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Direct Seeding of Rice

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June 21, 2024

Why in news?

Recently, the Punjab government has been actively promoting the direct seeding of rice (DSR).

What is direct seeding of rice (DSR)?

  • Definition – It is a planting method that involves directly sowing of seeds in the field.
  • It requires no nursery preparation or transplantation.
  • Need of DSR – The conventional transplanting method require intense labour, continuous flooding of water and takes higher time and labour resources.

Transplanting Method of Rice

  • It is a planting method that involves the planting of seedlings or whole plants in the field or garden.
  • Requirement – seed germination may occur inside the greenhouse.
  • Advantages – Weed management is easier and it requires less amount of seeds.
  • DisadvantagesSlower maturation of crops.
  • It is expensive in comparing to DSR.
  • It require more usage of water and thereby affecting the ground water table.
  • Requirements – Soil suitability is crucial for the successful implementation of DSR.
  • Soil texture – DSR should be avoided in light-textured soils as they do not retain water well.
  • It is more suitable for heavy or medium-to-heavy-textured soils which contains more clay and less sand, whereas light-textured soils have less clay and more sand.
  • Iron content – Soil with severe iron deficiency, and weed problems must not be cultivated using this technique.
  • Even medium-textured soils are unsuitable simply due to their lack of iron.
  • In case iron supplements are being used, farmers should apply ferrace iron, which is green-coloured and not oxidised, rather than oxidised iron, which is brown in colour. 
  • Lack of iron content can severely impact yields and lead to major financial losses for farmers.

What is tar-wattar technique?

  • Sowing of seeds – The paddy seeds are directly sown, roughly 20-30 days prior to when they would have been transplanted.
  • Soil levelling – The field is irrigated and laser leveled prior to the seeding process which is carried out using a seed drill or lucky seeder.
  • Seed treatment – The seeds soaked in a fungicide solution for eight hours, then dried for half a day before sowing.
  • Irrigation – The first round of irrigation is carried out 21 days after sowing, followed by 14-17 more rounds at 7-10 day intervals, depending on soil type and the quality of the monsoon.
  • The final irrigation takes place 10 days before harvest.
  • The traditional method requires 25-27 irrigations in total. 

What are benefits of DSR?

                   DSRBenefits

  • Saves water - This can reduce water use by 15% to 20% (the traditional puddling method requires 3,600 to 4,125 litres of water to grow a single kilo of rice). 
  • Saves labour – DSR requires less labour and matures 7 to 10 days faster.
  • Ground water recharge – DSR offers avenues for ground water recharge as it prevent the development of hard crust just beneath the plough layer due to puddled transplanting.
  • Straw management – It matures 7-10 days earlier than puddle transplanted crop, therefore giving more time for management of paddy straw.
  • Higher yield – Research results have also indicated that yield, after DSR, are one to two quintals per acre higher than puddled transplanted rice. 
  • Environment benefits – It leads to lower GHG emissions.
  • Labour welfare – Mechanized DSR provides employment opportunities for youth through service provision business model
  • It increases total income by reducing cost of cultivation.

What are the major challenges associated with DSR?

  • Irrational use – In the race to avail the government incentives, some farmers use DSR in unsuitable soils, leading to the need for irrigation every second or third day.
  • This completely counteracts the water-saving benefits of DSR, and in fact, ends up guzzling down more water.
  • Less soil availability – Only 20% of Punjab’s soil is light-textured.
  • Lack of iron content – It should not be cultivated in sandy and loamy sand as these soils suffer from severe iron deficiency, and there is higher weed problem in it.
  • Higher seed ratesSeed monopoly automatically the price of seeds thereby reducing the income prospects for farmers.
  • Seeds exposed to birds and pests – Direct seeding increases the vulnerability of seed to get targeted by the pests and birds.
  • Weed management – There is higher growth of unsuitable plants in the DSR fields which compete the paddy crops and thereby reduce the yield.
  • Herbicide intolerance – While herbicide needs to be sprayed to control the weeds, irrational use make the crops intolerant to herbicide.

What lies ahead?

  • Awareness drive – A basic lack of awareness and understanding is holding DSR back.
  • Thus, awareness should be created for rational use of DSR.
  • Educating farmers – Extensive training and a ready helpline be provided, to handhold the farmers through the whole process, from pre-sowing to harvesting.
  • This can instill confidence among farmers regarding DSR’s efficacy.     

References

  1. The Indian Express| Slower Adoption of DSR in Punjab
  2. IRRI| Direct Seeded Rice
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