Potato + French bean (2:2 rows) intercropping system is most profitable and emerging systems in the mid hills of North-western Himalas. Potato crop is grown from March/April to September (summer) under rainfed conditions as per cultural practices of potato crop in  North-western hills. Skip one row of potato after every two rows of potato and sowing French bean two rows at a distance of 45 cm from potato and maintaining 30 cm a distance between two rows of French beans. The sowing of French beans may be done immediately after planting of potato. 

The task of increasing food production is becoming more challenging day by day due to shrinking of cultivable land caused by rapidly increasing urbanization and degradation of land resources.  As such increasing food production per unit area and time is the main option for meeting demands of food for the ever increasing population of our country.  Potato crop produces higher dry matter/ unit area and time offers excellent opportunity for intercropping.  It is also a high value cash crop and thus enhances profitability of the systemPotato crop fits well in different multiple and intercropping systems.  However, some minor adjustments are needed in production technology to make potato based cropping system profitable. The advantages of intercropping are well recognized in India where the holdings are very small  to medium and the land under cultivation is limited. Intercropping allowscomplimentary use of available resources like water, space, light and nutrients for conversion to biomass more efficiently as a result of difference in competitive ability of different intercrops for these resources. This efficient utilization of resources leads to yield advantage and gives increased yield stability as compared to sole cropping of the component crops. Studies have shown that, in the hills of Shimla, the growing season can be better utilized by intercropping of potato (Solanumtuberosum L.) and French bean (Phaseolusvulgaris L.), which not only gives yield advantage but also provides insurance against unpredictable weather that sometimes cause heavy loss . This may be due to late blight and other pest and disease in potato crop. Maximum advantage from potato + French bean intercropping was obtained when they were planted in 2:2 row ratio with 2 rows of potato at 60 cm planted between 2 paired rows of French bean (30/120 cm). However, the nutrient requirement of French bean is different. In this popular paper, results of field experiments conducted at in north western hills have been reviewed.      

Varieties and field preparation:

Mostly Kufri Jyoti anf K. Giriraj are most suitable for intercropping. French bean varieties used in the system are mostly high yielder or hybrids like Contender, Premieras well as many hybrids from private firms. Intercropping of French bean in potato is being grown in most of the area in the mid hills of north western Himalayas of Himachal Pradesh and in a wide range of soils. However, the best yield of potato and French bean has been obtained in sandy loam in texture with well drained soils. Select a field which should have approximately 5-10% slope. After harvesting the previous year crop, plough the field with desi plough and keep the soil exposed so that it may absorb moisture/rains/snow during winters. After melting of snow, level the field by planking in order to conserve moisture in the soil which is required for proper germination. Remove ground keepers or volunteer if any which are unpicked potato tubers left over from previous crop of potato. Lastly, plough the field twice or thrice with desi plough followed by planking before planting potato.

Planting method seed rate and spacing:

Potato + French bean (2:2) intercropping system, in which two rows of French bean (paired at 30 cm) were planted after every two rows of potato planted at 60 cm i.e. every third row of potato was replaced with a paired row of French bean sown at 30 cm row spacing as per given in the figure. Seed rate is 30-40 q/ha and spacing is 60 x 20 cm (row x plant). Make furrows across the slopes at 60 cm distance between the rows. Making the furrow against the slope and not along the slope is necessary to avoid soil erosion and conserve more moisture in the soil during less rain situation. Make 4-5 m wide beds providing a drainage channel between beds to drain out excess rain water during heavy rain season. Apply FYM and basal dose of NPK fertilizer mixture in furrows and mix in soil with Khilna (hand tool) to avoid direct contact of fertilizer mixture with tubers and otherwise plant emergence may be affected or less. Planting of potato is done manually after fertilizer is placed in shallow furrow. Tuber is either placed in fertilized furrow then ridges are formed or tuber is dibbled in already made ridges after fertilizer applications.  Plant small seed tubers < 25 g at 60x15 cm; 25-60 g tubers at 60x20 cm; 60-100 g tubers at 60x25 cm and > 100 g tubers at 60x30 cm spacing to control the seed rate. Avoid the use of cut tubers. Tubers are covered immediately after planting  of potato by making small ridges of 10-15 cm height over the furrows. At equal seed rate cut tubers do not give  yield as whole tubers. This may be due to the fact that cut tubers perpetuate certain diseases and rottage leading to poor emergence resulting low yield of potato. Nutrients were applied to component crops on the basis of proportion of sole crop population in intercropping i.e. since the 67% of the sole crop population of potato was maintained in intercropping; potato was given 100% of the nutrients recommended for its sole cropping. Similarly, 50% of sole crop population was maintained in intercropping of French bean sown at 15 and 10 cm plant spacing, respectively, therefore 50% of the sole crop recommendation was considered the full recommended dose in these situations. Planting of potato and French bean was done in the second fortnight of April or within 20 days of potato planting. Both the crops were raised with standard package of practices.

