SRI method yields rich dividends

AGRICULTURE

RICH HARVEST: The SRI method of cultivation taken up in Tumkur district’s  M Gollahalli village. photo by the author

M Gollahalli village is 20 km from Tumkur. The Gollahalli tank in the same village served the water needs of villages in the vicinity. The community depended on water from the tank for agriculture and other domestic purposes.

Farmers of the tank command used water-intensive methods of paddy cultivation, according to which it was imperative to supply fields with water from the time the paddy saplings are in the earliest, nursery stage, right up to the time of harvest. This resulted in a massive wastage of water. Additionally, stagnant water is known to reduce soil fertility and increase salinity in the soil.

In order to motivate people to adopt less water-intensive measures, the community-based tank development programme of the Jala Samvardhane Yojana Sangha (JSYS) Karnataka introduced SRI (System of Rice Intensification) method in Gollahalli and has encouraged the community to implement it.

The Sangha has also trained farmers on various aspects of the SRI method. This method increases the yield as well as saves water. 

The SRI method of paddy cultivation is unique and has multiple benefits. The quantity of seeds used for cultivation through this method is considerably less.

There is major saving on water and the overall expenditure is low compared to the traditional form of paddy cultivation.  

Traditional vs SRI method

As part of the traditional, transplantation method, a separate nursery bed is prepared for transplantation and water is allowed to stand in it. It is ploughed two-three times a month before transplantation and seedlings that are 25 to 30 days old are transplanted.

Transplanting is an ad-hoc process and no prescribed distance is maintained between seedlings. Three to ten seedlings are transplanted at each point. Approximately 25-30 kg of seeds are used for sowing per acre. The plot is watered on alternate days and the field is covered by two inches of water. Manual weeding is necessary periodically. The yield through this method is around 25 quintals per acre. 

Many benefits of the method

By contrast, under the SRI method of paddy cultivation, 14-16 day-old seedlings are used for transplantation. A distance of 9” x 9” between the plant and the demarcation of the row is maintained. Only one or two seedlings are planted in a pit. Maintaining a distance between pits is very important. 
 
The seedlings are irrigated lightly once in five days. Fifteen days after transplantation, the healthy seedling in each pit is retained and the other is removed. Weeding is done by way of a weeder, which does not require much labour and costs less.

“We had almost given up paddy cultivation because of lack of water for the last two-three years,” says Paramashivayya, a farmer from Gollahalli.

“We were given training last year on growing paddy with less water, and have begun to cultivate it again,” he adds. While Paramashivayya does not know what the method is called, he has in-depth knowledge about its various aspects and knows the benefits associated with adopting the method to cultivate paddy.
 
Greater yields, higher incomes

The University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) conducted a study on demonstration plots where the two methods were compared on several parameters like yield, water consumption, seed requirement, etc. Differences were recorded; analysis was also done to compare income and expenditure.

The popularity of the SRI method is increasing every year. After it was introduced in Gollahalli for the first time in 2010, the yield increased from 12 ha to 25 ha.

While the SRI method was introduced in Gollahalli to begin with, farmers from neighbouring villages heard about it and volunteered to adopt the method on their fields as well. It is now being practised in Ajjenahalli, Awalipalya and other villages.

“We are very happy growing paddy through the SRI method. It is beneficial to us in so many ways. The greatest advantage is that we no longer need huge quantities of water to grow paddy and are grateful to JSYS for having shown us a new path towards prosperity,” says Hanumantarayappa, Lakshmipati and others of Gollahalli. 

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