Punjab agriculture secretary: Direct sowing in 17 per cent of wheat area

The standing paddy stubble gradually gets mixed in the soil, which improves its health too and increases the yield of wheat up to 1-2 quintals per acre.

For the first time, Punjab has been able to bring around 17 per cent of its wheat area under ‘direct sowing’ technology this year. It means wheat has been directly sown after paddy harvesting without burning the standing stubble on the field.

Thanks to the supply of a large number of farm machinery like happy seeder, which can carry out direct sowing easily. This year wheat has been sown on a total area of 34.80 lakh hectares (85.95 lakh acres). “We have sown wheat through direct seeding technology on 6 lakh hectares (14.82 lakh acres) this year by using happy seeder and a few other machines. It is a major change in Punjab’s agriculture sector as far as wheat is concerned,” says Agriculture Secretary Kahan Singh Pannu, adding that this season they are going to organise several farmers’ camps on the fields where direct seeding has been done so that they can see the results and interact with the fellow farmers using the technique.

Experts say that this technology saves huge cost on wheat sowing and environment, besides reducing the consumption of water, fertilisers and pesticides. Traditionally, for sowing wheat after paddy harvesting, its stubble is burnt on the field first, then several operations are required to prepare the ground, each costing Rs 1,000 to 1,200.

“Direct sowing with happy seeder is cost-effective as after paddy harvesting with super SMS-attached combine harvester, which cuts the stubble and spreads them evenly on the field, farmers can sow wheat without even clearing the residue. In the traditional method, one needs to run rotavator/disc plough/planking operations, each costing around Rs 1,000 to 1,500 per acre. The farmers end up spending around Rs 5000 per acre. With this technique they can save at least Rs 2,000 per acre,” says H S Sidhu, a senior research engineer with Borlaug Institute of South Asia (BISA) centre at Ladhowal in Ludhiana. Moreover, with happy seeder, wheat can be sown 2-3 inches deep easily even in 12 to 18-inch standing paddy stubble, adds Sidhu.

The standing paddy stubble gradually gets mixed in the soil, which improves its health too and increases the yield of wheat up to 1-2 quintals per acre, says Agriculture Development Officer Dr Amrik Singh. “The stubble also covers the soil, which saves water too as it does not allow the water to evaporate.” “The increase in direct sowing is the result of supplying a large number of happy seeder this year against 1,200 till last year,” says Agriculture Director Dr Jasbir Singh Bains. “One happy seeder can sow wheat on around 120 to 130 acres in a sowing season lasting for 15-20 days,” he says.

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