Bio-energy, water-use efficiency and economics of maize-wheat-mungbean system under precision-conservation agriculture in semi-arid agro-ecosystem
The maize-wheat-mungbean (MWMb) cropping system is being advocated as an alternative to the traditional rice-based cropping systems of north-western Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) to address the issues of energy and nutritional scarcity, residue burning, decline in biomass productivity and water tables. In semi-arid regions, the climate-change-induced variability in rainfall and temperature may have an impact on phenological responses of cereals and pulses which in turn would affect biomass production, economic yield and energy and water-use efficiency (WUE) of the crops. Henceforth, quantification of bioequivalent yields, energy requirement, economics and WUE of MWMb system is essentially required owing to have better understanding of this cropping system. Following a 4-year study was conducted under different tillage and nutrient management. ZT and PB plots had significantly higher pooled average (17.2–20.3%) biomass productivity, (34.4–39.8%) net returns and (49.8–66.2%) biomass water-use efficiency with lesser (8.5–16.1%) water-use than the CT plots. Significantly higher pooled bioenergetic yields (21.7–35.2%), net returns (31.4–37.8%) and biomass water-use efficiency (30.1–35.2%) was observed in SSNM/Ad-hoc plots compared with FFP plots. The total pooled energy input in ZT/PB and SSNM/Ad-hoc plots was significant (P < 0.05) higher than CT and FFP plots, respectively, with greater net energy output, energy productivity and energy efficiency. The interactions between tillage and nutrient management practices on pooled input energy and energy productivity of MWMb system was significant (P < 0.05). Thus, adoption of conservation tillage (ZT/PB) practices with improved nutrient management (SSNM/Ad-hoc) could be a viable option for achieving higher biomass productivity, water and energy-use efficiency and profitability in MWMb system.