Grain Legumes for Resource Conservation and Agricultural Sustainability in South Asia

  • Narendra Kumar
  • K. K. Hazra
  • C. P. Nath
  • C. S. Praharaj
  • U. Singh


Degradation of natural resources is a major environmental concern that threatens the agroecosystem health and food security in South Asian countries. About 1.8 billion people (24% of world population) are living in this region in an area of 5.03 km2. The higher population pressure on agricultural land (7 person ha−1) has further threatened the existing resources to a great extent. Thus, conserving natural resource base is essential to feed the burgeoning population. Continuous practice of cereal-cereal rotation including rice-wheat in Indo-Gangetic plains have emerged several soil- and environmental-related issues. Diversification of cereal-cereal cropping systems is warranted to mitigate those issues and to adapt to the changing climatic condition and to enhance the resource-use efficiency on a sustainable basis. Grain legumes are the suitable candidate crop for diversification because of its inherent capacity to build up soil health and in conserving natural resources. There exists a large scope to introduce pulses as the second crop in 22.2 million hectare areas of rice fallows in India, Bangladesh, and Nepal. System intensification with inclusion of mungbean in summer fallows of rice-wheat cropping system could add an additional pulse crops area of 1.0 m ha in Indo-Gangetic plains. Several alternative grain legume inclusive crop rotations have been identified for the different agro-zones that certainly could play an important role in popularizing the conservation of agriculture in cereal-dominated production systems of South Asia. Endowed with an inherent potential biological N-fixation (30–150 kg N ha−1), of the deep root system, the root exudates mediated P-solubilization, and nutrient-rich residues of grain legumes improve the soil fertility and enhance the soil profile nutrient cycling. Crop diversification with grain legumes has additional benefits associated with improving water productivity, reducing input cost, and minimizing incidence of diseases and pests. Besides this, the low application rate of the N fertilizer to grain legumes has the advantage of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and groundwater pollution. Thus, grain legumes would play a crucial role in resource conservation, ecosystem balance, and in the sustainability of agricultural systems of South Asia.


Conservation agriculture Crop diversification Nutrient cycling Resource conservation Rice fallow South Asia Sustainability 



At the rate of


Arbuscular mycorrhiza


Biological nitrogen fixation




Conservation agriculture


Chickpea equivalent yield




Deoxyribonucleic acid


Diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid




Greenhouse gas


Indo-Gangetic plains






















Pigeonpea equivalent yield


Resource conservation technologies


Soil organic carbon


Soil organic matter






Vesicular-arbuscular mycorrhiza




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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Narendra Kumar
    • 1
  • K. K. Hazra
    • 1
  • C. P. Nath
    • 1
  • C. S. Praharaj
    • 1
  • U. Singh
    • 1
  1. 1.ICAR-Indian Institute of Pulses ResearchKanpurIndia

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