To address the declining ground water issue and to ensure that farmers are economically benefitted from the paddy season, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) experts say farmers must sow its latest paddy variety 'PR 124' released this year after five-year research on it.
It is disease resistant, can save about 10% water, takes only 135 days to mature and its yield per acre is higher as compared to various other paddy varieties, they said.
"First of all, the farmers must understand that with the passage of time, ground water table is declining and rice season consumes a lot of water but this issue can be addressed if we switch to those varieties which consume less water. PR 124 stands on the top in this scenario as it only takes about 135 days to mature while the other varieties take 165 or more days to mature.
As per the research, out of each acre of this variety, a lot of water can be saved. Secondly, it is a disease resistant variety which can save farmers from low yield. Thirdly and most importantly, the yield per acre will be 30.5 quintals per acre,"said Rajinder Kaur Kalra, head of extension education department, PAU, whose department is currently running campgains across the state to make farmers aware of the benefits of this new variety.
JS Dhiman, additional director of research, said, "Due to early maturity of this variety, it will clear the fields many weeks early as compared to other varieties and as it is disease resistant, there will be a lesser need of insecticides and pesticides. In other words, it can save money and prove more beneficial."
Didar Singh Bhatti, associate director of extension education and a soil scientist, suggested that in order to save water, farmers must use PAU's tensiometer -a device that can help farmers save from excessive irrigation. "It is a simple device that can be installed in the field which gives an indication about exact water required. This saves 25-30% of water. Each year, usually 67% of the state's irrigation water is used in the rice season. On other hand, farmers must give a gap of two to three days while watering the fields as excess water can affect the crop's maturity. Thirdly, before sowing, the field must be precisely levelled,"advises Bhatti.
PAU recommends to begin with transplantation by mid June. The seeds for PR 124 are available not only at PAU but also at its Krishi Vigyan Kendras and research stations located across the state.
Average decline in ground water according to PAU
1980-1990: 20 cm per year
1990-2000: 25 cm per year
2000-2005: 90 cm per year
2005-2008: 75 cm per year
2008-2013: 45 cm per year