Approaches to the Management of Vertisols in the Semi-Arid Tropics: The ICRISAT Experience uri icon


  • Vertisols are potenriall~vp roductive soils within the dry tropics. When deep, these soils have a highwater storage capacity. which allows 6.- 7months ofcropping in India ifthe rainfallexceeds 750mm.However, because of their high clay content and relatedphysicalproperties. they present a challengein their management for increased crop production. The small farmers of limited means in the Indiansemi-arid troplcs generev prefer to raise on/-v one crop in a year (during the post rain.^ season) onthese soils even in areas with high and assured rainfall.ICRISA T has now asscm bled a technology for improved management of Vertisols. It involvesgrowing t wo crops, one in the rainy season and another in the postrainv season. Application of thetechnology has resulted in considerable improvement in erosion control and moisture conservation.higher rainfall-use efficiencv. and annual~vieldso f'about 3000 kg ha-1 ofc ereal and IOQO kg ha-1 oflegume grains for the lasf 9 .vears at ICRISA 7' experimen fa1 watersheds.The technology has been evaluated in on-farm tests in a few agrocliniates of the Indian semi-aridtropics with moderate but dependable rainfall. Gross profits from the improved technology were 2 to5 tinles higher than those from the traditional technology. which involved only postrainy-seasoncropping. The improved technology required additional expenses ranging from Rs 590 to 1480 ha-1(US$ I = Rs I2 approximately), but it gave a marginalrate ofreturn averaging23095. The tests alsoshowed that the technology can be adapted to local conditions by suitable modification of one ormore ofthe components involved. The transfer of this technology to other Vertisols in agroclimatessimilar to that of ICRISAT Center is relatively straightforward, but transfer to those in otheragroclimates requires further testing. Establishment of a coordinated program for multilocationaltesting would help rapid exchange of information on experiences with the performance of thetechnology in various environments

publication date

  • 1989