4. What is Dryland Farming? Issues & Strategies?

What is Dryland Farming? How is it different from Dry or Rainfed Farming? Its issues and strategies?
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Dryland Farming Flowchart
Topic: Dryland Farming Flowchart

Dryland Farming

  • Dry Farming:
    • It is a system of farming in an area that gets rainfall less than 75 cm per year.
    • In such an area, the risk of crop failure due to moisture stress is common.
    • Generally, alternative use of land is recommended.
    • A short-duration crop can be taken during the rainy season.
  • Dryland Farming:
    • It is the System of Farming in an area that gets annual rainfall somewhere between 75 to 115 cm.
    • Generally, a single crop can be taken from such areas.
    • Soil moisture conservation is the key to the success of crops.
  • Rainfed Farming:
    • It is practiced in an area with annual rainfall crossing or more than 115 cm.
    • Even two crops can be taken from such areas.
    • Drainage may be an issue in such areas.

UN Economic and Social Council for Asia-Pacific:

S.NO.ConstituentsDryland FarmingRainfed
1.Rainfall (mm)<800>800
2.Moisture Availability to the CropShortageEnough
3.Growing Season<200 Days>200 Days
4.Growing Regions.Arid & Semi-AridHumid & Sub-Humid
5.Cropping SystemSingle or IntercroppingInter or Double Cropping
6.ConstraintsWind & Water ErosionWater Erosion
Table: Dryland vs Rainfed
  1. 80% of the rainfall occurs in 10-15 Days during the rainy season/Monsoon.
  2. Even during the rainy season, 2 dry spells occur:
    1. First in July
    2. Second in September
  3. Moisture availability affects the crop production system.
  4. During the Kharif Season, evaporation rates become too high resulting in complete depletion of available moisture(available only in a short window of 20-25 days), making the season unsuitable for any crop.
  5. Soils of such areas are very light textured and very poor in terms of fertility.
  6. Wind & Water Erosion is a very common issue in such areas.
  7. Socio-economic, environmental, and technological constraints.
  8. People living in these areas generally have a very low risk bearing capability.
  9. The availability of infrastructure in such areas are very limited.

Strategies for Dryland

  1. Water Technologies Intervention:
    1. Soil moisture conservation
    2. Drought-associated problem analysis.
    3. Reduce evaporation losses using methods such as mulching.
    4. Increase groundwater potential by increasing infiltration during the rainy season.
    5. Transfer of water from surplus areas.
    6. Water harvesting in the field.
    7. Watershed Management
  2. Scientific and Technological Interventions:
    1. Weather forecasting for timely management.
    2. Crop planning according to moisture availability and weather reports.
    3. Correction of nutrient deficiencies to make the plants strong to withstand adverse conditions.
    4. Conservation tillage practices to conserve soil moisture.
    5. Alternate cropping.
    6. Use of biotechnology to make more drought resistant plants.
  3. Energy-related Interventions:
    1. Energy budgeting.
    2. Alternate source of energy.
  4. Socio-economic Interventions:
    1. Liberal credit facility.
    2. Adequate marketing facilities.
    3. Crop Insurance.
    4. Encouraging participative management systems.

Dryland Areas Extent

The world’s drylands and subtypes. Prepared using spatial data from UNEP-WCMC (2007).
The world’s drylands and subtypes. Prepared using spatial data from UNEP-WCMC (2007).

In World

  • 41% of the total earth’s land surface is dryland.
  • Drylands are home to one third of world’s population.
  • 72% of these drylands are in developing nations, whereas only 28% in industrialised countries.

In India

  • Constitutes about 68% of total cultivated area in India.
  • Accounts for 44% of food production.
  • Vast Majority of small scale farmers depends on these areas.

Therefore, Drylands not only hold significance to people living in these areas, but to the total food security of nations. Their sustainable management becomes even more important as these areas are mostly poverty-stricken areas.

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Sources For More: FAO, Book by Nemraj Sunda, Any Agricultural University Manuals, etc.

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