SOIL AND WATER MANAGEMENT – ICAR Book
Description of the ITK
Traditional apple-orchard farming involves the use of contour ditches, water-control canal, soil traps, bench terraces and hedge rows of fast-growing leguminous plants, which have been adopted by the farmers of Himalayan region. Soil and water erosion is a serious problem in hilly regions. Since earlier times farmers used to practice this technology in an integrated way to improve soil and water conservation and manage nutrients in apple orchard. This technology helps in stabilizing the fragile eco-system dominated by apple-farming system. Use of such technologies lays focus on soil and water conservation as well as fertility management, resulting in a paradigm shift towards maximization of productivity, profitability and sustainability of hill eco-system. This is in practice for several years.
Name and address of the discloser
Shri Prem Singh, village Gawahi, P.O. Sandhu, Tehsil Theog, Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) 171 222.
Location of use of the ITK
Farmers in Himalayan region.
Dr. Pradeep K. Sharma, Chief Scientist (WM); Dr. Atul, Head, Department of Agroforestry and Environment, COA; Dr. O. C. Kapur, Senior Scientist (Soils), Dr. S.S. Masand, Senior Scientist (Soils); Department of Soil science, CSKHPKV, Palampur, Himachal Pradesh.
Results and discussion
The ITK-based technology has variously been termed Sloping Agriculture Land Technology (SALT). SALT is a package technology on soil conservation and food production, integrating different soilconservation measures in just one setting. Basically, SALT is a method of growing field and permanent crops in 3-5 m wide bands between contoured rows of nitrogen-fixing trees.
The planting of trees did not follow exactly the contour lines. A deviation, as high as 7.8 m, was observed between the actual contour lines and the planting of trees. Likewise, deviations in plant to plant distance, plant height and plant spread were also observed.
Important Value Index exercise
To study the diversity of species and heterogeneity between SALT and non-SALT areas under investigation, phyto-sociological studies were carried out for different plant species occurring in those areas. In the non-SALT area, there was much diversity in plant species. In addition to many grasses (12 species), shrubs like Rumex, Rubus, Rosa and Berberis spp. were also found. Higher numerical strength of Rosa spp. in non SALT areas compared with that of Rumex spp. failed to generate a variation in IVI order. Species diversity was greatly reduced in SALT managed areas.
Performance and productivity estimation of the area
More than 92% of the trees planted survived. The data were analysed using the two sets of degrees of slopes as treatment, i.e., very high (>50 degrees) and moderate (30-40 degrees), along with the combination of the terraced and non-terraced areas in the SALT area. The analysis of variance indicated the significant effect of slope on the spread and height of apple trees. It can be inferred that at high slopes the farmer’s intervention of developing small terraces is useful in getting better performance. The plant height as well as the spread of the apple trees was generally more in the terraced and high slopes. In addition, the contouring at moderate slopes also proved beneficial, but not at higher slopes.
There was reduction in the species diversity with the introduction of the orchard species. The land management and uprooting of unwanted vegetation by the farmer for establishing orchard reduced the species diversity. This indigenous technology of intervention of the horticulture crops in the area and maintaining the indigenous species on the same piece of land, the farmer developed a sustainable land-management system in terms of ecological biodiversity, soil health, less soil erosion and economical improvement.
Contour orchard farming and terracing are the pre-requisites of the steep-slope orchard raising, as has been tried by the discloser. To mitigate the water stress and soil-erosion condition due to steep slopes, management of the slopes through vegetative structures was found essential. This intervention helped in developing the ecological and economically sustainable land-management system.