Combining several agriculture
development programs to work together
Trained as extension workers
Bridging the knowledge
gap by imparting skills
The consortium approach adopted under the Bhoochetana project brings together several
knowledge transforming and development agencies to contribute holistically towards improving
the livelihoods of the rural poor in Karnataka’s dryland areas.
The consortium members include:
Minister of State for Agriculture, Government of Karnataka, India
Dr L Shantha Kumari Sunder, Additional Chief Secretary and Development Commissioner, at ICRISAT, nurturing the seedling of the project.
Dr William Dar and Mr S Subramanya, Principal Secretary, Agriculture, Government of Karnataka signing the MoU.
Kaushik Mukarjee, Chief Seceratory, Karnataka during the MOU signing.
In an attempt to change the isolated style of working by government departments, Bhoochetana linked several agriculture development programs together to work as a collective. This worked well during Bhoochetana Phase I and was institutionalized during Phase II. A State-level Coordination Committee (SCC) comprising of decision makers from consortium partners, plays the critical role of passing on government orders to mission staff to ensure a smooth synergy among the players.
Convergence and better coordination helps facilitate sustainable improvement of farmer livelihoods through a knowledge-based and market oriented farmer centric partnership approach. To achieve convergence in the true sense, a change in mindset of different actors within the system is essential.
The State-level coordination committee reviews the project’s progress in the districts.
Communication via videoconferencing facilitates easy monitoring and follow up.
Empowered farmers were identified and trained to take on the role of Farmer Facilitators (FF). Bhoochetana’s success is largely due to this army of ten thousand facilitators, each covering 500 ha during the cropping season. The facilitators underwent two weeks’ training through master trainers who were trained by ICRISAT.
Each FF had 5 lead farmers supporting them during the peak activities of the season, to mainly demonstrate new technologies on their fields and to share information with other farmers during sowing season. The facilitators were involved in technology transfer at the village level for 120 days.
This network enabled the DoA to reach millions of farmers within a short period.
Training in yield estimation from a plot in Chikkaballapur district.
Farm facilitators being trained in the use of technology.
Farm facilitators being given certificates of appreciation on completion of tasks.
Building the knowledge base and skills of different stakeholders within the project is key to its success. They must have a common understanding of the project, which depends on the roles and responsibilities the particular stakeholder group is involved in. ICRISAT scientists developed training material and provided training to master trainers from State Agricultural Universities and the DoA, who in turn conducted trainings at the district, taluk (sub-district) and hobli (a cluster of adjoining villages) levels to farm facilitators and department staff.
Field days, demonstrations, publications and other innovative knowledge dissemination methods contributed to building capacity in all aspects of crop cultivation.
An impact analysis of the trainings/capacity building programs showed a positive impact on farmers, with more than 50% households acknowledging improved knowledge. Knowledge on soil health status, micronutrient application and seed varieties improved significantly (>85% households acknowledged knowledge enhancement). Nearly 80% of the households learnt new methods to control pests and diseases to enhance crop yields in rainfed regions.
Building the capacity of farmers in growing finger millet.
Empowering farmers with greater knowledge.
Training session for trainers.
Krishi Gyan Sagar (KSG) and Krishi Vani are sustainable ICT-mediated agro-advisory systems spearheaded by ICRISAT. Launched by Mr Krishna Byre Gowda, Agricultural Minister, Government of Karnataka in July 2013, it aims to bring best affordable technologies, knowledge solutions, information on the availability of quality inputs, credit and insurance to the doorstep of smallholder farmers, through appropriate ICT-mediated tools anchored on public-private partnership.
Tablet-based extension system (KrishiGyanSagar)
Krishi Gyan Sagar is the codified knowledge base that helps provide appropriate information to Farm Facilitators, who then transfer it to farmers. This application hastens information transfer from research laboratories to farmers’ fields, providing personalized advisories. Facilitators mark the geographical coordinates of farms and relevant farm data. The linking of the location information of each farmer with the respective georeferenced soil fertility data is useful in providing site-specific fertilizer recommendations.
KGS works both on a mobile device (tablet or smart phone) and the web. As an android application, it is a data collection and information dissemination tool and as a web application it is used by policy makers, government officials and others to monitor and generate reports. Users can generate reports based on data captured by the farm facilitators at the field level.
The application allows farm facilitators to manage farms more accurately. The farmers are first registered and then farm-level data is collected using the application. The information is then uploaded and can be viewed by other farmers. Based on this farm specific data that is stored in the database, each farm is then provided with tailored information. This ranges from soil test-based crop-specific fertilizer recommendations to improved package of practices in the local language, Kannada. Farm facilitators alone can create and edit information pertaining to the farmer and his crop.
