One of the main steps Tamil Nadu farmers are advised while growing paddy under ‘System for Rice Intensification,’ method, popularly called as SRI, is to adopt seedling distance while planting.
“Planning the planting space is important for a good yield. Normally about 500 seedlings are planted from the nursery to the main field at a rough spacing of 20X10 cm.
“This spacing differs in some regions according to the labour availability and convenience. Whereas under SRI, about 16 single seedlings are planted at spacing of 25X25 cm,” says Dr. G.Kathiresan, Director (Planning & Monitoring, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore.
During the initial stages of SRI introduction, a lengthy rope was used for marking the seedling space.
Two labourers used to hold the rope at the ends on either side of the field bunds and walked across the field, while another person made markings on the field for planting.
But this system did not prove popular because the line of planting was not straight due to naturally occurring slopes or partition in the fields.
The line of planting also used to get altered. Physical labour was also more for this work.
Considering the demerits of rope marking, an iron roller marker was introduced. It requires two labourers to pull the iron marker which has pegs on it to mark the place of planting.
The rolls are fitted in such a way as to mark 25 cm. But this did not prove to be easy, the main reason being the roller was heavy in weight and farmers found it difficult to pull it in the slushy, water laden fields. The marking was also not visible.
The University came out with yet another simple and improvised device for planting.
A low weight triangular pointer with three straight bamboo/casuarina sticks or polyvinyl chloride pipes was introduced.
“These three lengthy sticks tied with small sticks (25 cm length), or 6 mm iron rod fitted with half an inch GI triangular shape pipe holder with 60 angles in each corner. For convenience, ten feet sticks (three numbers) are sufficient for planting by two labourers,” explains Dr. Kathiresan.
The iron rod measuring 25 cm in length, represents the intra row spacing and the ten feet sticks in which markings are made represent inter row spacing.
For measuring the spacing, a triangular shaped iron rod fitted with the lengthy (10 feet) sticks at every five feet is also introduced.
Six points are marked on the lengthy sticks at the spacing of 25 cm to point the exact place for planting the seedlings. The planting can be done by a single labourer for an acre.
Farmers can use this device by placing it in the field parallel to the field bunds. The seedlings can be planted inside the triangular lengthy sticks. This is quite easy though cumbersome for some workers.
Normally for SRI planting, 45 labourers are needed to cover one hectare land. In the case of SRI planting with this new tool, 33 labourers are sufficient to cover the same area, according to him.
“The main objective for introducing this device is to help farmers to plant the seedlings at the exact location without any confusion and at the same time to maintain appropriate space between seedlings,” says Kathiresan The device is presently being used by farmers in Tanjavur, Ambasamudram, and Tirunelveli districts.