Division Of Natural Resource Management

Scientists

The Divison of Natural Resource Management has been engaged in development of sustainable resource management strategies or technologies in Andaman & Nicobar Islands. The division was originally formed in 1984 as Division of crop production, soil conservation and water management (CSW) with a view to address the issues concerning crop production, soil and water. Later a separate division of agricultural engineering and post harvest technology was created. On the recommendation of QRT and other experts division of agricultural engineering and post harvest technology was merged with Division of CSW and agro-forestry was included and thus the Division of Natural Resource Management was formed in 1999. So far the main focus of the division was to develop appropriate plans for conservation of natural resources and their sustainable use; and to improve the productivity and profitability of the agri-horticultural system relevant in the island by developing appropriate agro techniques, post harvest technology and value addition.

Though agricultural land is limited in supply productivity of crop and land can be increased with the help of green technologies suitable for the socio-economic milieu of the island farmers. Hence sustainable management of natural resources is vital for agricultural development with positive growth and long term sustainability. In recent times we are confronted with land degradation of different types and magnitude, ground water imbalances, impaired soil health and low productivity of the farming system. Under such circumstances, to address to the need of these islands the Division of NRM has reoriented and set the thrust areas as follows:

  • Research on improving farm productivity and efficient resource utilization through integrated farming systems approach.
  • Assessment and management of post harvest losses in rice, pulses, black pepper, clove, cinnamon and their value addition
  • Assessment of climate change and agricultural vulnerability of A&N Islands for developing climate resilient resource conserving technologies

Infrastructure

The division has slowly progressed to establish required research facilities to conduct lab and field trials, analysis of soil, plant and water, natural resource assessment and post harvest processing.

  • Field trials: Facilities for research are available at Bloomsdale research farm for low land condition, Sippighat for undulating and high land and Garacharma research complex for sloppy land.
  • Protected cultivation: We have established a protected cultivation structure with a facility for roof top rainwater harvesting and its recycling. Facilities are also available for water and nutrient management studies under protected conditions.
  • Chemical analysis laboratory: The division of NRM is well equipped with state of art instruments, glassware and other consumables to conduct soil, plant and water analysis for chemical composition as well as quality parameters.
  • Post harvest processing: Facilities have been created for development of minimally processed food, shrink film and vacuum packaging, drying of plantation crop products and milling of cereals.
  • In addition to this software and hardware facilities are available for climate change studies, remote sensing data processing and GIS application.

Significant Achievements (recent)

Water management:

  • Harvesting of water through dug out or plastic lined ponds could be a boon for not only increasing cropping intensity but also for alleviating moisture stress to crops by supplemental irrigation. Therefore, institute developed / refined and popularised lining with different materials for effective control of seepage losses. The shelf life of lining material can be increased by lining the tank with plastic film and reinforced plaster (1:6) on sides and 15 cm thick soil layer at bottom for higher life period.
  • Optimization of supplemental irrigation schedule from water harvested in dugout ponds for crops like maize, green gram, sesame, ladies finger and chilli to increase the yield and profitability was carried out. 3 supplemental irrigation to maize at knee high, tassel initiation and grain filling stages, 2 irrigation at flowering, pod setting stages of green gram, 3 irrigation at 4-5 leaf stage, flowering, pod setting stages of sesame, 3 irrigation at early vegetative, flowering, fruit formation stages of ladies finger during post-monsoon season were optimum.
  • In A&N Islands, broad bed and furrow system (BBF) helps in crop diversification and multiple cropping to increase the overall farm productivity and income. The optimum size of BBF should be furrow width of 5-6m, bed of 3-4m and depth of 1m with 0.5m slope for stability. Different cropping systems for beds and furrows were evaluated and it was found that okra-amaranthus-chilli in beds recorded higher net return and B:C ratio of 4.3.In furrows, double cropping of rice with Singhi and magur resulted in maximum returns. Cropping intensity of rice areas can be increased from 100 % to 300% on the beds and up to 300 % on the furrows through this system.

Soil resource management and environmental assessment:

