Economics aspects of conservation agriculture


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Economics aspects of conservation agriculture

  1. 1. Economics Aspects of Conservation Agriculture K.M.Singh Principal Scientist and Head, Division of Socio Economics, Extension & Training, ICAR-RCER, Patna Presentation in “Workshop on Resource Conservation Technologies” ICAR-RCER, Patna from 17-19 September 2009.
  2. 2. What is Conservation Agriculture? o Conservation agriculture or Resource Conservation Technology (RCT) is an approach for the design and management of sustainable and resource-conserving agricultural systems. o It seeks to conserve, improve and make more efficient use of natural resources through integrated management of soil, water, crops and other biological resources in combination with selected external inputs. o Such a technological package represents a resource saving and efficient agriculture that contributes to environmental conservation and at the same time enhances production on sustainable basis. o Elements of Conservation Agriculture, inter-alia, include improved on-farm water management, minimum tillage, organic soil cover, direct seeding through the crop residue and appropriate crop rotations to avoid disease and pest problems.
  3. 3. Economic Rationale For Promoting Conservation Agriculture o From the farmer's perspective, the benefits of CA can be either on-site (private) or off-site (reduced sediment pollution, carbon sequestration, o In the absence of sustainable soil management practices, soil degradation can lead to crop and livestock losses, with regional or global consequences (refugees, famine, etc.). o Where the rest of the world provides assistance, these resources are wasted if the earlier adoption of CA or other practices could have avoided the situation. o In addition, lands under CA support terrestrial wildlife and soil micro fauna that are important components in global biodiversity. o Thus, good soil conservation and management can have benefits that the individual farmer does not anticipate, but which do have real implications for the global environment.
  4. 4. RCT refers to the system of raising crops without tilling the soil while retaining crop residues on the soil surface. The key elements which characterize RCT include: o Minimum soil disturbance by adopting no-tillage and minimum traffic for agricultural operations, o Leave and manage the crop residues on the soil surface, and o Adopt spatial and temporal crop sequencing/crop rotations to derive maximum benefits from inputs and minimize adverse environmental impacts. o Combining the above elements with improved land-shaping (e.g. through laser aided leveling, planting crops on beds, etc.) further enhances the opportunities for improved resource management. o In conventional systems, while soil tillage is a necessary requirement to produce a crop, tillage does not form a part of this strategy in RCT. o Intensive tillage in conventional systems causes gradual decline in soil organic matter content through accelerated oxidation, resulting in reduced capacity of the soil to regulate water and nutrient supplies to plants.
  5. 5. Benefits of RCT o Direct benefits to farmers include reduced cost of cultivation through savings in labour, time and farm power, and improved use efficiency resulting in reduced use of inputs. o RCT practices reduce resource degradation. o Gradual decomposition of surface residues improves soil organic matter status, biological activity and diversity and contributes to overall improvement in soil quality. o RCT is a way to reverse the processes of degradation inherent in conventional agricultural practices involving intensive cultivation, burning and/or removal of crop residues, etc. o RCT leads to sustainable improvements in efficient use of water and nutrients by improving nutrient balance and availability, infiltration and retention by the soil, reducing water loss due to evaporation and improving the quality and availability of ground and surface water.
  6. 6. RCT in India o The primary focus of promoting RCT practices has been the development and adoption of zero tillage cum fertilizer drill for sowing wheat crop in rice–wheat system. o Other interventions include raised-bed planting system, laser-aided land-leveling equipment, residue management alternatives, alternatives to rice–wheat cropping system in relation to RCT technologies, etc. o The adoption and spread of zero tillage is attributed to benefits like reduction in cost production, reduced incidence of weeds and therefore savings on account of weedicide costs, savings in water and nutrients and environmental benefits. o Adopting RCT helps in achieving greater crop diversification. o Crop sequences/rotations can further enhance natural ecological processes which contribute to system resilience and reduced vulnerability to yield, thus reducing disease and pest problems. o Zero-tillage when combined with appropriate surface-managed crop residues results in structural improvement of soil and increased recycling and availability of plant nutrients, which also improves soil moisture regime, biological activity and provides a favourable environment for crop growth.
