Thursday, October 8, 2009
The recommendation to deep plough once the Paddy Crop has been harvested
The results of the ploughing after the burning of the straw
This blog is a window of ideas in Agriculture that I discuss as I go along with my farming work and hope to exchange ideas with my readers in improving on my methods and give an insight into some of the practical problems one faces in this regard.
The previous blog entry alludes to the worst harvest I have had to suffer in my 3year experience of being a rice farmer in growing Red Basmati for CIC as an out-grower. I am now more determined than ever to grow the type of rice that I believe will give me the highest yield, and hopefully along with it the best return. I have decided to plant BG352 variety of White rice on my property, the105day variety, and grow Pokuru Samba on my sister’s adjoining land, which is a 120day variety as that would suit the generally wetter fields that she has, as compared with mine that has lower water retention.
The first step in this process is to prepare the soil. The paddy was recently harvested using a combined harvester, for which one pays by the land extent and not by the volume of the crop. So what that means is that even though my yield was a third of the previous season, my charge for the cutting, threshing and bagging was the same.
I attached the double plough onto the Sifang type 12HP hand tractor I have after wetting the fields for a day using the 3inch water pump that runs on the tractor engine. If the fields were not watered, the ground is too hard for the plough to perform. I came across an unexpected problem. I do the deep ploughing once a year, so that the straw in the field can be turned over, and allowed to decay into the soil before preparing the soil for sowing. This decaying process helps in producing fertilizer from the paddy stalks.
The last time I did this was a year ago, where we harvested by cutting the paddy by hand, and then transporting it to a location from where the thresher (known locally as the Tsunami) separated the straw from the paddy. This time, the combine harvester puts back all the excess straw back into the field as soon as it cuts the paddy stalk, cleans it inside, separating the stalk from the paddy while it moves along the field. These harvesters do not bale the straw as is done in the US with wheat and the bales used for cattle feed.
Due to this separated straw being returned to the field, the plough collects the loose straw(not the ‘ipanella’) and makes it impossible to plough as it all clogs up the process. The answer is to set the field ablaze to burn this straw as well as the ‘ipanella’ (the dead plant shorn of paddy stalk) This defeats the soil conditioning objective first set out!
The only way of avoiding the burn is to use 4wheel tractors, which only a farmer with larger fields can possess. Another reason now more than ever, when combine harvesters are the rage here, of the necessity of farmers to work much larger extents both in the interests of economies of scale and better productivity. I therefore make the point that the current farming of small plots is just idiotic, but the government due to the land laws and protecting the so called non existent peasant farmer, does not permit one to increase his land holdings, in a sensible manner. It obviously begs the question; why are we preventing those who want to reduce costs of production from doing so!