Reclamation and Utilization of Sodic Land

Out of several productive hazards, soil alkalinity, was one of the major problem in the district. The extent of sodic soils were estimated by 1.21 lacs ha out of which 44,000 ha was badly affected (9.5 to 10.5 pH range). Most of the affected areas were under the ownership of village panchayats which have been leased out to the landless families of the village, who have meager resources. High cost of reclamation, lack of physical and financial resources, unawareness, low level of knowledge and hesitant to resistant behavior against reclamation were some of the major constraints in reclamation and utilization. The vision and aim of the KVK was to manage such type of land by linking with different organizations/departments to transform the area by facilitating for technical, physical and financial resources. In this context, KVK has implemented and Operational Research project on alkali reclamation sponsored by Indian council of Agricultural Research, during the period of 1985-86 to 1991-92 with following objective

  • To test, adopt and demonstrate the reclamation technologies and their suitability in local condition.
  • To determine the profitability of recommended technologies and their pace of adoption among the farmers.
  • To identify the constraints both technological and socio- economical which serves as barriers for adoption among the farmers, and
  • To demonstrate group action as method for popularizing the modern technologies at faster rate.

  • Project Activities :

    On the basis of above objectives, the activities have been performed through

  • Large scale demonstration on reclamation technologies by motivating, mobilizing and upgrading the knowledge and skill of the farmers under operational area.
  • Conducted on – farm trials on different technical aspects, to find out their suitability and adoptability among the farmers.
  • Organising field days and exhibitions for dissemination of viable technologies organizing field days and exhibitions for dissemination of viable technologies among larger group of farmers of the area, facilitating them by linking with other developmental agencies and departments of district for financial and input support, and
  • Observing the constraints emerges during the programme implementation as well as the adoption of technologies among the farmers.

  • Characteristics of the soil :

    The salt affected soils of the district was characterized by

  • Deposition of white or white – grayish powder on the surface of soil during dry period of the year.
  • pH of the soil was high and ranges up to 10.5 and above.
  • Available salts were predominated by sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate.
  • Presence of hard- pan were observed throughout the soil profile at a depth of 60 – 120 cm. With different size and density of kankars (caco3). The soil was highly depressed and have poor physical properties, resulting in restricted water and air movements.
  • Water table varies from 6-8 m and underground water was of good quality at every locations.
  • Devoid of vegetations for presence of Sporobollus species, Beuteamonosperma or some abnoxious busses.

  • Implementation of the programme :

    The programme was implemented in collaboration with agriculture department and District Rural Development Agency, Sultanpur with active participation of farmers of the operational area. During the implementation, following components have been taken up on priority basis

    Socio-Economic component :

  • Motivation and mobilization of farmers for active participation.
  • Involvement in decision making.
  • Linkages with development departments for financial and input support, installation of tubewells and other income generating activitie to improve family income.

  • Technical component :

  • On – farm development, like bunding, leveling, ploughing, creation of drainage facilities and irrigation channels, soil sampling, treatment of soil etc.
  • Use of alternative measures for reclamation to minimize the cost.
  • Use of salt tolerant crops, feasible cropping pattern and improved crop management practices.
  • Use of salt tolerant tree species of fruits and forestry, varieties of fruit crops, age of saplings and optimization of plant density.
  • Agro – techniques fro creation of favorite atmosphere to the root zone for young saplings which includes optimum pit size and pit preparation, use of filling mixture, pit condition for planting, water and nutrient management, training and pruning etc.

  • Priority of Enterprises :

    The first priority was given to the crop production by the farmers followed by fruits and forestry plantation. The community land of operational area was covered under forest trees, whereas, low lying area and old ponds were developed for fish culture.

    The majority of the farmers were of the view that sodic soils can not be reclaimed. Thus, the famers of the operational area were persuaded, motivated and mobilized through frequent meeting. The village leaders, block and village level functionaries as well as district authorities were also involved in the process. The technological efficacy of alkali reclamation has been successfully demonstrated and trials were conducted on their own fields to break their resistant behaviors during the period of 1985-1994 and 1,551 farmers of 23 villages have been benefitted by covering an area of 695 ha under crop production and 204 ha under fruit and forestry plantation.

    The recommended technologies related to crop production and plantation have been also modified according to available resources of the area. The outcome of the experiences and feasible technologies were disseminated among larger group of farmers through training, organizing kisan mela and field days in the adopted villages.

    Reclamation and Crop Production

    As the crop production was the priority area of lease holders, small and marginal farmers of the operational area, therefore, emphasis was given to this enterprise to fulfill the immediate need and early income. The results obtained from large number of demonstration and on-farm trials, full confidence was developed among the farmers. They have also accepted that, salt affected soil can be reclaimed successfully by adopting the agro-techniques. Depending upon the findings, following essential components of the technology have been recorded for achieving success in the reclamation and crop production in sodic soils.