  7. 7. Resource Conservation Technologies (RCT) Laser Land Leveling: It is a resource conservation technology, where laser beam guided automatic scrapers are used for more precision of land leveling work. Impact studies reveal significant benefits of precision land leveling as given below: Major Benefits of Laser Land Leveling Particulars Extent (%) Curtailment in irrigation application losses 25 Reduction in labour requirements 35 Enhancement in the irrigated area 2 Increase in the crop yields 20
  8. 8. Benefits of Precision Land Leveling using Laser Equipped Drag Bucket o Improving crop establishment o Improving uniformity of crop maturity o Approximately 3 % (in canal irrigated area) to 6 % (in tubewell irrigated area) increase in cultivable area o Has potential to increase water application efficiency by over 50 % o Increase in water productivity of crops o Increase in yield of crops (15 to 25 %) o Approximately 25-30% saving in irrigation water o Increase in nutrient use efficiency (15- 25 %) o Reduces weed problems and improves weed control efficiency. (Jat et al, 2004)
  9. 9. Zero Tillage o One of main reasons for low yields of wheat in rice-wheat cropping system is delayed planting of wheat due to late maturing of preceding rice crop sown in the region besides high cost of land preparations and other inputs. o After rice harvest, sufficient residual moisture is generally available to establish new crop. o Conventional tillage accelerates soil moisture evaporation and requires extra irrigation water to bring the field back to semblance of a seedbed. o This causes major delays in wheat sowing, which ultimately affects final crop yields. Decrease in wheat yield @ one percent per day after mid November is well documented. o Minimum/zero tillage offers conservation of water and energy resources and also results in better crop yields. o This technology had been in use since long in many parts of the world and then it was introduced in India. Initial trials were confined to progressive and large farmers. o Although yields results were impressive but uptake of the technology remained limited. This is partly because of high cost of zero tillage seed drills with limited availability.
  10. 10. Potential Benefits to the Application of Residue-Based Zero Tillage Systems o Reduced Cost of erosion o Reduction in the cost of fertilizers o Elimination of the costs of replanting o Savings in herbicides: o Savings in fuel o Reduced Costs of physical conservation works: o Increase in production o Analysis of the cost-benefit ratio of soil conservation: Investments in RCT could provide a return of 20 percent per year with the widespread adoption of adequate practices (particularly zero tillage and crop rotations) over a time period of 20 years.
  11. 11. On-farm benefits o Increase in organic matter content in upper layers of soil, increased biodiversity, number and activity (of earthworms, fungi, bacteria, etc.) in the soil. Better soil structure; soil loss reduced by over 80 percent, runoff by 50 percent or more; o Greater availability of P, K, Ca, Mg in the root zone; less fertilizer needed for same result. o Better germination and development of plants, better root development and to much greater depth; better crop stand in rainless periods due to increased water holding capacity. o Yields often higher, typically + 20 percent for maize/wheat, + 37 percent for beans, with less year-to-year yield variation. o Less investment and reduced use of machinery and animals in crop production; reduced costs for labour, fuel and machinery-hours perceptible within 2 years. o Operational net margins per ha rose by between + 58 percent and + 164 percent, because of combination of lower cost of production and increase in yields. o Greater flexibility in farm operations especially over optimum dates for planting.
  12. 12. Projected area coverage, savings in fuel and labor, and additional gains in productivity of wheat Year Acres under zero-till Total net saving (million Rs) Additional gains in wheat production (t) Fuel saved (l) Time saving (days labor) 2001 60,000 80 65,790 1,440,000 3,500,000 2002 180,000 240 197,370 4,320,000 10,500,000 2003 540,000 720 592,110 12,960,000 31,500,000 2004 1,250,000 1,667 1,370,625 30,000,000 72,916,667 Total 2,030,000 2,707 2,225,895 48,720,000 118,416,667
  13. 13. Salient features of zero tillage and puddled broadcasted sowing in rice under heavy soils of Patna ( 2003) Resource Benefits Rs./ha over conventional method (Puddled Transplanted) ZT Puddled broadcasted Saving in nursery raising 1140 1140 Saving in land preparation puddling, bund making and nursery uprooting 2850 00 Saving in rice planting/sowing 1200 1800 Saving in weeding (-) 3000 00 Increase income due to additional yield 2000(4q/ha) 1000 (2q/ha) Total gains 4190 3940 Source: Dr.S.S.Singh
  14. 14. Salient features of zero tillage sowing in wheat under heavy soils of Patna Resource Benefits rates over conventional sown (Rs./ha) Land preparation cost including sowing 1200 Saving in Seed 200 (20 kg/ha) Saving in 1st irrigation 267 (12 lit/ha) Saving in weeding 200 Increase income due to additional yield 4950 (8q/ha) Total gains 6617 Source: Dr.S.S.Singh