Location-specific generic advisories to farmer groups are delivered through Krishi Vani, enabled by the Green SIM (a platform developed and piloted by ICRISAT, IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited and Airtel). Under this initiative, farmers receive information on their mobile phones in the form of free voice messages (35 free voice messages/week/farmer) in 16 categories and multiple languages.
ICT-based tools are used to provide up-to-date information on soil nutrient status, package of practices (such as a holistic set of best farm practices for sustainable agriculture), pests and diseases, area-specific nutrient recommendations and the crop by subject matter specialists. In addition to the value-added agro-advisory services, the farmers avail of services they get from a regular SIM card.
In 2013, a WhatsApp group was created for Bhoochetana that included research technicians, scientific officers, district in-charges and scientists. Members of the group exchange information, photographs and field observations. Quick and effective resolution of field issues has been possible through these group interactions. Active WhatsApp groups exist at each district level.
A farmer consults his tablet for updates.
A farmer being guided on the use of the tablet.
Women learning the ropes of using the tablet.
Wall writings have been used as an effective tool to disseminate information on crop production technologies, soil fertility status and other related information to farmers. Each village has two wall writings that provide greater visibility and serve as a ready reference for villagers. Wall writings are now mandatory under the project, and all the villages follow a common standard. This further strengthens the communication component at the village level.
Wall writings in the village provide greater visibility of the project’s message.
Farmer Field Schools build on the process of group learning and community action. It capitalizes on existing local social networks, based on the belief that experienced and skilled farmers are best suited to train other farmers. Farm Facilitators (FF) are the key contact points who take the lead in organizing planning meetings and conduct Farmer Field Schools involving 20-30 farmers per village, with handholding from DoA staff. Each facilitator is responsible for one FFS. Crop specific information is imparted through short studies and long term experiments. Capacity building and demonstrations on all aspects of crop cultivation are imparted and almost 20 weekly sessions are held to analyze abiotic and biotic stress on the plants and record field observations. These records are then pooled and used to help participating farmers arrive at a conclusion regarding the specific technology demonstrated and to plan subsequent operations.
A Farmer Field School in Bidar district.
Farmers in Hassan district being taught the intricacies of the project.
On-the-farm tutorials for farmers.
A Farmer Field School in progress in a soybean field.
Farmers’ field days are organized to demonstrate crop growth and yield enhancement using improved management practices. An effective way of promoting technology transfer, this gives farmers from surrounding villages an opportunity to interact with those farmers in whose land the demonstration has been carried out. They observe the standing crop, learn about the technology adopted by the farmer, decide if the technology is for them and have easier access to the project personnel. As the saying goes, “seeing is believing”. Nearly 2,163 field days were organized in 30 districts of Karnataka and 133,286 farmers [men (98,445) and women (35,477)] were exposed to science-led improved technologies to enhance crop productivity in the drylands.
Bidar Field day.
Dharwad Farmers Day.
Krishimela (farmer fair) at UAS Raichur.
Distribution of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, chemicals, good quality seeds and machinery made available at 50% subsidy at cluster village level to maximize incomes
High-yielding, short-duration, stress-tolerant cultivars of major crops and major crop varieties are selected from popular choices of farmers
Intercropping and planting different crops protect farmers against climate variability, crop loss and diseases
Education about safe use of proper levels of pesticides to decrease risks to health and the environment
Promotion of machinery, including ICRISAT designed Tropicultor, provide more efficiency and consistency of farming methods.
Soils are dynamic and diverse natural systems and good soil health is highly important to enhancing crop production. In the Bhoochetana villages, soil health assessments were carried out as an entry point activity to evaluate the level of nutrients in the soil. This knowledge helped to plan science-based interventions and ensure tangible benefits to farmers. Converging sustainable technologies with effective integrated watershed management approaches has led to increased productivity at the farm household level. This was the first time such a unique approach has been tried out on such a large scale, beginning in six districts of Karnataka state and spreading across the 30 districts.
A participatory approach was adopted from the very beginning. Farmers were involved in stratified soil sampling, a scientific method to ensure that a representative soil sample is obtained for testing from each farm. Soil samples were collected and analyzed for macro and micronutrients from farmers’ fields. Soil health maps were prepared using the Geographic Information System (GIS).
Consolidating this soil information at the district level, the widespread deficiencies in micronutrients and secondary nutrients were mapped through a soil health atlas, web-based soil maps, wall writings at the village level and through individual soil health cards provided to each farmer in the local language Kannada, with details of the farm’s soil nutrient status, critical limits, recommended dosage for each crop, and nutrients available in commercially marketed fertilizers.
Click here for Soil Fertility Atlas for Karnataka, India
Training in soil collection in Kodagu district.
Handing over soil health cards.
At the release of the Soil Map Atlas.
An integrated watershed management approach has proved to be a suitable strategy for achieving holistic development in rainfed regions through collective action. Watershed development programs aim to reduce water-related risks in rainfed agriculture by improving the local soil-water balance through in-situ and ex-situ interventions.
