for Net Ecosystem CO2,Exchange. Gross Primary Productivity, Ecosystem respiration and evapotranspiration were -391.8 gC m2, 1063.9 gC m2.672.0 gC m2 and 545.3mm respectively. During the crop season 2020-21, around 3.92 t/ha carbon was sequestered in the rainfed cotton ecosystem.
On-station assessment of water footprint of cotton
Water footprint (WF) represents the extent of water consumption by the crop (green and blue water), and the amount of water required to dilute the ground water pollutants (grey water). Estimation of water footprint helps in the optimization of limited available water resources. As cotton is primarily grown as rainfed crop, the estimation of water footprint helps in sustainable water management in cotton cultivation.
The total Water footprint (WF) of rainfed cotton at Nagpur was 16384 m3/t of seed cotton, of which the green WF was 12187 m3/t, and the grey water foot print was 4198 m3/t. The total WF of drip-irrigated cotton was 13310 m3/t. The ridge and furrow-irrigated cotton at Coimbatore recorded a WF 26541 m3/t. Among the agro-techniques evaluated to reduce WF, broad bed and furrow with polymulch intercropped with green gram yielded higher SCY (3288 kg/ha) with less water requirement.
Integrated farming system to double income of cotton farmer
Single or sole crop systems are risk prone. Diversification of cropping systems is needed to better utilize natural resources and improve farm income of small farmers.
Integrated farming system (IFS) model produced 70.2 q/ha cotton equivalent yield with B:C ratio of 1.95. one goat (Usmanabadi) unit gave a net return of Rs.15,812 and a poultry (Giriraja) unit (100 birds in two batches), gave a net return of Rs. 65,614. Fruit and vegetables (custard apple, papaya, french bean, okra, tomato, cucurbits) as a horticulture component in IFS, yielded a net profit of Rs. 29,134 in a year. Overall, one-hectare IFS could generate 492 man-days during the one-year cropping season.
Efficient nitrogen fixing legumes for cotton-based cropping systems
Legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen, and intercropping of legumes with cotton will help in rural livelihood and food security. The prime objective of our study was to evaluate the best legume-intercropping system for rainfed and irrigated cotton.
Under rainfed conditions (Nagpur), cotton intercropped with legumes had higher leaf N compared to sole cotton. Similarly, legume rows had one-fold increase in soil N compared with the sole cotton. Under irrigated conditions (Coimbatore),Desmanthus virgatus was the best perennial legume for alley cropping under cotton – maize system.
The shortlisted legumes when intercropped with cotton had a complementary effect. This in turn influenced the cotton equivalent yield (CEY) significantly when intercropped with G. hirsutum var Suraj and G. arboreum var Phule Dhanwantary, compared to the sole cotton. Among the six legumes tested, intercropping Suraj with greengram had maximum CEY (up to 27%) as well as gross monetary return (GMR), net monetary return (NMR) and B:C ratio than other legume intercrops. Similarly, intercropping of Phule dhanwantary with soybean produced maximum CEY (up to 31%) compared to other legume intercrops with additional benefits of GMR, NMR and B:C ratio.
Evaluating of agrotechniques for overcoming of weather aberration of drought and water logging in cotton
The expected erratic distribution of rainfall leads to frequent wet and dry spell. Continuous dry/wet or both spells during critical crop growth periods of squaring, flowering and boll development may affect the yield of the crop. Water logging coupled with drought leads to poor performance of crop. The contingent measures identified from this project could be useful for managing low and excess moisture stress.
Adoption of soil moisture conservation techniques (ridges and furrows) followed by foliar application of Glycine Betaine @ 100 ppm, 5 days after plant drought experience were found useful to manage drought. Adoption of drainage practice (ridges and furrows) followed by foliar application of salicylic acid (0.5mM) 3 days after water-logging were found useful to manage excess water stress. Water-logging (36 h) reduced germination by 40.5%, 35.0%, 21.0%, 37.6%, 24.5%, and 26.3% respectively, in arboreum (PA 528),barbadense (Suvin), hirsutum (Suraj), herbaceum (G Cot 25), H × H (RCH 659 BG II), and H × B (MRC 7918 BGII).
Drainage practice by adopting ridges and furrows followed by foliar application of salicylic acid @ 0.5 mM had lowered the incidence of Altemaria and improved the uptake of total N, total Ca, total Fe and total Mn significantly. Water logging resulted in decreased concentration of nitrate reductase (NR) activity across treatments as compared to control. But effect of melatonin @ 100 pM, Fe, SO. (0.5%) and urea 1% treatments stabilized the NR.
