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Resource Management Research

Much of agronomic research has been of coordinated, multicentre through the research programme of AICPMIP. The research included both research station experiments and farm-level extension trials and has led to the establishment of detailed recommendations for individual pearl millet growing zone with respect to time of sowing, seed rate, weed management, fertilizer application including biofertilization, intercropping and moisture conservation. This has been reviewed by several workers.

Agronomic research is be divided in two broad areas: 1) intensive management in areas where moisture is generally adequate and 2) low-input management in areas where moisture is the major production constraint. Intensive management focuses on the increased plant population (1,75,000-2,00,000 plants/ha) which is achieved by maintaining 50 cm distance between the rows and 10-12 cm distance between plants within rows. However, a lower plant population of 1,00,000-1,25,000/ha should be maintained in drier zones with erratic rainfall pattern. Chemical fertilizer response to applied nitrogen fertilizer as high as 90-140 kg/ha have been reported from experimental trials in high rainfall areas but farmer recommendations are in the range of generally 40-80 kg/ha in various agro-climatic zones. Inoculation of seed with Azospirillum brasilence has been reported to save nitrogen to the extent of 10-20 kg/ha.

Agronomic research for low-input and arid areas has focussed on cropping system with legumes and on the moisture conservation techniques as pearl millet in drier areas is traditionally grown in mixture or in rotation with legumes and pulses to enhance the stability in production and to maintain soil fertility. Most suitable cropping systems have been worked out for diverse regions. Conservation of moisture through various techniques forms an important recommendation in dry regions growing pearl millet. These techniques include widely spaced crop and use of mulching both through manipulating topsoil or organic means. However, adoption of agronomic research is mainly confined to better rainfall/supplemental irrigated areas and is always accompanied by the use of improved varieties. There exists a considerable potential for further adoption of modern inputs mainly nitrogen fertilizer and new cultivars in drier areas.
Sowing time

Sowing of kharif pearl millet should be done with the onset of monsoon i.e. first fortnight of July in north and central parts of the country. First fortnight of October is appropriate time for rabi season in Tamil Nadu.
Gap filling should be done by transplanting seedlings after 2-3 weeks of sowing if scanty population exists. In Marathwada area of Maharashtra, dry sowing prior to first monsoon rains is recommended.
Summer pearl millet should be sown from 4th to 5th Standard Meteorological Week (SMW) i.e. last week of January to 1st week of February to obtain higher production of summer pearl millet in zone B.

Sowing depth

Drill/place seed 2.5 cm – 3 cm deep.

Crop Geometry

For arid-western plain of Rajasthan, Haryana and Kutch of Gujarat (A1 zone), pearl millet should be planted in rows 60 cm apart, maintaining low plant population of 1.00 to 1.25 lac/ha. For the area receiving rainfall more than 450 mm (zone A & B), the crop should be planted at the spacing of 45 x 10-15 cm keeping plant population of 1.75 to 2.0 lakhs/ha. Seed rate for the crop should be taken @ 3 to 4 kg/ha for obtaining required plant stand.


Application of 40 kg N + 20 kg P2O5/ha for zone A1 and 60 kg N/ha + 30 kg P2O5/ha for zone A & B are recommended for sole pearl millet as well as intercropping system. Nitrogen should be applied in two equal splits i.e. half as basal and remaining half as top dressed 3-4 weeks after sowing coinciding with availability of sufficient soil moisture. Use of biofertilizer (Azospirillum and PSB) can economize the N and P fertilizer application.

In zinc deficient soils of the pearl millet growing area of the country, application of 10 kg ZnSO4/ha is recommended. To correct the zinc deficiency in standing crop, spray of 0.2% ZnSO4 at tillering to pre-flowering stage is recommended.
Under prolonged dry spel, skip top dressing of N and spray 2% urea. Under excessive rain situation during vegetative phase, additional dose of nitrogen @ 20 kg/ha should by given.

In pearl millet application of 50% recommended dose of N (RDN) through inorganic source (urea) and 50% RDN through organic source (vermi-compost) helped to reduce recommended dose of fertilizer of succeeding crop of soybean by 50% Dhule, whereas the succeeding crop of sunflower needed 100% at Bijapur.

In pearl millet-wheat crop sequence, application of recommended dose of nutrients through inorganic fertilizer along with enriched compost @10 t/ha in pearl millet and 75% recommended dose of fertilizer in wheat crop was found better over 100% recommended dose of fertilizer applied through inorganic sources in both the crops in Gujarat.

The inter-cropping of pearl millet with pigeonpea/ soybean with 2:1 row proportion under rainfed condition with application of 40 kg N and 30 kg P2O5 alongwith bio-fertilizer (Azospirillum + PSB) was found more beneficial and gave higher pearl millet yield equivalent and net return as compared to sole pearl millet in zone B. The practice also resulted in saving of 20 kg N and 10 kg P2O5/ ha.

Natural organic mulching between rows or making ridge and furrow after interculture was found an effective method for in situ moisture conservation.

Weed control

Two hoeings and weedings at 15 and 30 DAS are sufficient for controlling weeds effectively which is comparable with the herbicidal weed control through pre-emergent application of atrazine @ 0.5 kg/ha superimposed with one hand weeding. Second weeding helps to conserve soil moisture.


Cropping system

To ensure higher production, high land equivalent ratio and monitory returns from pearl millet under aberrant weather conditions, different crops are recommended for intercropping with pearl millet in various states of the country. Suitable pearl millet based intercropping in different states are:




Pearl millet + cluster bean/ mothbean/ sesame



Pearl millet + Green gram/ sesame



Pearl millet + Green gram/ sesame



Pearl millet + Green gram/ sesame



Pearl millet + Black gram/ soybean



Pearl millet + Pigeonpea/ groundnut / castor



Pearl millet + Moth bean / Pigeonpea



Pearl millet + Pigeonpea

Tamil Nadu


Pearl millet + cowpea / sunflower

Cropping sequence

Pearl millet based cropping sequence for different regions are:
Zone A1: pearl millet – mothbean/ clusterbean
Zone A and B: pearl millet – mungbean/ soybean


Under prolonged dry spells, irrigation should be applied at critical stages of crop growth i.e. tillering, flowering and grain developmental stage, if water is available.
In summer, pearl millet should be irrigated at regular intervals (0.75-1.0IW/CPE with 40 mm) as per need of the crop.


ICAR-AICRP on Pearl Millet, Jodhpur - 342 304, Rajasthan, India | Phone : +91 291 2571408