Thursday, February 13, 2014

Tamil Nadu: Farmers learn about new planting method that saves them labor and water

A field day was held last week on machine-transplanted non-puddled rice (MTNPR), a technology that may soon provide an alternative for rice farmers who face labor and water scarcity.

MTNPR is a crop establishment method that can lower labor and energy needs as well as the amount of water needed for land preparation.

The director of the Tamil Nadu Rice Research Institute (TRRI) cited labor and water scarcity as major challenges for rice farmers in the Cauvery Delta and pointed to MTNPR as a probable alternative strategy to overcome these.

The head of the Soil and Water Management Research Institute in Thanjavur, where the field day was held, added that because MTNPR takes less time to do than conventional methods, it would thus make crop establishment possible within the recommended planting window. It also reduces input costs for labor, energy, and water in the range of US$120 per hectare.

The Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) project team in Tamil Nadu organized the event, which included a demonstration of the use of MTNPR, together with dry-seeded rice, on more than 50 hectares of farmers’ fields during the 2013-14 wet season. About 100 farmers from the Cauvery Delta witnessed yield comparisons between wet season rice crops established through MTNPR and by mechanical transplanting with conventional puddling.

Farmers who had adopted these methods in their fields and had moved into providing services for crop establishment also shared about their experience with other farmers.

The event was also attended by university scientists, agricultural extension officers, agricultural service providers, and representatives of NGOs and other organizations.

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