Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Impact of Resource Conservation Technologies for Sustainability of Irrigated Agriculture in Punjab-Pakistan

Muhammad Rafiq Akhtar
Director, Agricultural Information, Punjab, Lahore (Pakistan).

Pakistan is rightly proclaimed as an agricultural country. Agriculture is the largest commodity producing sector and mainstay of the country’s economy. Wheat as a main staple food crop of Pakistan is grown on about 8 million hectares every year. It is a Rabi (winter) crop and replaces rice and cotton in rice-wheat and cotton-wheat systems, respectively. Rice and cotton is grown on 2.4 and 2.9 million hectares every year, respectively. Pakistan’s population is increasing at an alarming pace and it has reached to about 150 million already. Resultantly, with the exception of few years, Pakistan had to import wheat from international market on expense of huge foreign exchange to meet food requirements of its burgeoning population. It is, therefore, imperative to enhance wheat yield by encouraging farmers, predominantly small farmers, to grow more wheat
with efficient and judicious use of land and water resources. Land and water resources especially for agricultural purposes are getting scarce day by day due to mismanagement. This water deficient scenario is also posing serious threats to food security for generations to come. A shift in the production techniques intervening flooded irrigation methods for efficient utilization of resources is being recommended and same has been actively adopted in many courtiers of South Asia. The resource conservation technologies (RCTs) mainly include bed planting of wheat, sowing of wheat following zero tillage technology, bed and furrow sowing of cotton and management of crop residues. Laser land leveling adopted in Pakistan has shown encouraging results under zero tillage technique wheat is sown using residual moisture with no or minimum tillage without irrigating the fields with the aim to sow wheat in time after rice, conservation of water, and reduced cultivation cost. The technology has been adopted on about one million hectares and presently farmers own more than 5,000 zero tillage drills. Similarly, crops especially cotton is being planted on the raised beds to minimize water losses caused in the flood irrigations. Although these technologies are being adopted on wide scale, yet some quarters are still showing their concerns regarding weed control, pest management and impact on soil structure in relation to adoption of such technology in rice-wheat system of the Punjab. Other faction of scientists/experts is advocating adoption of zero tillage in the country because of embedded benefits of these technologies; for example, efficient use of water and other inputs, cost effectiveness compared to conventional methods of sowing, reduced consumption of diesel and above all, advancement of planting date of wheat by reducing turn around time between wheat sowing and successive rice crop. Latest dimensions of zero tillage and bed planting are also being highlighted in favour of this technology including improving soil biodiversity, reduced air pollution, mitigation of environmental degradation after residue burning, and carbon sequestration.

Keywords: Irrigated farming; sustainability; resource conservation; productivity; Punjab; Pakistan.
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Effects of Storage of Bananas in Controlled Atmosphere Before Ethylene Treatments on Its Ripening and Quality

Saeed Ahmad
Ph.D. Study, Cranfield University, UK.,
M. A. Perviez
Assistant Research Officer,
A. K. Thompson
Institute of Horticultural Sciences, University of Agriculture Faisalabad.,

and Hammed Ullah
Citrus Research Station, Sahiwal.

The study was conducted in Post Harvest Laboratory, Cranfield University at Silsoe College, UK during 1999. The objective was to investigate whether ripening processes in banana fruits which are depressed in reduced O2 and increased CO2 storage for two weeks, could be initiated with ethylene treatment and produce good quality ripe fruit like control. It was observed that ethylene treatment became dominant over the inhibition effect of controlled atmosphere storage when bananas were removed to normal air. All bananas including control reached colour stage 6 after 9 days of ethylene treatment. Bananas exhibited the lowest weight loss at 2 percent O2 with 8, 6 and 4 percent CO2 while the control showed higher percentage of weight loss during storage. The trend of weight loss was changed during ripening which was less in storage conditions but it increased with ethylene treatments. The total weight loss (storage + ripening) was greater (5.48%) in control and it was lower (4.71, 4.54 and 4.68%) in storage at 2 percent O2 with three levels of CO2. Controlled atmosphere storage showed no effect on total soluble solids. Bananas stored at 2 percent O2 with 4, 6 and 8 percent CO2 produced firm bananas (3.48, 5.51 and 3.54 values N/mm). Firm and ripe bananas could be less susceptible to mechanical injury and some fungal diseases.

Keywords: Bananas; controlled atmosphere storage; oxygen; carbon dioxide; chlorothalonil; United Kingdom.
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Green Fodder Yield Performance of Oats Varieties Under Irrigated Conditions

Muhammad Naeem
Senior Scientific Officer, National Cooperative Research Programme on Fodder Crops,
Muhammad Shahid Munir Chohan, Ahmad Hassan Khan
Assistant Research Officer,

and Riaz Ahmad Kainth
Assistant Botanist, Fodder Research Sub-Station,
AyubAgricultural Research Institute, Faisalabad, Pakistan.

Nine varieties of oats and a check were evaluated during rabi season 2002-03 at Fodder Research Sub-station, Ayub Agricultural Research Institute, Faisalabad. Significant differences were observed for plant height, number of tillers per meter row and green fodder yield while differences for number of leaves per tiller and leaf area were non-significant. The variety S-81 was the tallest (103.33 cm) while check variety PD2 LV65 the shortest (86 cm). Number of tillers per meter row varied from 79 (check PD2 LV65) to 106.67 (S-81) while number of leaves per tiller ranged from 7.89 (PD2 LV65) to 9 (S-81, Scott, No.708 and S-2000). Leaf area varied from 70.38 (No.681) to 84.96 cm2 (Scott) while green fodder yield ranged from 49.36 (check PD2 LV65) to 69.44 tons per hectare (S-81). Varieties Scott and No.708 ranked second by producing identical green fodder yield (66.98 t/ha) followed by No.677 (66.67 t/ha), S-2000 (65.43 t/ha) and No.681 (63.89 t/ha).

Keywords: Avena sativa; high yielding varieties; agronomic characters; performance; Pakistan.
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