The JSW foundation supported a project on integrated watershed management, jointly implemented by the Government of Karnataka, community based organizations (CBOs) and farmers, with technical backstopping by ICRISAT. Soil and water conservation structures such as gully plugs, farm ponds, percolation tanks, check dams, embankments along canals, other water-ways and fields were constructed to reduce runoff and impound water for irrigation.
Groundwater level in select wells in the watershed was monitored fortnightly through farmer participatory mode to assess the impact of interventions. Local community members were trained in suing a groundwater level meter. The groundwater level during the first year served as a baseline to assess the impact of watershed interventions.
A constructed wetland for domestic wastewater treatment in Mudavatti village, Kolar district, Karnataka
Following are some of the on-farm soil and water conservation techniques promoted to enhance crop production:
Conservation furrows or contour furrows: Furrows are plowed along contours (of the same elevation) to prevent runoff and increase infiltration of water. Laid using country ploughs on a gradient of 0.2 to 0.4% at the time of sowing or intercultural operations, they are simple and efficient in conserving moisture.
Contour cultivation or cultivation across the slope: This is a common practice for conserving soil moisture. All field activities (ploughing, planting and intercrop cultivation) are carried out across the slope, on or near the contour. By planting across the slope, these contour ridges slow or stop water flow downhill by holding it between the contours, thus reducing water erosion and increasing soil moisture. They also catch soil washing down from higher levels.
Broad-bed and furrow (BBF) system: The broad-bed (1.05 m) and furrow (0.45 m) system (BBF), which is highly effective in deep black soils, is laid out on a slope of 0.4–0.8% with an optimum slope of 0.6%. While excess rainwater is drained as runoff, the furrows act as a traffic zone to plough bullocks and for labor during rains. The system prevents rills and sheet erosion.
Deep tillage, shallow cultivation and application of organic residues are some promising in-situ moisture conservation practices that were promoted.
A conservation furrow.
A farm pond in Dharwad district.
Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) refers to sustaining the desired productivity of land by optimizing the benefits from organic, inorganic and biological components in an integrated manner. This is being done through the use of nutrients in a more rational way (yield-targeted, site- and soil-specific); understanding the interrelationship between different nutrients; and using on-farm and off-farm waste through recycling. Rather than focusing on nutrient management practices for one crop, INM aims at the optimal use of nutrient sources on a cropping system or crop-rotation basis, encouraging farmers to focus on long-term planning and with an eye on environmental impacts. The various approaches under INM are discussed below.
1. Balanced nutrient application involves correcting nutrient deficiency and restoring soil fertility in degraded lands to increase the nutrient and water use efficiencies, enhance crop yields and farmers’ income, and improve crop and environment quality. Data on soil analysis and seasonal rainfall were used to make fertilizer dosage recommendations. The availability of organic manure, crop residue and biofertilizers were considered while providing area-wise recommendations for different crops.
a. Biofertilizers: These are low-cost, eco-friendly organic agro-inputs, supplementary to chemical fertilizers. They improve soil structure (porosity) and its water-holding capacity; increase soil fertility and fertilizer use efficiency (FUE), thereby increasing yields by 15-20%. Rhizobium strains for leguminous crops; Azospirillum and Azotobacter cultures for cereals and cash crops help add nitrogen to the soil, while phosphate-solubilizing bacteria make citrate-soluble phosphorous available for uptake. They secrete growth promoting substances as well. An example is "Aquasap", which is a sea plant extract with growth promoting hormones and micronutrients applicable to all crops.
Due to high calcium concentration in alkaline soils, phosphatic fertilizers get fixed as citrate soluble tri-calcium phosphate, thus making phosphate unavailable to the crop. Phosphate solubilizing bacteria (PSB) secrete organic acids that make phosphorous (P2O5) available for crop uptake, that can raise yields by about 10-15%. Under the project, PSB and Trichoderma viride were applied to the soil as seed treatment, along with Rhizobium and fungicides for groundnut and soybean.
b. Biocontrol agents: Trichoderma viride is a fungus used in seed and soil treatment to suppress diseases caused by fungal pathogens. It is mixed with cooled rice gruel or thick sugary solution to enable a uniform coating on seeds. These seeds are dried in the shade for 30 minutes and sown within 24 hours.
c. Vermicomposting: Conversion of farm residues and organic waste into rich manure using earthworms enriches the soil’s organic carbon and produces non-toxic residues in crops. Several composting units were constructed in the villages during the project period. It involved the use of non-burrowing type of earthworms (Eisenia sp., Eudrilus sp.) and the use of biodegradable materials like weeds, crop residues and sericulture residues, animal and poultry manure, and rock phosphate.
