To check the depleting water table in the state, the Punjab agriculture department is asking farmers to go in for direct sowing of rice (DSR). For promoting DSR, agriculture officer Dr Sarbjit Singh launched a special education programme for farmers by initiating this process on two acres of land in Uppli village.
"This method neither decreases yield nor the quality of the grain. Instead, it gives a better yield, saves water, costs less and prevents soil exhaustion," said Singh.
"This method may require extensive use of herbicides to prevent the occurrence of weeds, but advantages outweigh smaller complaints," Singh added.
Singh said, "Paddy is not a fish, which can survive only in water, but an amphibian, that can flourish both on land and in water,"
Singh said under this method, the first watering process takes places soon after seeding, second watering after three days and third after 7 days. He said this technique saves up to 20 per cent water and the maturity period of the crop gets reduced by 10 days that enables farmers to make the land ready for succeeding crop early.
"Paddy will be seeded in about one lakh hectares in the district. Our target is to bring at least 1,000 hectares under DSR," Singh said.
Traditionally, paddy is grown by raising seedlings in a nursery and then saplings are transplanted after four weeks. The saplings are allowed to grow and fields are kept under three to four inches of water, to reduce the growth of weeds. This 'puddle irrigation' needs a lot of water. Since paddy cultivation is water-intensive, this has resulted in a decline of the water table in the state.