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wasteland reclamation

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Wasteland reclamation


WHAT IS WASTELAND? The National Wasteland Development Board (NWDB) has defined wasteland as degraded land which can be brought under vegetative cover with reasonable effort and which is currently under utilized and land which is deteriorating for lack of appropriate water and soil management or on account of natural causes.

Wasteland Map of India 2011 (Source: Dept of Land Resources, Govt of India)

From the total land area of 328 million hectare about 162 million hectare i.e. 51% is agricultural land,4% is pasture land,21% is forest land and 24% is wasteland

Categories of wasteland in India(source: The National Wasteland Development Board )Gullies and/or ravines Upland with or without scrub Waterlogged and marshy land Land affected by salinity /alkalinity in coastal and inland areas Land under shifting cultivation Under utilized / degraded notified forest land Degraded pasture / grazing land Degraded land under plantation crops Shifting sands- inland /coastal Mining / industrial wastelands Barren rocky / stony waste/ sheet rock areas Steep sloping area Snow covered and/ or glacial area

A Ravine

Causes of land degradation :use and abuse of our land resourceOver cultivationDeforestationUse as fuel wood. Shifting cultivationCommercial timber exploitationClearing forests permanently for non forestry activities like human settlement, setting up industries etc.OvergrazingImproper irrigation practices

Effects of Land DegradationSurface runoff and floods.Soil erosion & desertification.Loss of Nutrients & land productivity.Soil acidification/alkalinisation.Soil salinity.Loss of biodiversity.Long term socioeconomic impact on humans like migration.

Wasteland reclamation Reclamation of wasteland means re-claiming it or to use it for productive purpose. Wasteland reclamation is the process of turning barren, sterile wasteland into something that is fertile and suitable for habitation and cultivation. India has shown an alarming rate of decline in the man-land ratio from 1.25 hectare per capita in 1921 to 0.48 hectare per capita in 1986 to 0.31 hectare per capita in 2011.

Need for wasteland reclamationIt provides a source of income for the rural poor.It ensures a constant supply of fuel, fodder and timber for local use.It makes the soil fertile by preventing soil erosion and conserving moisture.The program helps maintain an ecological balance in the area.The increasing forest cover helps in maintaining local climatic conditions.

Wastelands can be classified into three forms:Easily reclaimable,Reclaimable with some difficulty,Reclaimable with extreme difficulty.

Easily reclaimable Easily reclaimable wastelands can be used for agricultural purposes. Wastelands can be reclaimed for agriculture by reducing the salt content which can be done by leaching etc. Gypsum, urea, potash and compost are added before planting crops in such areas.

Over one million acres of Pakistani wasteland is becoming thriving farmland, with the help of the Pakistani Government and IAEA assistance.

Reclaimed with some difficulty These wastelands can be utilized for agro forestry. Agro forestry involves putting land to multiple uses. Its main purpose is to have trees and crops inter- and/or under planted to form an integrated system of biological production within a certain area. Thus, agro forestry implies integration of trees with agricultural crops or livestock management simultaneously.

Agro forestry

Reclaimed with extreme difficulty Wasteland that are reclaimed with extreme difficulty can be used for forestry or to recreate natural ecosystem. Attempts to grow trees in highly non alkaline saline soils have been largely unsuccessful. Field experiments have shown that species like Eucalyptus, Prosopis and Acacia nilotica could not be grown in highly alkaline soil. Studies have shown that if tree seedlings are planted with a mixture of original soil, gypsum, and manure, better growth can be achieved. It is however important to use indigenous species of trees so that the program recreates the local ecosystem with all its species.

Method of wasteland reclamationThere are various methods by which wastelands can be reclaimed.AFFORESTATION :It means growing the forest over culturable wasteland.

2. REFORESTATION :Growing the forest again over the lands where they were existing and was destroyed due to fires, overgrazing, and excessive cutting. Reforestation checks water logging, floods, soil erosion and increase productivity of land.3.PROVIDING SURFACE COVER :The easiest way to protect the land surface from soil erosion is of leave crop residue on the land after harvesting.

