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Kharif Season: Land Preparation and Different Methods of Sowing

Swati Sharma
Swati Sharma
Kharif crop: rice
Kharif crop: rice

Land preparation is important to make sure that the field is ready for planting. A well-assembled field controls weeds, recycles plant nutrients, and provides a soft soil mass for transplanting and a satisfactory soil surface for direct seeding. 

Land preparation covers a broad range of services from zero-tillage or minimum tillage, minimizing soil disturbance to a totally 'puddled' soil that destroys soil structure. 

It typically consists 

(1) Plowing to "till" or dig-up, mix, and overturn the soil;  

(2) Distressing to break the soil clods into smaller mass and incorporate plant residue,  

(3) Leveling the surface. 

Primary land preparation starts after the last harvest or during the unploughed period. This is essential for effective weed control and for enriching the soil. Usually, it takes 3-4 weeks to prepare the grounds before planting. Please see below steps to follow: 

  • Apply glyphosate to kill weeds and for better field hygiene at dry field state.

  • After glyphosate application, rinse the field for 2−3 days.

  • Maintain water level up to 2−3 cm level for about 3−7 days or until it is moist enough and suitable for equipment to be used.

  • Plough the field to incorporate stubbles and expedite decomposition.

  • Flood the field. Keep it swamp for at least two weeks. Let the water drain naturally to allow volunteer seeds and weed seeds to germinate.

Depending on weed population and soil condition, you can do another tillage operation. 

When are Kharif crops grown? 

Crops that are planted during the southwest monsoon season are called Kharif or monsoon crops. These crops are sown at the beginning of the monsoon season around the end of May to early June and are harvested post the monsoon rains beginning October. Rice, maize, pulses such as urad, moong dal, and millets are among the key Kharif crops. 

Sowing methods of different Kharif crops Sowing places a specified quantity of seeds in the soil in the optimum position for germination and growth. At the same time, planting is putting plant propagules (seeds, seedlings, cuttings, tubers, rhizomes, clones, etc.) into the ground to grow as crop plants.

Seeds are sown either directly in the field or the nursery (nursery bed), whereas seedlings are raised and transplanted later. Various methods of sowing are: 

Broad casting 

Broadcasting is the scattering or spreading of seeds on the soil which may or may not be incorporated or covered with soil. Broadcasting of seeds may be done by hand, mechanical spreaders, or airplanes. This method is suitable for close sowing crops which do not require specific spacing for the optimum expression of their growth and development. Crops such as upland and flooded rice, millets, mustard, jute, fodder crops such as dinanath grass, berseem, lucerne, etc., and spices like cumin and coriander are generally sown by this method. For mixed cropping, broadcasting is the usual practice of sowing seeds. Though it is an easy, quick, and cheap method of Sowing, there are difficulties in uniform distribution, placing in the optimum and uniform depth of soil, and providing soil cover and compaction. Germination is uneven, and weed control manually or mechanically is difficult. More quantity of seeds is required in this method. Broadcasting of seeds is done in dry, semi-dry, and wet fields. 

Rice sowing
Rice sowing

Dibbling

This is a method of putting a seed or a few seeds or seed material in a hole or pit made at predetermined spacing and depth with a dibbler or planter. This method is suitable for wider space planted crops requiring a specific spacing for their canopy development or cultural practices such as weeding, earthing, etc. Seeds may be dibbled in level fields or on ridges. For this method, need not prepare the entire field for the seedbed, only the seeding zones. This method is suitable for planting maize, cotton, castor, groundnut, pigeon pea, onion, ginger, etc. Dibbling is more laborious, time-consuming, and expensive than broadcasting but requires less seed and gives rapid germination and seedling vigor. Unnecessary competition between plants is avoided. 

Drilling/line

Sowing Drilling is the practice of dropping seeds in furrows. Furrows of predetermined spacing are made, seeds are dropped at a definite depth and distance, covered with soil, and compacted. Sowing implements such as 'seed drill' or 'seed cum fertilizers drill' are used. The use of seeding funnel and Sowing behind the plow is also practiced. Other operations such as manures and fertilizers, pesticides, and soil amendments are also done during seeding. Drilling requires more time, energy, and cost, but it maintains a uniform plant population per unit area. Row spacing is also set. Drilling sows crops such as wheat barley, upland rice, jowar, pulses, safflower, sesame, etc. 

Sugarcane crop
Sugarcane crop

Planting

When individual seeds or seed material is placed in the soil by manual labor, it is called planting. Generally, crops with bigger-sized seeds and those requiring wider spacing are sown by this method. Planting is done for crops like cotton, maize, potato, sugarcane, etc. 

Transplanting

When more than one crop is to be sown in a year on the same piece of land, the time occupied by each crop has to be reduced. The seedling growth in the early stages is very slow. Seedlings need extra care for establishing in the field because of their tenderness. Small seeded crops like tobacco, chilies, tomatoes are to be sown shallow and frequently irrigated for proper germination. Taking care of germinating seed/seedlings spread over a large area is a problem concerning water, weed control, pest control, etc. Therefore, seeds are sown in a small area called the nursery. When they grow to a certain stage, they are pulled out from the nurseries and transplanted in the main field. 

The advantages of transplanting are saving in irrigation water, good stand establishment, and increasing cropping intensity. The thumb rule for the optimum age of seedlings is one week for every month of the total duration of the crop. Puddled rice is mainly grown by the transplanting method. 

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