Combating Drought through Soil Management Practices in Drought Affected Areas of India | TechGape

Combating Drought through Soil Management Practices in Drought Affected Areas of India

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Drought Management in India

Conventional tillage practices, which involves the opening of the soil up to considerable depth with help of different ploughs results into the loss of soil moisture. Hence in drought hit areas, conservational tillage practices like zero tillage and minimum tillage should be practiced to conserve the soil moisture.
Combating Drought through Soil Management Practices in Drought Affected Areas of India 

-Dr. Arvind Singh

Drought is a natural disaster characterized by the scarcity of water resources as a result of which the yield of the crops is adversely affected. About one-third geographical area of India constituting approximately two-fifth of the total cultivable area, supporting about 30 % of population is affected by drought. It covers around 100 Districts, of which 67 Districts are chronically affected by drought.

Drought
Distribution of Drought Affected Areas:
Mostly drought affected areas falls in the state of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Odisha, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.

There are two distinct drought affected tracks in the country. The first track comprises the desert and semi-arid region of India in a rectangular form running from Ahmedabad to Kanpur and then to Jalandhar covering an area of about 0.60 million km square whereas the second track comprises the area lying in the leeward side of Sahyadris covering an area of about 0.37 million km square.

Besides these two tracks, there are certain isolated pockets of drought affected areas which comprises the Coiambatore and Triunelvelli Districts of Tamil Nadu, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Banda and Mirzapur Districts of Uttar Pradesh, Purulia District of West Bengal, Palamu District of Jharkhand and the Kalahandi District of Orissa covering an area of about 0.1 million km square.

Types of Drought:
The drought is categorized into following four types:

1. Meteorological drought: It is a drought in which actual rainfall is significantly less than the climatologically expected rainfall over a wide area. Meteorological drought is the most common drought causing heavy losses to crop yield in India.

2. Hydrological drought: It occurs when low water supply becomes evident especially in streams, reservoirs, and groundwater levels, usually after many months of meteorological drought.

3. Agricultural drought: It is a drought in which the soil loses its effective moisture retention capacity through a complex of diverse processes and consequently leading to land aridization. It is also called as soil water drought.

4. Socioeconomic drought: This type of drought occurs when the demand of water exceeds the supply. Examples of this kind of drought include too much irrigation or when low river flow forces hydroelectric power plant operators to reduce energy production.

Causes of Drought:
The chief factors responsible for drought in India can be summarized as follows:

1. Variability in rainfall.
2. Delay in onset or early cessation of monsoon.
3. Duration of break or lull in monsoon season.
4. Areal difference in persistence of monsoon.
5. Deforestation.
6. Monoculture conversions.
7. Grazing.
8. Mining.
9. Quarrying
10. Intensive irrigation; and
11. Change in cropping pattern.

How to Combat Drought through Soil Management Practices?
Traditionally the crop production is low in drought hit regions due to scarcity of water. However, adoption of appropriate soil management practices could lead to enhanced agricultural production in these areas. The soils in drought affected areas are not thirsty but also hungry too. Moreover, the soils in these areas are often susceptible to wind erosion. Therefore, conservation of soil and soil moisture, and maintenance of soil fertility is necessary to enhance agricultural production in these areas.

Mulching with crop residue is the best way to conserve the soil and soil moisture. Therefore, in drought affected areas, the crops should be harvested 10-15 cm above the soil surface, as the non-harvested crop part would serve as mulch on the soil surface, conserving the soil and soil moisture.

Later, on the availability of moisture in wet season, mulch decomposition would lead to a substantial increase in soil fertility due to the addition of organic matter and nutrients to the soil. The increased organic matter content in turn would increase the water retention capacity of the soil.

Conventional tillage practices, which involves the opening of the soil up to considerable depth with help of different ploughs results into the loss of soil moisture. Hence in drought affected areas, conservational tillage practices like zero tillage and minimum tillage should be practiced to conserve the soil moisture. In conservational tillage the soil is disturbed to the minimum extent, as a result of which the soil moisture is maintained. Moreover, the conservational tillage also helps in conservation of the soil against wind erosion.

Farmyard manure, compost, concentrated organic manure and green manure should be used as a source of nutrient supply to the soil in drought affected areas. Besides supplying of nutrients, the farmyard manure, compost and green manure would also increase the water holding capacity of soil consequently there would be a substantial increase in soil moisture. There should be minimal use of chemical fertilizers, as these are ineffective owing to lack of adequate soil moisture. Application of inorganic fertilizers also destroys the soil structure exposing the soil to wind erosion.

In drought affected areas, sheep penning (wherein sheep and goats are allowed to stay overnight in the agricultural field) should inevitably be practiced to raise the fertility of the soil. The dropping of the sheep and goats contain higher concentration of nutrients compared to farmyard manure and compost.

Conclusion:
It can be concluded that drought is the greatest bane in country like India where the economy is dependent on the agriculture. Hence tackling drought is the need of the hour particularly in those areas which are chronically affected by drought.

The adoption of appropriate soil management practices like mulching, conservational tillage, use of manure, green manure, compost, concentrated organic manure and sheep penning could lead to an enhanced agricultural production in the drought affected areas of India. These management practices are cheap, environment friendly, good from soil health view point and sustainable in long run.
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Dr. Arvind Singh is M. Sc. and Ph. D. in Botany with area of specialization in Ecology. He is a dedicated Researcher having more than four dozens of published research papers in the journals of national and international repute. His main area of research is Restoration of Mined Lands. However, he has also conducted research on the Vascular Flora of Banaras Hindu University Main Campus, Varanasi (India). Furthermore, he is also an active science writer having more than 10 dozens of published science articles in different periodicals of national repute. His email address is: keywords: drought meaning, drought in india, drought indices, drought information, drought definition, What is Drought?, causes of drought, drought pronunciation, drought precautions, Drought Management, Management of the Drought, Drought Management Policies, drought management strategies, drought management plan, national drought management authority, drought management cycle, drought management techniques, drought management india the long term perspective, drought management strategies

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TechGape: Combating Drought through Soil Management Practices in Drought Affected Areas of India
Combating Drought through Soil Management Practices in Drought Affected Areas of India
Drought Management in India
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