Rural women in self-help groups and farm facilitators were trained in making vermicompost. It is increasingly being seen as a livelihood option as vermicompost’s use as a soil organic carbon enricher that enhances productivity is being widely acknowledged.
d. Gliricidia on field embankments: Gliricidia trees produce abundant nitrogen-rich green leaves and succulent branches that can be harvested thrice a year and applied to the topsoil before sowing the rainy, post-rainy and summer season crops, to enrich the organic carbon and nutrients in the soil. Bhoochetana farmers were encouraged to plant 3-4 month-old Gliricidia saplings 50 cm apart on field embankments.
e. Azolla fern: Azolla fern is grown in small ponds and used as soil fertilizer and to enrich livestock feed. Farmers have enthusiastically adopted this method because it improves milk yield and its fat content, which is an advantage, especially during drought conditions that can adversely impact livestock and deprive farmers of extra income.
Balanced application of bio-fertilizers is the key to a good harvest.
Growing azola fern.
Women being trained in making a vermicompost pit.
A rain guage.
Checking the weather parameters at the weather station
A weather station.
The nature of soils in the districts of Karnataka state, India.
PH status of Karnataka soils
Organic carbon status.
Available phosphorus status.
Available potassium status.
Available sulphur status.
Available zinc status.
Available boron status.
Agricultural inputs such as fertilizers, chemicals, good quality seed and machinery were made available at 50% subsidy at the cluster village level to maximize farmer access and their incomes.
Under Bhoochetana, purchase of inputs was found to be high in the six districts which had been under the Sujala watershed program prior to 2009, as the farmers already knew their role in enhancing crop productivity and income. However, the 10 new districts added in 2009-10 saw low use of recommended fertilizers and micronutrients owing to a lack of familiarity with technologies and their advantages. The third year of the project (2011-12) saw a doubling in the consumption of ZnSO4 per hectare and a fivefold increase in Boron (B) use..
Fertilizers (S, Zn and B nutrients) distributed to farmers during three crop seasons (2009–10 to 2011–12) in target districts. No particular pattern was followed for fertilizer and micronutrient distribution to farmers.
Groundnut seed being treated.
Mixing micronutrients with vermicompost.
A seed treatment drum.
Treated seed being sown.
Under the project, farmers were exposed to various improved crop varieties and hybrids that are high yielding, of short duration and resistant to pests. These were tested in farmers’ fields and preferred varieties were identified based on the popular choices of farmers.
ICRISAT verified the performance of some of the new improved crop varieties in almost all the districts. Farmers preferred high-yielding, short-duration varieties and had evaluated major crop varieties in large numbers during 2005-2008 under the Sujala watershed project. These trials, conducted with participation of the farmers, was closely monitoring by ICRISAT staff and scientists. Farmers chose varieties based on economic yield, acceptable quality of grain/pod and fodder. Among the varieties evaluated and preferred by farmers were:
Finger millet: Varieties evaluated – GPU 28, HR 911, L 5 and MR 1; farmer preferred varieties – L 5 and MR 1.
Groundnut: Evaluated short-duration cultivars – ICGV 91114, Kadiri 1375, Kadiri 6 and GPBD 4; farmer preferred cultivars: ICGV 91114 (short duration, high pod and fodder yields, drought tolerant) in Kolar, Chikballapur, Tumkur and Chitradurga districts and GPBD 4 (short duration, foliar disease resistant, high yielding and disease-free fodder) in Haveri and Dharwad.
Soybean: Evaluated cultivars - JS 335 and JS 9305; farmer preferred cultivar in Haveri and Dharwad - JS 9305 (short-duration, resistant to drought and foliar diseases).
Maize: Farmers used commercially released high-yielding private hybrids.
Sunflower: Farmers preferred commercially released high-yielding private hybrids.
The major varieties supplied were of groundnut (ICGV 91114), finger millet (MR 1), soybean (JS 9560), sorghum (CSV 15 and CSV 23), pearl millet (ICTP 8203 and HHB 67), castor (DCH 177 and Jyothi) and sunflower (DRSH 1).
Identify optimal sowing time: Farmers choose a sowing window, depending on the rainfall, in situ soil moisture and seasonality. Their decisions are also based on sufficient or excess soil moisture that can impact seed germination, expected dry spells, and second season crop.
Sunflowers being grown in Gulbarga district
The groundnut of their choice.
Maize grown in Haveri district.
Pearl millet in Bidar district.
Intercropping and planting different crops to protect farmers against climate variability, crop loss and diseases were promoted under Bhoochetana.
Transplanting in pigeonpea: Monsoon-dependent sowing affects yields severely. An alternate agronomic practice to overcome late sowing and related lower yields, is the new technique of growing pigeonpea seedlings in polythene bags in a controlled environment before transplanting them into the main field. This was adopted by farmers in Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir and Kolar districts. Among the benefits observed were that sowing could be carried out during the second week of May even if it did not rain at the right time, thereby extending the growing season. This means insect damage can be avoided. Moreover only 2 kg/ha of seed is required as against 10-12 kg/ha in the normal practice, making it a much more cost effective intervention for farmers.
