What is SRT?
Saguna Rice Technique is a unique new method of cultivation of rice and related rotation crops without ploughing, puddling and transplanting (rice) on permanent raised beds. This is a zerotill, Conservation Agriculture (CA) type of cultivation method evolved at Saguna Baug, Neral, Dist. Raigad, Maharashtra.
What’s so special about SRT?
The permanent raised beds used in this method facilitates ample of oxygen supply to root zone area while maintaining optimum moisture condition there. The great farmer of Kolhapur Shri. Pratap Chiplunkar said “Stop Ploughing!” We made suitable changes in the conventional rice cultivation to ease farmers’ laborious work and to prevent fertility loss during puddling.
The SRT iron forma (the tool will be better soon) facilitates planting of crop in predetermined distances enabling precise plant population per unit area. Absence of puddling and transplanting of rice makes it possible for “Not dependent on erratic behavior of rain.” This means ‘No more waiting for Rain God to shower just optimum rain for best transplanting operation’. Similarly if rain vanishes for few days during crop season it doesn’t lead to cracking of land or ‘crop kill’ immediately.
Multiple advantages of SRT!
- For not having to do puddling, transplanting and hand hoeing, saves 30% to 40% cost of production & not requiring transplanting saves 50% treacherous labour.
- Loss of valuable silt (about 20%) during puddling can be prevented thus more fertile land can be handed over to next generation.
- Leaves of rice plants on SRT beds seem to be more broader and head more upwards to sunlight than their counterparts in conventional method. They are likely to produce more biomass, means higher yield.
- SRT has ability to bring “Vigorous Uniformity” and higher yields in all soil types even in degraded soils and socio-economic groups. For example a very new farmer and well established awarded farmer and agricultural universities will attain about the same higher yield per unit area.
- Hand hoeing is strictly avoided in SRT. Once again this reduces hard-work and loosening of top soil making it vulnerable for washing away.
- Today’s recommend dose of fertilizer can be brought down considerably.
- A good number of earthworms are noticed on SRT beds during high rainfall days attracting unusual birds to SRT plots. This magic is due to suppressing all green growth with glayphoset, which decays and becomes instant food for the worms. Also ‘No-Till’ prevents destruction of E’worms life. Thus SRT proves to be Eco-friendly Farming. This is big positive gain.
- SRT insists keeping of roots of previous crop in the raised bed. The root network prevents soil from cracking and makes it more spongy. The same roots become valuable source of organic carbon which is uniformly distributed and oxygen pathways to root zone of next crop.
- Avoiding of puddling will drastically reduce diesel consumption, emission of CO2 over thousands of acres of paddy cultivation. Also SRT being aerobic method it will prevent methane generation. Both CO2 and methane are responsible for global warming.
- The traumatic shock caused to the rice seedlings during transplanting is avoided in SRT. This reduces possibility of pest & disease problem.
- Rice crop gets ready 8–10 days earlier. Also it saves time required for soil tilling between two crops. This leaves valuable 10–15 days of crop season for the farmer enabling him to take more than one crop in the same plot in a year.
- SRT is feasible for organic farming method.
- Due to excessive water in low-lying plots removing of harvested paddy from the plot for drying can be avoided with SRT raised beds.
- During milling of paddy, SRT will yield higher percentage recovery of grains.
- Non-use of heavy agricultural machinery for tilling in field will prevent compaction & formation of hard pan of lower strata of soil enabling better percolation of water into dipper soil & permanent establishment of earthworms.
- It is possible to get high returns (more than ₹ 5,00,000 per hector per annum) with crop rotation such as Basamati Rice (PS-5) in Kharif, leafy vegetables in Rabbi, Bold Groundnut (W-66) in Summer, while improving health of the soil.
- This could be the best solution in natural calamities such as hail storm, floods, cyclones, untimely rain-storms, etc. because the crop cycle is shortest (NO TILL) and it involves multiple choices of short-term rotation crops such as pulses, vegetables, onion, sun-flower, groundnuts, and so on.
- Damaged soils can be recovered by SRT, which is caused by lashing, scrubbing & natural calamities, in quickest possible time.
SRT Planting Method:
In this method we have to till the soil and make the raised beds only once. The same permanent beds will be used again and again to grow various rotation crops after rice in Kharif season. Please study the multiple advantages over and again; also try your own permutations and experimentations. But pay real good attention in making these permanent raised beds.
The best time to make these beds is immediately after kharif paddy harvesting, is in October. Good ploughing and tilling can be done with available residual moisture or by giving irrigation. Add desirable and / or available quantity of any organic manure. Finally till it with rotavator or power tiller to make it workable.
Draw parallel lines with help of rope and lime or wood ash at 136 cm i.e 4.5 feet apart. Use tractor drawn ‘Bed maker’ or any other means to open furrows at marked lines and make raised beds.
Make depressions / holes with SRT iron forma on the raised beds. Sow / dibble 2 seeds of either Wal beans (Kokan Wal no. 2) or Gram (Vijay), or bush type Cowpea (Kokan Sadabahar) or Horse Gram (Dapoli no. 1) as per recommended variety and distances. Apply fungicides and / or beneficial microorganisms to the seed as per the agriculture university guidelines. Irrigate plot with best possible available method. 3 to 4 hours later spray the plot with selective weedicide Goal (Oxyfluorfen 23.5% EC) @ 1 ml per litter of water. The crop is ready for harvest till 3rd or 4th week of February. Cut the plants leaving roots and 2 to 3 inches stem on the beds.
Its very important to leave the roots of previous crop in to soil and spray the plot with Glyphoset (15 lit water + 100 ml Glyphoset + about 200 g of sea salt or 150 g of Urea) 2 to 3 days after harvesting.
Summer moong beans are to be planted after the winter crop on the same beds between 25th February to 10th March. SRT iron forma and selective weedicide like Goal are to be used.
Same raised beds are to be used again without any ploughing or puddling or transplanting for next Kharif rice crop.
- Approximately 3–4 days before rain begins, make holes on beds by SRT iron forma and put 3 to 4 treated rice seeds in each hole, press it with mixture of manure or good soil ( 10 Kg. manure and 400 g. Suphala)
- Next day after the first rain spray selective weedicide Goal (Oxyfluorfen 23.5% EC) @ one ml per litter of water.
- At about 4 leaf stage carryout gap filling by using extra seedlings from nearby hills.
- Between 25 to 30 days carryout manual weeding without walking on beds and press a Urea (DAP) brickets or one tea spoonful of Suphala in between 4 hills / plants.
- Soon the plots will start looking very nice. We need to pay attention for control of crabs (press Gliricidia leaves in holes & plug with mud), clean bunds, water levels in the plots and so on.
- Its good idea to make a simple light trap for insects, stay in touch with experts of university and control pest problems just in time.
- 2 to 3 days after harvesting of paddy spray Glayphoset as mentioned above.
- SRT insists that all roots and small portion of stem should be left in the beds for slow rotting.
- Weeds are to be controlled with weedicides and manual labour. No ploughing, puddling and hoeing is to be done to control weeds.
- This system will get the crop ready for harvesting 8 to 10 days earlier. Take this into consideration while choosing a variety to avoid getting harvesting caught in receding rain.
SRT video documentary: