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Where paddy requires only drops of water

A.D.Balasubramaniyan
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A farmer showing drip irrigation pipes laid on his paddy field in Pallakkollai village in Tiruvannamalai district.— Photo: D. Gopalakrishnan
A farmer showing drip irrigation pipes laid on his paddy field in Pallakkollai village in Tiruvannamalai district.— Photo: D. Gopalakrishnan

The field is almost dry but for brief wet patches. Yet, the paddy crop in it is prosperous with grain-rich panicles looking down the earth. The small plot of land located in a nondescript village near Polur thus shines in a State that still debates on whether its farmers can go for Kuruvai crop as there is no promise of water, by saying “You vie for gallons to finish a task that can be done with drops”.

The quarter of an acre in Pallakkollai village turns out to be the pioneering model in Tamil Nadu to raise paddy with drip irrigation. V.Annamalai, who cultivated it, beams with pride. He successfully broke the notion that ‘plenty of water should always clog the paddy field’.

Srinivasan Services Trust (SST), social service arm of TVS group, that is working on development models in the area, came up with the idea and assistance for laying drip irrigation pipes.

Having an innovative streak, Mr. Annamalai, an ex-serviceman, readily accepted. Now the crop is only ten days away from reaping.

Explaining the advantages, Mr.Annamalai told The Hindu : “Before planting paddy in conventional method, we need to do puddling which requires about 50 hours of watering from motorized pump set/ per acre over a period of 20 days.

While cultivating with drip irrigation, I never did puddling. I just did dry ploughing, slightly dampened the land and directly sowed the seed instead of transplanting the seedlings. Thus, drip irrigation saved plenty of water and labour even at the preparation level. In the post sowing level too, it requires only one-third of the water needed to irrigate the crop in conventional method”.

S.Vaithilingam, district manager of Jain Irrigation Systems that set up drip in this field, said “raising an acre of paddy would require 13 lakh litres of water under conventional method. Under drip, it requires only about 4 lakh litres”.

Seed efficient

Apart from water the method is seed efficient too. “It required only 1 kilogram of seeds to sow the entire plot of quarter acre. If it were in conventional transplantation method, it would have required 12 kg of seeds,” Mr.Annamalai added. When asked about how he feels about the potential yield, he said, “normally one can reap about 6-7 bags of paddy from quarter acre. This drip-irrigated plot, I hope, would fetch about 10 bags, as the crop grew exceptionally well”.

K.S.Krishnan, field director of SST, who inspired the farmer into trying the method, told The Hindu : “Since fertilizers are mixed with water and precisely directed at roots each plant has produced about 40-50 tillerings despite adverse climate, as against 15-20 produced in conventional method. This will definitely result in better yield. Other paddy farmers too should adopt the method and save water”.

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