SITE SUITABILITY ANALYSIS FOR GROWING SHORT DURATION CROPS IN POST KHARIF RICE-RABI FALLOWS: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY FOR FOUR DISTRICTS OF EASTERN INDIA
India is one of the leading rice producing countries in the world. In eastern part of the country, after harvesting of kharif rice crops, large area remains fallow, mostly due to unavailability of irrigation facility. Approximately 30 percent of total kharif rice area (i.e. around 12 Mha) is left fallow during rabi season. Government of India, in order to improve the land productivity, cropping intensity and food security, has taken up various initiatives to grow pulses in these areas. A project was launched under the National Food Security Mission for use of satellite remote sensing for suitability analysis towards crop intensification in 6 eastern Indian states. Before execution of the project an exploratory study was carried out for 4 selected districts of 2 major rice-fallow states of the country. The selected districts were Raipur and Surguja districts of Chhattisgarh state and Mayurbhanj and Balasore districts of Odisha state. Kharif rice area was mapped using RISAT-1 SAR data, while rabi fallow area was mapped using Resourcesat-2 AWiFS and Landsat-8 OLI data. Suitable area for growing pulses were analysed with respect to various soil, weather and land parameters such as, mean monthly air temperature (°C), Slope (%), Surface wetness, Plant available water capacity (mm) and proximity to drainage network. The post kharif rice- rabi fallow area, in these districts ranged between 20–40% of the geographical area, while the suitable area was found to be in range of between 8–12%. Thus, this exploratory study could show, with remote sensing and other agro-physical parameters, it is possibly not only to map the rice–fallow area, but also to assess the suitability of growing short duration rabi crops.