To feed the increasing global population, which is projected to reach ~10 billion by 2050, there has been increasing demand for more improved/sustainable agricultural management practices that can be followed by farmers to improve productivity without jeopardizing the environment and ecosystem. Indeed, about 95% of our food directly or indirectly comes from the soil. It is a precious resource, and sustainable soil management is a critical socio–economic and environmental issue. Maintaining environmental sustainability while the world is facing resource degradation, climate change and a human population explosion is the current challenge of every food production sector. Thus, there is an urgent need to evolve a holistic approach such as conservation agriculture to sustain higher crop productivity in the country without deteriorating soil health. Conservation Agriculture (CA), is a sustainable approach to manage agro–ecosystems in order to improve productivity, increase farm profitability and food security and also enhance the resource base and environment. Worldwide, various benefits and prospects have been reported in adopting CA technologies in different agro-climatic conditions. Yet, CA in arid and semi-arid regions of India and parts of South Asia raises uncertainties due to its extreme climates, large-scale residue burning, soil erosion and other constraints such as low water holding capacity, high potential evapotranspiration, etc.
This book has 30 chapters addressing all issues relevant to conservation agriculture/no-till farming system. The book also further strengthens existing knowledge in relation to soil physical, chemical and biological processes and health within close proximity of CA as well as machinery requirements. Moreover, the information on carbon sequestration, carbon credits, greenhouse gas emission, mitigation of climate change effects and socio-economic view on CA under diverse ecologies such as rainfed, irrigated and hilly eco-regions are also discussed. The large-scale adoption of CA practices in the South Asian region, especially in India and other countries, requires the dissemination of best-practice CA technologies for dominant soil types/cropping systems through participatory mode, strong linkages and institutional mechanisms and public-private-policy support.
This book gives a comprehensive and clear picture of conservation agriculture/no-till farming and its associated problems, challenges, prospects and benefits. The book is highly useful reference material for researchers, scientists, students, farmers and land managers for efficient and sustainable management of natural resources.
Dr Somasundaram Jayaraman graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture, Annamalai University (1995) and post-graduation (1998) and Doctorate (2001) from Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India. Presently he is a Principal Scientist at the Division of Soil Physics, ICAR–Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. He has more than 2 decades of experience in research and training in the field of natural resource management/conservation agriculture on soil properties and carbon sequestration. He has developed conservation agricultural practices for enhancing soil health and crop productivity in Western and Central India. In addition, farmers in rainfed regions of Central India were also sensitized about soil health and developed low-cost farmer-friendly tools for assessing soil health in a participatory mode through field demonstrations He has published more than 75 research papers of national and international repute. In addition, he has authored/edited 5 books and published more than 25 book chapters. Besides, he has mentored post-graduate students, PhD scholars, and young scientists. Dr Jayaraman received an Endeavour Research Fellow from the Australian Government in 2015, the Australian Awards Ambassador from the Australian High Commission to India in 2018, the Scientist Award in 2018 and Leadership Award by SCSI, New Delhi in 2019.
Professor Ram C. Dalal graduated from the Punjab Agricultural University (1964) and completed his Master's and PhD from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (1969). Presently he is a Professor /Adjunct Professor in the School of Agriculture and Food Science at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and an Adjunct Professor at Uttar Banga Krishi Vishwavidalya, Pundibari, Coochbehar, India. During the last five decades of research and teaching experience, he has contributed significantly to creating awareness in the farming, scientific and general community of the seriousness and insidious nature of soil degradation. For the last 25 years, landscape restoration, soil organic matter management, carbon sequestration and nitrogen management, site-specific management for soil and subsoil and other constraints and sustainable crop and pasture rotations and vegetation management have been the central research platforms across cropping, rangelands and forestry ecosystems. In addition, he is the recipient of several awards and honours and also mentored more than 25 PhD Scholars in the span of 4 decades; published more than 400 publications with more than 17000 citations. Prof Dalal was made a member of the general division of the 'Order of Australia (AM)' in 2018 and was also awarded 'The Medal of Agriculture' by Ag Institute Australia in 2021 for outstanding service to science, and farming through research and sustainable farming practices.
Dr Ashok K. Patra has acquired B. Sc. (Agri.) from Banaras Hindu University (Varanasi), and M. Sc. and PhD from Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi. He is presently serving as Director of the ICAR- Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal. During his scientific career, he has also worked as a postdoctoral fellow at ICRISAT, Hyderabad, and a Visiting Study Fellow at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (IGER), Devon, UK. He was a recipient of the prestigious INRA Fellowship of the French Research Ministry to work on molecular soil ecology in N cycling at the CNRS-Claude Bernard Université Lyon, France. He developed an integrated soil quality index, assessed the impacts of climate change on soil-plant systems, advanced nano-particle research as a nutrient source, and developed a digital soil-testing minilab Mridaparikshak for soil health assessment and fertiliser advisory. He has published about 350 publications, which have been widely cited throughout the world (~4600 citations). He was a faculty of the Post Graduate School, IARI, New Delhi and was actively involved in teaching and guiding postgraduate students at IARI for 15 years. Dr Patra is a recipient of several awards and honours, of which Fellow of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences (2010); Fellow of the Indian Society of Soil Science (2013); Fellow of the West Bengal Academy of Science & Technology (2018); Fellow of the Range Management Society of India (2007); and Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India (2020) are notable.
Dr Suresh K. Chaudhari has acquired his B.Sc. (Agri), from JNKVV, Jabalpur, M.Sc. (Agri) and PhD from MPKV, Rahuri. He is presently serving as Deputy Director General (NRM) Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi. Earlier he served as Scientist, Senior Scientist (SS) in various institutes, Principal Scientist, and Head (Soil & Crop Management Division) at ICAR-Central Soil Salinity Research Institute, Karnal. His areas of research are dynamics of irrigation-induced land degradation, soil hydraulic properties under different quality waters, the influence of poor and marginal quality waters on soil properties and plant growth, direct and indirect estimations of soil hydraulic properties, pedo-transfer functions to describe soil hydraulic properties and irrigation water management in field crops. Dr Chaudhari is a recipient of several Awards and Honours notable as are ICAR- Rafi Ahmed Kidwai Award 2015; Salinity Excellence Award, 2010-11, Fellow of Indian Society of Soil Science, Maharashtra Academy of Sciences; National Academy of Agricultural Sciences; and Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, India are notable.