Despite growing high-yielding varieties and applying fertilizer, finger millet yields touch a maximum of 3.75 tons/ha. Farmers in Karnataka follow a unique cultivation method called “GuliVidhana” (square planting) that is similar to the System of Rice Intensification (SRI) that leads to higher yields in the range of 4.5-5 tons/ha.
Paired row planting of pigeonpea: Pigeonpea intercropped with legumes or cereals in rainfed areas contributes to weed management. Intercropping with paired row planting of pigeonpea could greatly reduce the need for other financially and environmentally costly weed control measures.
Direct seeded rice: This is a feasible alternative to conventional puddled transplanted rice, with good potential to save water, reduce labor, mitigate greenhouse gas emission and adapt to climatic risks. Yields are comparable to transplanted rice, but further improvements are needed to realize greater benefits.
Drum seeded rice plantation: Pre-germinated seeds are directly sown in a well-puddled and leveled wet field in this system, avoiding several steps of the traditional method. One person can sow a hectare in 5-6 hours, compared to 3-4 days of transplanting by 30-40 persons under traditional sowing.
Machine transplanting: This saves considerable time and labor compared to manual transplanting.
Bud chip method of sugarcane planting: A vegetatively propagated crop, sugarcane’s planting material consists of a large mass which poses problems of transport, handling and storage. Instead, it is easier to plant excised axillary buds of the cane stalk, popularly known as bud chips, to overcome this problem. This technology holds much promise in rapid multiplication of new varieties.
High density planting of sugarcane: Increased planting density can significantly improve yield per unit area.
Prominent technologies that were tried out during the rainy season of 2014 included machine transplantation (4,278 ha) of paddy and dry seeded rice method (15,435 ha) in 14 rice growing districts and single eye-bud demonstrations (746 ha), wider row spacing (28,925 ha) and drip irrigation (16,075 ha) of sugarcane in 12 districts.
Drum seeded rice plantation saves labour and time.
Machine transplanting of rice, a far cry from its manual counterpart.
Wider row spacing of pigeonpea in Nivalkhed village.
Soybean-pigeonpea intercrop in Bagalkot district.
Farmers across all districts were trained in adopting cultural and biological methods of pest control, insect monitoring using pheromone traps, chemical control of insects crossing threshold levels and growing pest tolerant cultivars.
The tropicultor is an innovative semi-mechanized machine developed by ICRISAT research staff for sowing and fertilizer application at the same time, taking care of ridging and ploughing as well. The machine costs ₹ 50,000 and can be used to grow pulses, millets and oilseeds. It is a boon while using the broad bed and furrows or BBF method of cultivation. Using the technology saw a 3.5-time increase in corn and sorghum yields.
The animal drawn ferti-cum-seed drill reduces labor dependence and cost of sowing and fertilizer application. It can be hired by farmers who cannot afford to buy it. The farmer controlling the machine-drawn by bullocks can sow 2 ha a day, cutting manual labor and saving the cost of hiring 7-8 labourers.
A tropicultor in use in Haveri district.
About 60% of the population in India’s Karnataka State depends on agriculture that contributes to 18% of the Gross Domestic Product. However, yields from rainfed agriculture were not measuring up to their full potential and a stagnant to declining growth rate between 2000 and 2008 underlined the need to revive agriculture in the state.
The Bhoochetana project was launched on 23 May 2009 in Haveri district to fulfil the need to increase crop productivity and strengthen agriculture-based livelihoods in the state. Following ICRISAT’s successful implementation of the Sujala Watershed Project (2001-2009), the Government of Karnataka set up a high-level committee and ICRISAT was asked to develop a strategy proposal to bridge the yield gap of rainfed crops. ICRISAT signed an MOU with the Government of Karnataka on providing technical backstopping for this mission mode project. The project aimed to make a difference in the lives of farmers in all 30 districts of the state by increasing average productivity of select crops by 20% in four years.
The project initially spanned the six districts of Kolar, Chikballapur, Tumkur, Chitradurga, Haveri and Dharwad and was implemented across 0.225m ha, 1440 villages and benefited 200,000 farmers. It covered 50,000 ha of postrainy (rabi) area. Yield increases ranging from 22-66% were observed in the intervention areas.
A clear distinction was made betweeen Farmer Management (FM) practices that refer to the blind application of fertilizers without a scientific understanding of what is lacking in the soil (no soil analysis) and the lack of any specific water management interventions and Improved Management (IM) practices that refer to soil test-based integrated nutrient management, improved rainwater management, and a host of other project interventions.
The activities during this initial phase included capacity building of stakeholders; awareness and publicity campaigns for farmers; buidling farmer awareness on soil nutrient status and soil mapping; daily monitoring of seasonal rainfall and crop planning.
