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Conservation agriculture course in rainfed farming, Karnataka, India

From 18-22 August, the University of Agricultural Science (UAS) Raichur, Karnataka, hosted the first course on ā€˜Conservation agriculture (CA) in rainfed farmingā€™ in India, in collaboration with CIMMYT, under the aegis of the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA). The 31 participants included young scientists and extension agents from NGOs and various research centers of UAS, in addition to machinery manufacturers and service providers from across Karnataka state. Also in attendance were BV Patil (Vice Chancellor, UAS, Raichur), Pat Wall (Director GCAP, CIMMYT), Raj Gupta (Head, CIMMYT-India), and Bruno Gerard (new Director GCAP, CIMMYT). ML Jat (Senior Cropping Systems Agronomist, CIMMYT) coordinated the course, with assistance from SG Patil (Director of Education, UAS), T Satanarayana (IPNI), RK Malik, and HS Sidhu.

During the course, participants learnt the basics of CA, including practical field training on CA machinery, techniques for intercropping systems under rainfed conditions, use of GreenSeeker optical sensors, spray techniques, and weed, nutrient, and water management practices in relation to CA. Raj Gupta described the CA priorities for the different ecologies of Karnataka, whilst Pat Wall shared his global experiences of CA and Bruno Gerard detailed his experiences with crop-livestock interactions in reference to CA.

In concluding the course, BV Patil thanked CIMMYT for previously initiating the CA program in Karnataka as part of the Rice-Wheat Consortium for the Indo-Gangetic Plains (RWC). Now, with the assistance of CSISA, it is hoped that the adoption of CA can be accelerated. The UAS has recently recruited new scientists in order to take CA to a larger scale in Karnataka, and has pledged to purchase CA planters to assist in these efforts, said Patil. Given that weed management is a key issue in rainfed areas, the university also hopes to collaborate with CSISA and CIMMYT scientists, in order to produce a publication of the subject of the synthesis of weeds on different production systems under rainfed ecologies.