Dryland farming and dry farming encompass specific agricultural techniques for the non-irrigated cultivation of crops. Dryland farming is associated with drylands, areas characterized by a cool wet season that is followed by a warm dry season. They are also associated with arid conditions or areas prone to drought or having scarce water resources. Successful dryland farming is possible with as little as 230 millimeters (9 in) of precipitation a year; higher rainfall increases the variety of crops. The choice of crop is influenced by the timing of the predominant rainfall in relation to the seasons. For example, winter wheat is more suited to regions with higher winter rainfall while areas with summer wet seasons may be more suited to summer growing crops such as sorghum, sunflowers or cotton. Major issues of the rainfed areas are; 1- Land degradation due to Water erosion, Poor soil fertility and Undulating topography. 2- Low productivity due to Unavailability of certified seed, Drought, heat, frost stress and Inadequate fertilizer use. 3- Water Scarcity due to Rainwater losses (6 MAF), Inadequate storage of rainwater (0.3 MAF) ,Inefficient use of stored water, Inefficient irrigation system and Low water use efficiency.4- Low and erratic rainfall causing moisture stress, Frost occurrence, Heat stress (high temp.). 5- Socio-economic issues like, Small and fragmented land holdings, Poverty, Subsistence farming and Lack of awareness of modern technologies. Agricultural production in dry lands is constrained by scarce water availability and land degradation problems. The availability of adequate, timely and assured supply of water is an important determinant of agricultural productivity.
Research focus in the dryland areas must be on (A)- Soil Management through soil health restoration (Conservation Agri. techniques-Zero /minimum tillage, residue management, green manuring ,composting), (B) - Crop Productivity Enhancement through high yielding varieties with disease tolerance, drought, heat/frost resistance having higher nutrient use efficiency(NUE), standardization of crop production technologies, multiple cropping system and strengthening of germplasm.(C)- High Value Agriculture through Establishment of GPU and multiplication blocks of olive , Grapes , Citrus , Peach , Modern nursery development techniques, Popularization of olive and grapes in Punjab, Introduction of growing cut flowers (Ranunculus) and Standardization of value addition techniques. (D)- Water Conservation through Water Harvesting (Micro catchment techniques for high value crops and Roof-top rainwater harvesting) and Water saving techniques (High efficiency irrigation systems (Drip, bubbler), Bed planting; Tunnel farming with HEIS, Introduction of solar pumping system as alternate energy source in rainfed region).