Dryland vs. rainfed farming

By   January 19, 2020

Dryland vs. rainfed farming
Constituent Dryland farming Rainfed farming
Rainfall (mm) <800 >800
Moisture availability to
the crop
Shortage Enough
Growing season (days) <200 >200
Growing regions Arid and semiarid as well as
uplands of sub-humid and humid
Humid and subhumid regions
Cropping system Single crop or intercropping Intercropping or
double cropping
Constraints Wind and water erosion Water erosion
1.3 Importance of Dry farming in Indian Agriculture
1. About 70% of rural population lives in dry farming areas and their
livelihood depend on success or failure of the crops
2. Dryland Agriculture plays a distinct role in Indian Agriculture occupying
60% of cultivated area and supports 40% of human population and 60 % livestock
3. The contribution (production) of rainfed agriculture in India is about 42 per
cent of the total food grain, 75 per cent of oilseeds, 90 per cent of pulses and about 70
per cent of cotton.
4. By the end of the 20th century the contribution of drylands will have to be
60 per cent if India is to provide adequate food to 1000 million people. Hence
tremendous efforts both in the development and research fronts are essential to
achieve this target.
5. More than 90 per cent of the area under sorghum, groundnut, and pulses is
rainfed. In case of maize and chickpea, 82 to 85 per cent area is rainfed. Even 78
percent of cotton area is rainfed. In case of rapeseed/mustard, about 65.8 per cent of
the area is rainfed. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, 61.7, 44.0, and 35.0 per cent
area under rice, barley and wheat, respectively, is rainfed.
6. At present, 3 ha of dryland crop produce cereal grain equivalent to that
produced in one ha irrigated crop. With limited scope for increasing the area under
plough, only option left is to increase the productivity with the modern technology
and inputs, since the per capita land availability which was 0.28 ha in 1990 is
expected to decline 0.19 ha in 2010.
7. The productivity of grains already showed a plateau in irrigated agriculture
due to problems related to nutrient exhaustion, salinity build up and raising water
table. Therefore, the challenges of the present millennium would be to produce more
from drylands while ensuring conservation of existing resources. Hence, new
strategies would have to be evolved which would make the fragile dryland
ecosystems more productive as well as sustainable. In order to achieve evergreen
revolution, we shall have to make grey areas (drylands) as green through latest
technological innovations.
8. Drylands offer good scope for development of agroforestry, social forestry,
horti-sylvi-pasture and such other similar systems which will not only supply food,
fuel to the village people and fodder to the cattle but forms a suitable vegetative
cover for ecological maintenance.
1.4 Dimensions of the problem:
Majority of the districts in India are dry farming districts and covers 60 per
cent of the total cultivated area. Most of this area is covered by crops like millets,
pulses, oilseeds, cotton etc.,.These areas spread throughout the country i.e.
Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra, Gujarat,
Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. In south India the Deccan plateau
which is rain shadow area consisting of parts of Karnataka, (Bellary, Raichur, Kolar,
Tumkur, Dharwad, Belgam, Gulberga) and Maharastra (Sholapur, Parbani, Puna,
Aurangabad). The dry farming areas in Andhra Pradesh are found in Kurnool,
Anantapur, Kadapa, Mahaboobnagar, Chittoor, and Nalgonda districts.
a) The area under dryland agriculture is more in India ( 60 per cent of total
cultivable area)
b) Areas of low rainfall ( below 750 mm) constitute more than 30 per cent of
total geographical area
c) About 84 districts in India fall in the category of low rainfall area
d) Providing irrigation to all the drylands is expensive and takes long time
e) Even after providing all the irrigation potential in India 55 per cent area
remains as rainfed
1.5 Area under dry lands
Globally the area under drylands is about 6150 m.ha. In India out of the total
cultivated area of 143 m.ha the area under drylands is about 85 m.ha, which comes to
60% . It is estimated that even after creating entire irrigation potential for irrigation
about 55% of total cultivated area remain as rainfed. Except in the states of Punjab,
Haryana and Pondichery the percentage of area under drylands is high in all other
states. In Andhra Pradesh the area under drylands is about 6.576 m.ha (60 %).
Dry land area in different regions of India
Region States Per cent of
rainfed area
Cold and northern region Jammu and Kashmir,Uttaranchal
and Himachal Pradesh,
60 to 81
Arid western Region Rajasthan and Gujarat 66 to 88
Semi arid to arid central
and southern region
Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra,
Andhra Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh,
Karnataka ,Tamilnadu
76 to 82
Sub humid to humid
eastern region
Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar,
Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal
33 to 73
Humid to per humid
north eastern region
Assam and north eastern hill states Up to 90

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