`Zero tilling' method used for rice cultivation
|Expenditure can not only be brought down by 50 per cent but the yield will also be higher|
COST EFFECTIVE: Farmers of Mangenakoppa village in Khanapur taluk of Belgaum district demonstrating the working of `zero till-ferti-seed drill' (attached to the tractor).
DHARWAD: A team of scientists from the University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Dharwad, with the cooperation of farmers of Mangenakoppa and other villages in Khanapur taluk of Belgaum district, have adopted the cost-effective "zero tilling method" for growing rice.
The method, said to have been evolved for the first time in the State, not only reduces the tilling but also the cost of cultivation of rice by 50 per cent and gives higher yield. It is based on the techniques developed by scientists from International Rice Research Institute, Philippines and Centre For International Research in Maize and Wheat (CIMMYT), Mexico. The programme has been implemented in coordination with the Rice-Wheat Consortium.
The method works on a new set of improved crop establishment and production technology rooted in the cardinal principles of resource conserving agriculture (RCA) that enables farmers to produce more at less cost.
The RCA comprises reduced or no-till and residue managements or co-culturing of rice with green manure crops.
"In the traditional system of agriculture that is practised in the region, farmers begin preparatory tilling immediately after harvesting the previous crop in May or June and continue them until sowing or transplanting. Since these activities involve labour and other costs, the cost of rice cultivation goes up and profit margin is reduced," said Y.R. Aladakatti of Agricultural Research Centre of UAS, who is coordinating with S.G. Patil, Professor and Head of the Department, Environmental Science, UAS, in implementing the project in the fields of 30 farmers.
Even after the establishment of the rice crop, farmers have to spend time and resources on weed management. Besides, tilling has a disadvantage of inducing excessive loss of fertile topsoil with runoff rainwater, according to agricultural scientists.
"In the new method, Sunhemp (for green manure) was seeded with rice. Then, a post-sowing pre-emergence herbicide was used within two days of planting for control of weeds. Sunhemp was allowed to grow for 30 days before knocking it down to provide surface cover against soil erosion, suppress weed growth, and fix atmospheric nitrogen," M.G. Hanumaratti, Rice Breeder, UAS, said.
The most important part of the new method, which has brought success in Gujarat and Punjab, is the "multi-crop zero till-ferti-seed drill". The drill allows farmers to place seeds at optimum depth (four cm). The other benefits include plant spacing (which can be adjusted) and saving in the seed quantity.
The UAS has bought six of these seed-cum-fertilizer drills fabricated in Haryana and given them for use to farmers in Khanapur taluk. Narayan Gowdar and Subhas Gowdar, in whose lands the UAS scientists are conducting the experiment, told a team of journalists, scientists and officials that visited their lands, that the new method is cost effective.
"Since this method requires a smaller quantity of seeds per acre and less tilling, we are able to save about Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,000, which is almost 50 per cent of the expenditure. And the yield will be higher," Mr. Narayan said.
Inspired by the success of the experiment, several farmers have agreed to adopt the new method to cultivate rice in their fields. UAS is thinking of encouraging the local entrepreneurs to manufacture the drill prototype, which will bring down the cost of the implement, now priced at Rs. 20,000, by Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000.
The UAS scientists are working on using the "zero tillage" method on other crops.