I started the paddy in my 0.6 acres of land. For two years nothing was done on this plot and different types of grass was growing thick, I got it cleared and wanted to do tilling to start with. At some points where there was a cover of dried grass not much grass was there. My plan was to start the paddy after tilling and once the paddy is established avoid tilling in the next cycle onwards. But finally I couldn't get a tiller, hence just cleaned the area with women laborers who cut and cleaned the grass. Even the dried grass was completely removed from the site and left on the sides. One area was prepared with a spade and sown the paddy seeds for transplanting.Transplanted 10 days old paddy, transplanting was tried out since grass were growing at fast rate and hence to give paddy some advantage compared to the grass.
By the time of transplanting grass was already thick and hence just cleared the grass where I had to plant the paddy. This was done in straight line and at 1 feet distance,but most of the places it became close to 1.5 feet, which was a mistake. I just cut and mulched the grass surrounding, it was labor intensive. I completed the
transplanting and after 2 weeks when I visited, the grass was too thick and was completely covering the paddy. I was little disappointed but didn't want to leave it at that point. Again cut and mulched the grass and had to spend long hours of effort for this. If I had tilled, I am sure, paddy would have established first and
by the time grass grows back.
Even after cutting and mulching grass grows very quickly back and rate of growth of grass is greater than paddy and grass easily dominate paddy.
As it stands paddy farming in grass is a challenge..obviously if it can be done easily people would have adopted it in large numbers. The total effort of planting the paddy and cutting the grass and mulching was 25 person days (8 hours a day). But if I had tilled and then planted, it would have been over with 7 or 8 person days.
I am not going to leave my no-till paddy at this point, but will continue with my experiments in a small area (0.2 acres) of the land and will go for tilling in the rest of the area as of now. I also wanted to try some tall varieties of paddy which can compete with grass.
Have a look at the pictures..
Here are some inputs from different people..mainly from Fukuoka mailing list
Grass which is growing in the paddy field is of rice family (monocot) only. It will be very difficult to establish the rice in it. Grass is already learned to grow in your field. But not rice. So it dominating. First you establish the cover crop (example: Black eyed pea (Malayalam : Dolichos catjang, Kannada: alasandi, Marati: Chavali, Hindi: Lobia) which is grow by dominating the existing grass. Complete the many cycles of such a cover crop till gross may get week. The selection of cover crop is very imported. It should grow by dominating existing grass and must be friend of rice. Any of locally available legume family will do best for rice and dominate the grass. Once legumes dominates in the field then it's ready for rice sowing. Either by
seed ball or transplanting. At transplanting time strong legume should be old age and week. The cover crop would cut and mulch the field. You can sow rice with any of the mild legume like methi or clover type. I have shared some of the photos which shows the legumes in grass or grass family plant.
This is good but if the grass is a type with a running root system you
are going to get much faster results by tilling. Mulch from just growing
a cover crop and mowing it probably wouldn't be an effective method of
suppressing this grass which apparently is very vigorous. You would need
something besides mulch to blanket the ground. If you have access to
large amounts of cardboard that would reduce the mass of organic matter
needed dramatically. Newspaper up to 40 sheets thick would also work.
Need to put the layers down so they are interlocking or the grass will
push up through the cracks.