Thursday, June 9, 2016

Farmers, scientists test performance of stress-tolerant rice varieties in Odisha, India

By Ashok Kumar and Narayan Banik

ODISHA, India, 25 May—Around 200 hundred rice farmers, scientists, and other stakeholders evaluated the performance of  two new rice varieties that can better withstand flooding and drought during a recent field day in Puri District (photos above and below).

The field day showcased the performance of flood-tolerant BINA Dhan 11 and the drought-tolerant DRR 42 rice varieties using mechanical transplanting compared with Lalat, a popular traditional variety. Also exhibited and demonstrated were improved farm practices using technologies such as the zero-till seed-cum-fertilizer drill, paddy transplanter, laser-guided land leveler, paddy power weeder, seed cum-fertilizer spreader, and the grain moisture meter.

Dr. Ashok Kumar, hub coordinator for the Cereal Systems Initiative for SouthAsia (CSISA), reported that, besides being flood-tolerant and highly lodging-resistant, BINA Dhan 11 yields from 5 to nearly 7 tons per hectare at 14% moisture content. It outperformed Lalat's yield by 0.8 to 1.4 tons per hectare across Puri, Bhadrak, and Balasore districts. The grain quality of BINA Dhan 11 is also good. Drought-tolerant DRR 42 yielded an average of 5.0–5.5 tons per hectare during the 2016 dry season. Both varieties mature in 120–125 days.

“For farmers in the region, the most impressive traits of the two stress-tolerant varieties are their comparatively high yield, stress tolerance, lodging resistance, and suitability for planting even during the wet season,” said Dr. Narayan Banik, a scientist at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and CSISA.

Prof. Surendranath Pasupalak, vice-chancellor at the Orissa University of Agriculture and Technology, visiting the BINA Dhan 11 rice fields and interacting with farmers and scientists, was satisfied with the farmers’ feedback regarding the lodging resistance of BINA Dhan 11. However, he expressed concern about the higher water requirement and weed problems that can arise under nonpuddled conditions.

Kumar clarified that both mechanical transplanted rice (MTR) and direct seeded rice (DSR) under nonpuddled situation are planted only during the wet season. “Additionally, weed problems can be effectively managed using integrated weed management, which uses suitable herbicides supplemented with manual or mechanical weeding,” Kumar further explained. “Mechanical weeding, through power, cono, or the Mandwa weeder, can be facilitated by adjusting row-to-row spacing of 25–30 cm.”

Pasupalak also noted the presence of bacterial leaf blight and sheath blight. The farmers reported that the symptoms of these diseases were seen in most of the rice fields including those planted with Lalat indicating that all the varieties have the same level of resistance.

Pasupalak emphasized the importance of full mechanization, from sowing to harvesting, for timely operations and lower production, energy, and labor costs. He also stressed the value of crop diversification. “Crop diversification with mungbean, black gram, mustard, maize, groundnut, vegetables, and sunflower in place of rice, particularly during the rice fallow period, along with mechanization, is needed to improve farm productivity, profitability, sustainability and nutritional security.”

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