Introduction to Organic Paddy Farming in India
Paddy plant is an annual warm-season grass having flat leaves, round culms, and terminal panicles. Paddy is the world’s most important food crop and dietary staple, ahead of bananas, wheat, and corn. Paddy is the main crop that receives the maximum quantity of pesticides (17 to 18%) and fertilizers (40%) and these practices pose major challenges in organic rice farming for pest and nutrient management. Paddy is the name of the crop and rice are the grains got from Paddy. Rice is obtained from Paddy by removing the husk from Paddy. When Paddy grains are milled, rice is obtained.
A Step by Step Guide to Organic Paddy Farming, Cultivation Practices in India
Paddy Distribution in India
The main important rice-growing states in India are Bihar, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Assam, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka, etc.
Several Types of Rice Varieties
Several types of rice varieties are consumed in our country Basmati, Red, Jasmine, Parboiled, White, Brown, and Sticky Rice. Of these, White and Basmati Rice are the ones that are most favored in the country. Paddy is a flexible crop and can be cultivated in a variety of climates, be it plains, or the mountains and hence it can be grown as a Kharif crop or as a Rabi crop. Though the primary season is Kharif and hence a maximum of the Rice sowing is done in June to October, and for the Rabi, the sowing time is November to February. Simultaneously, the harvesting happens in November-December for the Kharif, and March-June for the Rabi. The states that cultivate rice for the Rabi season are Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Assam, West Bengal, etc. Since rice is generally a Kharif crop, hence majority of rice production in the rest of India is in the Kharif season.
Selection of Seeds for Organic Paddy Farming
To achieve better crop yield in the cultivation of Paddy, using quality seeds is an important factor. So, proper care has to be taken in choosing seeds of the best quality. Much of the success in raising healthy seedlings based on the quality of seed. Seeds planned for sowing must satisfy the following requirements;
- The seed must be clean and free from obvious mixtures of other seeds.
- It must be mature, well developed, and plump in size.
- The seed must be free from obvious signs of age or bad storage.
- It must have a high germinating capacity
Organic Soil Preparation for Paddy Farming
In Paddy cultivation, it is always good to study the nature, type, and nutrient content of the soil before adding nutrients. This entire activity can be done by having soil samples tested in a soil-testing laboratory. A Paddy needs to retain water well. Preferably, soil wants to include around 50% clay content. And also, soil underlain with an impervious hardpan or clay-pan helps to retain water. Topsoil must be ideally 18 to 23 cm deep. Manure can be applied based on the potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus content of the soil. In Paddy cultivation, the yield will be high when the pH level of the soil is between 5 and 6.5. If the pH level of the soil is below 5 or above 9, the yield will be poor. Alluvial soil, clayey and sandy clay soils are best suitable for Paddy cultivation.
From the day of the sowing period till the harvest period, the plants take in some nutrients from the soil. It is so important to replace the used nutrients in the soil for the next season crop and to hold soil fertility. The nutrients required by the plants can be supplied from organic sources such as green manure, green leaf manure, farmyard manure, vermicompost, and biofertilizers.
Soil Fertility Management in Organic Paddy Farming
In organic Paddy cultivation, the application of chemical fertilizer is banned, it is suggested growers select a natural fertile land for cultivation. This early selection provides an advantage in maintaining leverage of quality and quantity. Moreover, growers must understand the proper soil maintenance and management of soil fertility for the sustainable production of organic Paddy. The followings are the references for soil fertility management as follows;
- No burning of remaining straws and tillers, in addition to any other organic materials in the rice field. This will cause losses of beneficial microorganisms and organic matters.
- Growers may apply organic matters into the rice field for soil improvement frequently.
- Increase organic matters in soil by growing leguminous crops.
- The rice field will not be left idle after harvesting and before planting rice. The area must be covered with leguminous crops and others, such as Cowpea, Jack bean or Sword bean, Indian hemp, and Sesbania ristrata.
- Soil analysis must be done yearly. Adjust the soil pH level to 5.5-6.5. In the case of high acidic soil, it is suggested to use marl or wood ash.
The atmosphere contains around 78% nitrogen. In Paddy cultivation, some of the microbes that are usually used for the purpose include Phosphobacteria, Azotobacter, and Azospirillum. They not only decrease the cultivation cost of using chemical fertilizers but also increase the yield and the fertility of the soil.
Plant growth regulators are;
Panchagavya – Panchagavya is a growth regulator produced from a combination of 5 products found from the cow fermented along with a few other bioproducts. For coarse varieties, one spray of 3% Panchagavya must be given in the booting and tillering stage. For fine varieties, one spray of 3% Panchagavya should be given in the booting stage.
