1. Agriculture World

Punjab Plans to Use Water- Saving Broadcasting Method to Grow Rice this Kharif

The field is laser levelled, and pre-sowing irrigation (rauni) is performed. The field is prepared to the optimal soil moisture level, and paddy (non-basmati) is seeded right away. In comparison to the traditional water-intensive method, this technique saves groundwater and thus electricity.

Shivam Dwivedi
Paddy Field
Paddy Field

Punjab government has decided to use the Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) method in the upcoming Kharif sowing season to save water while sowing paddy on an area of 1.2 million hectares (mha). This is more than double the area sown under DSR in 2021. (0.6 mha). DSR is also known as the 'broadcasting seed technique,' because seeds are drilled directly into the fields.

The field is laser levelled, and pre-sowing irrigation (rauni) is performed. The field is prepared to the optimal soil moisture level, and paddy (non-basmati) is seeded right away. In comparison to the traditional water-intensive method, this technique saves groundwater and thus electricity.

It can help cut water consumption by up to 35% when compared to the traditional method of transplanting rice seedlings from a nursery to waterlogged fields.

After meeting with various farmer unions and groups on April 17, 2022, Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and state agriculture officers set the target.

"We are organizing training camps and creating short videos to raise awareness and encourage people to adopt DSR." "We are also soliciting feedback from farmers who adopted DSR last year on the types of challenges they encountered so that we can address them this time," said Gurvinder Singh, Punjab's director of agriculture.

The government set a target of a million hectares last year, but only 0.6 mha were brought under DSR. This was, however, the state's highest so far, and it was 0.1 mha higher than the 2020 figure.

DSR is gradually gaining traction. It increased further in 2020, when Punjab and Haryana faced a labour shortage as a result of worker migration during the lockdown and farmers shifted to DSR, which is less labor-intensive.

According to MS Bhullar, principal agronomist at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), some farmers have also expressed a desire for a consistent supply of short duration variety seeds during the DSR period, such as during the transplanting period, and the government has agreed to this.

The government has set May 25 to June 5 as the date for DSR sowing. After June 15-20, traditional transplanting sowing begins.

Rice is India's main kharif crop, and it is grown in all of the major agrarian states, including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. Because groundwater is the primary source of irrigation in these states, transplanted rice cultivation has depleted the water table.

According to data from the Central Ground Water Board, groundwater levels in Punjab fell in about 85 percent of the state between 1984 and 2016.

According to a 2011 study published in the journal Advances in Agronomy, DSR can help reduce water consumption by up to 35% in such a scenario. "There are only two options for conserving groundwater. "Either diversify away from paddy and grow other crops, or use water-saving techniques to grow paddy," Bhullar advised.

PAU's DSR recommendation in 2010 was only for medium to heavy textured soils, but demonstrations in 2020 demonstrated that the refined DSR technology can work in sandy loam soils as well. According to Bhullar, this has increased the area suitable for DSR in Punjab from 45 percent to 85 percent.

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