Dryland refers to the non-irrigated parts of the land, and Dryland Farming is a technique of farming or cultivation of crops on such lands.
People who stay in the water-scarce or drought-prone areas use this agricultural technique to grow crops for consumption. It is also called as Dry Farming, Dry Agriculture, or Dryland Agriculture.
Due to climate change, groundwater scarcity, species extinction, and heavy droughts, etc. have hit the agriculture sector hard. And, dry farming is one of the best techniques to farm in those areas.
What is Dryland Farming?
Dryland or Dry Farming is a farming technique for water-scarce areas. This technique depends entirely on natural rainfall.
Types of Dryland Agriculture
Generally, dryland agriculture is divided into 3 types on the basis of the amount of natural rainfall received:
- Dry Farming: farming in areas with less than 750 mm of rainfall each year
- Dryland Farming: farming in areas with more than 750 mm of rainfall each year
- Rain Fed Farming: farming in areas with more than 1150 mm of rainfall each year
Challenges of Dryland Farming
Followings are the challenges of dry agriculture:
- moisture conservation
- using available moisture effectively
- control of input costs
- soil conservation
- uncertain rainfall
- storing rainwater effectively
- selection of limited crops
- disposal of dry farming products
- quality of the crops products, etc.
Dry Farming Techniques
Mainly, there are 4 dry farming techniques which reduce the evaporation process and hold the moisture for a little longer:
More than 75% of rain is lost due to evaporation, and mulching is the perfect solution to hold the moisture in the soil.
Mulch can be plant leftovers, straws, plastic materials, etc. which can hold the water in the soil for longer. Plastic mulches have the best ability to hold water.
The antitranspirant is a material which maintains the favorable water condition by controlling transpiration in the crops. It is applied to the leaves of the plants to reduce the transpiration rate.
According to Wikipedia, Antitranspirants block the active excretion of hydrogen cation from the guard cells.
3. Windbreaks and Shelterbelts
More the wind flow, more will be the evaporation of the water.
A windbreak is an arrangement made up of row(s) of trees/plants planted in such a way that they break the continuous flow of the wind, which reduces the evaporation process.
And, a shelterbelt is an arrangement of row(s) of plants/trees to save the inner plants from heavy wind. Windbreaks and shelterbelts are almost similar.
4. Weed Control
Weed control is another useful way to reduce the evaporation process. Regular weeding keeps the moisture available for useful corps only which makes it last longer in the soil.
The process of dryland farming includes:
- wider spacing between plants so that each should have enough moisture to capture
- very less tilling of the land to plant crops
- strict weed control to ensure only useful plants get the moisture
- effective use of the moisture by mulching and other techniques
- selection of crops which are suitable for dry farming
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