Conservation Agriculture for Rice-Based Intensive Cropping by Smallholders in the Eastern Gangetic Plain
Reviewer 1 Report
Excellent work, well done research and well presented paper. The only suggestion for further research and development is to move besides CA into non flooded rice (aerobic rice), which should further help reducing green house gas emissions and lead to further water savings.
Reviewer 2 Report
Comments for author File: Comments.pdf
Reviewer 3 Report
I've now read your ms. I understood that you evaluated the impact of conservation agriculture including, VMP and NPT planters, different tillage types, crop rotation, on the economy, soil properties, weed control and CO2 emission from rice-based cropping systems. Based on iTheticate, excluding the bibliography, there is about 15% overlap which can be considered acceptable. Overall, the idea of the manuscript is of interest especially for the local farmers and policy makers, but there are serious concerns that prevent publication at this time. These are listed below.
There are huge number of grammatical errors, there are many omissions or additions of "a"/"an" and "the", which are incorrect. Hyphens are often used unnecessarily. Typically hyphens connect words that act as compound adjectives, but not when they act as nouns. There are numerous problems with commas for numerous reasons including (but not limited to) (1) when listing a city and state you always put a comma after the city and the state unless it ends a sentence; (2) the use of the oxford comma is highly irregular and should be consistent throughout the manuscript, (3) when starting a dependent clause with "which" you add a comma before it, and (4) when connecting two independent clauses a comma should be placed prior to the conjunction word.
Abstract needs a complete revision. 1) the abstract with 643 words is beyond being too long and needs to be considerably trimmed to fit to its definition. According to "Agriculture" author guidelines, Abstracts should be around 200 words. It is totally understandable that the Review manuscripts may require more space than Research articles to summarize the multiple headings. However, maximum number of 250 words is generally enough to write a concise and quality abstract.
I also felt there was an unnecessarily high usage of abbreviations. I'm not saying take them all out, but some are used only a few times. Maybe those could be spelled out. Sometimes it was tedious to find the definition if I wanted to make absolutely sure I was following exactly the meaning of the authors.
I checked multiple times but couldn’t find CT spelled-out anywhere in the manuscript until Table 3. Authors should only spell out abbreviations at the first place they are mentioned. For some abbreviations, authors have done it couple of times (see line 144).
Manuscript is lacking an organized order. There is not a Material and Methods section to explain the planters, tillage systems, number of study years, number of farms participated in research, etc. It took me a considerable time to collect that information from different sections in manuscript.
There are many examples of conclusions without appropriate support by references.
There is not a clear explanation for what the authors define as conservation agriculture (CA). The major focus is on two planters. However, the real difference in studied factors come from the tillage type (Table 3). Moreover, in figure 3, differences in yield and net return benefits have been related to puddling (CT) or not puddling (NPT) seedling while the major benefits come from the tillage technique applied before planting.
See line 188, Table 3. It is not clear what tillage types have been used before planting. For example: what does conventional tillage mean? Is it a moldboard plow? Shallow depth tillage is a disk or chisel plow? 2) How strip planting can be a tillage type? Did authors mean strip tillage? 3) zero tillage do not need seedbed preparation. That’s why its generally considered a low-cost management system, other than the direct drilling machinery which can make it expensive. However, I see that zero-tillage planting by VMP is the costliest management. Please clarify. 4) What are the rationales for using Duncan’s mean separation test? There are more robust LSD and Fisher’s tests with lower probability of type 1 error.
Line 236-238: There are contradictory sentences, first stating a higher CO2 emissions from CT+CP (low residue management, based on the statement in lines 202-203 ) while second statement states a higher emissions for high residue treatments.
Line 241- 247: Again, the first statement contradicts the second one. First one is reporting a lower carbon input in SP+NPT (increasing the carbon pool is a key component of conservation agriculture) compared to CT+CP for both cereal and legume-based rotations while the second statement concludes that SP+NPT is performing better.
Starting in subsection 2.7, there is abrupt transition from technical and scientific subjects. Subsections 2.9 to section 3 include unnecessarily too much details on the logistics, commercialization and service providers which make it sound more like an official, technical report than a scientific manuscript. This part could be stated more concisely and briefly.
I've put more comments and corrections on the manuscript text.
Comments for author File: Comments.pdf