Sunday, March 19, 2017

No-till rice experiment - 2017

In the no-till area, last year I tried cowpea followed by green gram basically to reduce grass weeds. It is not that clean, meaning still there are grass and some other creepers. Anyway, this year planning to do rice cultivation in this field when monsoon starts.

In one area, I dumped some dried leaves in order to control weeds, in another area planning to grow green gram, black gram combination for two months and then start rice. While rice is growing, planning to sow moth beans as a legume which will act as a live mulch. Started to make seed balls so that cover crop can grow with first rain and before grass grows strong.

Here are some photos...

Leaves collected in an old bed sheet..

Moth beans seed

Seed balls of green gram..used hibiscus leave juice as binding agent, it looks to be better...since seed is smooth, with water, soil does not stick well and peels off when dried..

Seed balls made in a basin ...white ant soil powdered using a hammer and then sieved it to get finer particles. Seeds were made wet using Hibiscus leave extract and then soil added slowly and then mixed seeds with soil in the basin, this process continued...1 Kg of green gram seeds were completed in 1.5 hours....

Waiting for rain, got only one or two drizzling...Mean while made seed balls of happy hill rice and wanted to put before the rain starts. When visited the field there were some grass growing, in some areas of the farm, all the grass has dried up, here may be because of no-till more moisture and hence grass still grows. So used my Honda brush cutter and cut the grass and sowed the happy hill rice seed balls and mulched using leaves. Since at this stage, not clear which plan will work, wanted to experiment with many trials. These are the different plans which I can think of now, may change as it goes....

1. The one which I did just now, cut the grass and sown happy hill rice seed balls and wait for rain. Idea of putting seed balls early is to make rice germinate and grow with the first rain, either ahead or along with weeds. 

2. Grow green gram and black gram for 2-3 months, sow seed balls of traditional rice seeds ,then cut and mulch, by this time rain would have started. 

3. Grow forage maize for 2-3 months, sow seed balls of traditional rice seeds,cut and mulch, forage maize is supposed to give better weed control since it decomposes slowly, but whether rice seedlings can push through the mulch to be seen.

In all these cases prepared to do some hand weeding and applying cowdung slurry.

Some photos of the field...

Happy hill rice seed balls, came out quite well... Since seed surface is rough, mud holds seeds well.

Field after cutting grass, sowing happy hill rice seed balls and mulching 

Sowing seed balls well in advance may not work in this climate, since termites are very strong in summer. No seed balls germinated, it may be wise to put seed balls just before the heavy rain.

Sensing that field is not ready for no-till, sowed sunhemp, when grass was already growing. In one part, sowed forage maize, but they are not seen yet.

Some sunhemp plants can be seen in between, hope they will outgrow weeds 

The broad leaf plant is locally called 'Appa' which grows in fertile land.


Sunhemp yet to get a clear lead compared to weeds, hopefully in couple of weeks, they will take the lead. The area seems to be very fertile, because of all the residues. Planning to start the cultivation of rice, in couple of months, just to see how it goes. If it fails, cow pea will be done.

Sunhemp outgrew the weeds, in a few places, they didn't come up and grass were growing. Cut the grass here and sowed cowpea, could have kept some sunhemp seeds and sowed it in places where germination was poor.


Sunhemp growing tall, not sure if the field is ready for rice planting.

Beautiful yellow flowers around..


After 3-4 days of cutting and mulching. I had first sown around 4Kgs of Chitteni rice, this is a 6 month duration rice, which is suitable for 2nd crop and matures only in Feb.

One good thing is that Sunhemp does not regrow and at this point weed control is good. I could have seeded the rice 2 weeks before cutting and then cut and mulched the sunhemp and weeds above this. This would have made sure more seeds germinated, but probably would had to cut and remove the mulch to one side and then very loosely spread it over the germinating seedlings. This is how, Fukuoka san used to do, but was little skeptical about the trampling of seedlings etc.


 Some areas where there is more water, rice is coming up, some areas weeds has taken over...will have to watch and see.

Rain has receded, field is going dry, grasses are giving tough competition, let us see how the fight goes..


 Weeds are becoming more and more stronger...


Again this crop also didn't get enough water and at later stage weeds dominated, so this field also can not be used for 2nd crop rice cultivation, planning to try rice in this field for first crop.

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