“The scientific knowledge and experience I have gained is an asset. I will now intensify the adoption of livestock integration and vermicomposting,”
Mr Adinarayanappa, Shyamanakere village, Chikkaballapur district
Chief Minister of Karnataka Mr BS Yeddyurappa
at the project launch.
Total cropping target: Groundnut, ragi, maize, soybean and contingent crops on 88,000 ha
Actual area sown: 159,546 ha; contingency plan helped farmers make up the shortfall.
District-wise nutrient status maps were prepared using GIS-based extrapolation techniques.
The main crops were chickpea, postrainy sorghum, sunflower and postrainy groundnut.
Outcome: Achieved 78% sowing target in postrainy sorghum and 90-100% in soybean, chickpea and sunflower.
Ten more districts -- Bengaluru Rural, Bidar, Bijapur, Chamarajanagar, Davangere, Gadag, Gulbarga, Hassan, Raichur and Yadgir -- covering 5030 villages, 850,000 farmers and 1.2 million ha in the rainy season and 332,000 ha in the postrainy were included during this phase.
"This science-led approach was a revelation of the
untapped potential of my remaining 6 acres,”
Janwada village, Bidar district
Yield enhancement of 21-57% was observed.
Groundnut: Pod yields increased up to 1.5 tons/ha even in farmer managed (FM) plots due to an improved variety. Pod yields across districts increased from 33-49% in plots with improved management (IM).
Green gram: Dry spells during July-August led to low yields in Bijapur and Gadag. Yield increase ranged from 31% in Yadgir to 57% in Gadag in plots using improved management practices.
Maize: Mean grain yield ranged between 3,840 kg/ha in Chitradurga and 7,510 kg/ha in Haveri in farmer managed plots as farmers exploited the genetic potential (improved varieties) of maize.
Pearl millet: Mean grain yield varied from 1,260 kg/ha to 1,960 kg/ha in farmer managed plots. With IM, yield ranged from 1,530 kg/ha to 2,670 kg/ha (21 to 37%) and fodder yield increase was 35% in Bijapur and 30% in Raichur.
Sorghum: Grain yield increased by 25% in improved management plots.
Pigeonpea: Yield increase ranged from 26% in Bijapur to 38% in Bidar.
Nutrient deficiency in soils following analysis of 92,900 soil samples, mapping and diagnostic studies in 16 districts of Karnataka.
OC = Organic Carbon, S = Sulfur, B = Boron, P = Phosphorous, Zn = Zinc, N = Nitrogen and K = Potassium.
Olsen P is a commonly used soil fertility and soil quality monitoring indicator.
Fourteen more districts -- Bagalkot, Bengaluru Urban, Belgaum, Bellary, Chikkamagaluru, Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu, Koppal, Mandya, Mysore, Ramanagara, Shimoga, Udipi, and Uttara Kannada -- were brought under the project during the 2012 rainy season, bringing it to a total of 30 districts across 25.4 lakh ha in 13,800 villages covering 20 lakh farmers. The post-rainy cover was 5.40 lakh ha.
In the rainy season, productivity enhancement IM technologies were implemented on 2.6 million ha with five major foodgrain cereals, five major grain legumes, and four major oilseed crops as against a target of 2.9 million ha.
In the post-rainy season, 695,951 ha were sown in 13 districts where farmers traditionally grow rainfed crops as against a target area of 856,521 ha.
Yield enhancement of 29-41% was observed.
Scaling up productivity enhancement activities
Evaluation of improved cultivars
Yield increase in pulses using improved management practices.
Yield increase in oilseeds using improved management practices.
Focus was on the high rainfall districts of Kodagu, Udupi, Shimoga, Dakshina Kannada and Uttara Kannada, where of the 67,800 ha grown, 17,033 ha were treated for nutrient deficiencies.
Year 4 of Bhoochetana was targeted to cover 443,000 ha to enhance rainfed and irrigated crop productivity in 30 districts during the rainy season of 2012-13. The program was extended to 500,000 ha of drylands and 5000 ha of irrigated area. It reached 26,000 villages covering 4.2 million farmers. The area covered during the post-rainy season was 1.86 million ha. An 11-37% increase in yield was observed.
With scant monsoon rains during the season, farmers could sow only 82.5% (3.65 million ha) of the targeted area, with maize, paddy and pigeonpea being the most preferred crops. Five major cereals (paddy, finger millet, maize, sorghum and pearl millet); five major grain legumes (pigeonpea, green gram, black gram, field beans and cowpea); and four major oilseed crops (soybean, sunflower, cotton and groundnut) were the crops planned.
