Farmers are unwilling to adopt the direct seeding of rice (DSR) technique as an alternative to sowing of paddy with traditional puddling due to an “abundant availability of water”, a study conducted by the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has revealed.

The study, funded by the Punjab State Farmers’ and Farm Workers’ Commission, focused on the paddy crop pattern in 2020. The DSR helps save water consumption by at least 15% when compared to the traditional method and also saves in terms of labour cost. “Besides abundance of irrigation water, the farmers’ trust in the well-established paddy transplantation and no experience of DSR were also seen as the reasons behind non-adoption of the new method,” adds the report.

Farmers’ commission member secretary BS Sidhu said it is not easy to bring behavioural changes as the traditional method has been practise for years. “The new method is a paradigm shift and it will take some time for the paddy growers to adopt it,” he added.

Last year, paddy was sown through DSR method over 5 lakh hectare area in the state. The results are not encouraging this time as the agriculture department is way behind its targets of doubling the area.

As per information gathered by the Ludhiana-based Remote Sensing Centre, the area recorded under DSR is more or less the same when compared with the previous season with the sowing nearing end.

As part of the study, the experts gathered data from 11 districts — Hoshiarpur, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Sangrur, Ferozepur, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Faridkot, Muktsar and Bathinda. The study covered 2 blocks with the highest reported area under DSR and 5 villages in each district where the method was majorly adopted, covering 110 villages of 22 blocks of the state.

Of the 1,650 farmers approached for the study, 1,100 were those who adopted the DSR. The report concludes that more educated farmers who were associated with organisations such as kisan clubs and cooperatives tended to adopt the DSR method

They are medium to large farmers with an average holding of 22 acres.

The highest concentration of DSR was reported in south-western districts — Muktsar (72.5%), Bathinda (61.4%), Sangrur (57.3%) and Faridkot (56.0%). In Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Ferozepur, Ropar and Fatehgarh Sahib, the coverage was 40-50% while in Ludhiana and Jalandhar districts, it was between 30% and 40%.

Three districts — Jalandhar, Ropar and Ludhiana — reported 70-80% of the DSR area that was replaced with traditional sowing last year. Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur, Muktsar, Bathinda, and Ferozepur districts recorded 35-60% such area.

Poor initial germination, high weed infestation, poor crop look and the problem of rodents were among the primary reasons for ploughing of the area under DSR and switching to transplanting of paddy.

Source: 14 July, 2021, Hindustan Times