As the labour shortage is imminent owing to exodus of migrant labourers amid the ongoing lockdown, farmers in Punjab seem all set to go for direct seeding of rice (DSR) this khairf season, moving away from the traditional practice — of sowing nursery and then transplanting it.
Farmers and agri-experts told The Hindu that they are hopeful that this technology, which had been recommended in Punjab as an alternative method of rice (paddy) planting, will save irrigation water, labour and energy (power) in contrast to conventional method of raising rice nursery and then transplanting rice seedlings in a puddled field.
“The DSR technique is less time consuming and labour intensive than the conventional practice. The DSR technique called ‘tar-wattar DSR’ has been developed and successfully tested on a good scale at farmers’ fields. It helps in saving irrigation water, there’s lesser weed problem, besides there is reduced incidence of nutrient deficiency, especially iron, owing to lesser leaching of nutrients and deeper root development,” said Makhan Singh Bhullar, principal agronomist at the Ludhiana-based Punjab Agricultural University.
Mr. Bhullar said that the technology has a wider adaptability as it is suitable for medium to heavy textured soils including sandy loam, loam, clay loam and silt loam, which account for 87% area of the State.
“Not only this, the DSR offers avenue for groundwater recharge as well as it prevents the development of hard pan just beneath the plough layer. It matures 7-10 days earlier than puddle transplanted rice, hence it gives more time for the management of paddy straw, for the timely sowing of next wheat crop. Results from research trials and farmers’ field survey have also indicated that wheat grain yield, after DSR, is 1.0-1.2 quintal per acre higher than puddle transplanted rice,” said Mr. Bhullar.
“As the DSR involves more precision in timing and greater accuracy in operations compared to conventional transplanted rice. It gives best yield and quality when sowing is done in the month of June,” said Mr. Bhullar.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) general secretary Harinder Singh’, said there’s absolutely no doubt that sowing with DSR will increase this year. “I am myself all set to sow paddy with the new technique. It’s cheap, less time consuming and save water as well. Besides, this year we are facing labour shortage as many migrant labourers have gone back to their native places. So, at such a time the DSR is a viable option for me,” he said.