In Science & technology there are No “If’s” and “But’s”.
Perfection and wider process tolerance can’t coexist. Reduce expectations and widen process tolerance: it is as simple as that!
Currently, in use crop production practices were developed some 50 years ago; in the time of abundance: when intensification was meant intensive-tillage high input production practices.
Extensive use of purchased inputs (agro chemicals) and water mining from underground has caused serious damage to the soil fertility. pH in soil is as high as 9 which should be 7. It means that a soil with pH of 8 is ten times more alkaline than a soil pH of 7. A soil of pH 9 is 100 times more alkaline than it would be with 7 pH.
Increased pH means higher salts accumulation in soil which choke porosity of the soil resulting lower water absorption & holding capacity, powdering the soil by cultivation deteriorates it further.
In SCI (System of Crop Intensification), the word ‘intensification’ is not referring to a greater application of external inputs, which is a common understanding of the term ‘intensification,’ but rather it refers to an intensification of management, skills and the application of scientific knowledge aimed at optimizing the use of natural resources and purchased inputs such that ecological sustainability is protected while raising total land productivity.
There must be a shift from conventional farming to the current levels known as "Paradoxical Agriculture" that reduces input cost while increase yield.
The goal should be higher productivity with lower inputs “More from Less” – “More crop per Drop”. To achieve it following are the key points:
· Improve soil structure by adding organic matter at a right place in a root zone to reduce pH. Proper placement of compost in a band reduces doze from 4 tons to 200 kg.
· Improve water use efficiency for sustainability by decreasing water evaporation to decrease further salts accumulation that increases pH
· Reduce wastage of inputs by accurate placement
· Moving to low-till and further No-till farming practices widely adopted by world farming community to reduce soil compaction in the growing areas and to reduce related costs
· Provide ideal overall environment by planting crop plants on raisedbeds to exploit their maximum potential
· Raisedbed irrigation system that will increase the water use efficacy (WUE) and lower the consumption as much as 70%
· Reduce tractor use by over 70%
· Reduced inputs i.e. fertilizer, compost and gypsum and seed by 70%
· Lower pH … it shall be close to 7.5 in the root zone as against 8.5 and above soon after the 1st application
· Improved production due to better soil health using SCI (System of Crop Intensification)
It is a basic science that plants like moist rather than saturated soil. Naturally, uplands had vegetation and lowlands aquatic life. Unfortunately, adopted crop production practices made our lands “lowlands” when network of canals was built for irrigation. There were no raised borders around the fields to trap water, making of it makes upland fields in to lowlands. This is a major cause for lower yields, soil infertility, rising pH and creating hardpan (also due to excessive infield tractor trips).
Even in a traditional farming all the crops except for wheat & rice (though progressive farmers are moving to raisedbed worldwide) are produced on Raisedbeds. The size (Width) of the raisedbed may vary from 2 feet to 10 feet depending upon crop requirement and soil condition.
So there is nothing new about raised bed technology. Millions of farmers crop on raisedbeds around the world and in Pakistan, although crudely.
However, we have developed machines that makes it easy and do several jobs in one go: make raisedbeds for upland vegetation and place fertilizer, organic matter (compost) and seed at a right place to save input & labor cost.
Further, permanent location of raisedbeds eliminate compaction in the plant growing areas and build natural plant food factory in the beds by fostering biota.