Amirthakaraisal – Around 1,250 liters of Amirthakaraisal must be mixed with irrigation water for a one-hectare crop. When it is used as a spray, 25 liters are essential. This gives good yield and improves soil fertility.
Selection of Seed in Organic Paddy Framing
In Paddy cultivation, seed selection plays a major role. The seeds selected for cultivation must be of uniform size, age, and free of contaminants. They must also have good germination capacity.
Spacing Requirements in Organic Paddy Farming
For normal sown crops, the suggested spacing between rows is 20 to 22.5 cm. When sowing is delayed, a closer spacing of 15-18 cm must be adopted.
The Seed Rate and Seed Treatment in Organic Paddy Farming
For one acre of land, 8kg seeds are sufficient for planting.
Seed treatment helps to increase the germination potential, vigour, and resistance to disease and pests. Below are the different methods of Paddy seed treatment;
Soaking the Seeds in Water
Tie the seeds in a cloth bag or small gunny bag and soak it in water for 12 hours. After that, you can remove the bag from the water and cover those seeds with a moist gunny bag. On the next day, soak the Paddy seeds in water for 8 hours again. After that, take away the seeds from the water and sow them in the nursery. This method helps to increase the germination capacity of the seeds.
Using Cow Dung Solution
Treating Paddy seeds in a cow dung solution increases their germination. Take 2 liters of cow urine and half kg of fresh cow dung and dilute them with 5 liters of water. 10 to 15 kg seeds first Soak in water for 10 to 12 hours and then in the cow dung solution for 5 to 6 hours. After that, dry the seeds in the shade before sowing them in the nursery.
Using Goat Dung Solution
Treating 30-day old seeds for one day in a goat dung solution improves their germination.
Using Cow’s Urine Solution
In 2.5 liters of water, dilute 500 ml of cow’s urine. Tie the seeds in small bags and soak that seeds in the urine solution for half an hour. Before sowing, dry the seeds in the shade.
Methods of Organic Paddy Cultivation
Below are the methods of Paddy cultivation in India;
1. Broadcasting method
Paddy seeds are sown broadcast by hand. This method is mostly used in those areas which are relatively dry and less fertile and do not have sufficient workers to work in the fields. It is the simplest method needing minimum input but its yields are also minimum.
2. Drilling method
Two persons do the ploughing of land and sowing of seeds. This method is generally confined to peninsular India.
3. Transplantation method
This method is practiced in areas of abundant rainfall, fertile soil, and a plentiful supply of labor. To start with, seeds are sown in the nursery, and seedlings are prepared. After 4 to 5 weeks of the time, the seedlings are uprooted and planted in the field which has already been prepared for the purpose. The complete process is done by hand. So, it is a very difficult method and needs heavy inputs. But simultaneously it gives some of the highest yields.
4. Japanese method
This method comprises the use of high yielding varieties of seeds, sowing the seeds in a raised nursery-bed, and transplanting the seedlings in rows to make fertilizing and weeding easy.
Germination Test in Organic Paddy Farming
The germination test is the most important quality test. It is used for evaluating the planting value of a seed lot. Below are the several ways of performing a germination test in Paddy farming;
- In a white cloth tie a handful of Paddy seeds, soak it in water for 12 hours, and kept in a dark place for 24 hours. On the next day, check the germination percentage. Tie Paddy straw together to make it into a mat and keep the seeds in the center of the mat. Then roll and tie it. Dip those Paddy seeds in water for a minute and transfer the seeds to straw. After completion of 24 hours, count the seeds that have germinated.
- First, take a wet gunny bag, fold it properly, put the seeds in between the two layers, and place the bag in the dark for a day. On the next day, check the germination.
Process of Planting in Organic Paddy Farming
The water depth in the Paddy is increased as the rice seedlings grow and then slowly lowered in increments until the field is dry when the rice is ready to be harvested. In the growing season, sometimes the water is drained so the field can be weeded and the soil aerated and then water is put back in.
After several weeks completely drain out the water from the Paddy field and the soil around the rice is dry. In several places in India, rice is still harvested with a sickle and bundled into sheaves, then threshed by cutting the top inch or so of the stalks with a knife, and take away the grains by slapping the stalks over propped up boards. For few days spread them on large sheets and left to dry on the ground, before being taken to the mill to be processed. In several villages around the world, farmers generally help each other to harvest their crops.
There are several types of harvesting machines available at the market. Some mechanical rice transplanters and diesel-powered rototiller-tractors are available with harvesting attachments. For harvesting the Paddy, large machines are not used because they cannot manoeuvre around the Paddy without messing them up. Large machines require long tracts of uniform land to do their job efficiently.
