A linear programming model has been formulated to suggest the optimal cropping pattern for maximizing net returns and ensuring significant savings of groundwater with the aim of sustaining groundwater use in the Punjab agriculture. The primary data obtained from the project, “Comprehensive scheme to study the cost of cultivation of principal crops in Punjab” for the year 2002-03 pertain to 170 farmers selected through three-stage stratified random sampling technique. As the period of transplantation of paddy has a significant bearing on the amount of groundwater used and its sustainability, the paddy crop has been further classified into Paddy 1 (transplanted before 10th June); Paddy 2 (transplanted during 11th June to 20th June) and Paddy 3 (transplanted after 20th June). At the existing level of water availability, the optimal crop plan has not revealed any significant changes in the production pattern. Restricting the availability of groundwater has resulted into a major shift in the cropping pattern. Such changes could ensure groundwater savings of almost 25 per cent, without any adverse impact on the net returns from crop production. Introduction of new crops in the production plan, such as Bt cotton, has further enhanced the returns from crop production by about 4 per cent along with groundwater savings of 26.55 per cent. The study has suggested that alternate wetting and drying, adoption of system of rice intensification (SRI), use of tensiometers and direct plantation of paddy are some of the other techniques which can save water.


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