Rice Production at KRPL

The Production System. The farm has been developed as a flood production unit. It has 550 paddies of 6 ha each. Each field can receive 90l/s through its infield gate. With the 5cum/sec available we can flood about 80ha in 24 hrs. This means that we can plant at a rate of about 400ha a week if all works at optimum and fields are ready and level. Planting starts on 1 Nov and lasts for 10 weeks. The growth cycle of the plants are between 140—160 days. Harvesting starts when rice is 22% moisture. This is normally around 1 April. Harvesting takes the same time as planting and lasts for 10 weeks. After Harvest we do remedial work of the fields, the canals and the bunds. The remedial work is done with an environmental awareness and we always leave some water flow to sustain the aquatic life in the project boundaries.

We use 3 main production systems on the farm and each has a specific application. The methods are Transplant, Direct Seeding and Air Seeding. Regardless of the seeding system we follow the same land prep regime ein the off season. This is as follows;

a. Level paddies to a tolerance of 1:500 with GPS levellers.
b. Take soil samples.
c. Do corrective actions for fert and in field drains.
d. Do pre-plant burn down

After this has been done we look at each paddy individually and make decisions based on the paddy condition. We have relatively big in field changes iro topsoil and field moisture conditions can vary.

We also consider the types of weeds in the system as we have some uncontrollable wild rices that we cannot control chemically. These fields will go to a Transplant system first until the weed bank is under control. The fields with the most uniform soils goes to direct seeding and the rest to Air seeding when the rains start.

Direct Seeding.

This refers to seed being planted by seed drill into dry soil. The soil is then flooded and drained to allow rice to germinate. This system uses a lot of water—130mm just to germinate the seed. Early in the season there is not always adequate water to allow for this. We do up to 340ha like this only.

After seeding we drain. We will then apply a pre-emergent of pendimethylene (Stomp) and after about 2 weeks we flood again. This systems runs the risk of capping and form time to time a flash flood is required. This system will be phased out as we get better control of the wild rices.

Air Seeding.

This refers to seed being broadcast into a already flooded paddy. The field is then drained to the avg survey level of the field —ie 60% standing water and left. Rice germinates through the shallow water. This system uses the least water as paddies are pre-flooded. This system s critical for us in the beginning of the season before the rivers fill up. Without this the planting program will not have enough water. We do up to 2 000 ha like this. And this is the direction in which the system is moving. This is being increased every year as we get the fields flatter and flatter. The key issue here is flat fields so we don’t get weed germination through dry ground.

After seeding we partially drain. After 18 days we will apply rainbow and 2.4d by air. We then do a top dressing by plane of by AS through the water supply.

 

Transplanting – This refers to seedlings being introduced by hand or mechanically into puddle soil.Transplanting refers the method of production that involves the making of seedplots of seed and then transplanting the seedlings. Before the seedlings are transplanted the soil is puddled – ie made anaerobic—by using rotovators or other implements. This destroys all weeds and makes it difficult for seeds to germinate thus leaving a wet clean paddy to transplant into. This is very labour intensive. One person can plant 1 ha in 21 days thus to plant 3000 ha would take 60 000 people a whole day. In the rainy season in our area everyone plants their own fields so labour is not readily available so at KRPL we use this method in 3 different context s.

  1. For our outgrower scheme
  2. Through Mechanical transplanting
  3. For Seed multiplication and Trials.

 

 

 

 

Transplanting can yield as high as any other method of production. It is a good system. It is reliant on manual labour to seed, weed, hand weed and harvest.

For our outgrower scheme the results are stunning. One person grows about 18ha and they produce some 4,5mt/ha. They have thus elevated beyond the point of subsistence farmers and have joined the real economy.

A transplant cycle is as follows

  • Puddle
  • Sow seedplots with 70kg seed
  • Puddle again after 21 days
  • Transplant by hand immediate after
  • Hand weed or spray
  • Bird scaring
  • Harvest after 140 days

Transplanting can yield as high as any other method of production.   It is a good system.  It is reliant on manual labour to seed, weed, hand weed and harvest.

For our outgrower scheme the results are stunning.    One person grows about 18ha and they produce some 4,5mt/ha.   They have thus elevated beyond the point of subsistence farmers and have joined the real economy.

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