1. Agriculture World

This Kharif Season, Farmers in Punjab will Grow Rice Using DSR Technique to Conserve Groundwater

Last year, the government set a goal of a million hectares, but only 0.6 million hectares were brought under DSR. However, this was the state's greatest level to date, and it was 0.1 million hectares greater than the 2020 forecast.

Shruti Kandwal
Rice Cultivation in Punjab
Rice Cultivation in Punjab

To save water when planting paddy, the Punjab government has chosen to use the Direct Seeding of Rice (DSR) method over 1.2 million hectares (mha) in the forthcoming Kharif sowing season.

This is more than quadruple the area seeded under DSR in 2021. (0.6 mha).

DSR is also known as the 'broadcasting seed method,' since seeds are drilled directly into the ground.

A pre-sowing (rauni) irrigation is performed after the land is laser levelled. The field is prepped to the ideal soil moisture level, and paddy (non-basmati) is sown right away. In contrast to the usual water-intensive method, this strategy conserves groundwater and hence power.

When compared to the usual method of transplanting rice seedlings from a nursery to soggy fields, it can save up to 35% on water.

After Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann and state agriculture executives met with several farmer unions and organisations on April 17, 2022, the goal was determined.

"We're doing training camps and filming short movies to raise awareness and encourage others to embrace DSR," said the group. We're also gathering feedback from farmers who implemented DSR last year to see what issues they had so that we can address them this year," said Gurvinder Singh, Punjab's director of agriculture.

Last year, the government set a goal of a million hectares, but only 0.6 million hectares were brought under DSR.

However, this was the state's greatest level to date, and it was 0.1 million hectares greater than the 2020 forecast.

DSR has been steadily gaining traction. It increased in 2020, when Punjab and Haryana had a labour shortage as a result of worker migration during the COVID-19 shutdown, and farmers changed to DSR, which is less labour-intensive.

According to MS Bhullar, chief agronomist at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), several farmers have also requested that short-term variety seeds be available on a regular basis during the DSR time, such as during transplanting, and the government has agreed.

DSR sowing will take place between May 25 and June 5, according to the ministry. After June 15-20, traditional transplanting sowing occurs.

Rice is India's most important kharif crop, and it is farmed in all of the country's main agricultural states, including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. Rice farming by transplanting has decreased the water table in several states, where groundwater is the primary source of irrigation.

"To conserve groundwater, there are only two options. "Either diversify away from paddy and into other crops, or cultivate paddy using water-saving technology," Bhullar added.

In 2010, PAU recommended DSR exclusively for medium to heavy textured soils, however experiments in 2020 demonstrated that the upgraded DSR technique can also function in sandy loam soils.

According to Bhullar, this has expanded the area eligible for DSR in Punjab from 45 percent to 85 percent.

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