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Gurulingappa’s experiments with spacing

Farmer Gurulingappa has found that wider spacing increases pigeonpea yields dramatically. He shares his findings and observations with Dr G Shankar of Rallis India

Plant grown with conventional spacing Plant grown with wider spacing
Figure 1: (Left) Plant grown with conventional spacing. (Right) Plant grown with wider spacing. A pen has been used to show the relative sizes of the stems.

Gurulingappa is a well-known farmer from Bidar district, Karnataka, who created waves locally and in the research community in 2008 with his successful experiment in which he used polythene bags and transplanting techniques in pigeonpea cultivation.

This year (2009) he is conducting a new experiment — using a dibbling technique for pigeonpea at different spacing distances. For this, he has used two seeds per hole with different spacing distances, such as 6’ × 3’, 6’ × 4’, etc.

Gurulingappa’s goal is to touch 20 quintals per acre. He believes that farmers have yet to tap the real yield potential of crops such as pigeonpea. In his experiments, he has observed the impact of spacing on the yield. He keeps track of his findings and has made a guidance table with a theoretical calculation of the number of plants per acre at different spacing distances. Gurulingappa has set target yields at each spacing distance and is working to achieve it [see table].

Triangular sowing method
Figure 2: Triangular sowing method

On our visit to his farm, we could see that the impact of spacing on growth and flowering was very good and quite visible. The branches were drooping due to heavy flower growth. The main stem was strong and had a girth of about 6 inches, compared to that of 2 inches in normally sown crops [see Figure 1].

Gurulingappa has adopted the triangular sowing method, where a spacing is maintained of 5 feet within the row and 6 feet between rows [see figure 2].

Dense flowering in pigeonpea grown with wider spacing
Figure 3: Dense flowering in pigeonpea grown with wider spacing

He believes that manipulating spacing in this way will enable each plant to yield 1–1.5 kg. His best yield so far has been 17 quintals. He has a personal goal of achieving 20–24 quintals per acre.

Considering his perseverance and success with innovation, that day doesn't appear to be far off.

Table: Spacing vs yield guideline
Spacing [feet]
# of plants/acre Per-plant yield [kg] Expected yield [kg/acre]
5 × 4
2178 0.9 1947
5 × 5
1290 1.0 1902
6 × 3
2420 0.8 1936
6 × 3.5
2074 1.0 2074
6 × 4
1498 1.3 1947
7 × 2.5
2489 0.8 1940
7 × 3
2071 1.0 2071
7 × 3.5
1778 1.1 1955

Dr G Shankar is general manager (customer relations) at Rallis India Ltd

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