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Energy and Economic Efficiency of Integrated Nutrient Management (INM) under Upland Paddy Cultivation at High Elevations of North-East India

Deity Gracia Kharlukhi1,*, Kalidas Upadhyaya1
1Department of Forestry, Mizoram University, Aizawl-796 004, Mizoram, India.

Background: The study looks at integrated nutrient treatments’ energy requirements and the link between energy input and output and economic benefits. The experiment was conducted during 2019 to 2020 to compare the energy budget and monetary returns under INM modules in upland paddy. 

Methods: A total of 12 organic, inorganic and INM modules were evaluated employing randomised block design. Fertilizers, organic manures, bio-fertilizers viz., Azospirillum lipoferum, phosphorus solubilizing bacteria, potassium mobilizing bacteria, Glomus and zinc solubilizing bacteria were used. 

Result: Energy output and net energy were highest with INM treatments (T10 - 100% recommended doses of fertilizers (RDF) + Farm Yard Manure + Azospirillum lipoferum + PSB + KMB + Glomus + ZnSB), while energy use efficiency, energy productivity and energy efficiency ratio were highest in control (T1) in 2019 and in 2020 recorded the highest in T11 (Azospirillum lipoferum + PSB + KMB + Glomus + ZnSB). Other treatments, except T11 and T12 - FYM + Azospirillum lipoferum + PSB + KMB + Glomus + ZnSB, were at par. Although in T10 benefit cost ratio was lower than T9 (100% of RDF + Azospirillum lipoferum + PSB + KMB + Glomus + ZnSB), T10 produced maximum returns than other treatments. Due to its high returns, despite the need for non-renewable resources and low energy use efficiency, integration of various soil amendments were significant for maintaining production sustainability. However, long term experimentation needed to ascertain the overall benefit of INM practices in upland paddy in hilly regions of North East India.

The production of upland paddy necessitates numerous energy-intensive processes, including slashing, burning, land preparation, seeding, weeding, harvesting, threshing and winnowing. Since efficient energy usage gives the highest cost savings, resource preservation and reduction in the environment falsification, it is essential to maintain agricultural output (Demircan et al., 2006). Before implementing any policies on energy use and conservation during the current energy calamity, it is crucial to assess the outline of energy consumption for agricultural output (Mohanty et al., 2014).
When energy utilization is expressed as a unit of land, integrated nutrient farming outperforms conventional farming for nearly all crop kinds. Integrated fertilization, with its emphasis on sustainable production practices, can be a more energy efficient alternative. Making optimum use of fertilizers and other nutrition sources is a significant way for producers to save energy. As part of a soil fertility strategy, it helps to optimize fertilizer use by fertilizer placement and application, as well as the use of farm manures, bio-fertilizers and cover crops. Farmers will save money and energy by judiciously employing these management strategies. As a result, this proactive strategy in integrated nutrient systems concentrates on increasing the rate of crop production on the one hand and on the effective use of agricultural resources in particular on the other (Mandal et al., 2002).
INM found to be sustainable from both an economic and environmental standpoint (Srinivasarao et al., 2020). Maximum yields and economics are achieved when organic manures, bio-fertilizers and a reduced dosage of chemical fertilizers are used to minimize pollution, boost yield and quality and preserve the health of the soil (Mounika et al., 2020). Nutritional integration resulted in greater profits (Mohapatra et al., 2013). However, the integrated treatments with the greatest cost of production had the highest benefit, gross and net returns in terms of economic viability since they increased returns by increasing the yield of the rice crop.
In light of this, a field experiment was done to assess the energetics and economic returns of upland paddy under various nutrient management techniques.
Randomised block design with 12 treatments were executed for the study, during the year 2019 and 2020 at Lai-Lad, Jirang Block of Ri-Bhoi District, Meghalaya, India under the affiliation of Mizoram University, Aizawl, Mizoram. The area lies within 25°56'61"N latitude and 91°45'¢90.3" E longitude with an elevation of 226 m above MSL and a slope of 40°.
Treatment modules were: T1 [Control], T2 [100 % recommended doses of fertilizers (RDF)], T3 [100% RDF + farm yard manure (FYM)], T4 [100% RDF + Azospirillum lipoferum], T5 [100% RDF + Glomus], T6 [100% RDF + zinc solubilizing bacteria (ZnSB)], T7 [100% RDF + phosphorus solubilizing bacteria (PSB)], T8 [100% RDF + potassium mobilising bacteria (KMB)], T9 [100% RDF + Azospirillum lipoferum + PSB + KMB + Glomus +ZnSB] , T10 [100% RDF + FYM + Azospirillum lipoferum + PSB + KMB + Glomus + ZnSB], T11 [Azospirillum lipoferum + PSB + KMB + Glomus + ZnSB] and T12 [FYM + Azospirillum lipoferum + PSB + KMB + Glomus + ZnSB].
Energy efficiency of all treatments were calculated according to energy value incurred from all the input and the outputs. Using the appropriate energy conversion factors, all units of agricultural inputs were converted to energy units (Table 1).

