Dryland Agriculture refers to cultivation of crops entirely under natural rainfall without irrigation. It is a form of subsistence farming in the regions where deficit of the soil moisture retards the growth of water consuming crops like rice (Oryza sativa), sugarcane etc. Dryland areas are characterized by low and erratic rainfall and no assured irrigation facilities. Dryland agriculture is important for the economy as most of the coarse grain crops, pulses, oilseeds, and raw cotton are grown on these lands. Dryland areas receive rainfall between 500 and 1200 mm.
Types of Dryland Agriculture
Depending on the amount of rainfall received, dryland agriculture has been grouped into three categories:
- Dry farming: it is production of crops without irrigation in areas where annual rainfall is less than 750 mm. Crop failures are more frequent under dry farming condition owing to prolonged dry spells during crop period. The growing season is less than 200 days. It is generally practiced in arid regions of the country
- Dryland farming: cultivation of crops in areas receiving rainfall above 750 mm is known as dryland farming. Dry spell during crop duration occurs, but crop failures are less frequent. Semi-arid regions are included under this category.
- Rainfed farming: It is practice of crop cultivation without irrigation in areas receiving 1150 mm rainfall, mostly in sub-humid and humid areas. Here chances of crop failure and water stress are very less.
Characteristics of Dryland Agriculture
Dry land areas may be characterized by the following features:
- Uncertain, ill-.distributed and limited annual rainfall;
- Occurrence of extensive climatic hazards like drought, flood etc;
- Undulating soil surface;
- Occurrence of extensive and large holdings;
- Practice of extensive agriculture i.e. prevalence of mono cropping etc;
- Relatively large size of fields;
- Similarity in types of crops raised by almost all the farmers of a particular region;
- Very low crop yield;
- Poor market facility for the produce;
- Poor economy of the farmers; and
- Poor health of cattle as well as farmers.
Problems of Dry Farming in India
Major areas of concern in dryland agriculture are :
- Proper marketing and price policy to cover crops and animal products.
- Conservation of soil and water resources.
- Need to evolve high yielding and drought resistant crop varieties.
- Low cost and locally suited agricultural implements.
- Judicious and balance use of costly chemicals.
- Proper financial availability to purchase inputs; and
- Extension education.
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