Fertilization and manuring:

Potato as well as French bean is very nutrient exhaustive crop, therefore, to get  better production and profitable return from the intercropping, efficient management of nutrients is required. Normal recommended dose for potato and French bean in this region is 120:100:100 and 50:100:100 kg/ha for N: P­2O5:K2O, respectively. Normally nitrogen is applied in split doses first as basal and another at earthing up of potato (after about 30-40 days of planting when crop will attain the 10-15 cm height). Phosphorus and potassium application is done normally as basal at the time of potato planting at the rate of 100 kg /ha each nutrients.  Application of farmyard manure (FYM) @ 30 t/ha has been found beneficial. If available apply half  of FYM immediately after harvesting the previous year crop and remaining half at planting of the current year crop.

Interculture :

Weeding and hoeing should be done when potato and French been plants attain 10-15 cm height at about 20-30 days after planting followed by earthing up at 30-40 days after planting.

Harvesting and marketing :

Potato was harvested during mid September, whereas, picking of French bean pods was done  twice or thrice during June to September. Dig potato tubers in last week of August for immediate sale as the skin is immature and it can not be stored. However, if the harvesting is delayed for any reason or in certain other sequential and intercropping systems and the skin is hard and mature tubers may be stored by March. Potato varieties used in the system mostly take 100-120 days to attain maturity. Therefore, potato harvesting is done manually, by the end of August to September. Some time prevailing high market price induces early harvest of potato. French bean increase not only nitrogen supply through atmospheric N fixation but also improves over all soil health.

YIELD: 

Yields of potato and French bean based on research conducted by CPRI, Shimla in the region vary widely and ranges from 200-250 and 110 q/ha, respectively as a sole crop. Yield advantage in intercropping occurs because component crops (viz., potato and French bean) differ in their use of growth resources in such a way that when they are grown in combination they are able to complement each other and so make better use of resources than grown as sole crops. Intercropping of French bean in potato according to farmers increase yield of potato 15-20 per cent on area basis and similarly, there is some reduction in yield of potato and yield of intercropped French bean as compared to pure potato and  French bean. If population of potato is maintained 100% by reducing plant to plant spacing (13X13 cm). There was no significant reduction in yield of potato and French bean in the intercropping. French bean adds nitrogen by fixing atmospheric nitrogen in root zone and it act as a green manure. On an average the potato yield in the intercropping ranges from 190-200 q/ha and the French bean yield 60-80 q/ha.

ECONOMICS OF POTATO+FRENCH BEAN INTERCROPPING:

Based on the reviewed of results, after adopting most of the recommended practices spends around Rs. 55-60 and 18-20 thousand /hectare for cultivation of potato and French bean. For intercropping, the cost of cultivation is around also Rs. 55-60 thousand /hectare. The gross return on potato and French bean as the sole crops, works out to Rs. 53100/- and 48000/-taking potato price to be Rs. 450 and 600/- per quintal. In the intercropping system potato+ French bean returns Rs. 67250/- per hectare. Therefore. Net return from intercropping is more Rs 14150/- and 19250/- per ha from from pure potato crop and from pure French.

CONCLUSIONS:

It may be concluded that in a potato + French bean (2:2) intercropping system in which two rows of French bean (paired at 30 cm) were sown after every two rows of potato planted at 60 cm gave high French bean pod yield, potato-equivalent yield and net return from the potato +French bean  intercrop. Similar soil conditions are required for  both crops. small holdings of farmers as well as due to economic considerations farmers may adopt or  go for intercropping of French bean in potato to get higher productivity.

Table 1. Economics of Potato French bean Intercropping*

Sl. No.

Items

Potato

French Bean

Potato + French Bean

A. Expenditure (Rupees)** 

  1.  

Land Preparation

4500

3000

4500

  1.  

Seed

30000

1000

21000

  1.  

Fertilizer

8900

5000

12250

  1.  

Agro Chemicals (including pesticides)

6000

3000

7000

  1.  

Other labour charges (including harvesting)

10000

6000

14000

 

Total Cost

59400

18000

58750

B. Return

  1.  

Yield

 

 

 

  1.  

Potato (q/ha) @ Rs 450/q

250

-

200

  1.  

French Bean (q/ha) @ Rs 600/q

 

110

60

 

Gross return

112500

66000

126000

 

Net return

53100

48000

67250

 


Authors

MK Jatav1, VK Dua2, Manoj Kumar2, Sushil Kumar2, Pankaj Kumar3, Ramesh Chand Bairwa3 and RP Sharma4

1 Central Institute for Arid Horiculture, Beechwal, Bikaner-334006

 2Crop Production, Central Potato Research Institute, Shimla-171 001

3Scholar, Environmental Science, SKRAU, Bikaner-334006

4NBSS-LUP, Regional Centre, Udaipur-313001

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