ISSN: 0041-3216 (Online), 0041-3216 (Print)
Volume 81 Number 3
Evaluation of a peach-based agric-hortic system in degraded foothills of the Himalayan subtropics. (167)
The investigation revealed that a porous profile beneath 60-75 cm topsoil (T3 and T2) favoured better vegetative vigour of peach (Prunus persica L.) plants compared to those sites having good soil throughout the profile (T4 and T5). However, fruit yield was better in good soil profiles. The drip system of irrigation had good effects on plant survival but overall plant vigour was not influenced much in juvenile peach plants, compared to rainfed controls in a humid subtropical climate. Besides 122.40 kg ha-1 yr-1 average leaf litter production, 346.80 kg ha-1 fuel wood could be obtained from annual pruning of peach plants (T4). Highest fruit yield was obtained in T4 (3761.84 kg ha-1) and lowest under rainfed control (1651.50 kg ha-1). Intercropping of urd (Phaseolus vulgaris, var. T-9) in the rainy season, i.e., June-September (Kharif) and toria (Brassica campestris, var. Pant-303) in winter season, i.e., October-January (Rabi) was a compatible combination with peach plantation, but growing of toria in Rabi season crop was uneconomical on highly gravely sites (T1). The yield of the Rabi season crop (toria) was affected by the rainfall distribution pattern during the crop-growing period, but not Kharif season crop (urd). However, urd showed poor response under tree canopy relative to that away from the canopy cover of the overstorey component (peach). By adopting an urd-toria rotation coupled with drip irrigation for peach plants only, a net return of >U.S. $235.00 ha-1 yr-1 could be obtained even under rainfed cropping. The net return of U.S. $641.49 was obtained by this agric-hortic system on deeper soil profiles (T4) compared to U.S. $251.44 on shallower soil profiles (T4). The system responded fairly well under rainfed conditions (T5), but a 66% higher net return could be obtained by adopting better management practices (T4). From this study, it is concluded that a peach-based agric-hortic system is an economically viable and sustainable land use system with multiple outputs for the degraded foothills of the Himalayan subtropics.
Keywords: Agric-hortic system; Brassica campestris; Degraded land; Economics; Phaseolus vulgaris; Prunus persica