Diffculties in rehabilitating farmland after floods: Water-loving crops, changes in farming practices proposed
LAHORE: Stakeholders claiming that flooded soils present significant obstacles in rehabilitation of the agricultural lands have proposed that the provincial agriculture departments must introduce water-loving improved crop varieties and changing agricultural practices which can help realize potential production gains.
“Some crop varieties are better suited for flood-based farming systems, such as very fast growing floating rice varieties, which are grown in areas as varied as Mali and Myanmar. Grasses can also be grown as flood pastures to meet livestock feed. The productivity of flood-based farming systems can also be boosted by fisheries, for example, fishponds and aquaculture which can supply local communities with protein, while requiring fewer inputs than other agricultural practices,’ said Dr. Adnan Arshad, an environmentalist and Director Climate Smart Agriculture programme at Potohar Organization for Development of Agriculture (PODA-Pakistan) and Aamer Hayat Bhandara Co-founder Agriculture Republic while talking to Business Recorder on Tuesday.
They said floods also trigger the runoff of agricultural topsoil and flooded soil syndrome; the loss of useful fungi that mobilize plant nutrients from the soil. Erosion can result in the loss of essential plant-available nutrients and organic materials. In addition, the deposition of flood sediments may raise the soil’s NPK and Zn levels.
Flooding can also limit the amount of available phosphorus; hence, diminishing the populations of microbes important for enhancing phosphorus availability. They were of the view that soil health, including soil texture, structure, water-holding capacity, and nutrient availability should be recovered after flooding for enhanced agricultural productivity. The farming community must; therefore, prepare for the gradual restoration of their agricultural soils. Multiple recovery procedures are employed to manage the soil following flooding.
Dr. Adnan Arshad said there is a need to minimize limitations to crop production and manage deposition in fields, farmers must evaluate if the material and objects may be tilled into the ground or whether they must be physically removed. Due to the size of the debris and the travel distance, physical removal is expensive. Additionally, certain laws forbid the addition of sediments to the river.
He said promoting microbial and fungi activity in the soil is also essential. Symbiotic fungi called arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) develop inside and on the roots of plants. Fungi penetrate roots without causing any harm to the plant. As a result, the plant gives the fungi nourishment in the form of carbohydrates, whereas the fungi give plant nutrients, particularly phosphorus, Dr. Adnan Arshad added.
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