Chandigarh, Apr 15 (UNI) Though an estimated 14 per cent of the total tractor population in India plough fields in Punjab, the average use of these machines per annum in the border state is barely 450 hours, which is much below the minimum 1,000 hours of productive use in agriculture.
The over capitalisation in farm mechanisation in Punjab has led to its (tractors) under utilisation due to a decrease in farm size in the state. This in turn has lead to higher cost of production and lower net income to farmers, making agriculture economically unviable.
The rapid adoption of Green Revolution technology in Punjab also led to a sharp increase in farm mechanization.
In 1960-61 there were seven tractors per thousand hectare of land in the state, which shot up to 96 tractors per thousand hectare in 1998-99. On an average there is one tractor for every eight hectare of net cultivated land currently in Punjab.
As per information compiled by Punjab State Farmers Commission, the state has double the number of tractors it requires.
According to a report prepared by the Punjab State Council for Science and Teechnology, excessive use of tractors has caused damage to the physico-chemical characteristics of the soil, particularly where puddling is done for paddy cultivation. With the loss of soil characteristics, biological activities are also impaired and in the long run, such soils are likely to become unproductive.
As per the report, soil compaction by agricultural machinery is a significant contributor to the decreasing soil fertility and increase erodability in the state. Soil compaction increases resistance of soil to penetration by roots and emerging seedlings, limits gaseious exchange between roots and atmosphere and reduces water infiltration, thereby altering soil moisture and accelerating run-off erosion.
This growth in farm machinery in Punjab has now reached to a staturation point. during mid eighties, bullock operated ploughs while wells, carts and cane crushers dominated the agricultural scene. By mid nineties, these instruments have virtually disappeared in Punjab.
MORE UNI HS SZ HT1420