  15. 15. Salient features with pros and cons among zero tillage, surface seeding and conventional sowing in wheat under heavy soils of Patna - 2003 Features Zero tillage Surface seeding Conventional sowing Land preparation cost included sowing (Rs./acre) 240 00 800 Cost of diesel (Rs./acre) 60 00 300 Seed rate (kg/acre) 50 64 60 Advancing sowing date over conventional (days) 10-12 15-22 -- Source: Dr.S.S.Singh
  16. 16. Economics of Rice establishment in Patna-2002 (Rs./ Bigha*) Particular Zero tillage Surface seeding Conventional sowing Land preparation 00 200 200 Nursery raising 00 00 400 Puddling 00 500 500 Bund making 00 200 200 Rice planting/sowing 175 50 150 Weeding pre planting/ sowing 200 00 00 Weeding post planting/sowing 125 125 125 Total 500 1075 1575 Saving over conventional method 1075 500 -- *1 ha =4 Bighas Source: Dr.S.S.Singh
  17. 17. Off-farm benefits o Flooding risks reduced by 30-60 percent due to greater rainfall infiltration. Better recharge of underground aquifers, improving groundwater reserves and dry season flow in springs and streams; o Less herbicide use, more recycling of animal wastes; less sedimentation and infrastructure damage, e.g. silting of waterways, large dams; o Reduced water treatment costs due to less sediment, less bacterial and chemical contamination, and Savings of up to 50 percent in costs of maintenance and erosion avoidance on rural roads; o Reductions in fuel consumption of 50-70 percent or more and proportional reduction in greenhouse gas emissions; o Reduced pressure on the agricultural frontier and reduced deforestation by high-yielding, sustainable conservation agriculture and increased pasture carrying capacity through rotation with annual crops; o Enhanced diversity and activity of soil biota; Reduced carbon emissions through less fuel use and enhanced carbon sequestration by not destroying crop residues and increasing, rather than losing, soil organic matter (FAO, 2001a).
  18. 18. Bed and furrow planting Bed and furrow planting technology permits growing of crops on beds with less water. This technique has been tested for various crops and proved quite successful for wheat, maize, rice, etc. Some of the advantages associated with bed and furrow technology of crop production are given below: o Saving of about 30 percent irrigation water o Less reduced chances of plant submergence due to excessive rain or over-irrigation o Lesser crusting of soil around plants and, therefore, more suitable for saline and sodic soils o Adaptable for various crops without changing basic design/layout of farm o Enhanced fertilizer use efficiency due to local application o Minimum chances of crop lodging
  19. 19. Crop Residues Management Majority of the farmers consider crop residues, particularly their large amounts, as unwanted by-products and burn it. The major losses/damages associated with burning of wheat residues are as under: o Deterioration of general condition of the soil o Lowering of soil capability/fertility to produce high yields o Burning of beneficial insects/micro-organisms in the soil o Endangers natural environment o Considerable financial loss to farmers as the residues removed from fields could be used for some other purpose e.g. fodder, straw sale, and kitchen fuel.
  20. 20. Major benefits of management of crop residues o Better soil health and productivity o Addition in organic matter contents o Enhances infiltration rate o Improves water and nutrients use efficiency o Accelerates microbial activity o Lowers weeds infestation o Increases yield by 15-20 percent o Reduces environmental pollution o Removal of residues can provide additional income from grain recovery and straw sale and also dry feed for livestock.
  21. 21. „Conserving resources – enhancing productivity‟ o Availability of machinery/equipment for promotion of resource conservation technologies is a prerequisite for achieving targets of agricultural production. Availability of the implement at economical cost is the major constraint in promotion of bed planting of crops. Likewise, machinery is not available for crop residue management that is impeding the acceleration of this practice. o Organizing farmers’ days, holding of field demonstrations, cross-farm visits of extension experts and effective use of mass media i.e. print and electronic media for transfer of technology may play a major role in promotion of resource conservation technologies amongst the farming community.
  22. 22. „Conserving resources – enhancing productivity‟ o Capacity building of farmers to acquire, test and adopt the technologies through participatory approach will enable them to seek resource conservation technologies for their farms and thus they can reduce their production cost and combat production constraints. o Improvement in coordination among various stakeholders (research, extension service, farmers, service providers, agricultural machinery manufacturers, etc.) for transfer of technologies will play a pivotal role in accelerating the adoption of new interventions.
  23. 23. THANK YOU