My rice field is around 7 guntas.
4 – 5 tonnes (one tonne = 1,000kgs) of rice is the yield expected from one hectare of well maintained paddy field.
One hectare is about 2.5 acres.
And one acre is about 40 guntas.
So a rough calculation tells me that, from 7 guntas of land, i should be getting an yield of 5 Quintals (one quintal = 100 kgs) of rice.
As of now, the above calculation are of mere mathematical value. I would say 500 – 600 kgs of rice is what i should expect in a few years time. Our “rights” as homo sapiens are restricted only for the grains of rice. Everything else has to go back into the soil in some form or other, a cycle or a circle has to be established, more complex the circle from point 1 back to point 1, the better.
So what about the rice stalks, how many kilos of this dry matter will be produced in the form of stalk? And what about the roots which will be in the soil after the rice is harvested? I want to reduce the tilling to bare minimum, so i guess the roots can remain & compost in the soil, while i grow Mung as a rabi crop.
Coming back to the rice stalks, people use it as fodder & for thatching, but my choice will be to return it back into the soil, as mulch while i grow mung. Now this is a totally uncharted territory which i will be stepping into.
The rice plants will be extracting an ‘x’ number of nutrients from the soil for the formation of the panicle, which bears seeds (here we are not talking of photosynthesis & the relation between leaves & sunlight…… that will take some studying). It is also said that after the ripening of the seeds, when the plant is drying, the plant gives back to the soil a certain amount of Potash & other nutrients (trace elements) which the plant had taken from the soil. Only nutrient which will be lost forever is Nitrogen, which i will replace into the soil by taking the leguminous Mung. So by returning the stalks to the soil as mulch, while i take a nitrogen fixing, leguminous crop of mung (green gram), will i be able to return part of the ‘x’ nutrients back into the soil? Or do i need to burn the stalks & return the ash to the soil? Or do i need to do both? Or do i use the stalk as fodder & return the dung back to soil?
Well…….the coming months will hopefully provide me with a key to the few locks in here!!
In the meanwhile, this year i will have to settle just for a couple of quintals of rice. The rice field was barren, with not a blade of vegetation & also there is no trees on the bunds, nor not much signs of top soil nor any microbial activity. I equate this situation to Coma. “Soil in comatose stage” as i call it, just the same way as people are when they sink into coma. Just remove the life support systems, the person is dead. In the same way, all these years this rice field had been in comotose & on life support systems in the form of Urea, DAP etc. When the earlier owner wanted to use the land, he pumped in chemical fertilizer, after his need was sufficed, he never bothered to tend to the land. Infact i will say that this paddy field is not just in coma, but it has been abused.
This paddy field needs to heal. One of the first steps i took was to plant a few Neem (Azadirachta indica), Custard Apple (Sitaphal or Annona reticulata) trees on the bunds, Adulsa (Adathoda vasica) will also come in & also Rui (Milk weed or Calotropis gigantea). There is something about the leaves of these plants which i believe nourishes the earth. So in a few years time there will be good combo of green leaves to harvest & sweepings of dry leaves to nourish back the rice field to good health.
And don’t i miss this man. He was almost like an adopted father to me. If he was alive, i can see his tongue in the cheek smile when he walks around the land feeling the plants & he would’ve pushed me to the limits with more questions. Infact he would’ve pulverised me….. While you take a crop !,500 questions is what you need to have in 3 months time, then only you can expect assured yields, ….. list them out, write them down, talk to the plant, talk to the soil, question, argue, fight, laugh, cry, uproot the plant, look at the roots, watch the leaf size, measure them every day, first leaf, second leaf, fifth leaf… so on, When did the pinacle come, How many tillers….., How many leaves on day 25 ? From one seed how many seeds will you get…. 5,000 ? How many grains of rice will be there on our plate for a meal ? Lets do a ratoon crop experiment with 10 plants. How much sunlight is been harvested in one sq ft, then why isn’t the leaf size optimal ? What have you done, next year i want you to be a master……. Divide the plant life into four parts, vegetative stage ends on ? Tell me, without blinking an eyelid, or shall i tell you ? All answers shoul’ve been on your finger tips…….Reproductive stage starts on ? How many leaves will be there on day 80 tell me? Don’t look for the rice, but look for white roots, achieve full leaf size….. why are you so quiet ?? By the way the chicken xacuti was really tasty, make it again when i come next time…..
He was amazing.
These were his favourite three lines in Marathi
जिजान्सा हाच गुरु
प्रयोग हीच पाद्दशाला
प्रचीती हीच परीक्षा