Agriculture Corner

Problems of Dryland Agriculture


The dynamics of dryland farming are different and harsh than irrigated farming. So the problems of dryland agriculture are also unique. Water is the chief requirement for cropping. The crops in dryland or arid lands have to face the challenge of shortage of water more frequently. Rainfall is the sole option for them to get water. Though groundwater is available, however it is a common phenomenon that dryland farmers are poorer than other farmers. It is challenging for them to get access to the groundwater. That is why crop failure is quite common in drylands leaving the farmers and habitants worse off. Either they have to rely on previous stored grains or to buy from market, which is for sure expensive for them.

Having said that, water shortage is not the only problem faced by dryland farming community, there are several other problems of dryland agriculture. In this article, i am going to discuss few of these problems of dryland agriculture for beginners to get better insight of the issue.

1. Moisture Stress, Dryness and Uncertainty

The rainfall in dryland is erratic and has no pattern. In some years, there is plenty of rainfall, while sometime drought prevails in the area. Farmers have no opportunity to take necessary steps on soil for moisture conservation. This result in dryness of soil—crop roots fail to harness moisture, even if they are lush and lengthy, eventually crop failure occur. Farmers do not have enough resources to gamble with nature. So they crop half-heartedly and get nominal production and yield. This issue can be addressed by providing the farmers with necessary weather forecasting advisory, so that they can schedule their cropping activities accordingly to get maximum benefit from available water.

2. Water Storage

Water storage facilities are seldom available in areas where dryland agriculture prevails and this is a serious problem of dryland agriculture. It is more prevalent in developing nations of Asia, Africa and some countries of South America. Water is lost in several ways including evaporation, runoff or used by weeds. As mentioned earlier, problem of dryland agriculture is that there may be no rain or high intensity torrential rain. So there is an opportunity available to save this water. But due to lack of indigenous physical and financial resources along with less state level interest in dryland agriculture, water is wasted. This water can be stored in ponds or ditches or even in the soil. If government support is not available, farmers can form a community at village level and pool resources to have a localized water storage infrastructure to use water during dire need.

3. Marketing Problems of Dryland Produce

Marketing is another problem of dryland agriculture. Farmers usually grow same type of crops. At crop maturity, farmers want to market their produce as it is difficult to store it due to lack of storage facilities. This enables the traders and middleman to have upper hand on them and thus the agricultural produce is sold in difficulty and at low price. An option for dryland farmers is to cultivate different crops in a season or also they can pool money to build local level storage facilities.

4. Limited Liberty of Crop Selection

This is a serious concern for dryland farmers. There are very limited crops that have the adaptability to grow in arid or dryland conditions. However, it is also an opportunity for them. Oil seeds have greater adaptability and resistance to grow in dryland conditions. If cultivation of oil seed crops is done properly and carefully, these crops can earn handy cash for farmers and can be sold quickly. In this way, farmers can buy other products and food items of their need.

5. Vigilant and Judicious Fertilizer Application

We are too much dependent on fertilizer. First, it was needed to increase the output of crops. However, now it is a must need due to weaker soil conditions. The fertility and availability of organic matter in soil has depleted over the past few decades and it is more severe in arid lands. Thus, this increases the problems of dryland agriculture many folds. Moreover, the irrigated farmers have a defined schedule of farming activities specially the irrigation. So they have the liberty to apply fertilizer and schedule it accordingly. In case of dryland farmers, it is a difficulty to manage fertilizer application. In case of applying fertilizer through broadcasting for basal or top-dressing, it is useless without availability of moisture and it is wasted

6. Quality of Crop Produce

The above mentioned problems of dryland agriculture put a big question mark on the quality of crop produced in dryland or arid conditions. Grain quality is the biggest issue as it is of inferior quality due to underdevelopment. On the other hand, the plant growth is also affected, often termed as stunted. This result in less fodder production and farmers get less return on their produce from the market.

These are few common problems of dryland agriculture and farming community. The ultimate responsibility is on government shoulder for backing the farmers in these areas. This is because of the poverty and lack of resources which is common in arid or dryland farming system. Moreover, the current changing climate is another threat to this form of cropping system. Last but not least, extensive research for new crop varieties, innovative water resource management and introduction of unique cropping practices can aid in lessening problems of dryland agriculture.

Cite this Article in APA Style as:

[box type=”note” align=”aligncenter” ]Rahman, M. A. (2017, August 13). Problems of Dryland Agriculture [Blog Post]. Retrieved from[/box]

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