Based on our experience of growing rice for two seasons in Pishvi and particularly the experience of last year, we needed to address three major issues:
1. We needed good quality seeds
2. Transplantation timing
3. Reducing costs
Seeds: I have been trying since Dec 2011 to find traditional varieties and seeds from farmers locally. I have succeeded in acquiring two varieties- kaali saal and tambda saal. Ambe mohr remains elusive- I’d even paid for some from distant Karnataka and despite assurances and follow up calls the promised parcel never arrived. With rains imminent I had to buy Indrayani from the market. In 2013 I hope to have a stock of our own seeds for the above varieties as well as acquire Ambe Mohr from new contacts in Pune district.
Transplantation: Needs labour and locally the workers come to our fields only when they have finished theirs. Last year this meant very late transplantation. The plants had crossed the transplantation stage resulting in poor tillering and consequently low yields. After last year’s experience it was clear in my mind that we need to do direct seeded rice. So in early May we had got goat dung from a neighbour, spread out baskets of dry leaves on our fields along with the sweepings of earth worm castings. One time ploughing was done by bullocks & by 29th of May we started to sow our rice on dry soil. A rope was held to plant in straight lines & with four women the work of sowing 1.22 acres was completed in 4 working days. Compared to the last three seasons, this was indeed the most tension free rice planting.
We then waited with bated breath to see what the germination would be when the pre-monsoon showers came…….. & yes, it was good especially for the kaali saal & tambda saal.… the Indrayani seeds that we bought from the market was average. Nonetheless good germination and growth was one bridge crossed. It was a relief not to go searching/ even pleading for people to come & help us with the transplanting.
Transplanting, which is the popular method of crop establishment in rice particularly during rabi season, demands more quantity of labour and hence increases the cost of production and also often results in delay in planting due to labour scarcity.
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.
Cost: Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) in place of the traditional transplanted rice is a way to drastically reduce labor charges for nursery raising, puddling and transplanting. DSR avoids puddling and does not need continuous submergence. So it reduces overall water requirement of rice crop. In DSR, rice is sown directly into the dry soil like wheat, corn or cotton.
- Labour saving up to 75 %
- Water saving up to 30 % (In case there is scarce rainfall)
- Early maturity as compared to transplanted rice
- Timely sowing of successive wheat crop
- No puddling required
- Avoids compaction of soil due to puddling
- Good precursor of zero tillage technology
Every one says weed control is a serious challenge for the direct seeding, i can counter that argument by my experiences of the last two years, since i know the amount of weeding we had done in both the traditionally sprouted nursery (by doing raab) and in the transplanted fields.
Germination failure can be an issue, but if germination fails then there is enough time for us to rectify it as sowing is done before the rains start.
The first weeding has been completed without any problems as people came after their transplantation was completed. The rains have been good in the area compared to what we are hearing from other parts of Maharashtra so as of now we only need to hope for a few days of sunshine.