Yields fruit: Somanath Chari, a progressive farmer in Aland taluk of Gulbarga district, with his red gram crop cultivated using the transplantation method.
The new agricultural practice of raising nurseries and transplanting the red gram introduced by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) in Gulbarga and Bidar districts has revolutionised red gram cultivation in the region.
Agriculture scientists at the KVK in Bidar district were the first to experiment with the new concept of transplanting red gram for increasing yield, two years ago, and the enormous success achieved by them has motivated growers in Gulbarga district to follow suit. The scientists in Bidar managed to get four times the yield on red gram, through transplantation, as compared to the normal practice of dry land cultivation.
Agriculture scientist Raju Teggalli and agronomist D.H. Patil, who work with the KVK in Gulbarga, told The Hindu here on Tuesday that the Badnapur Sterility Mosaic Resistant (BSMR)-736 variety of red gram used widely in the dry belts of Maharashtra was best suited to raise saplings in the nurseries.
Dr. Patil said the new method of cultivating red gram required light irrigation, and in an entire life span of eight months, the crop required only four spells of watering. The yield of the BSMR-736 variety, through transplantation, was an unbelievable 18 quintals an acre as against a three-quintal-yield obtained through conventional cultivation.
The KVK first introduced the transplantation method during the last season on about 500 hectares of land in Gulbarga district. The rich yield in these farms has made farmers adopt this practice on more than 5,000 hectares. In Bidar district, according to reports available here, the area under red gram cultivation through the transplantation method this year was much higher than last time, and was in fact increasing.
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Agricultural Sciences in Raichur, B.V. Patil, and Director of Extension S.N. Hanchinal were instrumental in popularising the new concept of red gram cultivation by establishing demonstration plots in the Agriculture Research Station here. They brought progressive farmers from different parts of the district to the plots to educate them on the concept.
Another benefit of the new method of cultivation was that in the space between rows of crops, other ones such as black and green gram, and sesamum could be grown as a value addition, the scientists said.
Dr. Patil and Dr. Teggalli said the BSMR-736 variety of red gram was recommended for cultivation through transplantation as the Sterility Mosaic virus attack was more prevalent in irrigated areas. Other normal Integrated Pest Management (IPM) activities were required for this crop as well.
“This is one of the best crops in the command areas and, moreover, helps avoid water logging due to excessive use of water on crops such as paddy and sugarcane,” they added. In Bidar district, there are several instances of sugarcane growers giving up their traditional crop and shifting to red gram cultivation.