  • Soils resource assessment of rice growing areas revealed that the soil pH varied from 4.5 to 6.3, Exchange acidity from 1.7 to 3.6 cmol (+) kg soil-1 and ex Al3+ from 0.86 to 1.59 cmol (+) kg soil-1 indicating soil acidity as well as Al toxicity. The cation exchange capacity varied from 4.17 to 14.62 cmol (+) kg soil-1 indicating poor nutrient retention capacity of the soils. Salinity (4.0 - 5.9 dSm-1) along with acidity (pH 4.8 - 5.4) was found to be the major constraint in Dhanikari soil series which is classified as acid saline soils. Based on the severity of constraints five different fertility capability classes were delineated and suitable management options were suggested.
  • The soils under plantation areas are predominantly acidic to varying degree due to leaching of soluble salts. Application of lime is a costly proposition hence locally available organics like coconut husk, vermicompost, poultry manure, and glyricidia alone or in combinations as amendment was evaluated. Application of different organic amendments @20 t ha-1 increased the soil pH relative to control. The relative liming efficiency was highest for poultry manure and least for coconut husk compost used alone. Organic amendments also found to significantly increase the yield of maize as compared to control and lime.
  • In Andaman Islands 30,200 MT of vegetables are produced from 4600 ha with heavy use of pesticides (22MT, technical grade). A study on pesticide residue showed that PR were found in 23% of the total vegetable samples analyzed and among the contaminated samples only 14% contained residue levels exceeding the prescribed MRL (0.2ppm) of PFA, 1954. Cruciferous vegetables accounted for 43% of the samples found to contain residues followed by brinjal and bhendi. The average pesticide residue content across all the vegetable samples was 0.081 ppm, with values ranging from 0.011 to 1.379 ppm. Pesticide residues in soils of vegetable system were found to the extent of 54.19 µg kg-1 soil followed by rice fallows (13.38 µg kg-1 soil).

Production technology:

  • There is a greater scope for growing table purpose ground nut in A&N Islands. A total of 11 varieties were evaluated and found that bold seeded groundnut varieties (SG 99, ICGS 76, TG 37A and GPBD 4) can be grown as profitable crop in rice fallow areas. SG 99 or ICGS 76 is recommended by manual line sowing during last week of December to first week of January. Around 62% higher kernel seed yield can be obtained in younger plantations than old plantations (>10 years).
  • Suitable integrated farming systems models for different micro-farming situations like hilly upland, medium uplands and valley areas were tested at farmer’s field. The results revealed better socio-economic prospect in terms of high net returns and employment generation. In hilly areas with more than 25% slope plantation based farming systems involving plantation + backyard poultry + cattle increased the production and productivity of the farm. Growing of black pepper, clove as intercrop in plantation was the best possible option. Such an integration helps to get increased farm income to the tune of Rs.3.9 lakhs/ha/yr besides additional employment generation to the tune of 163 mandays / ha /year.

Processing equipments and methods:

  • Solar dryer made using local materials which saved 33% time in comparison to open sun drying of coconut, black pepper, mushroom, green chillies, jack fruit pulp and fish. The maximum temperature recorded in drying chamber was 70oC. The copra was graded as 80% white copra, 15% brown copra and 5% dusty copra under biomass fired dryer.
  • In order to reduce the drudgery and risk involved in coconut dehusking, hand and pedal operated coconut dehusker were designed and developed. The dehusking capacity was observed at 130, 72 and 168 nut/hr for pedal, hand operated dehusker and local tool respectively. In general, bending cycle stress was experienced after dehusking of 80-90 nuts by sabbal, 120-130 nuts by hand operated and 150-160 nuts by pedal operated dehusker.
  • The conventional green houses (Even span type) are ineffective due to high inside temperature (35-52 oC) which is unsuitable for flowering and fruiting. A modified low cost green house with 27 -35oC was developed in which north and south roof was covered with FRP plain sheet or double layered UV stabilized 250m transparent polyethylene sheets. There is a provision for evaporative cooling and misting and heat and mass transfer through natural convection. All four sides were covered with plastic coated GI wire mesh to avoid damage from birds and stray animals.
Extension / Outreach programmes / Activities:
  • The sea water intrusion into agricultural lands during Tsunami resulted in the salinization and degradation of coastal land and water. Various land shaping activities were initiated and implemented through National Agricultural Innovation Project in four selected clusters spread across Andaman Islands. This includes BBF, paddy cum fish, 3-tier farming system and farm pond. Nearly 20 ha of degraded land have been improved / brought under cultivation under the project. Farm inputs such as salinity resistant rice varieties (CSR-23, 46), fingerlings, vegetable seeds have been distributed to the farmers apart form capacity building to enhance the livelihood security.
  • Under Farmers Participatory Action Research Programme I and II (2008-12) the technologies such as Tank-Well combination, Micro irrigation, Pond and land based integrated farming system, Broad Bed and Furrow system and Ground nut cultivation have been demonstrated at farmer’s field across the islands. The assessment of the technologies revealed increase in water and crop productivity, farm income and livelihood security.
  • Integrated Agro met Advisory Services was started at CIARI in April 2008 with the collaboration from IMD, Pune. Under this weather forecast is received from IMD and it is compiled, interpreted and based on the inputs from multi disciplinary scientist Agromet advisory bulletins are prepared. The advisory mainly contains crop planning, input application, pest and disease management, animal health care etc. This is disseminated through AIR, DD, News papers, KVK, RKC, SMS, line departments and internet.