Solving South Asia’s sustainability issues will require a systems approach to crop management
New research by an international team of scientists, including scientists from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), shows that adopting a portfolio of conservation agriculture and crop diversification practices is more profitable and better for the environment than conventional agriculture.
Reported last month in Nature Scientific Reports, the results of the study should encourage farmers and policymakers in South Asia to adopt more sustainable crop management solutions such as diversifying crop rotations, direct-seeding rice, zero tillage and crop residue retention.
Rice-wheat has for a long time been the dominant cropping system in the western Indo-Gangetic plains in India. However, issues such as water depletion, soil degradation and environmental quality as well as profitability have plagued farmers, scientists and decision makers for decades. To tackle these issues, researchers and policymakers have been exploring alternative solutions such as diversifying rice with alternative crops like maize.