    On - Farm Development :

    Proper land leveling and bunding is pre requisite for uniform leaching of salts and application of water for irrigation. The unleveled plots shows patchy effect and crop grown in such plots do not perform well due to accumulation of salts in depressed area.

    Drainage :

    Drainage is the most essential part of the alkali reclamation. Therefore, good surface drainage systems comprises field drain, sub-drain should be developed before reclamation.

    Provision of irrigation :

    Quality water is prerequisite for leaching of salts and crop production Therefore, assured irrigation through bore well is more beneficial than irrigation through canal system. The bore wells have also ensured in time availability as well as substantially keeps the ground water table at reasonable depth.

    Application of soil Amendments :

    Among the soil amendments, pyrites and gypsum is most commonly used for soil reclamation. The requirement of amendments per unit area depends on the nature and degree of soil deterioration, texture and other soil properties. However, it has been concluded that 50% of the total gypsum requirement is sufficient to improve the soil for crop production. Here, it has been also clearly observed that combined effect of organic materials and gypsum proves more effective in terms of cost and productivity.

    Effect of different combination of soil amendments with pyrite on yield of paddy crop(Variety p-4), village – Rampur(1991), Av. pH.10.2

    S.N. Treatment / Combination Soil amendment(t/ha) Av. Plant density at harvest m2 Av. Effective tiller/hill Av. Effective ear head at harvest/hill Av. Yield(q/ha)
    1 Pyrite 12.0 35.52 4.52 4.11 26.67
    2 Pyrite + Paddy Straw 6.0 + 25.0 37.33 4.92 4.33 28.75
    3 Pyrite + Pressmud 6.0+20.0 42.67 6.67 6.25 31.98
    4 Pyrite + FYM 6.0+25.0 43.46 7.13 6.67 33.98
    5 Pyrite + Water – Hyacinth 6.0 + 25.0 45.50 8.67 7.33 36.11

    Application of amendments in powder form upto 10 cm depth proved to be more effective in comparison to application of clots at lower depth. Addition of organic matter in the form of FYM. Green manures, water hyacinth, press mud of sugar mill or any other agricultural wastes available on cheaper rats helps in improving soil structure, aeration and also encourages micro-biological activities and crop growth.

    Crops and Cropping Pattern :

    Proper choice of crops and its varieties tolerant to salts is more important to ensure reasonable return during the initial phase of reclamation. Thouth, it is well established that rice-wheat crop rotation is found to be most economical at early stage. In general, those crops which are able to withstand excess moisture condition can also be grown successfully in reclaimed soil. In rice—wheat rotation, short to medium duration varieties of rice like Saket-4, Sarju- 52, CSR-10 Pant-6 ,Pant -10 etc. were more effective than long duration salt tolerant high yielding varieties like, Usar- 1 and NDR -501. Among the wheat varieties, K -7410, UP -2003, HD -2285, UP -262, Lok -1, Snalika; barley varieties Amber, Jyoti and Vijai; mustard varieties, Varuna, Rohini and NDR -8501 and barseem can be grown successfully in Rabi. As for as vegetable crops spinach for seed production was found most suitable crop followed by onion seed production and suger beet as fodder crop.

    Paddy seedlings should be raised in normal soil. The seedlings of rice used for planting should be 30-35 days old with increased number of seedling (3-5 plants) per hill at a distance of 15 cm apart. Gap filling must be ensured within seven days after transplanting to maintain the optimum plant density.

    Water Management :

    Due to poor water transmission characteristics of the alkali soil, care should be taken for water management specially in wheat. Light and frequent irrigation proved to be more useful than heavy irrigation at long intervals.

    Inter culture Operation :

    One inter culture operation in wheat after first irrigation proved to be more use full, because it helps in soil aeration, on yield of wheat grain (q/ha) in reclaimed alkali soil.

    Effect of inter culture operation on yield of wheat grain (q/ha) in reclaimed alkali soil.

    Treatment 1993-94 1994-95 Mean
    Hand Hoeing 30.60 32.40 31.45
    No Hoeing 28.50 30.40 29.45

    Regular Cultivation :

    The land once reclaimed for crop cultivation should not be kept fallow otherwise, tha land will reverse in its original condition.

    Dissemination of Reclamation Technologies :

    Obviously, the transfer of technology related to sodic land reclamation looks very simple but its implementation at gross – root level is more difficult and complex. Under the present agricultural extension system it is necessary to improve the knowledge and skill of the farmers as well as village level extension functionaries for effective implementation and dissemination of viable technologies as per needs of the local situation. Therefore, priority was given for periodical training, conducting demonstration, trials on famer’s field, organization of field day and frequent meeting with the farmer and extension functionaries in the operational area.