Birsa Agricultural University in Kanke, Ranchi
Ranchi, Sept. 2: Grow rice like wheat, agriculture scientists are telling paddy farmers. Before you blink unbelievingly, experts are also stressing that transplantation, supposedly a must for paddy, can be dropped altogether.
“Do away with transplanting altogether,” D.N. Singh, chief scientist (rice), BAU, Ranchi, told The Telegraph.
Singh said he had written to the state agriculture department with a request that farmers across the state be encouraged to adopt direct paddy seeding.
Traditionally, farmers sow seeds in an upland area and transplant the saplings on an inundated, low-lying field.
This creates problems if rains are scant during transplanting, which happened this year. August, with 265.5mm of showers, proved to be the rainiest in Jharkhand in five years. But, it was too late for many paddy farmers who got dry fields in July when they wanted knee-deep water during paddy transplantation.
Singh is now saying hybrid seeds can be directly planted in upland, medium and low-lying areas as well.
“In short, I suggested paddy should be grown like wheat to safeguard against recurrent crop failures,” Singh said.
Based on a series of experiments carried out at BAU independently and in collaboration with International Rice Institute, Manila and Directorate of Rice Research, Hyderabad, Singh found enough evidence to tell the state to advise farmers to do away with the “cumbersome transplanting process” altogether.
“Last year, due to late rain, transplanting of paddy could not be carried out in more than 4 lakh hectares in Jharkhand. This year, as farmers are still hastily transplanting paddy, data isn’t available. All I am asking farmers is to simplify farming,” Singh said.
He added without transplanting, labour cost would go down. So would the number of days. Traditionally, a crop cycle takes 120 days. Without transplanting, paddy will be ready in 110 days, and use around 40 per cent less water.