DEPARTMENT OF SOIL & WATER CONSERVATION, PUNJAB

LASER LEVELING

RESOURCE CONSERVATION THROUGH LASER LEVELING

 

INTRODUCTION

Shrinking water resources owing to over exploitation of ground water in Punjab threatens the maintenance of agricultural productivity. As a result, the water table is falling in 90% area of the state. Most of this area falls in the Central part of the state. With the inception of Green revolution in the Sixties, the water table started declining and the area having water table below 30 feet. depth has increased from 3% in 1973 to 90% in 2004. During 1993-2003, the average fall of water table in the Central Punjab was 50cm per annum. However, in some of the areas, the fall of water table is even more than 80- 100 cm per annum. Out of 141 blocks of the state more that 100 blocks are over exploited. In the Central part, out of 70 blocks, the water table in 40 blocks has gone down below 50 feet depth and in these blocks, submersible pumps are being installed to replace centrifugal pumps. It is projected that by 2023 in Central Punjab, the water table depth will be below 70 feet in 66% area, below 100 feet in 34% area and below 130 feet in 7% area. Correspondingly in each district, the percent area below 70 feet depth will be 100% in Moga & Sangrur, 80 % in Patiala, 70 % in Ludhiana, 60% in Kapurthala & Jalandhar.

To arrest this dangerous trend of ground water exploitation, there is an urgent need to conserve irrigation water through various on-farm water conservation practices. Land Leveling through Laser Leveler is one such proven technology that is highly useful in conservation of irrigation water.

LASER GUIDED LAND LEVELING

As per studies, a significant (20-25%) amount of irrigation water is lost during its application at the farm due to poor farm designing and unevenness of the fields. This problem is more pronounced in the case of rice fields. Fields that are not level, have uneven crop stands, increased weed burden and uneven maturing of crops. All these factors lead to reduced yield & poor grain quality.

Laser land leveling is leveling the field within certain degree of desired slope using a guided laser beam throughout the field. Unevenness of the soil surface has a significant impact on the germination, stand and yield of crops. Farmers also recognize this and therefore devote considerable time resources in leveling their fields properly. However, traditional methods of leveling land are cumbersome, time consuming as well as expensive.

 

Why Laser Leveling?

•         Land looks leveled but even then wide topographic variation exists

•         Wide variability in crop yields at field/ village/ block/ district/ regional level

•         For Better distribution of water

•         For Water savings

•         For Improvement in nutrient use efficiencies

•         Option for Precision Farming

•         Higher crop productivity  

Equipment Details

 

 

 

 

OBJECTIVES OF LAND LEVELING

Effective land leveling is meant to optimize water use efficiency, improve crop establishment, reduce the irrigation time & effort required to manage crop.

Laser leveled land:

§        Saves 25-30% of water

§        Improves crop establishment and improves Yield.

§        Reduces weed problems

§        Improves uniformity of crop maturity

§        Decreases the time to complete tasks

§        Reduces the amount of water required for land preparation.

 

A)       YIELD: Research conducted by PAU has shown a large increase in rice yield due to proper field leveling. The following table is self-explanatory:

Year

                   Rice Yield(t h/a)

 

Leveled Fields

Unleveled Fields

1996

1997

1998

1999

Average

3.40

2.27

2.72

2.34

2.72

2.67

1.46

2.36

2.00

2.19

Source: PAU, Ldh.

It clearly shows that for the same rice varieties and the same fertilizer input, the average increase in crop yield was 24% or 530 kg h/a.

 

B)       WEED CONTROL: Improved water coverage from better land leveling reduces weeds by up to 40%. This reduction in weeds results in less time for crop weeding.

C)       FARM OPERATION: Laser leveling makes possible the use of larger fields. Larger fields increase farming area and improve operational efficiency. This increase in farming area gives the farmer the option to reduce operating time by 10% to 15%.

D)       SEEDING PRACTICES:   Laser leveled larger fields reduce the time taken for planting, for transplantation and for direct seeding.

E)       EFFICIENT WATER MANAGEMENT: An unleveled field means extra water storage in fields to accomplish puddling in paddy field. Moreover, land leveling effectively terraces fields allowing water in the higher fields to be used in the lower fields for land preparation , plant establishment & irrigation.

F)        ECONOMICS: The initial cost of laser land leveling is high but if the appropriate ploughing techniques are used, re-levelling the whole field should not be necessary for at least eight to ten years. Measurements taken in fields in the second and third year after leveling have shown very little variation in surface topography. Other benefits are:

·       Being able to direct seed

·       Plough the field on time

·       Harvest evenly ripened crop

·       Reduced weeding cost.

To sum up the objectives of laser land leveling:

·        More level and smooth soil surface

·        Reduction in time and water required to irrigate the field

·        More uniform moisture environment for crops

·        Reduced consumption of seeds, fertilizers, chemicals and fuel

·        Improved field trafficability (for subsequent operations)

 

THE PROPOSAL

One Laser leveler costs about Rs. 4 Lacs and a 50 HP Tractor costs about Rs. 4 Lacs. Thus, the cost of 1 Laser Leveler & Tractor Set is Rs. 8 Lacs. Individual farmers can not afford to incus this heavy cost. Therefore, it is proposed that a group of farmers, i.e., Farmers’ Interest Group (FIG) will be formed who will be assisted to ourchase the equipment. An assistance of 75% of the cost is proposed on the equipment comprising of 1 Laser Leveler & a 50 HP Tractor.  The FIG shall level their own fields and also can do custom hiring to level the fields of other farmers. 500 Laser levelers & Tractors are required to level more than 2 lakh hectares area in the next 5 years.

Project Cost

The total cost of the Project for 5 years shall be 40 Crores. The State Govt. shall provide 30 Crores as 75% assistance for 500 machines (1 Laser Leveler & a 50 HP Tractor) and the beneficiaries shall bear the balance cost of Rs. 10 Crores. These machines shall help in precision leveling of more than 2 lakh hectares of cropped area in the next 5 years.

 

For the Year 2007-08, the requirement of funds is proposed as under:

No. of Sets (Laser Leveler + Tractor 50 HP)                       100.

Total Cost of 100 Sets          (@ Rs. 8 Lacs per set)                             Rs. 8 Crores.

Assistance proposed under ACA @ 75% of cost                  Rs. 6 Crores.

Share of FIGs                                                                        Rs. 2 Crores.

 

Benefits of the Project

The assistance shall be provided to the FIGs who shall not only use the machines on their own farms but shall also operate on custom hiring on the fields of other farmers. Each machine shall be able to level an area of more than 400 hectares benefiting a total area of 40000 hectares through 100 machines during the year 2007-08. The major benefits of the Project shall be as follows:

 

1.      Water Saving

The Laser Leveling of fields saves 25-30% of water. Taking into consideration the Paddy-wheat rotation, there is a saving of 2625 cum per hectare after leveling the field. Therefore, there shall be a saving of 105 MCM (Million Cubic Metres) of water by leveling 40,000 hectares through 100 machines in one year.

2.      Increase in Yield

The Laser Leveling of fields helps in increased yields by 10%. This increased yield shall help in additional income of Rs. 6000/- per hectare. Therefore, there shall be a cumulative additional income of Rs. 24 Crores in 1 year by 100 machines.

3.      Energy saving

Saving of 105 MCM of water on 40000 hectares shall lead to less requirement of irrigation to the fields thereby saving of 125 lakh Units of Electricirty valued at Rs. 5 Crores in 1 year.

4. Other benefits

Apart from above, other benefits of Laser Leveling include Weed Control, Labour saving, Time saving, Land saving etc. as described earlier.