Table 1: Energy equivalents of major inputs for integrated nutrient management in upland paddy production.

Rupees per hectare per year (₹ ha-1 yr-1) was used as a measure of financial flow. The entire amount invested served as the input component and the proceeds from sales provided the output for each treatment. All agricultural inputs were calculated using the current market price in order to analyse the monetary input (Table 2).

Table 2: Monetary input in a variety of integrated nutrient management initiatives for upland rice.

Energy indices
Energy indices for upland paddy have been calculated by using the following equations (Soni and Soe, 2016).

Net energy = Total output energy (MJ ha-1) - Total input energy (MJ ha-1)
The costs incurred from the preparation of the land through crop harvest were used to determine the economics of each treatment. The following formulae were used to determine cultivation cost as well as gross and net returns and B:C ratio.

Gross return (Seed) = Seed yield ha-1 × Price kg-1
Gross return (Straw) = Straw yield ha-1 × Price kg-1
Total gross return = Gross return (Seed) + Gross return (Straw)
Net return = Total gross return - Total cost of cultivation

Energy efficiency
Operational and non-operational energy requirement (crop energy requirement) and energy input-output
Both operational and non-operational energy were included in the energy inputs. In contrast to non-operational (indirect) energy, which included seed, manure, bio-fertilizers and chemical fertilizer (NPK), whereas operational (direct) energy consisted of slashing, burning, land preparation, sowing, weeding, harvesting, threshing and winnowing. Table 3 summarises the overall energy input through various operations, soil amendments and seed and illustrates the plots with the highest levels of integrated nutrients that produced the highest levels of energy input. Compared to alternative fertility treatments and unfertilized plots, integrated plots produced more energy output overall (Table 4).

Table 3: Total input energy consumed (MJ ha-1).


Table 4: Total output energy consumed in cropping years (MJ ha-1).

The study’s findings show that each operations under scrutiny relies mostly on human labour. It has been calculated that the larger energy intake also includes the energy consumed by human labour to carry out the processes. Upadhyaya et al., (2015) also reported related findings. Additionally, the integrated plots with the highest energy input are those that have applied different soil amendments. The study also demonstrated that, while energy use efficiency was constantly declining, energy consumption was rising steadily to enhance agricultural output. Pal et al., (1985) and Sharma and Thakur (1989) also illustrated the same findings. Hence, manures, bio-fertilizers and chemical fertilizers accounted for the majority of the energy used in the inputs for the various activities that were used on crops (Mandal et al., 2002). The use of integrated nutrients in the cultivation of upland paddy results in higher material and energy requirements for bio-products, chemical and manure fertilizers and labour as also reported by (Khan et al., 2009). However, integrated nutrient management help to significantly boost the energy production with the yield (Mihov and Tringovska, 2010). In contrast to other treatments under the research, fertility management had the highest grain energy output at the maximum energy input, most likely due to the high grain productivity (Mandal et al., 2002).
For systematizing the various nutrient control modules, the energy budgeting have been gauged (Table 5). Highest energy use efficiency is recorded in T1 during both the cropping years and energy ratio recorded the highest in the organically treated plot T11 after the second year cropping. Highest energy productivity in first year cropping was recorded in T1 and in the second year cropping it was recorded in T11. Whereas, the maximum specific energy in the first year cropping was estimated in T2 and in the second year cropping it was found in T3. Net energy was recorded the highest in T10.
Energy use efficiency was shown to be significantly greater in the plots with no fertilizers, but efficiency varied significantly owing to nutrient management systems. Increasing fertilizer intensity for increased productivity is proportional to the energy consumed in production, but it also decreases the EUE (Sharma and Thakur, 1989). The study also demonstrates that the higher energy usage efficiency in terms of output-input produced was connected to economics and is inversely proportional to the cost of cultivation.

