Drum seeding of rice for water saving and timeliness in planting.
Climate vulnerability: Drought
Farmers cultivating transplanted rice in irrigated and rainfed areas are increasingly faced with water shortages due to deficit rainfall, declining groundwater table due to insufficient recharge, late and limited release of irrigation water from canals or poor inflows into tanks. Land preparation for nursery and main field require copious amounts of water and involve labour for nursery raising of seedlings and subsequent transplanting. Water shortage at the transplanting time leads to delay and use of over aged seedlings with limited tillering capacity. Farmers' face these situations during kharif season in NICRA villages in Khammam (Telangana), West Godavari and Srikakulam (Andhra Pradesh). Water and labour saving technique of drum seeding of rice is a feasible option to farmers in these areas.
Resilient practice/ technology
Drum seeding technique involves direct seeding of pre-germinated paddy seeds in drums made up of fibre material to dispense seeds evenly in lines spaced at 20 cm apart in puddled and levelled fields. About 35 to 40 kg paddy seed/ha is soaked overnight in water and allowed to sprout. Care should be taken not to delay sowing as seeds with long shoot growth are not suitable for drum seeding. The sprouted seed is air-dried in shade briefly (<30 minutes) prior to sowing for easy dispensing through the holes in the drum seeder. Excess water in puddled field is drained out ensuring the soil surface is moist. Drums are filled with sprouted seeds (3/4th full) and pulled across the field maintaining a steady speed for evenly sowing. Number of drums could vary between 4 and 8 with number of lines sown ranging from 8 to 16 in one pass. Irrigation water should not be applied for 2-3 days after sowing to allow rooting and anchoring to soil. However, heavy rainfall immediately after sowing is likely to wash away the newly sown seeds. As the seedlings grow, water level in the field can rise for better weed control. Intermittent irrigation is given till the panicle initiation stage. Where weed problem is severe, herbicide is applied within 1-2 days after seeding and if necessary, a second application is given 30-35 days later. Line sowing permits operation of modified conoweeder (width between wheels reduced to 15 cm instead of 25 cm) between the rows in the same direction adopted for drum seeding. Drum seeding in one ha area can be completed in 5 to 6 hours time by three persons compared to transplanting operation which requires about 30 to 40 man days. This technique can help in saving seed, water, labour requirement apart from improving productivity because of line sowing (spacing of 20 cm between rows) and early maturity of crop (by 7-10 days). Drum seeding reduces the cost of cultivation as it does away with the requirement for raising paddy nursery and transplanting thereafter. The technique fits into contingency planning as it provides flexibility in timing of sowing in lands prepared using irrigation water or immediately after receipt of monsoon rains with a crop variety of suitable duration to fit into the left over season.
Impact of drum seeding technique in paddy
Rice is the major crop in Nacharam village in Khammam district. Farmers cultivate long duration (145â160 days) rice varieties like BPT-5204, WGL-482 and JGL-18047. These varieties are usually sown in the nursery in mid June and transplanted in mid-July. Farmers use a seed rate of 75 kg /ha and face serious shortage of labour for manual rice transplanting. Initially in 2012, direct sowing with drum seeder was introduced to five progressive farmers in the village in 3 ha area and sowing was taken up during 2nd and 3rd week of July. Cost of cultivation came down by Rs 10000/ha. Yield obtained ranged between 42 to 54 q/ha compared to 35 to 46 q/ha with transplanted paddy. Increase in grain yield ranged from 13 to 28%. In 2013, farmers took up direct seeding both in kharif and rabi seasons. Drum seeded paddy was applied four irrigations (two less than transplanted paddy). Advantage in net income due to drum seeding ranged from Rs 13000-14000/ha in both the seasons and B:C ratio was higher ( 2.3 to 2.9) with drum seeding compared to transplanted paddy (1.5 to 2.0).
Farmers in Matsyapuri village, West Godavari district cultivate paddy in tail end areas during rabi season. These farmers are forced to go for delayed planting due to late release of canal water. Farmers took up direct sowing with drum seeder to overcome this situation. Initially six farmers came forward and drum seeding was practiced in 9.5 acres during rabi 2012-13. Cost of cultivation was reduced by Rs 10000/ha compared to the transplanting method. Crop yield in direct sown paddy was 4% higher and benefit cost ratio was also higher (2.3) with less water compared to transplanting method. More farmers in the village came forward to take up drum seeded paddy in rabi 2013-14 in 50 acres. The duration of crop was reduced by 7-9 days in direct sowing compared to transplanting method. This helped in saving the crop from excess rains during the month of May 2014 as the harvesting was completed before the rains.