Land surface modification and crop diversification for enhancing productivity of a Vertisol

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Directorate of Water Management (ICAR), Bhubaneswar-751 023, India.

2 Division of Soil Physics, Indian Institute of Soil Science (ICAR), Bhopal-462 038, India.

3 Division of Agricultural Physics, IARI (ICAR), New Delhi-110 012, India.


Vertisols occur extensively in centralIndiaand have high production potentials.
Because of the high clay content (40-60% or more), high bulk density (1.5-1.8
Mg m-3) and related properties, these soils have high moisture storage capacity.
Conversely, these soils become very hard when dry and very sticky when wet.
Since last two decades, scientists, farmers and also the policy makers have been
striving to manage these soils through harnessing the beneficial attributes as well as
overcoming the production constraints. Some of the potential options are efficient
surface land configuration and crop diversification. Field experiments were
conducted at the Research Farm atBhopalto evaluate the land surface
configuration and crop diversification. Results of our experiment on vertisols
showed a considerable reduction in run off of water and also soil loss from broadbed
and furrow (BBF) compared to flat-on-grade (FOG) during rainy season and at
the same time crop productivity was significantly improved in BBF. It enhanced
yield of soybean (Glycine max (L.) Merr.), maize (Zea mays L.), pigeonpea
(Cajanus cajan (L.) Millsp.) as sole and as well as intercropping and sole chickpea
(Cicer arietinum L.) by about 12.7-20.0% over FOG. The yield of crops (soybean,
maize and pigeonpea), expressed as soybean equivalent yield, was compared and it
showed an improvement in yield from different intercropping systems on BBF. The
residual effect of rainy season crops on succeeding chickpea was not significant;
however, its yield in two irrigation (one pre-sowing plus one post-sowing) was
significantly greater than pre-sowing irrigation only in both land configurations.
Water use efficiency (WUE) of chickpea was more under BBF than FOG. The
study elucidates the constraints and potentials of vertisol for crop production
especially with reference to centralIndiaand effective ways to improve crop
productivity through land surface modification and crop diversification.