Vol. 9 No.1&2 February-April 2001
HIGH ALTITUDE AGRO - TECHNOLOGIES
DRDO is engaged in the development of suitable agro-technologies in high altitude areas of the country to meet the requirement of perishable commodities (vegetables, fruit, milk and meat) of the Armed forces locally and improve economic condition of local farmers. Some important agro-technologies and products developed are:
Improved Varieties & Hybrids of Vegetables
Several crop varieties/hybrids, mainly of vegetables, have been developed and are being grown on commercial scale in the Himalayan states. These include:
Technology for Protected Cultivation of Vegetables in High Altitudes
Since cropping period is small in high altitude areas, it is difficult to raise vegetables requiring transplanting, such as cauliflower, cabbage, knol-khol, tomato, onion etc. DRDO has standardised trench cultivation method for raising early nursery of vegetables. Seedlings are raised in polythene covered trenches of appropriate size, generally 15' x 5' x 3' during April and transplanted as soon as cropping season starts. This technique has been successfully tried for raising potato seedlings using true potato seed. By this method, the nurseries of improved varieties of above vegetables are raised in large quantity (several lakh) and made available to the growers every year. Certain progressive farmers and local horticulture department have already adopted this technology.
Ladakh, during the long frozen winter months, not a single blade of grass grows in the
open. Ladakhis used to laugh at the idea of growing vegetables during ,winter, but they
themselves are now cultivating in winter season using the protected cultivation technology
developed by DRDO. As a result of extensive research and development efforts of DRDO,
locally grown greens (leafy vegetables) are now seen in Leh market during severe winter.
Green vegetables, namely, coriander, mint, vegetable mustard, lettuce, celery, parsley,
fenugreek, kale, palak, etc. Capsicum crop in solar green house are grown by adopting
polyhouse and trench cultivation techniques, using polyethylene and local material
affordable by tribal farmers. A polyhouse of 12 m x 4m x 2 m size is made using poplar and
willow wood. It is covered with ultraviolet stabilized white polyethylene film of 200
micron thickness or other films like rigidex. Crop inside polyhouse is covered over night
with 150 gauge black film. Trenches of 15' x 5' x 3' size are used for raising winter
leafy vegetables. These trenches are kept covered with ultraviolet stabilized
polyethylene. During nights another covering with black polyethylene is given. Trench
cultivation harnesses soil and sun temperature to induce growth in certain leafy
vegetables. The trenches and the polyhouse used for raising leafy vegetables during winter
and vegetable nursery during spring are also used for raising cucurbits (cucumber,
bottlegourd, longmelon, summer squash etc) during summer (June to September). This
technology is becoming popular among farmers.
Mushroom, a rich source of
vegetable protein, can be cultivated under captive conditions irrespective of
agroecological and topo-sequential heterogeneities. Suitable technologies have been
developed for production of different types of mushroom in hills. Techniques of spawning
with wheat straw, leaf straw, grains of barley and wheat were standardised. Spawns
of Agaricus and Pleurotus are available. Results indicated that button mushroom can
be grown under natural conditions in lower hills from February to April and
from September to November, whereas Pleurotus can be successfully grown during April to
July. Different species of Pleurotus, such as Pleurotus flabellatus and Pleurotus sajor
caju were successfully grown on paddy and wheat straw media. It is observed that paddy
straw culture is more suitable than . wheat straw. Locally available forest waste can be
used as a medium for spawning of Pleurotus ostreatus. DRDO now has the requisite know-how
for preparation of various European and Japanese mushroom spawns that result in optimum
growth with better quality and nutritional attributes.
True Potato Seed (TPS) Technology
This technology has been perfected for production of quality seeds of potatoes in high altitude areas. The technology has benefitted local farmers in high altitude areas, like Ladakh who earlier used to procure potato seeds from other states. Approximately, 150 g of true potato seed can replace 25 qunital of potato tubers required for planting one hectare area. The hybrid true potato seed Potato berries (TPS) production in Ladakh has a great potential for export also.
Poultry Production Technology
The basic principle of rearing poultry in extreme cold weather and high altitude conditions is to maintain optimum temperature and adequate ventilation in poultry sheds. An underground poultry shed has been designed and tested for brooding day-old chicks and raising broiler and layers poultry in high altitude. The shed is designed to exploit solar energy and to conserve it for longer hours at nights. The advantage of harnessing soil heat is also there. This technology demonstrated successful production of poultry in very high altitudes up to 13,000' above mean sea level.