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Agri Univ develops new tillage machine

Written by: Staff
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Ludhiana, Aug 9: Here is good news for the farmers who have adopted the concept of zero or no-tillage after harvesting paddy and before sowing wheat.

A 'no-till drill' has been developed by Dr Manjit Singh, an Associate Professor in the agriculture engineering department of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU). This farm machine will now take care of fields studded with paddy stubbles, straw and residues.

In a field in which a combined harvestor has been used, management of residues is a major problem in paddy-wheat crop rotation in the Indo-Gangetic plains. The loose straw chokes the furow openers and frame of the dril.

Dr Manjit Singh told UNI today that the 'no-till drill' operates easily, in rough fields of hard unprepared soil. The problem of paddy residues getting in the way of smooth operation is overcome by this implement, he said and added that a computer software was used to design this drill.

Dr Manjit Singh presented this concept at the Fourth World Congress of Computer in Agriculture and Natural Resources at Orlando, Florida in USA recently. The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers had organised the Congress from July 24 to 26.

His paper on ''Design Optimisation of No-Till Drill Components by Using Finite Element analysis'' drew attention at the Congress.

Dr Manjit Singh is a co-opted member from South Asia in the world committee for the use of Information Technology in agriculture.

While designing the drill, he took into account how soil force contributes to the designing of tillage machines. He said that agricultural machinery is generally ''over designed to make up the unpredicted soil and crop conditions in the field''.

He sugggested use of simulation techniques for the design and development of farm equipment before actual fabrication.

Dr Aulakh said scientists were developing cotton transgenics and evaluating new hybrid combinations to transfer BT genes through backcrosses to promising parents. BT cotton has once again raised hope of revival of cotton in Punjab and more than 23 lakh bales were produced on 5.57 lakh hectare in 2005-06, he pointed out. Despite multiplicity of constraints in oil seed crops, PAU is working on improving their 'hybrid vigour' and enhancing value addition in pulses to improve their quality for global markets.

Focus of research is to overcome the constraints in oilseed crops and alleviate perpetual paucity of edible oil in the country.

Dr Aulakh said that biotechnology is to be used to exploit and make full use of energy stored in sugar. Applied biotechnology will make conventional sugarcane growing attractive and enhance profitability of sugar industry with creation of new products, like biofuel (ethnol), co-generation, biodegradable plastic and board from bagasse.

While pointing out that barley had a bright future in the state, the Vice-Chancellor said that it fits well into alternate crop rotation particularly when sown after cotton. Barley is a short duration crop, 130 days to 140 days which makes it suitable for adoption by farmers.

Hulled barley with thin husk and low protein can be used for preparing barley malt, used extensively in brewing and distilling industry, PAU scientists have pointed out in the research project submitted to the government.The scientists are already working to evolve good malt barley varieties with 'soft and plum grains of uniform size with low protein and husk contents'.

The research project has also laid emphasis on fodder, which plays an important role in diversification in the present cropping system. The impediment, however, is that availability of green fodder 40 kg per animal per day, is not available to the cattle.

Animals get only 21 kg green fodder per day and Punjab needs 107 million tonnes of green fodder and the answer to bridge the fodder deficit is in biotechnology.

Referring to 'productive foods', so essential in human diet, Dr Aulakh said horticulture and vegetables provide nutrition.

Flowers, forestry and medicinal plants that play an important role in crop diversification and their production and export will mean better economic returns to the farmers, he added.

The research project has also identified dairy as a promising enterprise for small farmers, as it generates employment.

''Financial support for application of bio-research on alternative crops and conservation of natural resources, farm mechanisation and regional specific research is imperative,'' he added.

UNI

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