Adopting latest rice planting systems
Dr Sardar Riaz A. Khan
RICE an important food crop
and one of the main export items accounts for 6.1 per
cent of the value-added in agriculture and 1.3 per cent
to the GDP. The country in respect to area under rice
(paddy) ranks 10th in the world and 14th for yield per
ha. The yield gap and world ranking suggests poor rice
production system which needs immediate attention of the
is one of the highest water requirement crops depending
on early and late maturing varieties. Course varieties
are early maturing while fine basmati varieties are late
maturing. It may be pointed out that of the total area,
62 per cent is under basmati, 27 per cent under Irri
course varieties, and 11 per cent under others.
About 96 per cent basmati rice is grown in the Punjab as
environment over there is suitable in maintaining the
quality and aroma of basmati rice. Although, its yield
is much lower than Irri but the demand is high in the
national and international markets. Most of the farmers
prefer to grow basmati rice despite low yield, high
production cost and intense water requirement.
One kilogram rice is produced with about 25,000 litres
of water while in China and India five and two kg of
rice is produced respectively with the same quantity of
water. The cost of rice planting and irrigation
efficiency could be improved by following improved
The traditional rice planting system comprises puddling
method that requires 10 to 20cm of standing water
throughout its growing season resulting in higher water
use than actually required. The problem of labour and
expenditure has been aggravated due to the
industrialization and urbanization. Lower plant
population is also one of the main constraints in
obtaining high yield under conventional planting.
However, a number of planting systems such as parachute
rice transplanting technique, the SRI-method, the
Chinese technologies, planting rice under plastic film
cover, double cropping, hybrid planting, the Chinese
rice transplanter, and directing seeding are other
alternate systems which reduce cultivation cost, labour
and water needs of the crop.
The Directorate of Agriculture, On Farm Water
Management, Punjab in collaboration with the Pakistan
Agricultural Research Council introduced the Chinese
Parachute Rice transplanting technology in 2000 which
takes 20-25 days to attain the seedling height of about
20cm as against 30-40 days. Plastic trays with 1.25cm
deep plugs are used for raising the nursery.
About 2-3 healthy seeds are put in each plug of the tray
followed by covering with sieved soil. A solo spray
machine is used for throwing seedlings in such a way
that proper quantity of soil surrounds the roots of each
seedling in the form of a ball. Thus, parachute
technology not only saves land and labour but also
promotes early tillering.
The Directorate in collaboration with the University of
Agriculture Faisalabad initiated the SRI technology.
Initially farmers were not convinced but after
witnessing the superiority of standing crop their
confidence grew significantly. This technology increases
production and raises the productivity of land, labour,
water and capital.
Plants grown in close contact with weeds have to compete
with weeds for nutrients, water and sunlight. In this
technique seedlings are spaced by maintaining the plant
to plant distance 20, 25, 30, and 40cm preferably in
square pattern giving more access to sunlight and air
above the ground.
China produces double cropping of rice using short
duration and high yielding varieties. Pakistan should
also study economic potentials of taking two crops of
rice in regions with longer growing season. China is
also growing high yielding and environment-resistant
hybrid rice and has introduced five such varieties in
Sindh. Minfal should collect information about its
performance and study the potential of their cultivation
in other provinces, as well.
Three technical reforms have taken place in China which
are popularisation of dwarf varieties, reforming the
cropping system by planting double cropping of rice and
popularisation of hybrid which increases the average
yield from 1,500kg per ha in 1950s to nearly 4,000kg per
China grows rice seedlings under plastic film covers
which helps sowing and transplanting of seedlings to
evade the attack of cold waves and low temperature in
early spring in colder regions. Pakistan should also
study the potential of this technology in Azad Kashmir,
the NWFP, the Northern areas and parts of Balochistan
having cold waves and low temperatures in spring.
The Chinese trasnsplanter helps in transplanting
seedlings mechanically on large area in short time thus
saving the cost of labour, besides planting the crop
earlier providing it longer growing period. Pakistan
should take into account its potentials.
China uses Azolla and the Indian Punjab Dhaincha as
green manure crops which improve organic matter in the
soil and physical conditions. It not only increases the
yield of rice but of the following wheat crop as well.
Rice is transplanted immediately after burying green
manure crops to avoid delay in sowing.
The decreasing water resources and increasing labour
cost may force farmers to adopt alternate ways. Direct
seeding of germinated or ungerminated seeds is one of
the options. It is getting popular because of economic
Although transplanting gives more yield than direct
seeding, comparable yields with transplanting method can
be achieved if direct seeded crop is properly managed.
Seed priming technology is being used to increase the
yield of direct seeded crop.
Scientists at the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad
have established that osmohardening with calcium
chloride in fine rice and osmohardening with potassium
chloride in course rice which are more effective in
The Directorate of On-Farm Water Management, Punjab has
adopted conservation approach rather than conventional
by developing zero tillage technology, furrow–bed
planting, parachute and now KRL-rice transplanting
techniques. It should also study the potential of
various rice planting techniques as stated earlier.
Besides other advantages these techniques may also help
in saving water.
Courtesy: The DAWN