Pigeon pea Soil requirement, Soil preparation and Plant density

pigeon pea planting
Pigeon pea
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Pigeon pea soil requirement, soil preparation, and seed requirement

Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), also known as arhar or tur, is an important legume crop that has been cultivated for centuries in various parts of the world. It is renowned for its high nutritional value, adaptability to diverse climatic conditions, and ability to enrich the soil with nitrogen through its symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

To achieve successful pigeon pea cultivation, it is crucial to understand its specific soil requirements, proper soil preparation techniques, and the right seed requirement.

Soil requirement of pigeon pea

Pigeon pea thrives in a wide range of soils, varying from sandy loams to clay loams, but it performs best in well-drained, black to deep black cotton soils. The ideal soil pH for pigeon pea cultivation ranges from 6.0 to 7.5, indicating a slightly acidic to neutral environment. The crop can tolerate both acidic and alkaline soils to some extent, but extreme pH levels can hinder nutrient availability to the plant, affecting growth and yield.

Soil fertility is essential for healthy pigeon pea growth. The soil should be rich in organic matter, as it enhances its water-holding capacity, nutrient retention, and microbial activity. Incorporating organic matter in the form of compost or well-rotted manure into the soil before planting can significantly improve soil fertility.

Soil preparation for planting pigeon peas

Proper soil preparation is vital to create a suitable environment for pigeon pea growth and development. The following steps outline the process of proper soil preparation.

Clearing the Land: Begin by clearing the land of any debris, previous crop residues, weeds, or unwanted vegetation. This can be achieved through manual labor or, in larger fields, through mechanical means.

Plowing and Harrowing: After clearing the land requires at least one plowing during the dry season to loosen the soil and facilitate better root penetration. Two to three harrowing follows plowing, breaking down large clumps of soil, and creating a finer tilth.

Soil Testing: Conduct a soil test to determine the soil’s nutrient content and pH level. This analysis will help identify any nutrient deficiencies or imbalances, enabling the farmer to make informed decisions regarding the appropriate fertilizer application for the upcoming season.

Adding Soil Amendments: Based on the soil test results, add necessary soil amendments to rectify any nutrient deficiencies or pH imbalances. This may include lime to raise pH levels in acidic soils or sulfur to lower pH levels in alkaline soils.

Incorporating Organic Matter: Mix well-rotted compost or manure applied 2-4 weeks before sowing into the soil to increase organic matter content. This will enhance the soil’s structure and nutrient-holding capacity. In acid soils, 2-4 t/ha of lime is incorporated 3-4 weeks before sowing to neutralize the acidity.

Leveling the Land: Level the prepared soil to ensure uniform water distribution during irrigation and prevent waterlogging in specific areas.

Planting distances and seed rate for pigeon pea

Seeding requirement for pigeon pea

The quantity of pigeon pea seeds required for planting depends on various factors, including the sowing method, seed rate, and the size of the land to be cultivated. For early maturing varieties, 20 to 25 kg/ha (Row to Row 45-60 cm & plant to plant 10-15 cm), and for medium/late maturing varieties, 15-20 kg/ha (Row to Row 60-75cm & Plant to Plant 15-20 cm) seed rate is recommended. The seeds should be treated with Thiram (2 gm) + Carbendazim (1 gm), Thiram @3 gm, or Trichoderma virdie 5-7 g/kg of seed. And even Rhizobium and PSB culture 7-10 g/kg of seed can be applied.

Before sowing, selecting good quality seeds from disease-free and healthy plants or a certified seller is essential. The seeds should be uniform in size, shape, and color, ensuring a consistent germination rate. Seed treatment with fungicides or biopesticides can be done to protect the seeds from soil-borne diseases and pests, thereby improving seedling establishment.

Sowing methods for pigeon pea

Pigeon peas can be sown using various ways, including the following

There are three systems of sowing generally followed for pigeon peas. The common is flat sowing; the other methods include broadbed -furrow (BBF) for extra-early varieties and ridge-and-furrow for the late maturity varieties. In some states of India and rice fallow areas, the bund cultivation of pigeon peas has also been adopted.

Transplanting: Pigeon pea seedlings can be raised in nurseries and then transplanted into the main field. Transplanting ensures better survival of young plants and reduces the competition for resources.

Pigeon pea cultivation is an environmentally friendly and economically valuable practice. Farmers can achieve healthy plant growth, high yields, and improved soil fertility by understanding the crop’s requirements, preparing the soil adequately, and using quality seeds. Proper soil preparation ensures that the soil provides all the essential nutrients required for the optimal growth of pigeon pea plants. Additionally, using healthy and treated seeds ensures better germination rates and reduces the risk of disease and pest attacks. With appropriate care and attention to these aspects, farmers can harness the full potential of pigeon pea cultivation and contribute to sustainable agriculture.


Pigeonpea Botany and Production Practices, https://oar.icrisat.org

Singh, Y.P., Singh, S., Nanda, P. et al. Impact of Establishment Techniques and Maturity Duration of Pigeon Pea Cultivars on Yield, Water Productivity and Properties of Soil. Agric Res 7, 271–279 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40003-018-0309-7

Further reading

Pigeon pea: Plant information, History, and Nutrition

Principles of selecting the best varieties and hybrids for Pigeon pea cultivation

Pigeon pea Soil requirement, Soil preparation and Plant density

Irrigation requirement for Pigeon pea Cultivation

Fertilization requirement for Pigeon Pea

Weed Management in Pigeon Pea Farming

Pigeon pea Diseases and Management Practices

Pigeon pea insect pests and their management 

Harvesting, Drying, Processing, and Storage of Pigeon pea


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