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Volume 231, 2021, 120862

Energy budgeting and carbon footprints of zero-tilled pigeonpea–wheat cropping system under sole or dual crop basis residue mulching and Zn-fertilization in a semi-arid agro-ecology

Adarsh Kumara, K.S. Ranaa, Anil K. Choudharya, R.S. Banaa, V.K. Sharmaa, Shiv Prasada, Gaurendra Guptaa, Mukesh Choudharyb, Amaresh Pradhana, Vishal Tyagid, Sudhir K. Rajpoota, Abhishek Kumara, Amit Kumara

ICAR–Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, 110 012, India.


Conventional agriculture is energy and carbon intensive. Single and double-crop basis residue-mulching in zero-tilled crop-sequences may minimize carbon-footprint with improved crop and energy productivity in water-scarce ecologies. Zn-fertilization is also vital for drought-stress tolerance besides enhanced productivity and quality in Zn-deficient arid-soils. Hence, we compared the single and double-crop basis residue-mulching alongwith Hydrogel and Zn-fertilization in zero-tilled pigeonpea-wheat system. Results showed that double-crop residue-mulching + Hydrogel exhibited ∼22.3 and 17.1% higher system-productivity over no-residue and single-crop residue-mulching plots while maintaining higher net-returns (1315 US$/ha). Crop-residue covering consumed considerable energy (77.3–89.1% of total consumption) and carbon (5–10 folds). Thick residue-cover (8 t/ha/year) under double-crop residue-mulching + Hydrogel exhibited significantly higher energy-output (238,328 MJ ha-1), energy-intensiveness (107.3 MJ/US$) and specific energy (20.15 MJ kg-1) compared to single-crop residue-mulching; whereas energy-use efficiency, energy productivity and profitability were higher under no-residue cover. Zn-fertilization (5 kg ha-1) alongwith Zn-solubilizer in both crops also enhanced the biomass and energy productivity over sole-Zn or no-Zn. Interestingly, carbon footprints increased with residue-covering (4–8 t/ha/year) while least under no-residues. Therefore, farmers should preserve a balance while mulching the residues in single or both crops besides necessitating Zn-fertilization in Zn-deficient arid and semi-arid regions where livestock equally competes for residues as quality fodder.

Keywords: Carbon budgeting, Crop residue, Energy, Pigeonpea, Wheat, Zero tillage.

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