To save water while planting paddy, the Punjab government has opted to use the direct seeding rice (DSR) method on 1.2 million hectares (mha) in the upcoming planting season of Kharif.
This is more than four times the area sown under DSR in 2021 (0.6 mha).
DSR is also known as the “seed broadcast method” because the seeds are sown directly into the ground.
A pre-sowing irrigation (rauni) is carried out after the laser leveling of the land. The field is prepared to the ideal soil moisture level and the paddy (non-basmati) is sown immediately. Unlike the usual water-intensive method, this strategy conserves groundwater and therefore energy.
Compared with the usual method of transplanting rice seedlings from a nursery into soggy fields, it can save up to 35% water.
After Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and state agriculture leaders met with several unions and farmer organizations on April 17, 2022, the target was determined.
“We hold boot camps and shoot short films to raise awareness and encourage others to embrace RSD,” the group said. We are also collecting feedback from farmers who implemented DSR last year to see what problems they encountered so that we can address them this year,” said Gurvinder Singh, Director of Agriculture of Punjab.
Last year, the government set a target of 1 million hectares, but only 0.6 million hectares were placed under DSR.
However, this was the highest level in the state to date, and it was 0.1 million hectares higher than the 2020 forecast.
DSR is steadily gaining ground. It increased in 2020, when Punjab and Haryana experienced labor shortages due to labor migration during the COVID-19 lockdown, and farmers switched to DSR, which requires less labor. workforce.
According to MS Bhullar, Chief Agronomist at Punjab University of Agriculture (PAU), several farmers have also requested that seeds of short-lived varieties should be available regularly during the RSD period such as during transplanting, and the government has accepted.
Sowing of the DSR will take place between May 25 and June 5, according to the ministry. After June 15-20, the traditional transplanting sowing takes place.
Rice is India’s most important kharif crop and it is grown in all major agricultural states of the country including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Rice transplanting has reduced the water table in several states, where groundwater is the main source of irrigation.
“To conserve groundwater, there are only two options. Either diversify paddy and shift to other crops or grow paddy using water-saving technology,” Bhullar added.
In 2010, PAU recommended DSR exclusively for medium to heavy textured soils, but experiments in 2020 have demonstrated that the improved DSR technique can also work in sandy loam soils.
According to Bhullar, this has expanded the area eligible for RSD in Punjab from 45% to 85%.
First published: April 29, 2022, 01:52 IST