Change in cropping pattern can double yield in the north

Rotating cultivation of rice, wheat and other crops under bed-planting system can double the yield in the northern districts, particularly in the high and dry Barind belt, according to an on- the-ground research finding.Agriculturist ATM Rafiqul Islam told BSS that optimistic results were found in the research on cropping pattern, conducted at different locations of the region over the last couple of years.Raised beds facilitates sowing without waste of time is allowing crop growth to better match water availability, said Rafiqul Islam, Deputy Manager (Agriculture) of Barind Multipurpose Development Authority (BMDA).Under the conventional system, he said, the single largest constraintrequires planting of wheat in the country late in winter, leading to a poor yield. Sowing bed could be a good alternative to the country’s dominant wet culture, he said.Bed planting improves water distribution and irrigation efficiency, gives better results in using fertilisers and pesticides and reduces weed infestation and crop lodging.It saves crops from disturbance from rats, Hossain said.The pattern helps farmers save 30 percent irrigation water and 30 to 40 percent of seeds and fertilisers.To maintain sound soil health, he said, it could be advisable to grow rice using a different system in order to improve compatibility between monsoon rice and upland winter crops. This would also suit the shift in economic importance towards the winter crops over monsoon rice.The success in growing rice on raised beds in northern Australia and eastern Indonesia and high yielding irrigated wheat in Mexico, dramatically increased the use of the practice elsewhere over the last decade.The concept, he said, was successfully tried to grow, by rotation,soybean, maize, sorghum, garlic, moog daal (a kind of pulses), cassava and rice in eastern Indonesia.By using the new pattern of crop rotation, the huge tracts of land that remain fallow in the Barind after the harvest of transplanted Aman each year,could be used to grow wheat, followed by moog daal, by providing small irrigation facilities, said Dr Israil Hossain, Chief Scientific Officer of Regional Wheat Research Centre (RWRC) under Bangladesh Agriculture Research Institute (BARI).Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) Additional Director Nazmul Karim said the large-scale cultivation of short-duration crops like wheat and moog dal could suit crop intensity and diversification with rice-based cropping pattern.He said rice, wheat and moog daal seed varieties developed by BRRI and BARI were given to farmers through demonstration to popularise the cropping pattern.BSS, Rajshahi