Saving Water in Rice Cultivation : Technological Options
Amod K. Thakur & Rajeeb K. Mohanty
Rice, a global food grain is grown in 114 countries with 90% of world's rice is produced and consumed in Asia. The demand for rice increases with population, which is expected to rise by a further 38% within 30 years, according to the United Nations.
To save water in rice cultivation, farmers can use following technological options during land preparation, before main crop establishment, and actual crop growth period.
Land preparation lays the foundation for the whole cropping season and it is important to plan and adopt proper water management during land preparation itself. It includes field channels, land leveling, tillage and puddling, and bund preparation.
In India, most of the rice fields get irrigation water from plot to plot (flooding method of irrigation) due to absence of field channels and the amount of water flowing in and out of rice field cannot be controlled and field specific water management is not possible. Mostly farmers may not be able to drain their fields before harvest because water keeps flowing in from other fields. The water that continuously flows through rice fields also removes nutrients from the field. Constructing separate channels to convey water to and from each field (or to a small group of fields) greatly improves the individual control of water and is the recommended practice in any type of irrigation system.
A well leveled field is a prerequisite for proper water management and good crop. Unleveled fields results in uneven crop emergence and uneven early growth, uneven fertilizer distribution, and extra weed problems.