Farmers in Punjab and Haryana, India's biggest contributors to the food basket, have been eager to enhance sustainable farming practices. One of the ways they've done this so far, is by cutting back on labor-intensive technology and using no-till drills.
Recently, winter rice seeding technology demonstrations were carried out in Punjab, a state of northern India, where farmers showed eagerness to shun the traditional method of cultivating crops by adapting no-till direct seeding technique — a paradigm shift toward sustainable farming practices.
Now the trials are underway in Pehowa, the basmati-growing belt of the northern state of Haryana, for cultivating paddy.
In Punjab, the government last year announced Rs 1,500 per acre (roughly $18 USD equivalent) support for farmers opting for the direct seeding of rice (DSR) technique, while in Haryana, a cash incentive of Rs 4,000 per acre (roughly $48 USD equivalent) was offered as a pilot project for water conservation.
Likewise, Haryana set a target of 100,000 acres of paddy sowing with the DSR method in 12 leading paddy-growing districts, while Punjab had aimed to bring nearly 3 million acres with this technology.
Canadian company Clean Seed Capital, creators of the Smart Seeder Max and the smaller version known as the MINI-MAX, has collaborated with an Indian tractor company to provide sustainable solutions to farmers associated with Northern Farmers Mega, a leading organization of 43 farmer cooperatives (FPOs) involving more than 12,000 members from four states, including Punjab and Haryana.
Now the company is demonstrating the Smart Seeder MAX technology with multi-purpose solutions like managing straw and accurate seed and fertilizer placement in combination with no-tillage practices.The company is teaching the FPOs about the technology by exhibiting the Mini-Max, an India-specific machine.
"The arrival of the MINI-MAX technology in India is a game-changer for farmers, including in Punjab and Haryana," Consul General of Canada in Chandigarh, Patrick Hebert says.
Impressed with the high-tech seeding and planting tool, farmer Gurdev Singh in Khamano, who took part in a field demonstration, says farmers should shun traditional farming and go for technology that helps reduce inputs costs by improving fertilizer effectiveness and much-needed soil recovery.
"We are ready to go for enhancing sustainable farming practices, despite our government not coming forward in support of the farmers in the form of subsidies for buying the no-till planter," he says.
With a land area of only 3% of the net cultivated land of the country, Punjab contributes 25-35% of rice and 38-50% of wheat to the central pool of food grain. The state ranks fourth in the world in terms of productivity and first in India amongst all the other states.
In Haryana, the paddy is currently sown over 3 million acres in Haryana. Of this, 57% of the area is under basmati, which matures 2 weeks later than the non-basmati type.
Officials with the Haryana Agriculture Department say the government is considering providing a subsidy up to 80% to the state-based FPOs and 50% to a farmer to buy SMART Seeder MINI-MAX and related technologies.
Indian entrepreneur Jeet Jheetey, vice president of operations and product development) at Clean Seed Capital Group, says that the company is demonstrating India-made smart seeders on farms of Punjab and Haryana, where there are active engagements with the FPOs.
He said by adopting no-till, the farmers could fortify the productivity of rice, eradicate stubble burning, boost crop production and protect agricultural soils from further deterioration caused by the overuse of chemical fertilizers. Jheetey believes no-till will serve as a catalyst for sustainable agriculture in India and help farmers overcome many challenges.
The No-Till Passport series is brought to you by Martin Industries.
Since 1991, Martin Industries has designed, manufactured and sold leading agriculture equipment across the U.S. and Canada. Known for Martin-Till planter attachments, the company has expanded to include a five-step planting system, closing wheel systems, twisted drag chains, fertilizer openers and more in their lineup. Their durable and reliable planter attachments are making it possible for more and more farmers to plant into higher levels of residue.