Rice-fallow targeting for cropping intensification through geospatial technologies in the rice belt of Northeast India
Around 80% of India’s rice production is from the eastern Indian states of Odisha, West Bengal, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, and Assam. Rice is primarily cultivated in the kharif season; however, large areas remain fallow during the subsequent rabi season. There is tremendous potential to boost the cropping intensity and crop productivity to increase farmer income by targeting the rabi rice-fallow areas. However, there are significant knowledge gaps regarding where intensification is required, and therefore, it is imperative to use spatial analysis to identify the potential locations. Mapping the distribution of agricultural fallow lands across the different seasons is crucial for understanding where crop diversification and intensification could be encouraged. Satellite remote sensing is widely accepted as a reliable source of data for identifying and monitoring earth surface features with the benefit of synoptic and repeated coverage at varied resolutions, which are available for near real-time as well as historical measurements
Agricultural intensification is widely accepted as a viable solution to address the increasing demand for food worldwide rather than expanding the area under cultivation. The need for higher production can be met through higher yields from the same land, as an increase in the cropland results in a distressing environment.
Increasing sustainable cropping intensity can be a promising option to increase global food production by meeting rising food demands as well as providing additional income to farmers. In South Asia, rice is the predominant crop and is typically cultivated during a single season of a year, after which the area often remains unutilized during the other seasons. These unutilized areas are defined as rice fallows. Rice fallows extend over a large area (~22.3 million ha) in South Asia, with around 88.3% (~19.6 million ha) in India alone.