Cereal-Legume Cropping System in Indian Himalayan Region for Food and Environmental Sustainability

  • Anup Das
  • M. Thoithoi Devi
  • Subhash Babu
  • Meraj Ansari
  • Jayanta Layek
  • S. N. Bhowmick
  • Gulab Singh Yadav
  • Raghavendra Singh


The Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) is extended from Jammu and Kashmir to the northeastern part of the country and shows a great differentiation in climatic, edaphic, geological, vegetation, and other features due to complex variegation of agroecosystems which leads to diverse agroecological zones. Agriculture is the important source of livelihood of the region, and rice (Oryza sativa L), wheat (Triticum aestivum L.), and maize (Zea mays L.) are the main crops of the entire IHR. Unsustainable agricultural practices, such as monocropping, conventional tillage, indiscriminate use of fertilizers and pesticides, etc., apart from land degradation and cropland scarcity have serious implications for livelihood security in IHR. Under such scenario, there is a need to diversify cropping pattern to make the entire agricultural system sustainable and environmentally secure. Inclusions of legumes in cereal-based cropping system either as intercrop or in sequence of crop rotation are the most promising options for diversified sustainability of the system and enhance the cropping intensity. Diverse habitat of IHR favors the growth and development of an amazing variety of legumes and other crops which make this region the rich hub for agricultural crop diversity specifically the legume crops. Broad bean (Vicia faba), horse gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum), field pea (Pisum sativum), black gram (Vigna mungo), adzuki bean (Vigna angularis), cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), soybean (Glycine max), lentil (Lens esculenta), green gram (Vigna radiata), beans (Phaseolus sp.), lathyrus (Lathyrus sativus), pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan L), etc. are some of the legumes cultivated by the farming communities in IHR. Rice bean [Vigna umbellata (Thunb.) Ohwi and Ohashi and mucuna/velvet bean [ Mucuna pruriens (L.) DC.] are some of the specific legumes grown abundantly in the eastern IHR which has immense food and natural resource conservation values. Albeit the legume species provides food, fuel, fodder, etc. and has multifarious roles in agriculture and natural resource conservation, their ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen in root nodules and subsequently contributions to the soil fertility give them the unique identity. Legume-based systems improve several aspects of soil fertility, such as soil organic carbon (SOC) and humus content and nitrogen and phosphorus availability, suppress weed growth through smothering effects, increase production per unit area, enhance land use efficiency, reduce runoff and soil loss, etc. Inclusion of legume provides sustainability to nonlegume cereal component by enriching soil fertility and increasing system productivity and returns. Significant reductions in the release of greenhouse gases, viz., carbon di-oxide, nitrous oxide etc., are a logical consequence of reduced fertilizer and energy use in arable systems with legumes. Pulses are considered the key crops for intensification of rice and maize-fallows of IHR due to their short-duration, hardy, and low-input requiring nature, hence offers a tremendous opportunity to utilize residual soil moisture.


Cereal Cropping system Indian Himalayan Region Legume Land degradation Sustainability 





Biological nitrogen fixation


Conservation agriculture


Cropping intensity


Carbon dioxide


Conventional tillage


Dehydrogenase activity


Farmers’ practice


Eastern Himalayan region


Indian Himalayan Region


Land equivalent ratio


Land use efficiency


Maize equivalent yield


Million tons


Minimum tillage


Nitrous oxide


North East Region






Recommended dietary allowances


Soil microbial biomass carbon


Soil organic carbon


Soil organic matter


US dollar


Water use efficiency


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anup Das
    • 1
  • M. Thoithoi Devi
    • 2
  • Subhash Babu
    • 2
  • Meraj Ansari
    • 3
  • Jayanta Layek
    • 2
  • S. N. Bhowmick
    • 4
  • Gulab Singh Yadav
    • 5
  • Raghavendra Singh
    • 6
  1. 1.Division of Crop ProductionICAR Research Complex for NEH RegionUmiamIndia
  2. 2.ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Tripura CentreAgartalaIndia
  3. 3.ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Manipur CentreImphalIndia
  4. 4.ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Tripura CentreAgartalaIndia
  5. 5.Division of Crop ProductionICAR Research Complex for NEH RegionLembucherraIndia
  6. 6.ICAR Research Complex for NEH Region, Sikkim CentreGangtokIndia

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