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Soil and Crop Management Division      

The Division is dedicated to pursuing interdisciplinary research on management of salt affected soils and use of marginal quality irrigation waters for crop production. Multi-disciplinary research activities involving experts in Pedology, Soil Fertility & Chemistry, Soil Physics, Soil Microbiology, Agronomy, Agro-forestry and Fisheries is the major strength of the Division. The major research activities in the Division include preparation and digitization of database on salt affected soils besides periodic assessment of state of soil resources, developing technologies for the optimal management of gypsum amended alkali soils and the use of high RSC and saline waters for crop production. In the post-reclamation phase, focus is on developing resource conservation technologies and the development of farming system models for resource poor farmers owning 2 ha or less land.

Besides excellent experimental fields, pot houses, lysimeters etc., the division posses a state-of-the-art Central Laboratory and other specialized laboratories.

The Division has developed linkages with various organizations such as CADA, HLRDC, Haryana Forest Department, Haryana Agri. Department, NRCAF, INCID, DST etc. The division has built up an excellent Central Laboratory facility with state-of-the-art modern equipments and analytical tools. Besides Central Laboratory, the Division has well equipped Pedology, Soil Chemistry, Soil Physics, Water Quality, Agro-forestry, Micro-biology and Fisheries laboratories.

Research Achievements

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Database for salt affected soils

  • Maps of different states showing salt affected soils have been prepared. Maps of salt affected soils prepared for Gujarat and selected districts of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh using remote sensing and GIS techniques.
  • Irrigation water quality map of the country has been published on 1:6 million scale.

Reclamation and management of alkali soil

  • Pedogenic impact of elevation and slope on genesis of alkali soils due to inflow of Na salts and also in-situ weathering of soda feldspars has been established
  • Advance methods have been developed for determination of CEC, ESP and Gypsum requirement.
  • Developed complete reclamation package for alkali soils. Application of 50% of gypsum requirement (GR) in surface 15 cm soil or 25% of GR+FYM @ 20 t/ha help reclaim alkali soils. This technology not only sustains the productivity of rice based cropping system but also maintains soil fertility to an optimum level.
  • Combined use of sulphonated press-mud cake (SPMC) could effectively reduce the requirements of gypsum for reclamation of sodic soils
  • Application of green manuring or FYM (10 Mg ha-1) with 50% or 100 % NPK significantly increased rice yield over fertilizer application alone.
  • In reclaimed alkali soils, crop residue incorporation increased the wheat grain yields by 4.0%, and 7.2% in conventional and reduced tillage practices, respectively. Sesbania green and brown manuring practices produced 6.2 and 4.7% higher wheat grain yields under zero tillage condition.
  • Zero tillage practice in reclaimed alkali soil increased mean weight diameter of aggregates in barley crop by 54.4 per cent. On an average, zero tillage improved the extent of water stable aggregates by 36.3 per cent.
  • Application of vermicompost @ 2.5 t ha-1 along with 50 % NPK produced 17 and 26 per cent higher grain and straw yields of wheat, respectively. This practice also enhanced maize grain yield by 17 per cent and improved the microbial activity of soil. The interactive effects of fertilizer application and sodic water irrigation were non-significant.
  • On 2 ha reclaimed sodic soils, Multienterprise Agriculture model provided an average net income of 277919/- and generated regular employment for the farmer’s family, whereas grain production components provides only 136615. Three year’s economic analysis showed that the daily net income from the model is 405, which includes 298/- from animal products (milk+compost+biogas),  54/- from on-dyke fruits and vegetables, 33/- from fish and 27/- from bee-keeping.
  • Broadcasting wheat at the time of last irrigation in paddy followed by broadcasting of 33% recommended N, and application of P and Zn at the time of first irrigation to wheat produced 10-12 per cent higher grain yield.
  • SOC was found to be more evenly distributed in forestry-based perennial land-use systems than that of rice-wheat system under reclaimed sodic soil conditions of North-West India. Perennial tree based systems and zero-tilled soybean–wheat system proved better for maintaining/enhancing soil health.

Management of waterlogged saline soils

  • Efficient, balanced and integrated nutrient management strategies for sustaining crop production in saline soils have been developed

Management of poor quality waters

  • Under Karnal conditions, waters with EC up to 2 dS m-1, SAR upto 20 mmol1/2L-1/2 & RSC upto 5 me L-1 can be successfully used for irrigating field crops without appreciable salinity or alkalinity build-up.
  • Wheat yield remained statistically non significant by irrigation water quality, while the maize-fodder yield underwent drastic reduction (40-80%) due to combined effect of RSC, SAR and EC of water, showing its vulnerability to saline and alkali conditions.
  • Irrigation with sulfate dominant water proved better than chloride dominant water in most of the field crops of North-West India. Use of FYM helped in decreasing salt accumulation in surface soil layer.
  • Wastewater can be disposed maximum up to 1.2 ID:CPE in marigold. Tukham malanga found to be a suitable crop for wastewater use. Wastewater can be successfully used in conjunction with groundwater in cultivation of Tukham malanga, marigold and lemon grass.
  • Upon irrigation with waste water, higher accumulation of heavy metal was observed in Marigold leaves as compared with flowers. The contents of heavy metals in flower of Marigold were in the order of Cd>Ni>Cr and in the case of leaves Cd>Cr>Ni.
  • There was substantial removal of Pb, Cd and Ni by Aspergillus niger and A. awamori grown on rice straw from aqueous solution containing these heavy metals individually and in combination. The optimum pH for removal of Pb and Cd for three efficient fungi (Trichoderma fasciculatum, Phanerochacte chrysosporium and T. longibrachiatum) from liquid medium was 5.0 whereas it was 4.5 in case of Ni. Similarly, the optimum pH for removal of Pb and Cd by four bacteria (Bacillus cereus, B.sp. BS 18 and Ni 16) from liquid medium was 7.5 and it was 6.5 in case of Ni.

Agro-forestry in salt affected soils

  • Fruit trees like Aonla and Karonda can be grown along with crops like Clusterbean and Barley in dryland saline soils in arid situations of Hisar.
  • Higher densities (>1993 stems ha-1) of Eucalyptus plantations under both sewage and tube well water irrigation resulted in decreased tree growth. Increase in average wood volume was 11.0, 11.3 and 5.2 m3 ha-1 in sewage irrigated high density (HD–1993 stems ha-1), recommended density (RD- 516 stems ha-1) and low density (LD-163 stems ha-1 ) plantations, respectively. Respective values for tube well water were 10.6, 10.4 and 4.8 m3 ha-1. During 8th year of growth, about 13.9, 19.7 and 22 percent of average yearly wood increase in HD, RD and LD, respectively was recorded.
  • Poplar agro-forestry enhanced wheat grain yield by 26 percent over sole wheat crop. Sewage irrigation has the potential to supplement about 50 percent of N and P.
  • Different irrigation schedules and salinity treatments did not influence height and girth of the trees significantly in the first six months. However, impact was visible in some species only after six months.
  • Consequent upon leaching 15-20 pore volumes through the soil, steady decline in solute concentration was observed and the relative hydraulic conductivity dropped following a power function.