Saturday, March 22, 2008
SRI (System of Rice Intensification) and Zero Budget Natural Farming
System of Rice Intensification (SRI) and Zero Budget Natural Farming:-
System of Rice Intensification was first introduced by Madagascar in the African continent. Due to its resounding success, it started spreading to other rice growing areas and has successfully transformed the rice cultivation techniques and practices. This has lead to significantly higher yield despite the decrease in input costs when compared to the traditional methods of cultivation that have been in practice in India. In the SRI technique you can avoid inorganic chemical application as fertilizer completely.
All the techniques of SRI are not new to the Indian rice farmers. Only some of them are significantly different from traditional methods. Normally, the Indian farmer is known to plant a bunch of 4 to 5 saplings together and the normal age of his sapling will be over 25 days whereas under SRI you only plant a single saplings and the age of the saplings is between 7 and 15 days, the younger the better.
The seed requirement under SRI is rather small when compared to the traditional methods that the Indian farmers have been adopting. In the traditional method we need about 25 to 30 kgs of seeds per acre where as in the SRI method we need only 600 grams of seeds for a spacing of 50 cm by 50 cm. You need 1 kilo of seeds for 40cm by 40 cm spacing. You need 1.3 kgs of seeds for 33cm by 33cm spacing. You would need 2.6 kilos of seeds for 25 cm by 25 cm spacing. You can follow any spacing convenient to you.
What are the fundamental rules of SRI method of cultivation?
1. The saplings for transplantation have to be very tender and young. Best is to use the sapling between 7 to 15 days of age. The younger the better;
2. Only single plant has to be transplanted;
3. Gap between rows and plants have to be larger than traditional method (minimum recommendation if 22cm x 22cm;
4. Shallow transplantation of saplings should be followed;
5. Before every water the field should be allowed to dry sufficiently to the extent that the land shows up hairline cracks;
6. Use of mechanical or manual weed removers to remove the weeds and integrate the weeds in the soil.
What are the benefits?
1. There is no external inputs from any distributor;
2. Excellent and multiple growth of shoots;
3. Deep and broad root base for the plants;
4. Minimum seed cost;
5. Area for seedbed much smaller and requirement of seeds also small;
6. Much lower water requirement;
7. Increase in microbial activity in the soil due to excellent aeration areation;
Why do you need young and tender plants?
In order to fully utilize the capacity of multiple shooting tendency of the paddy plant, it is recommended to transplant the 7 to 15 day old plants from the seed bed to field. Normally, a paddy plants gives its first shoot within ten days of transplantation. When adequate spacing is given for aeration, the mother plant give the first shoot in about ten days from transplantation, the mother plant there after gives out a shoot every 5 to 7 days depending on the field, at the same time, every new shoots becomes a mother within ten days of her arrival and continues to provide a short every 5 to 7 days thereafter. This process continues on every shoot. Consequently, the single sapling planted by you multiplies into several plants within her life time and delivers higher yield to the farmer.
Why do you need higher space between plants?
It is not enough to have high shoots alone. Unless, the shoots receive adequate sunlight and air, the root base can not grow adequately. Only when the root base of the plants increases significantly, the plants tend to be healthier and begin to deliver higher yield. With greater spacing there is increased air circulation which in turn reduces pest attack.
Why do we need to practice shallow planting?
Shallow planting will ensure aeration to the root zone. This will spur the shooting activity in the plant. Hence, it is recommended to plant the sapling within 1 to 2 cm deep and not more.
Why do we need to dry the field before every watering?
This needs to be done to increase the aeration in the root zone of the paddy plant to spur greater activity. However, once we enter the stage of maturity, we should not drain the water completely but we need to ensure a thin layer of water in the field continuously.
If we drain the field regularly then would it not increase the growth of weeds?
Yes, there will be an amount of weed growth. But remember, weeds are wealth. Integrate the weed plants in the soil and convert them into food for the plant at regular intervals. For this use mechanical weed removers regularly starting 10 th day of transplantation for four times. The gap between every weeding operation is to be about 12 days. What is most important in this operation is not only integrating the weeds into the fields by ploughing them back and but also increasing the aeration of the soil.
Where can we integrate the Palekar’s Zero Budget Natural farming in the SRI method and reap greater benefits?
To begin with, while preparing the field, apply 400 litres per acre of Jivamirtha on final ploughing. This will the food for the microorganisms in the field and will stimulate the growth of micro organisms in the field. You would have already mulched the soil sufficiently in a convenient method chosen by you. The micro organisms in the mulched ingredients will multiply rapidly and assist in mobilizing the food for the plants. When the saplings are in the seed bed, spray 5% solutions of Jivamurtha every alternative day from the fourth day till you collect the saplings for transplantation. Collect the sapling bed and keep the root zone are in a solution of Bijamurtha for 30 minutes and then start the transplantation.
Once you have completed the transplantation, apply Jivamurtha 200 litres per acre once in two weeks. Begin foliar application of 5% solution of Jivamurtha on the 21st day of transplantation. Thereafter once in every fifteen days till entering the stage of maturity continue the foliar application of 7 to 10% solution of the Jivamurtha. On entering the stage of maturity spray 5% solution of sour butter milk or 5% solution of coconut water (not tender coconut, use only mature coconut water) or 5% solution of Dhanya Kura arka. This will ensure preventing of shedding of grains and help in increasing the number of grains as well as the weight per grain. The SRI plants will be strong enough to resist any infestation. However, if you face infestation due to certain peculiar local conditions (like being surrounded with fields cultivating paddy in inorganic method), you may apply neemastra and it should help in controlling the pest attack. Please apply neemastra only if there is an attack of pests. No point in doing it before any attack takes place. If you find heavy attack of pests, you may use the Brahmastra. Normally, you will not have to resort to this as the plants raised in this method would be strong enough to resist pests.