- The spread in the regions where the average annual rainfall is less than 75 cm.
- rainfall is scanty and uncertain, where hot and dry conditions prevail.
- It is not only that the average annual rainfall is low, the variability of rainfall in these areas varies between 25 to 60 per cent.
- Agriculture belongs to fragile, high risking and low productive agricultural ecosystem.
- The areas in which more than 75 cm of average annual rainfall is recorded are known as the areas of rain-fed agriculture.
- In India dry-lands cover about 32 million hectares or about 25 per cent of the total arable land.
- The dry farming areas cover the greater parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. Moreover, there are small tracts of dry land farming in Punjab, Haryana, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, harkhand, Orissa, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu.
- These areas having scanty rainfall and high variability of rainfall are adversely affected by erratic precipitation, frequent droughts, high temperature, and high wind velocity resulting in soil erosion.
Significant Features of Dry Farming
- Moisture conservation is basic to dry farming. In order to achieve this objective, the field is ploughed repeatedly, especially during the rainy season.
- Sowing of crops in alternate years or fallowing of land after each harvesting of crop. The fallowing of agricultural land helps in the recuperation of soil fertility.
- Pulverisation of the soil before sowing.
- Regular hoeing and weeding of the crop. Hoeing is generally done before sun-rise so that the night dew may be mixed into the soil to provide moisture to the crops.
- Covering of the land with straw to prevent evaporation of the soil moisture and to control soil erosion.
- Livestock keeping and dairying are also important allied agricultural activities in the dry farming regions.
- The main crops grown in the dry farming areas are coarse, grains (maize, millets, bajra), pulses, groundnut, oilseeds and fodder.
- Though 75 per cent of the total population of dry-farming regions are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture, their per capita income, and standard of living are significantly low.
Main Problems of Dry Farming
The main problems of dry farming agriculture are as under:
- Scarcity of precipitation, erratic occurrence of rains leading to famines, droughts, and floods.
- The soils, being sandy, lack in humus and organic nutrients.
- The dry farming areas are highly vulnerable to soil erosion.
- These are low yields per unit area.
- In the absence of moisture and irrigation, the use of High Yielding Varieties and new technology is not possible.
- Most of the farmers in the dry farming regions being poor are not able to apply the new costly inputs.
- These areas are not having the basic irrigation and other infrastructural facilities, like roads, marketing and storage
Strategy for Development
- As stated earlier, agriculture is a highly vulnerable occupation in the scanty rainfall recording areas in which dry farming is practiced.
- In dry farming areas, water harvesting should be done. The government and other non-government agencies should provide the necessary guidance to the people.
- Seeds of food crops which are drought resistant should be provided to the farmers at a subsidized rate.
- Efforts should be made to check soil erosion by adopting soil conservation practices.
- The farmers should space their crops at a wide gap and there should be regular weeding and hoeing.
- Seeds of the quick and short duration maturing crops should be developed.
- Cultivation of crops requiring more moisture should be done in the low lying areas, especially in the lower parts of the catchment.
- Cotton should be grown only in the areas where rainfall is more dependable or sprinkle irrigation is available.
- Soil fertility should be enhanced by applying cow dung and compost manures.
- Repeated tilling of the field is required during the rainy season.
- Research should be promoted in the dry land farming.
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