Sustainable Intensification of Extra Long Staple Cotton Production in South Zone
Maintenance of increased plant population per unit area and the judicious use of growth regulators for canopy management are expected to enhance the productivity of Extra Long Staple (ELS) cotton. Field experiment is being conducted at ICAR-CICR Regional Station, Coimbatore from July 2019 onward to study the effect of increased plant population per unit area and use of growth regulators on the productivity of ELS cotton.
The application of growth regulators Mepiquat chloride and Chlormequat chloride at 70 and 100 DAS significantly reduced plant height in Suvin and RCHB 625 BGII at 125 DAS. Planting Suvin at 90 × 45 cm spacing produced significantly higher SCY (1395 kg/ha) than 90 × 60 cm (1150 kg/ha). Planting RCHB 625 BG II hybrid at 90 × 30 cm spacing produced significantly higher SCY (1892 kg/ha) than 90 × 60 cm (1628 kg/ha) and 90 × 45 cm (1620 kg/ha).
Under conventional ridges and furrow irrigation system, foliar spray of mepiquat chloride (60ppm), at flowering stage followed by the second dose 30 days after the first spray significantly reduced plant height and increased seed cotton yield in RCHB 625 BGII vis-a-vis untreated plants. Under drip fertigation system, planting of Suvin with fertigation and foliar spray of mepiquat chloride followed by subsequent dose of 30 ppm produced highest seed cotton yield of 2182 kg/ha (significantly higher than that of farmer’s practice).
Enhancement in productivity of cotton through improvement in agro-techniques under North-Western Indian conditions
Bt cotton variety (CICR Bt-6) and non-Bt cotton variety (CSH 307) with a combination of early sowing, spacing of 67.5 cm × 45 cm and Mepiquat chloride spray at 60 and 75 DAS were identified as BMPs for high yield. Similarly, for BG II hybrid (SP-7172) a combination of early sowing, spacing of 67.5 cm × 60 cm and Mepiquat chloride spray at 60 and 75 DAS were identified as Best Management Practices BMPs. When sowing was delayed to the second week of June, planting at closer spacing ie. 67.5 cm × 10 cm for varieties and 67.5 cm × 30 cm for hybrid was a better option.
In North-west India, early sowing (in 4th week of April) of Bt cotton variety, non-Bt cotton variety as well as Bt cotton hybrid gave significantly higher seed cotton yield. Application of Mepiquat chloride @ 20 g ai / ha at 60 and 75 DAS significantly improved the seed cotton yield over control.
Development of cotton-based cropping systems under conservation agriculture for NorthWestern Indian conditions
Cotton based cropping systems in the north-western India are accompanied by intensive, yearly soil tillage leading to soil quality degradation and reduction in productivity. The need for conservation agriculture practices has become necessary for long-term resource conservation and for improvement of soil health. A trial with fixed lay out plan were being conducted under split plot design with six tillage and land configuration treatments (as main plots) and seven cropping systems (as sub plots).
At Sirsa, the seed cotton yield (SCY) was significantly higher under Zero tillage – permanent narrow raised bed with residue retention on surface. Among the cropping systems, Cotton – Chickpea cropping systems recorded significantly higher SCY. Seed cotton yield was significantly higher under zero tillage – permanent narrow raised bed with residue retention as compared to the other treatments of zero tillage and conventional tillage. Total system productivity was higher under cotton-berseem cropping system and second-best total system productivity was under cotton – wheat cropping system.
Investigation on the effect of skips and multiples on the productivity of machine planted cotton
Picking, weeding and sowing are the main labour-intensive field operations in cotton cultivation.Precision pneumatic planters are now available to plant a single cotton seed at desired spacing thereby, reducing the expense on seeds and labour for planting. The project aims to evaluate the precision planters for better plant stand and uniformity and also to evaluate the productivity of cotton under different simulated regimes of skips and multiples in order to identify the extent to which cotton can compensate for skips and multiples in machine planted cotton
Doubles and multiples were almost negligible with the Gaspardo pneumatic planter. Skip and doubles studies with BGII hybrid indicated that skips up to 15% was compensated without significant yield penalty when 10% doubles were present. Significant yield reduction was observed at 20 and 25% skips without doubles.