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Spatial Distribution of Rainy Season Fallows in Madhya Pradesh: Potential for Increasing Productivity and Minimizing Land Degradation.Global Theme 3: Water, Soil, and Agrobiodiversity Management for Ecosystem Health Report no. 3

International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics
Publication Date
  • Land Degradation
  • Agriculture-Farming
  • Production
  • Technology
  • Economics
  • Agricultural Science
  • Biology
  • Computer Science
  • Ecology
  • Mathematics


Madhya Pradesh in Central India is endowed with Vertisols and associated soils along with assured rainfall (700–1200 mm yr-1). The Vertisols contain high (40–60%) montmorillintic clay and exhibit typical swelling and shrinking characteristics under moist and dry conditions. Vertisols have poor hydraulic conductivity and conse- quently, are frequently poorly drained. Traditionally farmers grow a secured postrainy season crop on stored soil moisture and keep the fields fallow during rainy season. The most dense region of rainy season fallowing in semi- arid tropical India covers areas endowed with Vertisols. Realizing the potential of Vertisols in supporting a short-duration crop during rainy season, which otherwise is left fallow, a pilot study was taken up by ICRISAT to delineate the rainy season (kharif) fallows in Madhya Pradesh. The Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS-IC/-ID/-P3) Wide Field Sensor (WiFS) data acquired during peak kharif, post-kharif, and mid-rabi cropping season was used. The analytical approach employed involves geo-referencing and radiometric normalization of multi-temporal WiFS data, and delineation of kharif fallows in a Silicon Graphic Work Station using ERDAS/IMAGINE software and a per-pixel Gaussian maximum likelihood algorithm and limited field check. While mid-kharif and post-kharif season WiFS data enabled detection of lands that remain fallow during kharif season, mid-rabi season WiFS data allowed further verification of the delineation since such lands have been found supporting mostly wheat crop during rabi season. An estimated area of 2.02 million ha, accounting for 6.57% of the total area of the state is lying fallow. Utilization of kharif fallows for short-duration pulse crops like soybean may help not only to boost agriculture production but also to improve the sustainability of the agro-ecosystem and minimize land degrada- tion.

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