Growing rice again, after 36 years - part 1
Growing food is what farming is meant for at its essence.
My dad used to grow paddy until 1980. He had standing crop that year, ready to harvest, but couldn’t harvest on time due to labor shortage. Ripened fruits drop themselves naturally from the plant after their growth (due to ‘abscission’, i.e. cutting themselves away and observed in most plants) and so did rice plants; a part of the crop was shed on ground. We stopped paddy cultivation for the next 36 years. Most rice growers in our region have switched to Areca, the ultimate cash crop, due to multiple reasons, two of which definitely being 1) extreme climatic dependence of rice and the effort involved 2) it’s ever dwindling income, thanks to consumers and governments who want to purchase the food cheaper than its true cost.
But whatever be the situation, the first statement of this article still holds good, growing food is what farming is meant for. Now that we have reasonable cash crop, it is time for us to return to growing our food, our fundamental duty. We are trying it this time again. Though it is too early to write anything about it, I am going to record it here, be it a success or failure.
|Our new paddy field, waiting to give her best|
We have an interesting challenge this time. Growing paddy is completely new to me, nearly forgotten for my dad with a 36 years gap. Our paddy field is a new one, yet to be seasoned for growing rice.
Preparing the land
Growing rice ideally requires the field to have certain traits:
- A fertile rectangular field with high organic matter. Our field is currently too stony with size of stone ranging from pebbles to upto 70+ kgs! We needed to first clean it up
- Well-made bunds to retain water. Bunds require close maintenance to prevent water drainage while holding the crop. We have newly laid bunds, again, with lot of pebbles. This has to be made neat over time.
- Facility to direct water in to the field during shortage and stop it when not required
More requirements may be worth adding to the above list, but at least the above surely exist.
We have currently done the following with the land:
- First round of tillage using JCB to make the earth softer for tractor to handle and remove as many stones as possible before tractor’s arrival
- Krishna and I went a few times early in the morning to the field and did the de-stoning work. It was new for me to work early in the morning. It is much more efficient to start work from 5:45 than starting at 8:30 when sun has already raised to a height
- We then waited for the first rain to arrive and got the second tilling done by the tractor using a cultivator (a kind of tractor-blade). Tractor driver was very helpful to remove many stones which were still left. A good 2 hours of work for Rs 1270 including tractor transportation cost.
The next steps – planting and subsequent are quite involved and require a steep learning curve. I will elaborate them in a sequel to this.
|JCB in the field doing the first tilling|
|After first round of dry tilling|
|Krishna and me, early morning at the field|
|One of the many piles of stone|
|Krishna, weight lifter of great help, unlike our great sports persons|
|Taking a break|
(Sitting on the tractor blade for higher load)
(Unearthing a stone using tractor)