Irrigation Requirements for Organic Paddy Farming
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Paddy can grow in either a dry or a wet setting. In global rice production around 75% comes from irrigated rice systems because most rice varieties express their full yield potential when the water supply is sufficient. Especially, in cooler areas, during late spring, water functions as a heat-holding medium and creates a much milder environment for rice growing. A pond can hold irrigation water to use in the summer when water demand is the maximum.
Organic Nutrient Management in Paddy Framing
In organic systems, nutrient management aims to enhance the use of on-farm resources and minimize losses. Several organic materials like vermicomposting, biogas slurry, farmyard manure, compost, green manures, crop residues, biofertilizers, and cover crops are a valuable source of nutrients to improve the growth and yield attributes, yield, nutrient uptake, soil fertility, and grain quality.
Organic Manures in Paddy Farming;
Some types of organic manure used in rice cropping are farmyard manure, green manure and organic compost.
Below are the different types of organic fertilizer and naturally produced organic fertilizers;
(1) Compost – Compost must be produced in the field. To speed up the decomposition process, suitable microorganisms can be added. The compost must be kept under shade to avoid nutrient losses caused by sunlight and rain.
(2) Animal manure – After rice harvesting in a rural farm, while cattle are allowed to graze in the Paddy field, their dung or dropping will be mixed with plant materials to increase organic matter into the soil.
(3) Green manure – The popular legumes to be grown in Paddy field are Sesbania, Indian hemp, Cowpea or Southern pea, and Sward bean. Two months before growing rice, legume planting must be started to produce adequate nitrogen and bio-mass. At the beginning of the flowering stage or after 45 to 60 days of planting, plough the field to incorporate plant materials into the soil. Before planting rice, leave it to decompose for 7 days. If the legume is not growing healthy, maybe resulting in insufficient nutrients and bio-mass, in that case, just apply compost and/or manure that are free from antibiotics and chemicals. The source of legume seeds, manure, compost, and other addictive substances, as well as the amount used and the soil fertility management monitoring, will be checked and recorded.
Organic Pest and Disease Control in Paddy Framing
The best principles used for pest control in the production of organic Paddy;
- Use Paddy varieties resistant to insects, diseases, and other pests and suitable to the particular rice-growing area.
- Apply suitable cultural practices, such as land preparation, seed rate, planting date of the season and spacing, crop rotation is must and should to cut life cycle of diseases, insects and other pests, the maintenance of soil fertility and the balance of nutrient along with water management for better growth of healthy rice plants. Such cultural practices thus decrease the damage caused by insects, diseases, and other pests.
- Manage the environmental setting of the field negative for pest infestation such as disposing of infected plant debris by using non-chemical treated Sulphur powder and weeding.
Managing the Disease and Pest Control in Paddy Farming;
- Grind one kg of garlic and dilute in 1 liter of kerosene. Keep it overnight and filter it. After that mix in 200 liters of water and spray to control green leafhopper and brown planthopper.
- 4 kg of the rhizome of Alpinia galanga + 4 kg of neem leaves + 4 kg of citronella grass is chopped and ground in a mortar. After that, mix in 40 lit of water and leave it for a day. Dilute this solution with water at a 1:60 ratio to control leaf-folder and stem borer.
- Ducks are permitted inside the fields after the harvest of the rice crops. The ducks feed on insects and snails found on the boundary.
When and How to Harvest Paddy
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The better-quality and maximum quantity of Paddy depend on the harvesting of the crop at the right maturity stage. Harvesting of Paddy is the process of collecting the mature Paddy crop from the field. Based on the variety, around 115 to 120 days after crop establishment a Paddy crop generally reaches maturity.
Harvesting activity mainly contains cutting, stacking, handling, threshing, cleaning, and hauling. Best harvesting methods can help minimize grain damage, deterioration, and maximize grain yield. Harvesting can be performed mechanically or manually. Manual harvesting is common and involves cutting the Paddy crop by using simple hand tools like knives and sickles.
Manual harvesting is effective when a crop has fallen over. Though, it is labor-intensive. Normally, it needs 40 to 80 man-hours per hectare in manual harvesting, and also it takes additional labour to manually collect and haul the harvested crop. Mechanical harvesting can be done by using reapers but is not so common due to the availability and cost of machinery. After completion of cutting, the rice must be threshed to isolate the grain from the stalk and cleaned. Threshing can be done by machine or hand.
Average Yield in Organic Paddy Framing
The average yield per acre of Paddy on an organic farm was 25 to 27 quintals.
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