Tour Report of University Outreach Program (Chakwal Group)

Based on last year's success story of University Outreach Program, this year program was launched on relatively larger scale. During the current Rabi season 2021-22, three major crops were selected including wheat (Fakhar e Bhakker), chickpea (Bittel 2016) and brassica (Barani canola) along with small packets of vegetable seeds to promote kitchen gardening among the farming community. Representative farmers were selected for the demonstration of new varieties of these crops along with their modern production technology at farmer’s field in the rainfed districts of Pothwar. In Chakwal district demonstration plots of wheat, chickpea and brassica were planted at different farmers fields during the month of October and November. The team members of university outreach group Chakwal visited the sites in order to ensure different management practices on time. The team visited the site on Feb 02, 2022 to assess the crop condition. The group observed and compared field performance of improved variety with proper management practices and farmer popular variety with the farmer practices. The crop in rainfed area suffered soil moisture stress initially. However, after the current spell of rainfall, the crop is gaining momentum gradually. These two factors are mentioned below:

  • Drought stress at early growth stage
  • Timely availability of fertilizers

Early drought stress:

According to Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) forecast below normal rains was expected in most of major agricultural plains from October- December 2021. Due to deficit rains, Rabi crop faced water stress particularly in rainfed areas. The moisture was a limiting factor at sowing time of demonstration plots. So the outreach team observed the poor germination particularly in case of chickpea and brassica demonstration plots. This early drought also affected the germination and growth of wheat crop adversely. The rainfalls received during the month of January made the crop situation better. The predicted two to three spells of rainfall will have positive impact on the crop growth.

Availability of fertilizers:

The second factor that affected the crop in the rainfed was the availability of fertilizer. Due to an end-to-end availability and off take of Urea and DAP, prices were quite high in the market than notified by the government. This high price and non-availability of fertilizers has created restless in the farming community. Since the farming in the rainfed area is totally different than irrigated one. In the rainfed areas the application of inputs especially fertilizer depends on the rainfall. The early drought limits the use of fertilizer especially urea at early crop growth stages which adversely affect the Rabi crops growth. At the time of rainfall, non. availability of fertilizer in the market became an issue in the rainfed areas. So fertilizer use was very less as compared to the last year, which will negatively impact the crop. The team observed that crop situation is poor due to these two limiting factors. However, if more rains are received and crop gets ample time in vegetative phase, the loss due to early stress may be compensated.

Recommendations: The team advised the farmers to control weeds by spraying weedicides. Go for foliar application of urea to get better results and save cost of production. Remain watchful about any emerging issue on the crop like yellow rust on wheat, aphid infestation on brassica and Ascochyta blight on chickpea.