Summer pulses a good option for better returns, says agricultural university expert

Although, rice-wheat system provides good returns to farmers, yet it has created several serious problems such as depletion of water and nutrients, deterioration of soil health and pollution etc. Pulses on the other hand are not only important for nutritional security and for alleviating malnutrition among the poor masses but also play a vital role in improving the soil health and conserve natural resources.

“In Punjab, due to the predominance of rice-wheat cropping system, the area and production of pulses has declined substantially. Most of the pulses have wider adaptability and low input requirements. Their ability to fix the nitrogen in symbiotic association with rhizobia not only enables them to meet their own nitrogen requirement, but also benefits the succeeding crops. Pulse crops not only add nitrogen in the soil but also enrich it with organic matter with their residue,” said Dr Fatehjeet Singh Sekhon, District Extension Scientist, Agronomy, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).

Farmers’ accessibility to markets to sell the excess produce of pulses is low. Because of this situation, they give first priority to staple cereals and cash crops for allocating inputs and the second priority to pulses.

In this situation, the short duration summer pulses like moong and mash offer a most valuable option for crop diversification which is the need of the hour, he added further.

During summer, a large area remains fallow after the harvesting of wheat and before the transplantation of rice. Summer pulses, being less input, short duration, high value cash crops, fit very well in the rice-wheat cropping system of the state and tremendous potential exists for its expansion. There is a window of 65 to 70 days for growing a crop after wheat and before the main rice crop plantation in June-July. The cultivation of summer pulses will add to the income of farmers, improve soil fertility and avoid the early transplanting of rice resulting in saving of irrigation water, added Dr Sekhon further.

This article has been republished from The Tribune.