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Indigenous Methods of Rice Soil Fertility Management

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    Farmers of village Khurai, Nandeibum, Leikai, Imphal, East Manipur do mixed farming by rearing cattle, piggery and poultry in addition to raising the crops. Since this area has rice based agro ecosystem, rice husk is mixed with excreta of poultry birds, cattle, pigs and house ash. Afterwards this mixture is spread over the  paddy field. Yield of paddy is increased up to 25-30% after application of this mixture. Reported by Ranjay K. Singh(2003)
2.    Farmers of Sonapur, Sewta and Hamirpur villages of district Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh dig the soil from the base of pond in summer season (in the last week of May and second week of June). This soil is spread in the main fields. The concept behind this practice is that during rainy season a lot of waste materials like leaves, twigs, dung, etc are accumulated in the bottom of the pond and get decomposed there. As a result, the base soil becomes rich in nutrients. After spreading the soil, desi plough is run in the field to mix it well. By this practice yield of crops can be increased by 25-30% and the expenditure on fertilizers is brought down. Reported by Ranjay K. Singh(2003)
3.    Farmers of Sonapur, Sweta and Hamipur villages take services of Yadav and Gaderiya communities to increase the fertility of land. Animals of whole community are collected during lean  period (summer) and the record of each animal is kept by marking on the back. Marking is done by locally available coloring material, which lasts for a long time. On the fields, animals of Yadav and Gaderiya community are penned for whole night, where they discharge urine and dung. During summer this practice is followed. Animal keepers are contacted at least a week before penning. For penning in fields, animal keepers take grain and money. During daytime the animal keepers set them free to graze around rivers, ponds and dams, so that their need of water is also fulfilled. After penning, the dung is spread uniformly to the field and the field is irrigated to spread the urine uniformly. Afterwards desi plough is run in the field. Herders keep the record of every cow and pregnant animals. It is an age-old practice Reported by Ranjay K. Singh(2003)
4.    Large surface tanks with unlined base are dug-out at different locations on the periphery of the village to collect and store surface runoff along with sediments coming from open spaces, fields, roads etc. during monsoon. The runoff usually contains high amounts of clay and organic material, which acts as   a sink for retaining minerals and nutrients, which are allowed to settle  in pond. The sewage slurry and dissolved minerals and nutrients in water coming from animal sheds and household washing  are also diverted  to common village pond. All these organic and clay materials  settle quickly to give clear water of the pond. As soon as the pond dries up,  farmers dig  pond  base by lifting  soil and transport  it to  the rice fields. This is a rich source of plant nutrients.  The pond sludge is spread  in rice fields  as a thick layer  and is mixed  in the soil. The application of pond sludge to each rice field is done once in a span of 10-15 years. This type of practice is followed even in the tank fed areas of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
5.    Reported by C.L. Acharya,A.Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
6.    In villages usually animals are kept in open space. The common fodders fed to cattle are legume hays such as groundnut leaves and stems, guar, senji, metha, gram straw along with   of wheat straw, maize, sugarcane, sorghum, and millets stalks. Animals consume soft  parts of the stalks and  hard stem  are left behind. On hay bedding  these hard stems are  crushed  by animal movement and cut by  their hoofs. And animal dung and urine are automatically mixed up with these. This material is collected daily morning and kept in a heap. And this hay-bed compost becomes ready to use in five to six months. This partially decomposed farmyard manure rich in animal urine is applied to rice soils before the on set of monsoon. The manure is spread evenly in the rice field before land preparation and incorporated into the soil by ploughing. It has been found that 80% of N and other minerals fed to cattle through concentrated feed are covered in urine and feed. Reported by  C.L. Acharya,A.Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
7.    In coastal Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.villages, a specific place in the outskirts is  called gorugothama   (soil of cow gathering place) where cows gather during morning and noon. The dung and urine of the cows are mixed in the soil. The soil from this place  is collected and is used as manure in rice fields. Reported by C.L. Acharya,A. Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
8.    In the local term ’zabo’ means impounding water. This system comprises protected forest land  on the top  well planned rain water harvesting  tank in the middle  and cattle  yard  and terraced rice fields towards foothills. The harvested water  is first taken  into desilting  tank  and kept  there for  a few days. Then it is taken to the main  tank  that is  plastered  from inside  with wet  layer  soil mixed  with paddy straw  or husk  to prevent  water seepage. Down the hill slope is the animal yard where few families keep their livestock together. At foot hills terraced  paddy is the main crop grown  in the area. In this system, inorganic sources  of nutrients are used. On an average  about 10 tonnes of farmyard manure  is added per hectare. When fields  are to be irrigated, the water  from  the main tank  is passed through  animal yard and it carries  all dung and urine  of animals  to rice below  the slope. The nutrient rich silt deposited in the desiltation  tanks  is dug-out  during off-season and added to fields. This is practiced  in Arunachal Pradesh. Reported by  C.L. Acharya,A. Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
