Amina Nasim Khan and Imtiaz Hussain
Gulshad Nabi (Chand) is a progressive farmer from Chak Dahir, Tehsil Muridke in the Sheikhupura District of Punjab Province, Pakistan. He cultivates wheat and basmati rice, which constitute his family’s only source of livelihood. Heavy tillage and burning of rice residues are the common practices for growing wheat in the region, resulting in the loss of soil nutrients, air pollution and poor food security and livelihoods for farmers like Gulshad.
The Agricultural Innovation Program (AIP), led by CIMMYT and funded by USAID, has begun testing with Punjab farmers the Zero-Tillage Happy Seeder, which sows wheat seed with fertilizer directly into the residues of the preceding rice crop in one pass and without tillage. “This practice offers a more sustainable and productive way to manage rice residues and raise wheat yields,” said Imtiaz Hussain, CIMMYT cropping systems agronomist. “It allows earlier sowing of wheat, which increases yields, and dramatically cuts the time, labor and fuel needed to plant wheat, which normally requires as many as seven tractor passes. Because the rice residues decompose on the soil rather than being burned, there is less pollution.”