• Uma Shankar

      Articles written in Journal of Biosciences

    • Nutrient cycling in an excessively rainfed subtropical grassland at Cherrapunji

      H N Pandey R S Tripathi Uma Shankar

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      Cycling of six mineral elements (N, P, K, Na, Ca and Mg) was studied in a humid subtropical grassland at Cherrapunji, north-eastern India during 1988-1989. Elemental concentrations in the shoot of four dominant grass species,viz., Arundinella khaseana, Chrysopogon gryllus, Eragrostiella leioptera andEulalia trispicata were very low, and none of the species appears suitable for fodder use. Among different vegetation compartments, live root was the largest reservoir of all the nutrients (except Ca) followed by live shoot, dead shoot, litter and dead root. For Ca, live shoot was the major storage compartment. The total annual uptake (kg ha-1) was 137.3, 10.4, 51.1, 5.5, 8.7 and 18.2 for N, P, K, Na, Ca and Mg, respectively. In an annual cycle 98% N, 77% P, 49% K, 109% Na, 87% Ca and 65% Mg returned to the soil through litter and belowground detritus. A major portion of N, P and Na was recycled through the belowground system, whereas nearly half of K, Ca and Mg was recycled through the shoot system. Precipitation acts as the source of N and P input, but at the same time causes loss of cations.

    • Evaluating second year cropping on jhum fallows in Mizoram, north-eastern India—Phytomass dynamics and primary productivity

      Tawnenga Uma Shankar R S Tripathi

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      Cropping on jhum fallows in north-eartern India is predominantly done for one year in a jhum cycle. If second year cropping is done, expanse of the forest land required for slashing and burning could be reduced significantly. We tested this hypothesis in a young (6 yr) and an old (20 yr) jhum fallow. We also evaluated if the productivity during second year cropping could be alleviated by auxiliary measures such as tilling the soil or application of fertilizers (chemical or farm-yard manure or both in combination). The results demonstrate that the ecosystem productivity (total dry matter production) and economic yield (rice grain production) decline with shortening of jhum cycle. Second year cropping causes a further decline in ecosystem productivity in old jhum field, but not in young jhum field. Economic yield from second year cropping in its traditional form (without any fertilizer treatment) is not much lower than that in the first year, and can be improved further by manuring the soil. Tilling of soil improves neither ecosystem productivity nor economic yield. Different fertilization treatments respond differently; while inorganic manuring enhances ecosystem productivity, a combination of inorganic and organic manuring improves economic yield

    • Evaluating second year cropping on jhum fallows in Mizoram, north-eastern India: Energy and economic efficiencies

      Tawnenga Uma Shankar R S Tripathi

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      Energy and economic efficiencies were evaluated on young (6 year) and old (20 year) jhum fields in Mizoram, north-eastern India during second year of cropping, and were compared with those in the first year. The effect of auxiliary measures such as tilling the soil or application of fertilizers (chemical or farm-yard manure or both in combination) was also examined on energy and economic efficiencies. The results indicated that traditional jhum cultivation is labour intensive and energy efficient, producing almost 15–20 times of energy invested. Energy and economic efficiencies decline with shortening of jhum cycle. These efficiencies decline further from first to second year of cropping. Tilling is not useful to improve either energy or economic efficiency. Fertilizer application, which is though profitable from the point of view of economic efficiency, is highly energy inefficient. Application of fertilizers during second year cropping can be encouraged. Organic manuring may be a better option than others to alleviate energy efficiency. However, a combination of organic and inorgamic manuring could be the best option to enhance economic efficiency.

    • Evaluating second year cropping on jhum fallows in Mizoram, north-eastern India: Soil fertility

      Tawnenga Uma Shankar R S Tripathi

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      Changes in soil fertility were evaluated on young (6 year) and old (20 year) jhum fields in Mizoram, north-eastern India in response to various operations involved injhum such as slashing and burning of vegetation, cropping period, and intervening fallow period between first and second year cropping. The results demonstrate that the soil is richer in nutrients in old than young field prior to the start of jhum cultivation. Slash burning depletes soil acidity, carbon and nitrogen but elevates phosphorus and cations. Soil fertility declined during first cropping phase, and further declined during second cropping phase. After two cropping years, soil fertility of old field was almost at par with that of young field, signifying that the loss of soil fertility was more in old than young field. A short intervening fallow period between first and second year of cropping did not show any pronounced improvement in soil fertility, though it provided some biomass for second burning. Tilling caused maximum loss to soil fertility. The fertilizer treatments ended with comparable or better soil fertility in comparison to no-treatment plot. There seems to be none of the fertilizer treatments superior over others from the standpoint of ending soil fertility. The unifying conclusions of this series of investigations support the hypothesis that the second year cropping holds promise to reduce the demand for forested land for jhum, and lengthen the jhum cycle substantially.

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