4. MULCHING : Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of an area of soil .In this protective cover of organic matter and plants like stalks, cotton stalks, tobacco stalks etc. are used which reduce evaporation, help in retaining soil moisture and reduce soil erosion.

5.CHANGING GROUND TOPOGRAPHY ON DOWNHILLS :Running water erodes the hill soil and carries the soil along with it. This can be minimized by following alternation in ground topography:(a) Strip farming : Different kinds of crops are planted in alternate strip along the contour.

(b) Terracing :In this arrangement, the earth is shaped in the form of leveled terraces to hold soil and water. The terrace edges are planted with such plant species which anchor the soil. (c) Contour ploughing:In this arrangement, the ploughing of land is done across the hill and not in up and down style.

Picture showingContour Ploughing.

6. LEACHING: In salt affected land, the salinity can be minimized by leaching them with more water. 7. CHANGING AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES :Like mixed cropping, crop rotation and cropping of plants are adopted to improve soil fertility.

8. ECOLOGICAL SUCCESSION :This refers to the natural development or redevelopment of an ecosystem which help in reclaiming the minerally deficient soil of wasteland.

Role of the authorities in wasteland reclamation

A massive campaign for increasing the land under productive use for fuel and fodder species needs to be launched. Voluntary efforts by farmers cooperatives, NGO`s and organizations should be fully recognized and assisted. Mining of land for house building material such as bricks can be reduced by developing alternative building materials.

Mud Bricks as an alternativeMud bricks have an advantage of low manufacturing cost, provide insulation and have good sound absorption characteristics

NWDB, has initiated a lot of new schemes which include:Grants-in-aid to voluntary agencies.Ariel seeding programeDecentralized Peoples nurseries. Silvi pasture farms. Seed development.Area oriented fuel wood and fodder projects.Rural employment schemes.

In the silvi- pastoral system, improved pasture species are introduced with tree species. In this system, grass or grass legume mixture is grown along with the woody perennial simultaneously of the same unit of land. This is the best management for with marginal fertility.

A case study of Jatropa plantationJatropha (Jatropha curcas) has a great ability to withstand hot weather with water scarce low fertile soil, it has very promising scope for cultivation on wastelands even in hot deserts. It also has an ability to withstand high salt concentration in soil. The tribal belt of Kumbalgarh (Udaipur) and Banswara are the leading Jatropha growing area because of the most suitable climate for its commercial plantation in these areas. Rajasthan is the leading state in Jatropha cultivation. Jatropha in the country is now being grown in about 4, 97, 881 hectares of area with the production potential around 25 million tonne per year. About 90 per cent of the Jatropha cultivation is in Rajasthan. Rajasthan government is promoting its production on waste lands. Recently Rajasthan government has allotted 110 hectare of wastelands for jatropa plantation. Jatropha plant starts yielding 3rd year after planting and yield increases over the year. Society for Rural Initiatives for Promotion of Herbals is the major society for promoting Jatropha cultivation. Jatropha is a promising crop for Rajasthan as it has various benefits like wasteland reclamation and reforestation, soil preparation, income generation from previously unusable areas, reducing increased demand for employment by providing opportunities for livelihood and sustainable & renewable land resources management. Various industries like bio-fuel industry, cosmetic industries, pharmaceutical industries, food industries, lubricants industries, etc could use Jatropha.

Constraints in Jatropha CultivationPerceived by Farmers of Rajasthani.] Lack of technical guidance and informationii.] Inadequate training facilities for acquiring skills about its cultivation technologyiii.] Lack of suitable plantation scheduleiv.] Long gestation period of Jatrophav.] Adverse climatic and edaphic factors for the survival of plantsVi.] Lack of knowledge about scientific cultivation of Jatrophavii.] Lack of awareness of economic value of Jatropha seeds

When jatropha seeds are crushed, the resulting jatropha oil can be processed to produce a high-qualitybiofuelorbiodieselthat can be used in a standard diesel car or further processed into jet fuel, while the residue (press cake) can also be used as biomass feedstock to power electricity plants, used as fertilizer (it contains nitro

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