Effect of crop establishment techniques on productivity of rice-wheat cropping system

Five methods of rice establishment methods viz. zero tillage, row seeding in prepared bed, broadcast seeding of pre-sprouted seeds in puddle field, row seeding of pre-sprouted seeds with drum seeder and manual transplanting; 3 methods of wheat establishment viz. zero tillage, conventional tillage and bed planting were evaluated to assess the productivity and profitability of rice–wheat system to find out the suitable alternative to the standard transplanting method. Transplanted paddy resulted in significantly higher grain yield (3.98 tonnes ha-1) followed by drum seeding (3.37 tonnes ha-1), broadcast seeding of sprouted seeds (3.23 tonnes ha-1), row seeding in prepared bed (2.92 tonnes ha-1) and zero tilled rice (2.76 tonnes ha-1). Conventional tillage in wheat produced 10 and 18 per cent more grain yield as compared to zero tilled and bed planted wheat, respectively. Net returns (Rs 30,819 ha-1) and benefit: cost ratio (1.37) from rice-wheat cropping system were highest from broadcast seeding of pre-sprouted seeds in puddle field–zero tillage wheat, followed by Rs 30,069 ha-1 net return from RM3 – conventional tillage wheat. Bed planting of wheat was least economical for all rice establishment methods except transplanting method. Transplanted method of rice can be profitably replaced with sowing of pre-sprouted seeds in puddle field with subsequent wheat established either by zero tillage or by conventional tillage.