Land Degradation & Desertification in Pothwar

Pothwar faces severe water erosion (1.9 million hectares) due to its undulating topography and torrential rains during monsoon season. This causes removal of the top fertile layer of the soils gradually contributing to land degradation and desertification leading to reduced productive capacity of soils.

Farmers grow field crops in rotation with fallow (monocropping). Deep tillage is the well accepted and adopted practice by farmers to conserve moisture in the soil profile for subsequent wheat crop. The farmers are mostly unaware of the latest conservation agriculture (CA) approaches. The CA benefits have not been demonstrated to the farming communities in dryland region as the region lacked latest equipments, suitable for CA activities and farmer participatory research to facilitate adoption of such modern techniques in the past .

BARI has a comprehensive research program on development of CA based cropping systems and approaches. The collaborative efforts of BARI and ICARDA produced positive results. The initial long-term research showed that Mung-wheat system on crop land was most profitable in comparison to farmers practices of Fallow-Wheat. Residue incorporation was found to contribute to yield of crops. It was also concluded that the zero tillage with current planting equipment was not a success story and there was a need to import/develop zero tillage suitable for rainfed areas. The summary of results is shown below:

Dryland Cropping Systems

Based on the initial work, BARI and CIMMYT has decided to strengthen Conservation Agriculture Program under AIP. BARI has been declared focal point for rainfed areas. Two new planters imported from India are under Pilot testing stage. A number of research activities are underway and useful results would be available during next season. The participatory activities were also shared with the progressive farmers.

The institutionalMega Project on “Developing Pothwar into an olive Valley” on degraded lands in Punjab will also contribute to minimizing land degradation and developing sustainable poverty alleviation opportunities for rural poor. The plantation of 20 lac olive plants (2016-20) in first phage Pothwar under olive valley project of Punjab Agriculture Department shall also contribute to global efforts of mitigating global warming since tree plantations facilitate bio-sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The trees and plants absorb carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. By removing this greenhouse gas from the air, plantations function as terrestrial carbon sinks, meaning they store large amounts of carbon.

Olive on degraded lands