Yields were less than one-third of the state’s average. Most farmers on these lands are too poor to afford the inputs needed for reclamation. However, it has been very well established that such sodic soils could be successfully reclaimed and brought under cultivation by adopting proven technology of usar reclamation developed through research.
Keeping these facts in view, Usar reclamation program was initiated during 2010-11 under “Soil Rejuvenation and Productivity Enhancement Project” Bighapur, Unnao, Uttar Padesh covering 10 hectares in Pahi Hardo and adjoining villages with the main objective to bring these unutilised land under plough to (1) increase cultivable area, and thus to enhance per capita availability of land (2) ensure food, nutrition and environment security and (3) provide employment and income generation opportunities for the farmers family.
The area represented 3 categories of usar soil ie. (1) uncultivated usar land (2) Cultivated usar land with rice only (3) Cultivated usar land with rice-wheat but very poor productivity .
The reclamation itself was a simple process that the farmers soon mastered – after bunding and levelling, the water was added and soluble salts were flushed out of the fields, then the field was ploughed at cultivable moisture and gypsum as per soil-test was mixed with the upper 10 cm soil and the fields were inundated for 15 days. When the water was drained, it washed away the harmful salts. This left the land ready to be transplanted with salt resistant variety of paddy during kharif and then salt tolerant variety of wheat was taken during rabi.
After harvest of wheat dhaincha (Seabania aculeata) a nitrogen-fixing green manure crop was taken for soil rejuvenation before a second paddy crop was planted. In cultivated usar land the paddy productivity prior to reclamation varied between 9 to 20 q/ha with average productivity of 13 q/ha which after reclamation increased to 15.8 to 55.4 q/ha with average productivity of 36.4 q/ha showing 2.8 times increase in paddy productivity.
Similar increase in productivity of wheat was also recorded. The wheat yield in “C” and “B” category soils increased from zero to 20.96 and 24.93 q/ha respectively. In cultivated “A” category soil the wheat productivity before reclamation was 10.91 q/ha which increased to 27.0 q/ha. Encouraged with the results, this program was expanded to additional area of 40 ha in B Grade Usar fields.