Owing to exodus of migrant labourers amid the ongoing lockdown, and Covid-19 situation, farmers in Punjab seem to be preparing for direct seeding of rice (DSR) this khairf season, moving away from the traditional practice — of sowing nursery and then transplanting it.
Punjab agricultural dept expects 25% of area under paddy to be DSR
The department has sanctioned 4,000 DSR machines and 800 paddy transplanting machines to farmers on subsidy ranging between 40% and 50%.
Problems with Conventional Puddled transplantation:
1.Current rice culture is a major freshwater user and is highly inefficient in its use.
2.The labor shortage and increasing labor wages
It is highly labor intensive. Both land preparation (puddling) and CE methods (transplanting) of puddling require a large amount of labor. Rapid economic growth in Asia has increased the demand for labor in nonagricul- tural sectors, resulting in reduced labor availability for agriculture
3.Adverse effects of puddling on soil physical properties and the succeeding non-rice crop.
The rice–wheat cropping system is practiced where wheat is grown in the cool and dry weather from November to March/April following rice during the warm and humid/subhumid season from June to October. Many studies have reported on the adverse effect of puddling on the yield of a subsequent wheat crop
Different problems like lowering water table, scarcity of labour during peak periods, deteriorating soil health had already seen demands for some alternative establishment method to sustain productivity of rice as well as natural resources.
Direct Seeding of Rice:
Direct seeded rice (DSR), probably the oldest method of crop establishment, is gaining popularity because of its low-input demand.In traditional rice cultivation, rice is sprouted in a nursery; sprouted seedlings are then transplanted into standing water.
With direct seeding, rice seed is sown and sprouted directly into the field, eliminating the laborious process of planting seedlings by hand and greatly reducing the crop’s water requirements
The DSR technique called ‘tar-wattar DSR’ has been developed and successfully tested on a good scale at farmers’ fields.In the new DSR technique, the field is first laser levelled followed by pre-sowing (rauni) irrigation and preparation of the field when it reaches tar-wattar (good soil moisture) condition. Thereafter, rice is sown with the help of a tractor-operated lucky seed drill (LSD), which also sprays herbicide.
In case the machine is not available, paddy could be sown with the help of rice seed drill having inclined plate metering mechanism and herbicide could be sprayed immediately.
For herbicide spray, he suggested to dissolve one litre stomp/bunker 30 EC (pendimethalin) in 200 litre of water for one acre area. Use 8 to 10kg seed for one acre and imbibe rice seed in water for 8 hours and then dry in the shade.
Before sowing, treat rice seed with 3g sprint 75 WS (mencozeb + carbendazim) by dissolving in 10-12 ml water per kg seed, make paste of fungicide solution and rub on the seed. Apply first irrigation at 21 days after sowing and schedule succeeding irrigations as per monsoon rains
Advantages of DSR:
- It is not labour intensive.
- It requires less water,
- There’s lesser weed problem, due to the delayed first irrigation.
- There is reduced incidence of nutrient deficiency, especially iron, owing to lesser leaching of nutrients and deeper root development
- DSR offers avenue for groundwater recharge as well as it prevents the development of hard pan just beneath the plough layer.
- Early crop maturity- It matures 7-10 days earlier than puddle transplanted rice, hence it gives more time for the management of paddy straw, for the timely sowing of next wheat crop
- Low production cost-cost of paddy cultivation by nearly Rs 6,000 per acre.
- The profits from rice sown with new DSR technique are on a par with rice transplanted in a puddle field
- better soil physical conditions for following crops
- and less methane emission.