Pros and Cons of Dry Land Farming

Pros and Cons of Dry Land Farming
Dry Land Farming is the cultivation of crops on dry land without the use of the different irrigation methods available. Dryland farming involves growing drought-resistant crops in semi-arid and arid areas. Arid areas experience prolonged periods of dryness, and yields have to rely on the moisture stores within the soil particles. 40% of the world is covered by drylands that comprise of the arid, semi-arid and the dry sub-humid areas. Crops that can be grown by dryland farming include wheat, watermelon, maize, sunflower, and beans. Crops that are grown in dryland farming utilize the stored moisture in the soil particles.
Dryland farming occurs in different parts of the world, including Palouse plains in Eastern Washington in the United States, Mexico, Middle East, Eurasia, Southern Russia, Australia, Ukraine, and Argentina. Farmers from these regions apply several techniques and practices to adapt to the absence of rainfall in most parts of the year. One has to carefully utilize the available moisture in some seasons of the year. Dryland farming relies entirely on the natural rainfall experienced in due course of the year. California and Colorado in the United States grow beans, grapes, pumpkins, and potatoes during the summers using the already stored moisture in the soil from winter waters.
For dryland farming to be possible, farmers need to practice several techniques. For instance, one has to use the broader spacing of crops so that each crop can fully utilize the available moisture in the soil. There is a reduction of the tilling of land to avoid evaporation of soil moisture due to exposure of soil particles to the sun. Farmers have to remove any weed that may be present in the farms to ensure that the weeds don’t utilize the much-needed moisture by the crops planted.
Weeding is one of the historical methods used to reduce the evaporation of soil moisture. Weeds cause the soil to lose water through transpiration. All plants undergo through the process of transpiration, which mostly occurs when the weather is less humid. The covering of soil after planting is one of the new methods that is widely in use in the arid regions. Mulching and plastic sheeting are for covering the ground to prevent it from losing soil moisture. Mulching is a source of buffer to water loss through evaporation. Other new methods of farming in drylands include the use of greenhouse facilities. Experts are coming up with more and efficient new ways of preventing evaporation of soil moisture.
Dryland farming has its advantages and disadvantages. The pros of dryland farming outshine the cons. The dry lands contribute to more than 44% of cultivated lands in the world. Therefore, drylands contributed to food security for more than 2 billion people living in arid and semi-arid areas. The regions of the world that receives rainfall throughout the year can’t feed the world population alone. It will require the contribution of dryland farming to satisfy the global food requirement.
Dryland farming also plays a vital role in climate regulation. In research released by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment of the United Nations, dryland farming plays major advantages in the preservation of the organic and inorganic carbon reserves in the soil. Dryland organic carbon reserves add up to 27%, while the inorganic resources add up to 97%. Farming on drylands leads to sustainable agroecosystems that enhance the storage of greenhouse gases. The storage of greenhouse gases is also known as ‘climate-proofing.’
Another advantage of dryland farming is that it leads to the reduction of soil erosion and restoration of agroecosystems. Planting on arid areas covers the soil surface and holds firm the soil particles, thus reducing the occurrence of soil erosion. Soil erosion can lead to a reduction in soil fertility.
Dryland farming also checks on the evaporation of water from the soil. Arid areas experience high heat intensity that may cause the ground to lose water through evaporation. Planting of these drought-resistant crops covers the soil surface, thus reducing the amount of soil moisture lost to the environment. The soil moisture is very vital to the microorganisms living within the soil particles. Lack of water may cause the soil microorganisms to die.
One of the cons of dryland farming is that only drought-resistant crops can survive in arid areas. The majority of the modern hybrid crops will dry up in case of exposure to the arid climate. The failure of hybrid crops in arid regions means that it’s hard for dry farming to feed the growing world population. A variety of crops that do well in irrigated fields and high rainfall areas will not do well in arid regions. The crops grown in the arid areas have to be less leafy and short-stemmed. Also, crops grown must be fast maturing; hence dryland farming cannot be applicable crops that stay for long before they mature. The disadvantages discourage farmers from engaging in agriculture.
Salinization is common within dryland farming techniques. Salinization is the accumulation of salts around the roots. Moisture is required to dissolve soil salts and prevent it from accumulating within the plant roots. The salts cause the ground to become unproductive, thus leading to crop failure.
Since dryland farming may lead to failure, experts have advised that farmers should try and rinse the drylands. The cons of dryland farming can’t be avoidable, and there is a need for new techniques of agriculture in the drylands. If we rely entirely on dryland farming, it means the food security for the ever-growing population will not be sustainable in some years to come. Though the pros of dryland farming can’t be ignored, agriculturalists need to move from historical methods of farming and embrace the new methods.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *