Tuesday, November 25, 2008

An update - now preparing fields for sowing the paddy/rice

Up to my knees in mud trying to assist the professionals in their task of preparing the paddy fields for the new season, I am worried about surviving the day without cuts and bruises on my feet. Interestingly this is not something that seems to bother the local people as they almost always walk barefoot, except when they go out dressed up to town or temple. Therefore their feet are tough and can withstand all sorts of hidden obstacles. Wearing boots in a paddy field is just not possible, as one can barely walk due to the mud the boots get stuck in and the feet just come out as no amount of effort will get it out. Other sorts of shoes cannot bear the wear and tear either, and I have always wondered how primitive our farming techniques still are.

The type of fields does not lend themselves to the large tractors that are driven or even with the two-wheeled tractor I have that one can sit on, we have had to remove the seat and instead walk with it to handle the peculiar conditions of our fields. In Sri Lanka water is used to till the soil and suffocate the weeds and as I have noted earlier in numerous places, the non use of large tractors does not allow deep ploughing to really turn over the soil to bring up some of the hidden nutrients up to the surface, as even some of the chemical fertilizers seep down below the root line of the paddy plant never to be of use to any other crop if deep ploughing is not undertaken.

I have tried this season to deep plough as much of my fields, I am the only one doing this. Only time will tell if that has paid off. The costs also are higher as it is an additional round of ploughing than is done normally.

I picked up my subsidized fertilizer from the government stores yesterday at less than 8% of the market price, which I have noted earlier, is not an incentive to conserve and carefully apply. It is only given for a maximum of 5 acres per farmer. I have also pointed out earlier that it is more profitable for me to sell the fertilizer than go thorough the whole planting process and make a profit as I am using paid labor and not working the land just by myself. One must also note that the world market price of this fertilizer that has come all the way from the UAE and CIS countries, have halved since the state purchased this stock a few months back.

A few days are required for all the weeds to rot in the water. This will also kill as many weed seeds as possible. We then flatten the soil (poru gahanawa) before sowing the seed without a nursery and transplanting