9.    Terraced rice cultivation  is common in north eastern hill states.  Due to high rainfall in NEH region, the weeds are a constraint for higher productivity in upland rice cultivation. Farmers develop terraces for keeping  water stagnant. These terraces  are generally located in the middle or lower  level of the hills. This practice of standing water   in the field  and wet rice cultivation  is locally known as Panikheti.  The leaves and succulent  branches (chopped)  of trees  are added  to field and allowed to decompose and then  incorporated into soil. Stubbles and residue  of the previous crop  and dry leaves  are burnt  in terraces. Weeds are also incorporated in the soil. Reported by C.L. Acharya,A.Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
10.    In jute–rice rotation system of Orissa and West Bengal, farmers hardly use any fertilizer, only as basal dose to rice. After harvesting jute, farmers usually keep plants on their fields for about a week for their partial drying  and shedding  off all leaves  on the ground. At the time of land preparation detached fallen leaves are incorporated into the soil and the field is kept as such for a week before transplanting rice seedlings. Decomposed jute leaves contribute at least 10-20 kg of N per hectare depending upon the yield of jute crop. Reported by  C.L. Acharya,A.Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
11.    Farmers collect water hyacinth (Eichhornea crassipes), a weed, heap it  in a nearby  pit and allow it  to decompose  for nearly 30-40 days. The manure compost is sun dried, applied in fields and incorporated  in the soil  through summer  in the soil  through summer ploughing. Subsequently fields are puddled for transplanting rice during kharif. This compost  adds nutrient  to the rice soils. It helps in improving physical, chemical and biological  condition of the soil. Reported by C.L. Acharya,A.Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
12.    Ash of rice husk and cow dung cake is used in seedbeds to raise seedlings of rice by the farmers in most of the states. Ash provides a thin cover over  the sown seeds  and thus protects them from attack on insect  pests, damage caused  by birds and ants. Reported by C.L. Acharya,A.Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
13.    In Assam iron toxicity is a problem in some areas  in rice ecosystem particularly in lowlands. The farmer’s practice  for controlling  disorder involves  walking down rice field or running down a paddy weeder  between lines  to facilitate aeration and to get  ferrous iron oxidized to ferric iron. This makes iron insoluble and unavailable  to rice. As a result, intake  of readily available  form  of Fe2 is reduced  and also the extent of iron  toxicity decreases. As stated by farmers  more than 50% disordered  plants recovered within 3-4 days,  following  practice of walking  between lines. Reported by C.L. Acharya,A.Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
14.    Coconut being a perennial tree crop produces large quantities of leaves, stalks, spates, petioles, besides husk and pith. These materials are rich in plant nutrients and recycling of these  will add considerable  quantity of organic matter to soil. Since they are resistant to decomposition, these are allowed to soften  by various ways such as mulching, soaking in shallow ponds and are  then used for composting. Ash obtained from burning of coconut leaves is also used in Kerala which has more nutrient value  particularly silica  compared to paddy straw. Reported by  C.L. Acharya,A.Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
15.    Sudumannu is the soil colleted from paddy fields and   burnt slowly. They are burnt  for a  period of 3-4 days and allowed  to cool  for 15-20 days. After cooling ash (sudumannu) is used for nursery plots. Sudumannu is rich in potassium (622 –893 kg/ha). The pH of the material ranges from 6.51 to 6.98 while electrical conductivity values (<0.5ds/m) are normal. Farmer’s perception is that sudumannu is good means of checking soil erosion, improves crop growth through better root growth. Reported by C.L. Acharya,A.Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
16.    A herd of sheep/goats  are gathered in the rice field for 2-3 days before the land preparation. Droppings of the animals fall in the fields, which enrich soil. For this specified fee is collected  from the farmers  by the shepherd. This is a common practice in most of the rice growing regions.    Reported by  C.L. Acharya,A.Subba Rao,P.K. Ghosh(2008)
17.    For in situ manuring, weeds were allowed to grow on rice fields and then  trampled  at appropriate  time.  In  large parts of Tamil Nadu , the spreading of wild shrub  such as wild  indigo (Wrightia tinctoria) and leaves of Pongamia  pinnata and other  trees are  much used  on wet lands, principally on rice fields. The  fresh shrubs  and leaves  were spread   on the  fields  and then trodden by feet. Reported by    N.S Randhawa(1982)
18.    In Bihar, the tribal rice farmers grow mahua (Madhuca indica)  and other leguminous trees  in the paddy fields. These can withstand water logging  conditions and provide  shelter  to birds and bats which provide  natural manure by their droppings. Reported by  Rajiv K. Sinha(1998)
19.    In Rajasthan the farmers allow to grow  khejri  trees    (Prosopis cineraria) in rice fields. The trees and   legumes are grown all over the crop fields.  According to the farmers khejri brings up moisture and nutrients from underground  soil for  the crops grown above.  The leguminous  trees in  rice fields  also add nitrogen  from the  nitrogen fixing bacteria in their root nodules and green manure to the soil  by their leaf fall. Reported by Rajiv K. Sinha (1998)

File Courtesy: 
Indigenous Technical Knowledge in Rice Cultivation. P. Muthuraman and Shaik. N. Meera
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