Wednesday, December 5, 2012



The second day of the on-going 77th Annual Convention of Indian Society of Soil Science (ISSS) at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), witnessed a special symposium on "Efficient Water Management for Sustainable Agriculture."

Chairing the symposium, Dr S.S. Prihar, first Head of the Department of Soil Science, PAU, said that as future agriculture becomes more water constrained, we need to focus on managing crop productivity (per unit water input). This can be accomplished through management interventions of adopting suitable crops and cropping systems to match available resources and environment, and through harnessing interactions between water and other inputs, he added. The water management process needs to be more knowledge intensive, he emphasized. The water productivity assessment in cropping system perspective including water loss in cropped and non-cropped period would be meaningful, he said.

Dr A.K. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Rajmata Vijayaraje Scindia Krishi Vishwa Vidyalaya, Gwalior, said that water saving is essential as the demand by other sectors is increasing. Saying that 10 per cent saving of water in agriculture can enhance the share of other sectors by 40 per cent, he referred to various water management strategies like integrated use of rain, surface and ground waters; and development of low cost drip irrigation systems. Dr Singh emphasized, "Irrigation system should be demand driven, not supply driven." It should be possible to achieve 60 per cent and 75 per cent efficiency by 2050 in surface and grounds water use respectively, he observed.

Dr P. K. Sharma, Vice-Chancellor, Chandra Shekhar Azad University of Agriculture and Technology, Kanpur; divulged that in India, 55 per cent of net sown area is rainfed. About 80 per cent of world's physical agricultural area is rainfed which generates 62 per cent of world's staple food, he said, adding that rainfed areas support poorest of the poor. Pointing out the production constraints in rainfed agriculture, Dr Sharma said that climate change is increasing rainfall uncertainties. There is inherited shortage of water in rainfed regions, and that soils are deficient is essential plant nutrients. He stressed on augmenting the water resources and on efficient utilization of conserved water to increase water productivity.

Speaking on the topic "Managing Poor Quality Waters for Sustainable Agriculture," Dr M.S. Bajwa, former Director of Research, PAU; revealed that it is estimated that Punjab state has about 41 per cent of poor quality water, majority of which is sodic with high alkanity. He suggested that poor quality ground water should be used by following specific soil water and crop management strategies.

Dr G.S. Hira, former Additional Director of Research and former Head of Department of Soil Science, PAU; noted that the falling water table (WT) has lead to the deterioration of ground water quality. The WT fall is due to increased areas under and wheat and rice, he said, while emphasizing that saving energy for pumping and arresting falling WT are the only solutions to escape from present crisis. He observed that there is certainty that WT in 2/3 area of Punjab will rise if rice transplanting is delayed to June 30.

Dr P.S. Pal, Director, PSP Soil Search Equipment Pvt. Limited, dwelt upon the soil moisture instrumentation for water management research.

Chairing the morning session, Dr S.S. Khanna, former Vice-Chancellor, Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hissar; appreciated the enlightening, comprehensive and elaborated views of the speaker and emphasized that potassium management is vital.

Dr Anand P. Singh, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi; delivered 39th Dr R.V. Tamhane Memorial Lecture on the topic "Potassium in Soil-Plant System: A Wider Perspective." Stating that potassium release and fixation are two important processes in soil, he added that hydroxyl orientations, chemical composition, and biological activity are some of factors that affect potassium release. Dr Singh highlighted that potassium plays a key role in crop production and said that organic manures, crop residues, mineral fertilizers, irrigation water and atmospheric deposition are the essential potassium inputs for the cropping system.

Earlier, Dr Dipak Sarkar, Director, National Bureau of Soil Science Survey and Land Use Planning, Nagpur, delivered 30th Prof. J.N. Mukherjee –ISSS Foundation lecture on the topic "21st Century Challenges and Opportunities in Pedological Research for Managing Land Resources in Sustaining Agriculture." The session was chaired by Dr D.R. Bhumbla, former Commissioner of Agriculture, Government of India; and former Vice-Chancellor, Chaudhary Charan Singh Haryana Agricultural University, Hissar.

Besides, deliberations on "Developments in Soil Science" were also held in addition to oral and poster presentations.

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