Lowland rain fed

It is recommended that the land be ploughed and harrowed to a finer tilth before the rains. Some temporary bands are then created around the land to retain water in the plot when it rains to ensure that the soil is constantly moist. The seeds are then soaked overnight immediately after the rains and planted the following day. Planting is done by drilling at a spacing of 20cm or 25cm. During planting, some DAP fertilizer is applied at the rate of 50 kilograms per acre. The seedlings are later on thinned on the 10th day depending on their condition. The 1st thinning is done to remove those seedlings that are out of the line. Second and third thinning is done between the 11th and 14th days respectively and it is done to ensure that the seedlings are at their right spacing. Weed control will be done manually by use of a jembe or a hoe. Fungicides and pesticides are applied as per recommendation. The bands around the crop should be free from weeds in order to keep away rodents.

 

Upland rain fed

This is done in the same way like the above except that the land is not banded but is well prepared to a fine tilth. Dry planting can also be done but has to be well timed to coincide with the onset of the rains. Fertilizer application can be done through basal application with DAP at the rate of 50 kilograms per acre. Top dressing should be done at 20 days after germination. This is done preferably in the long rains since during the short rains, a few farmers will plant the crop and it will make it difficult to keep away birds.

-          The components of land preparation

The components of land preparation involve bush clearing to remove shrubs and stumps. The land is then ploughed using a disc plough. The bands and water channels as well access roads are established. For a lowland irrigated field, lowland rain fed and upland rain fed, the processes thereafter follow the same way as for land preparation above.

-          An overview of tillage

Land preparation covers a range of soil disturbances from zero tillage which minimizes soil disturbance through to a totally puddle soil which actually destroys soil structure. Since the soil is a complex by biophysical medium having both living and non-living components, any tillage operation has more than one effect. The tillage requirements will vary according to the cropping system to be used. A good example is the comparison between the lowland and upland systems. Typically for lowland rice, fields are puddle in part to destroy structure and develop a hard pan to reduce water loss through deep percolation. Such a loss of structure and the formation of the physical barrier are totally undesirable in an upland situation.  

-          Primary Tillage

This is the first operation to be undertaken in the land to open it up for cultivation. It is the most aggressive tillage operation. It is normally undertaken when the soil is wet enough to allow the field to be ploughed and strong enough to give reasonable levels of traction or grip to the tractor. This can be immediately after the crop harvest or at the beginning of the next wet season. Primary tillage are to till the soil to attain a reasonable depth of 15 cm with varying clod sizes, kill weeds by burying them and exposing the roots, prevent soil erosion and encourage water accumulation and to chop and incorporate crop residues.

-          Primary Tillage Implements

The following are the primary tillage implements:

Tractors

Oxen

These are sources of power. The implements include the plough (mould board and disc) and chisel plough.

-          Secondary Tillage

Secondary tillage is the second operation that is carried out in the land after primary tillage. It is carried out to achieve the following:

-          Reducing the clod size

-          Weed control

-          Incorporation of fertilizers

-          Puddling

Leveling the soil surface

-          Secondary Tillage Implements

The following is the list of the secondary tillage implements

-          Harrow

-          Spring tine harrow

-          Leveler

-          Puddler

-          Spike tooth harrow

-         Rotary tiller

-          Upland Tillage

Upland tillage is carried out in areas where crops are grown in aerated conditions. Usually there is no free standing water in the fields. It is suitable for planting the upland rain fed rice varieties. 

-          Tillage Patterns

There are three patterns of tillage. This are circular tillage pattern, up and back or headland pattern and the third is the land system. The circular pattern involves the machine working along a boundary and continues along the other boundaries of the land returning to its starting point. The pattern works from the outside to the centre of the field and is commonly used with mould board and offset disc ploughs. The up and back pattern involves the field being ploughed in runs that are parallel to one another. It starts at one boundary of the field and end at the opposite with turns being made on the headland. The land systems require ploughing to start from the centre of the field and works out to the edges. This system is mostly preferred as it does not leave a dead furrow at the centre of the field.

-          Creating a 'Hard Pan'

A hard pan is a crust that is formed or an impervious layer that is formed to stop deep percolation of water below the root zone of the crop after successive cultivation at the same ploughing depth. This will have to be broken down with time in order to enable water and air to get into the deeper layers of the soil. In order to break it down, a chisel plough is used for the purpose.

-          Power Requirements

The power requirements for any tillage equipment will depend on the ploughing depth, soil moisture content as well as the soil texture. Speed of operation on the other hand will have an effect on the power requirements. The actual range of working speed for each operation is relatively constant and therefore the speed effect is minimal.

-         Setting up an implement for use

These are the preparations that are done to the tractor and the implements before they are taken to the field for operation. This should be done to ensure proper working and safety of the implements. Among the operations that are carried out include checking the water level in the tractor, engine oil level, check on battery water, and ensure that the tyres are properly inflated. To the side if the implements, ensure that the bolts and nuts are well tightened, greasing should be done, the implements should be well mounted to the tractor

-         Land Leveling

Refer to the land preparation above

-         Plant Establishment

The rate of plant establishment is usually affected by three factors. These are the quality of seed, environment in which the seed is placed and the manner in which the seed is metered and delivered. The number of plants established and the seedling vigor will affect the competitiveness of the crop against weeds and ultimately determine the final yield potential.

-         Laser Leveling

This involves the rotavating and leveling of a paddy field at the same time. They are mostly preferred because they reduce the number of operation to be carried out in the field. These equipments are however not available as of now. They are only found in IRRI.

Pre-planting

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Seeds of high quality should be true to its kind or variety, contain a minimum of impurities and have high establishment rates in the field. The main criteria for describing seed quality can be considered under the following:

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Growth

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There are five parts in understanding good land preparation. These components are an understanding of the:

  1. role of tillage and land leveling in land preparation
  2. reasons why good land preparation is important

Postharvesting

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Guidelines to proper harvesting:

  • Harvest at the right time with the right moisture content;
  • Avoid delays in threshing after harvesting;
  • Use proper machine settings when using a threshing machine;
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