n Punjab, rice has been seeded directly (DSR) at a good scale, this season, and, most farmers are experimenting first time with DSR. Being first timers, there has been apprehensions and fears among some farmers regarding DSR. This article discusses the most common farmers’ apprehension about DSR and, their possible solutions.
FARMERS APPREHENSIONS AND EXPERT OPINION
THE FIELD LOOKS VACANT DSR field looks vacant, initially. In tar-wattar DSR, the plant put more energy towards root development and, above ground growth is less till fist irrigation which is applied at around 21 days. After first irrigation, the plants make quick upward growth and start covering the field quickly. Generally, in field, where recommended seed rate (8-10 kg/acre) has been used, the plant densities are normal. However, in fields, where less seed (5-6 kg/acre) has been used there may be gaps which can be filled by uprooting rice seedlings from dense spots, from the same field, and transplanting in vacant spots.
TILLERING IS SLOW The first four weeks of DSR is just like rice nursery, in which, also, only one tiller is there. After four weeks, when fertilizers (urea, zinc) are applied, plants makes quick growth, start tillering and covering the field quickly and whole field is covered at 65-70 days crop age. In case of transplanted crop also, it takes 70-75 days after nursery sowing to cover the field. Hence, in DSR field, it just needs patience.
THE CROP LOOKS PALE DSR field would give relatively pale look compared to transplanted crop and, there is nothing to worry about, rather, little paleness helps crop in preventing from pests. However, DSR crop need to be supplied with recommended nutrient, at right time, and at right doses. For parmal, broadcast 135 kg Urea per acre in three equal splits at 4,6 and 9 weeks and, for basmati, 55 kg Urea at 3,6 and 9 weeks after sowing. Also broadcast 10 kg zinc (21%) or 6.5 kg (33%) per acre along with first dose of Urea. Always, apply fertilizers in a wattar field. Some farmers start early application of urea and apply in more splits which are not good for crop. If newly emerging leaves are pale, give two sprays of 1.0 kg ferrous sulphate in 100 litre water per acre at weekly interval.
CAN RICE TOLERATE 21 DAYS, WITHOUT IRRIGATION?
In tar-wattar (good moisture) conditions, 2-3 planking conserves soil moisture which is enough for supporting germination and emergence of rice seedlings. The upper layer of soil dries up quickly and creates dry soil mulch layer. This mulch prevents evaporation of soil water below, due to breakup of capillaries continuum with the soil surface and the soil layer below retains moisture for a longer period. And, after emergence, the deeper roots are able to extract water from lower soil depth.
In this way, the first irrigation can be delayed to 21 days. In this context, it is pertinent to mention here that light textured soils are not able to retain soil moisture for a longer period, hence DSR is not recommended in these soils. Even in very heavy textured soils also which retain wattar for a very short time period, even for few hours in some cases, and, if field preparation is delayed, soil become hard and moisture retention become difficult. Hence, farmers need to be careful while raising tar-wattar DSR in these soils.
NO, FIELD DOESN’T NEED FLOODING? DSR fields always need to be kept in wattar (moist) condition. And, for this, after first irrigation at 21 days, schedule irrigations at 7-10 days interval depending on soil type and prevailing weather conditions. Do not try to keep the DSR field flooded with water, anytime, as it will not help the crop, rather, application of more frequent irrigations would results in leaching of nitrogen below root zone and, the crop will give pale look.
HOW TO DEAL WITH WEEDS Herbicides are available for control of all type of weeds, in DSR crop, however, for best weed control, spray herbicide on smaller (2 to 4 leaf stage) weed plants. For control of swank, swanki, mirch booti, chatri wala motha, spray 100 ml Nominee gold 10 SC (bispyribac sodium); for madhana, chini gha, chiri gha, takri gha, makra, spray 400 ml Ricestar 6.7 EC (fenoxaprop-p-ethyl) and, for broadleaf weeds like itsit, tnadla, and gandi wala motha/dila spray 8 gm Almix 20 WP (chlorimuron + metsulfuron) per acre in 150 litres of water. Always, spray these herbicides in a moist field, in the forenoon. In case, more than one spray is required, spay at 4-5 days interval. Never tank-mix herbicides, for spray, at your own level.
THE YIELD MAY BE LOWER DSR crop, raised using recommended package of practices, gives similar grain yield to puddle transplanted crop, and, in case if yield is little lesser, the profit remain the same. Hence, farmers could adopt this technique, without any fear as, apart from providing similar profit, it saves irrigation water and labor also when compared to conventional transplanted crop. After DSR, the grain yield of next wheat crop is also 100-125 kg/acre higher compared to when it follows puddle transplanted rice.
To summarize, farmers are informed that there is solution to each and every issue they face in DSR, and, hence, there is no need to create any kind of fear. In case of any issue, please take the expert advice and solve it.
ABOUT THE WRITERS
The writers, Dr. Makhan Singh Bhullar Principal Agronomist, department of Agronomy and Dr. Jasvir Singh Gill also an Agronomist in the department of Farm Machinery and Power Engineering have written this article jointly, on realising that there were lots of myths and apprehensions in the minds of farmers who are growing direct seeding rice for the first time. Both, Dr. Bhullar and Dr. Gill are working on DSR variety for many years