How to increase pulses output
By Atique-ur-Rehman and Dr. Ehsan Ullah
are the most important crop next to cereals which belong
to the family leguminosae. They are an excellent source
of protein and are inexpensive as compared to
animal protein. Pulses having high nutritional value
provide a balanced diet to millions of people in
combination with wheat, rice and other cereals.
Vegetable products provide the highest energy of 2,230 k
cal. Pulses are the highest among vegetable products and
provide about 48 per cent more dietary protein in
comparison with animal products.
Beans are one of the most valuable of all pulses. In
addition to their high protein value, they are also used
as a source for a variety of products. Patties, soymilk,
and cosmetics are made from beans. Soymilk boiled with
magnesium or calcium salts form curds of coagulated
protein which are rich in vitamin C and are used in
They contain up to 40 per cent protein on dry weight
basis and are high in all the eight essential amino
Pulses crops maintain soil fertility by fixing
atmospheric nitrogen in their root system forming
nodules through symbiosis with rhizobial bacteria.
Nitrogen requirements of the
pulse crop are low and thus it minimises its nitrogen
needs for succeeding crops by around one-fourth of its
There are hundreds of species of pulses, including beans
and peas with different sizes, colours, shapes and
growth habits. They represent a major component of the
vegetables. The major pulse crops grown in the country
are chickpea, lentil, pea, black gram, green gram, mung
bean, mash bean, kidney bean, faba bean, pigeon pea,
cowpea and grass pea.
Production of pulses is affected by many biotic and
abiotic stresses which hamper the realisation of the
yield potential of the crops. More than 90 per cent area
is rain-fed, which is subjected to soil moisture stress
due to shortage of rainfall. It is, therefore, important
to use proper moisture conservation practices to avert
losses from the soil.
The moisture content of soil around the field is usually
adequate for the germination of pulse seeds. Seed
germination is adversely affected if soil moisture is in
Optimum temperature for germination of seed is 30o C.
It, therefore, is needed to sow the crops at proper time
for maximum germination.
Pulses, for a long time, have been grown with poor
management practices resulting in poor yield. Proper
land and seed-bed preparations are important for better
of seeds, crop establishment and good yield.
Harvest index of pulses is very low between 0.1 and 0.2
as against around 0.5 in wheat and rice. Pulses are
energy-rich crops and need more energy inputs compared
Insects, animal pests, weeds and diseases are major
causes of poor yield of pulse crops. Pesticides playing
an important role in controlling pests but their
be compatible with other practices of pest management.
As pulse crops are mostly grown under rain-fed
conditions, drought is one of the major constraints to
high productivity. Drought, which is mostly due to high
the area, causes poor grain filling and poor yield.
Therefore, supplementary irrigation at critical stages
of the crop is needed for better development of the
Non-availability of rhizobium culture and quality seed
in time further limit pulses productivity. Pulses
symbiosis with rhizobium is a system through which
nitrogen become available for the crop plants. High
temperatures and soil salinity adversely affect this
system. There is a need for the development of more
nodulating genotypes that can satisfy their own nitrogen
An important reason for low yield is also the imbalance
use of plant nutrients. Apart from deficiency of major
nutrients i.e. nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium,
of iron, sulpher and zinc can also affect productivity.
On low fertile soils, small amount of nitrogen is needed
for optimum growth of the crop. Similarly other
be used according to deficiencies after soil test.
Proper application of fertiliser is very important
together with foliar application to overcome
micronutrients deficiencies i.e.
iron, sulpher and zinc.
Pulses are often intercropped or mixed with other crops,
primarily due to their long duration with slow initial
growth. They can be grown as mixed crops with cereals
other commercial crops under sub-marginal conditions.
For using pulses in intercropping, it is important to
use short-duration pulse crops which can be fitted in a
multiple cropping systems with cereals and other crops.
In irrigated areas, after the harvesting of wheat,
potato, sugarcane or chickpea short duration pulse crops
such as green gram or mungbean and cowpea can be grown
additional crop during summer before planting kharif
crops. Under dry land conditions, double cropping of
wheat with pigeon pea, mungbean and mash bean has been
Courtesy: The DAWN