Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development

Leaving the Plow Behind

Zero-tillage rice-wheat cultivation in the Indo-Gangetic Plains

Olaf Erenstein

Key period: 1995–present

Geographic region: India, Pakistan

The intervention: An estimated 620,000 wheat farmers in northern India have benefited significantly from the introduction of crop management techniques known as zero-tillage cultivation. In this practice, the seeds are planted in unplowed fields in order to conserve soil fertility, economize on scarce water, reduce land degradation, and lower production costs. Varying forms of the technique have been adopted over an estimated 1.76 million hectares of wheat, particularly in the Indian states of Haryana and Punjab, with average income gains amounting to US$180–340 per household.

Book Chapter:
Leaving the Plow Behind: Zero-tillage rice-wheat cultivation in the Indo-Gangetic Plains
Olaf Erenstein
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Discussion Paper:
Zero tillage in the rice-wheat systems of the Indo-Gangetic Plains: A review of impacts and sustainability implications
Erenstein, Olaf. 2009. IFPRI Discussion Paper 916.
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