This paper establishes the linkage of short duration pigeonpea adoption to farmers' perceptions on the issue of sustainability. Results from a formal on-farm survey and rapid rural appraisals conducted in a drought prone area in Central India, confirm that: a) farmers have a high degree of awareness regarding the effects of intensive cultivation of cash crops such as sugarcane or cotton in irrigated tracts - in terms of reduced yields and increasing use of inputs; b) appropriate crop/varietal adoption and management practices are consciously taken to maintain productivity levels in the context of existing and desired cropping systems; and c) farmers increase or maintain soil fertility by rotation with nitrogen fixing legumes and alternate pigeonpea in different plots each year. Farmers are aware of the nodulation capacity of legumes such as pigeonpea. For these reasons, short duration pigeonpea is chosen as most appropriate for profitable double cropping in deep black soils. The crop is also grown as a boundary crop to prevent soil erosion.