A total of 2,348,626 ha was sown with rainfed crops against a target of 2,637,855 ha. Chickpea and sorghum were sown over large areas. Across the 12 districts, farmers in Bijapur were the highest users of micronutrients in the recommended quantities. However, the total quantity distributed were higher in Haveri, Davangere, Bidar, and Gulbarga districts.
Increase in crop yields using Bhoochetana’s improved management practices, rainy season 2012.
Increase in crop yields using Bhoochetana’s improved management practices, post rainy season 2012-13.
Water is a scarce resource in the dryland regions of Karnataka and research has shown that rainfed regions have low rainwater use efficiency (RWUE). In the light of climate change-related risks, RWUE has to be enhanced. Results show that under FM the limiting factor is ineffective utilization of available water and therefore the very low RWUE for food production. With IM, more food was produced from the same water due to greater RWUE.
Improved management practices served the purpose of converting unproductive evaporation into useful transpiration and was thus a very effective strategy to manage rainwater to increase water productivity.
The benefit-cost ratios of improved management practices on farmers’ fields during 2009-2012, Karnataka state, India.
Net benefit accrued due to improved management practices followed by the Bhoochetana project.
Significant increase in farmers’ participation and area covered had been witnessed during Phase I of the project. About 3.1 million farmers and 7.4 million ha in rainfed regions had been covered by 2013-14. Based on this success, the Government of Karnataka extended the initiative to cover irrigated crops in the state in Phase II.
The 4 Cs approach – consortium, convergence, collective action and capacity building – was continued. Inclusivity, innovation, integration and intensification were instrumental in achieving economic benefits, protecting the environment and enhancing efficiency by empowering stakeholders. All the technologies from the previous phase, such as in-situ soil and water conservation, integrated nutrient management, and integrated pest management were scaled up in this phase. Soil analysis was repeated in all the districts.
Karnataka received normal rainfall during the monsoon (934 mm of rainfall against 835 mm, which is a 12% surplus) and deficit rainfall post-monsoon which partially impacted water availability to crops.Objectives:
A total of 17,497 men and women were trained on different technologies at the district (38) and taluk (184) levels. At the cluster/village level, 0.49 million farm men and women were trained in 30 districts before the season began.
Using crop-growth simulation models to assess projected climate change impacts on pigeonpea, field experiments were conducted with four varieties of pigeonpea at Farhatabad in Gulbarga district and at ICRISAT.
This involved layer-wise soil sampling, soil analysis, applying recommended balanced nutrition, assessing soil moisture and continuously observing crop growth. Ten climate change scenarios together with the present scenario were used to assess the impacts of climate change on pigeonpea using calibrated APSIM model. Simulation results showed that the scenarios could reduce pigeonpea yields by 3-28% and flowering and maturity by 5-10 days.
Rainy season 2013: Crop productivity enhancement technologies were implemented on major cereals, legumes and oilseed crops on 5.4 million ha, as against a target of 5.6 million ha.
Postrainy season: Improved management practices to enhance both rainfed and irrigated crop productivity were implemented on 2.6 million ha in 15 districts, as against a target of 2.5 million ha in 30 districts.
Yield analysis of major crops
Cereals: Yield increase ranged between 20-53% during the rainy season in Karnataka. Maize yielded the highest and pearl millet the highest incremental yield (43% more compared to farmers’ practice).
Legumes: 28-37% yield improvement over farmers’ practice.
Performance of improved varieties
Integrated water resource management in Kolar
An initiative in partnership with Coca-Cola India Foundation and the Government of Karnataka in Kolar, which has severe water scarcity, aims to improve the availability of water resources by adopting a watershed approach, improving crop yields, and enhancing water use efficiency.
Waste water re-use in agriculture
The watershed in Mudavatti village has a masonry drainage canal of about 2,000 m, which collects rainwater and domestic waste water from close to 400 households. Two farmers are using the waste water to grow vegetables during the postrainy season. ICRISAT proposes to convert the water collection facility into a constructed wetland to treat waste water.
In irrigated areas, soil test-based nutrient management practices, direct seeded rice method; drip irrigation, single eye bud planting and wider row spacing significantly increased paddy and sugarcane yields.
Activities were targeted to cover 5.8 million ha to enhance the productivity of rainfed and irrigated crops. The project implemented technologies on 5.1 million ha, about 87.7% of the target area was used for major cereals, legumes and oilseeds.
Transplanting in pigeonpea: This practice in which seedlings grown in polythene bags are transplanted on to the main field was adopted by farmers in Bidar, Gulbarga, Yadgir and Kolar districts. The practice helps overcome late sowing and consequent lower yields; sowing can be done in the second week of May even if it does not rain at the right time; insect damage can be avoided; and only 2 kg/ha of seed is required as against 10-12 kg/ha in normal practice.
