Balanced Fertilization for Enhancing the Productivity of the Pearl Millet-Wheat-Green Gram Crop Sequence in Agra, Uttar Pradesh

Pearl millet-wheat is a common cropping system in dryland areas of India. However, system yields are often low due to inadequate and unbalanced nutrient application to the crops. This study was initiated to intensify the pearl millet-wheat cropping system through balanced application of nutrients for a targeted system yield as well as by inclusion of a legume crop in the system.


16 Apr 2014

2013 Annual Interpretive Summary

On-farm trials were conducted in five villages of Agra district during kharif, rabi and summer seasons of 2012-13 to study the effect of balanced use of nutrients on pearl millet and wheat yield. The economics of fertilization and the effects of residual soil fertility were also measured. Eight nutrient application treatments used were: T1, Farmers current practice; T2, fertilization to achieve target yields of 3.75 and 3 t/ha of pearl millet and wheat, respectively; T3, fertilization to achieve a 4 t/ha target yield of pearl millet and wheat; T4, fertilization to achieve a 4.5 and 5 t/ha target yield of pearl millet and wheat, respectively; T5, fertilization to achieve 5 and 6 t/ha target yield of pearl millet and wheat, respectively; T6, N fertilizer omitted from T5; T7, P fertilizer omitted from T5; and T8, K fertilizer omitted from T5).

The experimental results showed that treatment T5 (150 kg N + 98 kg P2O5 + 70 kg K2O/ha) increased the pearl millet grain yield from 3.2 t/ha under farmer practice (T1) to 6 t/ha. The corresponding increase in net profit was from INR 26,176 (T1) to 48,912/ha (T5). Nitrogen (T6), P (T7) and K (T8) omissions reduced the pearl millet grain yield by 53, 42 and 18%, respectively over T5. For wheat, T6 (Nutrient Expert® based recommendation for 6 t/ha targeted yield) produced the highest mean grain yield (6.1 t/ha), followed by T4 (5.7 t/ha) and least in the N omission (2.76 t/ha) treatment. Further, the farmer practice of fertilizer application proved suboptimal and produced only 4.9 t/ha of wheat grain. Omission of nutrients caused wheat grain yield reductions by 55% (-N), 29% (-P), and 10 % (-K). The highest yielding treatment (140 kg N, 93 kg P2O5, 92 or 102 kg K2O/ha) produced markedly higher net returns (INR 79,553/ha) and a Benefit:Cost ratio of 2.8 compared to the other treatments.

Greengram (mung bean) was grown in sequence following wheat harvest during the summer season on residual fertility. The effect of yield target-based fertilizer application in pearl millet and wheat was clearly evident in greengram yields. Highest yield of greengram (1.5 t/ha) was obtained in the T5 treatment, where fertilization was done targeting highest yields of pearl millet and greengram. The P omission plot (T7), with no P application in previous crops, produced the lowest yield (1 t/ha). The average net income from greengram in the T5 treatment was INR 58,900/ha. Agricultural fields are typically kept vacant for nearly 3 months after the harvest of winter wheat and before planting of pearl millet. The inclusion of greengram in the cropping system improved the system productivity of the conventional pearl millet-wheat cropping system and provided further income opportunities to smallholder farmers and employment to landless laborers in the "lean" season of the region.