The need for growing more food, on a sustainable basis, to support the ever-increasing population demands a systematic appraisal of our natural resources including climate, soils, flora, and fauna. Since agriculture is highly location-specific, grouping the available land area in the country into different agro-ecological regions based on certain identifiable characteristics becomes all the more important. This may help the country to engage in more rational planning and optimizing resource use for the present and in preserving them for the future. An agro-climatic zone is a land unit in terms of major climates, suitable for a certain range of crops and cultivars. An ecological region is an area of the earth’s surface characterized by distinct ecological responses to macro-climate, as expressed by soils, vegetation, fauna, and aquatic systems (FAO, 1983). Several attempts have been made to delineate major agro-ecological regions in respect to soils, climate, physiography and natural vegetation for macro-level planning on a more scientific basis. Some of the important ones are : A. Agro-ecological regions by the ICAR.
B. Agro-climatic regions by the Planning Commission.
C. Agro-climatic zones under NARP.
D. Agro-ecological regions by the NBSS & LUP.
A. Agro-ecological regions by the ICAR
As a result of the second major reorganization which the ICAR underwent in 1973, the country has been divided into eight major agro-ecological regions for more meaningful planning of agricultural research and development. They are :
1. Humid Western Himalayan Region
2. Humid Bengal - Assam Basin
3. Humid Eastern Himalayan Region and Bay Islands
4. Sub-humid Sutlej-Ganga Alluvial Plains
5. Sub-humid to Humid Eastern and South-eastern Uplands
6. Arid Western Plains
7. Semi-arid Lava Plateau and Central Highlands
8. Humid to Semi-arid Western Ghats and Karnataka Plateau
These regions consist of large geographical area of land having major groups of geological formations, physiography, climate, soils, vegetation, land use and cropping patterns. Some of the essential features of these regions are described here. 1. Humid Western Himalayan Region : It consists of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and two hill divisions of Uttar Pradesh, namely, Kumaon and Garhval. It is characterized by high mountains and narrow valleys. The climate varies from hot and sub-humid tropical in the South to temperate cold arid in the North, with the rainfall ranging from 8 cm in Ladakh to over 100 cm in Jammu area. It has sandy loam mountain meadow, loamy and acidic sub-montane, and loamy brown hill soils. Nearly half of the area is under forest, and horticulture including sericulture supplements agriculture. Rich forest wealth and range lands are the assets of this region. Degradation of forests is the major problem. 2. Humid Bengal-Assam Basin : It covers West Bengal and Assam representing the Ganga-Brahmaputra alluvial plain. It is characterized by semi-stabilized sand dunes on alluvial terraces, lateritic remnants in the West, and numerous creeks and swamps in the deltaic tract. It experiences hot humid monsoonal climate, and the rainfall ranges from 220 to 400 cm. The predominant soil groups are alluvial, red and brown hill. Rich forests in Assam and fertile deltas in West Bengal are the assets. Frequent floods in Assam and extensive occurrence of saline patches in the deltaic tracts are the major constraints. 3. Humid Eastern Himalayan Region and Bay Islands : It includes Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Andaman & Nicobar Islands. It consists of the Eastern Himalayan and the Arakan Ranges with a wide range of elevation. The rainfall ranges from 200 to 400 cm. The major soil groups are brown hill, red and yellow, alluvial, and acidic laterites. It is endowed with rich evergreen forests. Animal husbandry and pisciculture have great potential. Major liability is shifting...
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