Guli cultivation in finger millet: Despite using high-yielding varieties, fertilizers and chemicals, finger millet yields barely cross 0.7 tons per acre. Farmers in Karnataka practice the ‘Guli Vidhana’ that is square planting, similar to the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), in which yields of up to 5 - 20 quintals/acre are possible compared to 8-9 quintals/acre.
Paired row planting of pigeonpea: Pigeonpea is often intercropped with legumes or cereals in rainfed areas. Intercropping with paired row planting of pigeonpea considerably reduced the need for other financially and environmentally costly weed control measures.
Pest monitoring with pheromone traps: Populations of pest species including Helicoverpa and Spodoptera are marked by sex pheromones. Pheromone traps are used to obtain data and predict infestations that enable timely use of control measures. Bhoochetana farmers use these traps to monitor pest incidence in order to take suitable control methods.
Pest-tolerant cultivars: ICRISAT has developed cultivars tolarant to pests, diseases and drought in sorghum, pearl millet, groundnut, pigeonpea and chickpea. These were included in farmer participatory varietal evaluations and selections in all the districts.
Cultural control: Integrated pest management options such as early/delayed sowing, selection of intercrops, altering plant density/arrangement and sowing genetic mixtures are used to reduce insect/pest infestation severity.
Natural control: Farmers are encouraged to adopt natural and eco-friendly measures of pest control since some pests are beneficial and attack/consume other parasites/pathogens.
Single eyebud demo: This method was adopted in sugarcane on over 746 ha in 12 major districts, with wider row spacing (28,925 ha), and drip irrigation (16,075 ha).
Direct-seeded rice: A feasible alternative in rice cultivation, it saves water and labor, mitigates greenhouse gas emission and adapts to climate risks. Yields are comparable to transplanted rice but with greater benefits.
Drum-seeded rice plantation: Pre-germinated seeds are directly sown in a well-puddled and leveled wet field, doing away with many steps in the traditional method. One person can sow a hectare in 5-6 hours compared to 3-4 days of transplanting by 30-40 persons under traditional sowing.
Machine transplanting: This labor and time saving method was adopted on 4,278 ha.
Bud chip method of sugarcane planting: A vegetatively propagated crop, sugarcane’s planting material is a large mass that poses transportation problems, handling and storage. It is easier to plant excised axillary buds known as bud chips to aid the rapid multiplication of new varieties.
High-density planting of sugarcane: This significantly improved crop yield per unit area.
Training: 0.3 million farm personnel were trained across 30 districts. At the district level, 7,165 DoA staff, farm facilitators, and ICRISAT staff were trained. At the taluk level, agricultural assistants, newly appointed farm facilitators and lead farmers provided hands-on training and demonstration of seed treatment, soil sampling, tropicultor use, crop harvest sampling and village-level record-keeping to 15,769 men and women. Cluster/village-level trainings for farmers focused on discussions on soil/crop issues, pest management, and other related issues.
High-density sugarcane planting
Evaluation of improved cultivars
Area (ha) covered by crops and the increase (%) in grain and fodder yields in the 2014 rainy season following the use of improved crop management practices.
Integrated water resource management in Kolar district
An ICRISAT-Coca-Cola India Foundation-Government of Karnataka initiative aims to enhance the livelihoods of farmers in Kolar district by adopting a watershed approach, improving crop yields as well as enhancing water use efficiency. Kolar is marked by severe water shortage.
Land degradation, improper water management, poor markets and limited infrastructure support are the root causes of unbalanced development of Bellary district. Under a PPP arrangement between Jindal Steel’s JSW Foundation, ICRISAT and the Government of Karnataka, a pilot watershed program was implemented in four villages (Doddanthapura, Chikkanthapura, Kodalu and Joga) in Sandur taluk.
The activities carried out included soil analysis, soil and water conservation measures, setting up an automatic weather station and hydrological gauging station, groundwater level monitoring, avenue plantation, and income generating activities (vermicomposting, seed distribution to SHG women for kitchen gardening).
In 2014, a survey of 640 farmers in 8 districts to assess their perceptions about the benefits accrued from the extension services provided by farm facilitators, revealed the following:
Re-investing additional income on asset formation
Apart from increasing crop productivity, Bhoochetana enhanced stakeholders’ knowledge of agricultural operations.
An analysis of the decision making process by men and women farmers following Bhoochetana practices revealed that:
During the third year, Karnataka State received deficit rainfall (-22%) from June to September in 81 taluks and 2 taluks received scanty rainfall. Despite this, crop yields increased by 17-34% after implementing crop productivity enhancing technologies on 3.6 million ha.
Yield analysis of major crops – rainy season 2015
Data from crop cutting experiments undertaken in the 30 districts revealed a 17- 34% yield increase depending on the crop, with black gram recording the highest yield (34%) and cotton the lowest (17%) using improved management practices.
Yields of major crops by district
Area (ha) covered crops and the increase (%) in grain and fodder yields in districts of Karnataka following the use of improved management practices.