‘Focus on less water-intensive paddy cultivation practices’

In the wake of low water storage in Bhadra reservoir, the Bhadra Command Area Development Authority (CADA) and Department of Agriculture have planned to launch a campaign to create awareness among farmers in the command area on the judicious utilisation of water for cultivation of paddy.

K. Madhusudan, joint director, Department of Agriculture, has said that paddy was so far grown under traditional semi-aquatic and water-intensive methods in the command area of Bhadra reservoir. Under this, the water is made to flood the fields.

Drop in supply

The availability of water in Bhadra reservoir for agriculture has fallen owing to scanty rainfall in catchment areas and an increase in the number of human habitats dependent on the reservoir for drinking water. In the wake of these developments, it was necessary to re-contemplate on the existing paddy cultivation practices .

At present, 32 tmcft water is stored in Bhadra reservoir of which 13 tmcft is considered as dead storage and 7 tmcft is reserved for drinking purposes. It is possible to release water for kharif crops for nearly 35 days along the canals with the remaining 12 tmcft water.

The CADA, optimistic that the monsoon will become more active in the catchment areas of the reservoir in the coming days, has assured the farmers that they would get water for 100 days.

Other methods

Mr. Madhusudan said that it was necessary to create awareness among farmers on System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and other methods of cultivating paddy without flooding the fields.

Rather than keeping the field flooded, the farmers can provide water for the plants once a week. This will result in minimisation of anaerobic conditions and will pave the way for healthy growth of the roots. Instead of raising the nurseries of paddy seedlings on to fields that require more water, the farmers can opt for the tray method. The machines can be used for transplantation of paddy saplings to ensure proper spacing.

By adopting these practices, the water requirement for paddy cultivation can be reduced by 50 per cent compared to the traditional method, he said.

The CADA and the department will organise two seminars each in rural areas of Shivamogga and Davangere districts this month on the economic utilisation of water.

In addition to this, it has been decided to raise a demonstration plot on the cultivation of paddy under less water-intensive methods at the main campus of UAHS, Shivamogga, and on the premises of Agricultural and Horticultural Research Station in Kattalagere in Davangere district, Honnavile in Shivamogga district and Bhavikere in Chikkamagaluru district.

The Bhadra CADA and the department will bring the farmers to these plots to sensitise them on the less water-intensive methods, he said.

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