Table 5: Energy use efficiency (EUE), energy productivity (Kg MJ-1), specific energy (MJ Kg-1), net energy (MJ ha-1) and energy efficiency ratio (EER) for cropping years.

Because of the higher system productivity, the INM module had higher net energy. The study illustrated that the net energy was considerably influenced by the various treatments, with INM application producing higher net energy and no fertilizer application producing lower net energy. This is a result of an increase in gross output relative to input energy. These conclusions are relevant to the findings by (Harika et al., 2020). Furthermore, the lower energy usage in the system is primarily responsible for the greater energy efficiency ratio in the no fertilizer plot. Similar results were also reported by (Lewandowska-Czarnecka et al., 2019). Additionally, the energy efficiency ratio tends to be low for larger energy input and high for lower energy input.
Cost of cultivation, net return and gross return and benefit cost ratio
Costs of the various materials utilised and the cost of their preparation per hectare were compared. Due to the greater cost of organic manures and bio-fertilizers, cultivation costs were higher with INM treatments (Table 6).

Table 6: Total cost of cultivation (in ₹ ha-1).

The study depicted that the cost of cultivation climbed steadily as the rate of integrated nutrient application increased and the use of chemical, organic and bio-fertilizers were linked with the greatest cost, surpassing that of all other fertility treatments. According to Baishya et al., (2013), the cost of cultivation also increases in direct proportion to the usage of large quantities of fertilizer modules. However, INM offered greater returns (Fig 1 and Fig 2) as compared to organic nutrient supply conforming the findings of (Hanson and Musser, 2003 and Russo and Taylor, 2006). Baishya et al., (2010) and Kumar et al., (2013) discovered that crops with integrated nutrients produced a much higher return on investment per rupee. The crop that received just organic fertilization produced a poorer return.

Fig 1: INM effect on seed and straw gross return (₹) for the cropping years.


Fig 2: INM effect on total gross and net return (₹) for the cropping years.

The B:C ratio in INM was superior to that of organic treatments. Furthermore, the cost-benefit analysis of this study revealed that T10 and T9 (Table 7) under better nutrition control produced the greater BCR as also recorded by (Desai et al., 2015 and Srinivasarao et al., 2020).
Despite having a greater cultivation cost because of the additional nutrients, fertility treatments had considerably higher gross and net returns than the control plots. Additionally, the nutrient management had an effect on the B:C ratio of upland paddy. The highest BCR value was seen in T9 (100% RDF + Azospirillum lipoferum + PSB + KMB + Glomus + ZnSB).
The findings revealed that integrated use of various soil amendments under INM farming produced higher energy input, energy output and cost of cultivation with a higher net return in investment but lower energy indices. This suggests that, compared to other farming systems, INM farming has a far higher dependence on non-renewable energy sources, mostly for fertilizers. Furthermore, it emphasised how crucial nutritional integration is profitable. Besides, INM also helps in maintaining sustainable production as indicated by the increased production and improved energy indices in second year cropping. However, long term study is essential to ascertain the overall production and energy consumption benefits of INM practices in upland paddy in hilly regions of North East India.
The authors owe a special thanks to the office of Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC), Jirang block, Ri-Bhoi district, Meghalaya, for collaboration.
On behalf of all authors, as the corresponding author of the manuscript, I warrant that the manuscript submitted is our own original work. All authors participated in the work in a substantive way and are prepared to take public responsibility for the work. The manuscript has not been published and is not being submitted or considered for publication elsewhere. The authors declare that they have no known competing financial interests or personal relationships that could have appeared to influence the work reported in this paper. The authors declare there are no conflicts of interest.

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