Paddy transplantation in June checks watertable decline

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Ludhiana, Jun 9 (UNI) As paddy transplantation commences in Punjab tomorrow, the scientists of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and the state Agriclture Department have reason to be relieved as their 'Save Water Campaign' launched two years back marginally checked the decline in the groundwater table.

According to statistics released by PAU, the groundwater level fell by 65 cm in the last one year as compared to the 82 cm fall in 2003-05. The campaign laid emphasis on sowing paddy after June 15 and sowing less water consuming varieties like PUSA-44.

Paddy, the major kharif crop of Punjab, consumes 67 per cent of irrigation water and the water level went down rapidly over the last many years in central districts of the state. The reasons for decline in water table are the increased area under paddy, early transplanting of paddy and growing of long duration varieties.

The continuous decline of underground water level has serious implications such as increased cost of deepening wells, installation of submerisble pumps, increase in energy (electricity) consumption and deterioration of underground water quality. Over exploitation of water has declined the water table depth below 10 meters in 90 per cent of the area in central Punjab.

Referring to the evaporation loss of water, the study by PAU pointed out that in May and early June the evaporation loss is more due to dry and hot weather. According to an estimate the transplanting of paddy on June 21 as compared to June one, the evapo-transpiration decreases from 620 mm to 520 mm. Therefore, this decreases the water use considerably.

According to an estimate, the fall of water table is 65 cm when transplantting (Pusa 44) is done tomorrow and this fall decreases to 20 cm for transplanting on June 30. However, due to rains in the month of May and June, the State Government has allowed farmers to transplant paddy from June 10 onwards.

Earlier, the government had fixed June 15 as the transplant date and had gone to the extent of asking agri officials to destroy or plough the paddy transplanted before the fixed date.

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