Saturday, 15 July 2006

Soil and Ground Water Based Approach for Sustainable Agricultural Development : Grass Roots Applications of Remote Sensing and GIS in Indian Context.

V.K. Verma, P.K. Sharma, P.K. Litoria, and D.C. Loshali. Punjab Remote Sensing Centre, Ludhiana, India, Ludhiana, India

India is blessed with wealth of natural resources, but with these blessings, comes the responsibility to ensure their conservation and rational use. All round economic development is leading to the irrational and unsustainable use of finite natural resources. Remote sensing and GIS offers technologically the appropriate techniques for characterizing the georeferenced coherent agricultural zones depicting site specific ground conditions related to soil and water. In view of this, an integrated study was conducted to analyze and map site-specific constraints related to soil and water and to generate land resources development plan for Faridkot district of Punjab (India). The study area experiences problems related to coarse textured soils in large area, poor quality of ground water for irrigation, soil salinity associated with water logging leading to low productivity. Multidate Indian Remote Sensing Satellite (IRS) 1C/1D LISS III data (print form) for the year 2001 and 2002 was used to generate land use map of the area on 1:50,000 scale depicting five major land use classes at level I and fourteen at level II. Out of the total geographical area (TGA), 90.83 per cent is double cropped, whereas 0.44 and 0.78 per cent respectively is cropped only during summer and winter season. Wastelands comprising salt affected, waterlogged lands and sand dunes constitute 0.54 per cent of TGA. Visual interpretation of satellite data was followed by reconnaissance soil survey to generate soil map of the area. The soils were classified as per Soil Taxonomy. The soils of the area exhibit a great deal of heterogeneity with respect to texture depending upon the topographic position. The pH of soils varied from 8.5 to 9.0 due to calcareous parent material. The EC of normal and salt affected soils varied from 0.08 to 1.00 dS/m and 4.04 to 11.23 dS/m, respectively. The organic carbon content of the soils varied from 0.03 to 0.35 per cent. Ground water, being the major source of irrigation, 380 water samples from farmer's tube wells were collected and analysed to map four categories of ground water viz., good, saline, sodic, and saline-sodic. The ground waters of the area are alkaline in reaction (pH >7.0). They have varying levels of salinity (0.3 to 7.5 dS m-1), sodium adsorption ratio (1.4 to 70.1 [me L-1]˝) and RSC (nil to 16.0 me L-1). The land use, soils, and ground water quality maps were digitized and integrated using Arc GIS 8.3 to generate Composite Land development Units (CLDU) depicting site-specific constraints. Based on CLDU, locale-specific Land Resources Development Plan (LRDP) map was derived, suggesting land and water management practices as well as crop diversification plan for the area. Conclusions: The present study, carried out under geoinformatics framework provides initial assessment and analysis of natural resources. In order to implement this land resources development plan at grass-roots level, there is need to further validate this analysis by conducting participatory rural appraisal to prioritize the problems and the possible interventions. It is expected that intervention packages in each cluster unit (CLDU) will facilitate sustainable agriculture at grass-roots level and pave the way for precision farming. In this context a process of ‘Impedance matching' between remotely sensed data analysis and down to earth practice in the field by government functionaries would be required for making full utilization of the massive data.

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