Sustaining productivity of wheat–soybean cropping system through integrated nutrient management practices on the Vertisols of central India

Research paper by U. K. Behera, A. R. Sharma, H. N. Pandey

Indexed on: 28 Jul '07Published on: 28 Jul '07Published in: Plant and soil


Wheat–soybean is one of the most dominant cropping systems on the Vertisols of central India. Cultivation of durum wheat in winter season (November to April) has a considerable potential due to congenial climate, while soybean in rainy season (June to October) has witnessed a phenomenal growth in the last two decades in the region. Beside including a legume (soybean) in sequence with a cereal crop (wheat), combined use of available organic sources along with chemical fertilizers may prove beneficial for long-term productivity and sustainability of the system. A long-term experiment was conducted during 1995–2000 on the fine-textured Vertisols at Indore, India to study the effect of combined use of farmyard manure (FYM), poultry manure, vermicompost and biofertilizers (Azotobacter + phosphate solubilizing bacteria) with 0.5 and 1.0 NPK (120 kg N + 26.2 kg P + 33.3 kg K ha−1) on wheat, and residual effect on following soybean. Grain yield of aestivum wheat in the initial 2 years and durum wheat in the later 3 years was significantly increased with 0.5 NPK + poultry manure at 2.5 t ha−1 or FYM at 10 t ha−1 compared with 0.5 NPK alone, and was on par with 1.0 NPK. However, the highest productivity was obtained when these organic sources were applied along with 1.0 NPK. Quality parameters of durum wheat viz protein content, hectolitre weight and sedimentation value showed improvement, and yellow berry content was significantly lower with combined use of NPK + organic sources compared with NPK alone and control. Soybean did not show much response to residual effect of nutrient management treatments applied to wheat. Wheat gave higher profit than soybean, particularly in the later years due to lower grain yields and market price of soybean. However, the superiority of FYM as well as poultry manure along with 1.0 NPK was evident on the overall profitability of the system. Various soil fertility parameters including chemical and biological properties showed conspicuous improvement over the initial status under the treatments of FYM and poultry manure. Sustainability yield index was maximum under 1.0 NPK, followed by 1.0 NPK + poultry manure or FYM. It was concluded that application of available organic sources, particularly FYM and poultry manure along with full recommended dose of NPK fertilizers to wheat was essential for improving productivity, grain quality, profitability, soil health and sustainability of wheat–soybean system.