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Designing profitable, resource use efficient and environmentally sound cereal based systems for the Western Indo-Gangetic plains

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In the western Indo-Gangetic plains, issues of deterioration in soil, water, and environment quality
coupled with low profitability jeopardize the sustainability of the dominant rice–wheat (RW) system.
To address these issues, crop diversification and conservation agriculture (CA)-based management
hold considerable promise but the adoption of both approaches has been low, and additional evidence
generation from a multi-criteria productivity and sustainability perspective is likely required to help
drive the change. Compared to prevailing farmers’ practice (FP), results suggest that CA-based rice
management increased profitability by 13% and energy use efficiency (EUE) by 21% while reducing
irrigation by 19% and global warming potential (GWP) by 28%. By substituting CA-based maize
for rice, similar mean profitability gains were realized (16%) but transformative improvements
in irrigation (− 84%), EUE (+ 231%), and GWP (− 95%) were observed compared to FP. Inclusion of
mungbean in the rotation (i.e. maize-wheat-mungbean) with CA-based management increased
the system productivity, profitability, and EUE by 11, 25 and 103%, respectively while decreasing
irrigation water use by 64% and GWP by 106% compared to FP. Despite considerable benefits from the
CA-based maize-wheat system, adoption of maize is not widespread due to uneven market demand
and assured price guarantees for rice.

Citation

Jat HS, Kumar V, Datta A, Choudhary M, Singh Y, Kakraliya SK , Poonia T, McDonald AJ, Jat ML, Sharma PC. 2020. Designing proftable, resource use efficient and environmentally sound cereal based systems for the Western Indo Gangetic plains. Scientific Reports 10:19267.