‘The yield increased to 20 quintals of paddy an acre’

With area under paddy cultivation shrinking in coastal belt for want of workers and with the price of rice soaring, the challenge before farmers is to increase productivity.

“Switching over to mechanised paddy planting will increase productivity,” says Prabhakara Mayya, a progressive farmer at Nada village, near Ujire in Dakshina Kannada.

Mr. Mayya says paddy saplings should not be planted in depth as the saplings did not have mother root. They should be just planted on the surface of the slush field for roots to spread. Under the manual method, workers planted them at six-inch depth. When the machine is used it plants the saplings just on the surface with ideal spacing for the plants to breathe and spread roots. As a result, the plants grow healthy and yield more.

Mr. Mayya’s family owned only two acres of paddy field. Yet it harvested 25 quintals of paddy from an acre in 2012 khariff by adopting mechanised planting.

He says the family switched over to mechanised planting, harvesting and processing of paddy five years ago. For the first time after adopting mechanised planting five years ago, the family produced 20 quintals of paddy an acre.By following the usual manual planting method, the family produced only 15 quintals of paddy an acre. Mr. Mayya says he tried SRI (system of rice intensification) method of planting under which the production of paddy reached 18 quintals an acre. Usually, a quintal of paddy yields 68 kg of rice, he says. Rice produced from the paddy cultivated on an acre of land under mechanised planting can take care of the needs of a 10-member family for one year. He says he did not purchase the machines, instead rented it from Agriculture Department.

The progressive farmer who is in his 40s now says increasing productivity had nothing to do with applying more fertilizers. Recalling his experience, he says after mechanised planting he required less quantity of fertilizers as the roots were on the surface. Mr. Mayya says he did allow the space on the bunds of paddy field to go waste. He planted 90 saplings of cowpea of YB 7 (yard long beans) variety on the bunds in August 2012. They started yielding after 40 days.

He harvested six quintals of cowpea from them in five months till December. It fetched him between Rs. 20 and Rs. 40 a kg in the market. It was an additional income, he says.