Radiation Technology in Agriculture for Development of Improved Crop Varieties | Original Article
Radiations and radioisotopes are used in agricultural research to induce genetic variability in crop plants to develop improved varieties, to manage insect pests, monitor fate and persistence of pesticides, to study fertilizer use efficiency and plant micronutrient uptake and also to preserve agricultural produce. Use of radiation and radioisotopes in agriculture is one of the most important fields of peaceful applications of atomic energy for societal benefit and BARC has contributed significantly in this area especially in the development of new mutant crop varieties. With an effective blend of induced mutagenesis along with recombination breeding 42 new crop varieties developed at BARC have been released and Gazette notified by the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India for commercial cultivation. These include 21 in oilseeds (15-groundnut, 3-mustard, 2 soybeans, 1 sunflower), 19 in pulses (8-mungbean, 5-urdbean, 5-pigeonpea, 1-cowpea) and one each in rice and jute. Some of the desirable traits which have been bred through induced mutations in these crops include higher yield, improved quality traits, early maturity and resistance to biotic and abiotic stress. Several of these varieties have high patronage from the farming community and are extensively grown across the country.