Dry farming: Cultivation without irrigation

Water scarcity is one of major issues existing all around the world. Falling water tables, population explosion, pollution and many other factors contribute to world grain’s production. Among all the countries, China, India and the United States are the three major grain producing countries. Dependence of crop production in these countries on irrigation widely varies. A study says around four-fifths of China’s harvest depends on rivers, three-fifths of India’s harvest depends on groundwater but a mere one-fifth of production in US is from irrigated land. Much of the production depends on rain in the areas where there is little or no irrigation. Wells all around the world are getting dry affecting the grain production. 


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Farmers across the US began dry farming in 1800s. Cultivation of crops without irrigation in a water scarce region is called dry farming. It is not cultivation without water but cultivation without irrigation. Dry farmers have developed techniques that help the crops adapt to the presence or lack of moisture in a given crop cycle. 


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Farmers learnt to how to maximize the utilization of rainfall in the region. The soil must be able to absorb most of the rain water and avoid loss due to evaporation and runoff. Only drought resistant crops were grown. Care should be taken to minimize evaporation due to heat and wind. Water storage capability of soil increases with increasing depth and so the seeds should be planted deep.



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Examples of crops that responded well to dry farming are wheat, oats, corn and fruits like watermelons and grapes too. Care is taken not to overuse dry farming so that the top soil gets time to replenish with nutrients. Dry farmed plants have deep, robust roots and are more nutrient rich.


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