Reducing soil moisture losses


  • Surface evaporation and weeds are the two most important unwanted sources of the loss of soil water under dryland conditions, an effective control of which is of great concern to the dryland farmer.
  • It has been estimated that surface evaporation is responsible for 30-40% of available soil moisture and if weeds are not kept under control the magnitude of loss increases upto 60-80%.
  • Intercultivation by khurpi, hoe, harrow, cultivator, etc. in between the crop rows remove weeds and help check evaporation losses by forming a sort of dust mulch on the soil surface.
  • Applications of mulches (organic, chemical, polyethylene etc.) antitranspirants, chemical weed control are other ways to reduce unproductive water losses through evaporation, transpiration and weed growth.


  • Organic mulches such as crop residues like rice straw sugarcane trash, maize stubbles, dry grasses etc., on soil surface in between the crop row is an effective way to check weed growth and to reduce soil moisture losses.
  • Apart from this, it minimizes temperature fluctuation, improves physico –chemical properties of soil, adds to soil fertility and ultimately increases crop yields.
  • Chemical mulches and polyethylene mulching are also used but done to their higher cost their use is generally prohibitive.
Last modified: Wednesday, 3 August 2011, 7:32 AM