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PAU Experts Urges Farmers to Adopt Water-Saving Rice Cultivation Techniques

PAU experts advocate climate-smart rice cultivation in Punjab, highlighting water-saving techniques and sustainable practices to secure future agricultural viability.

KJ Staff
PAU Experts Urges Farmers to Adopt Water-Saving Rice Cultivation Techniques (Photo Source: Pixabay)
PAU Experts Urges Farmers to Adopt Water-Saving Rice Cultivation Techniques (Photo Source: Pixabay)

Experts from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) have encouraged farmers to implement climate-smart water-saving measures in rice growing to protect Punjab's water supplies for future generations. The call to action includes avoiding long-duration rice varieties, planting 'PR' varieties after June 20, using irrigation water judiciously, and implementing Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) under moist soil conditions.

Dr. G.S. Mangat, Additional Director of Research (Agriculture) at PAU, highlighted last year’s trend where PR 126 emerged as the preferred choice among farmers, covering 33% of the paddy area in Punjab during the kharif 2023 season. He noted that PR 131 has also gained considerable traction this year. Dr. Mangat emphasized that the PAU-developed paddy varieties, along with tailored production and protection techniques, facilitate staggered sowing and transplanting. This approach alleviates labor shortages and optimizes the transition between rice harvesting and wheat planting.

Dr. Buta Singh Dhillon, a rice agronomist at PAU, elaborated on the benefits of short-duration paddy varieties, which require 5-9 fewer irrigation cycles and less fertilizer and pesticide usage, offering economic, social, and ecological advantages. He recommended transplanting around June 25 for maximum yield in most varieties, with PR 126 showing superior performance even with July transplanting, saving 6-17% more irrigation water compared to early planting.

For direct seeding of parmal rice varieties, Dr. Dhillon advised the first half of June, and for Basmati, the latter half of June. He warned against early transplanting due to the heightened risk of pest damage from continuous host availability. Diseases like false smut, sheath blight, and Southern Black Streaked Dwarf Virus, observed during kharif 2022, remain significant concerns.

Dr. Mangat also recommended alternate wetting and drying (AWD) as an effective water-saving irrigation practice. AWD reduces water consumption, methane emissions, and potentially enhances yield by lowering pest and disease incidence.

Dr. Dhillon pointed out that DSR could save 10-20% of water and increase water recharge by 10-12%, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming mitigation. Additionally, utilizing Laser Land Levelers can save 15-20% of irrigation water, improve yield, and enhance overall resource use efficiency. He also suggested that ridge/bed transplanting on heavy soils and cultivating basmati rice, which aligns with the monsoon season, can further conserve water.

By implementing these water-smart practices, PAU aims to promote sustainable agriculture in Punjab, ensuring the long-term viability of water resources while supporting the economic well-being of farmers.

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