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Unpuddled rice transplanting trials yield well in Bangladesh

More than 110 farmers attended a field day in Alipur village, Durgapur, Rajshahi district, Bangladesh on 16 May 2009. Enamul Haque, cropping systems agronomist, Conservation Agricultural Program, CIMMYT-Bangladesh, organized the field day along with CIMMYT partners Ilias Hossain, senior scientific officer, Bangladesh Regional Wheat Research Center (WRC); and Mohammad Abdur Rahman, principal scientific officer, Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).

The farmers’ day was set up to assess the first field trial for transplanted boro rice in unpuddled soil using strip-tillage, a minimal form of land preparation, and raised beds. Boro rice is high-yielding irrigated rice that is grown during the winter season and covers more than five million hectares in Bangladesh, where rice is grown year-round and is vital to food security. Almost all boro rice farmers in Bangladesh have been transplanting boro rice to puddled fields despite the fact that puddling destroys soil structure, is more costly, and requires more water and labor, according to Haque.

“I’m very grateful that a few skeptical farmers stepped forward before transplanting this year’s crop, and agreed to try the new practice,” said Haque. “They have healthy, vigorous plants in their fields and I believe this technology will spread.”

Farmers said they needed to weed only twice, instead of the three times typical for conventional tillage, and reported savings of 75% on land preparation, 30% on irrigation water, and 5-6% on fertilizer. Finally, from the look of the fields, farmers were expecting 12-15% more rice at harvest. At the end of the day, a quick show of hands indicated that all farmers present would continue to transplant boro rice using these resource-conservingpractices.

“My ambition is not only for this area,” said Hossain. “We can extend this technology to other wheat- and rice-growing areas. We have done a lot of work here so we can go to other areas and demonstrate it to farmers.”