Living in a dry land area with erratic monsoon during the sowing season, Ram Reddy, one of the farmers from Bagepalli taluk of Chikkaballapur district uses pre-sowing seed hardening technique to withstand the drought and minimise crop loss.
With the state experiencing drought almost once in two years, agricultural universities are toiling hard to promote the benefits of seed hardening before sowing. University professors believe that this non-cost method has immense potential to protect the crops during drought.
“Farmers need to simply soak the seed in water or in chemical solution for definite duration and dry it under shade to bring back the seed to its original moisture content,” Dr B C Channakeshava, Professor and Head Department of Seed Science and Technology , University of Agricultural Sciences, GKVK, Bangalore said. He added that seed hardening is a simple, non-cost and effective method of preconditioning the physiology of the seed to withstand drought.
According to University research, the likely benefits of seed hardening includes increased speed of germination, root growth and also increase in yield.
Reddy has been following this technique on ragi and maize seeds and acknowledges that this techniques has proved him beneficial. “At times, with delayed rainfall, I have witnessed, 10-20 percent increase in crop yield,” Reddy added.
Bengal gram, being an important pulse crop of dry region, hydration and dehydration of seed in this crop assumes importance to combat moisture stress during germination in field.
So, the technique of seed hardening is employed to modify the physio-biochemical nature of seed, so as to become favorable for drought-resistant.
In fact, the UAS, Dharwad had tested this method on black gram (chickpea) way back in 2006-07 by soaking it in organic solution like cow urine and coconut milk. The report had concluded that seed quality could be improved through pre-soaking treatments with cheap, non-toxic and eco-friendly organic sources.