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FIRBS/ BED PLANTING

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FIRBS/ BED PLANTING

Rajeew Kumar

G.B.Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar-Uttrakhand

The Furrow Irrigated Ridge-till Bed-planting System (FIRBS)/ bed planting / ridge planting is a synonyms word used for a method where cultivation of crops is done on raised beds. This system is suitable for the wheat crop. In the crop sequences where wheat follows soybean, maize or cotton, a system of reduced tillage can also be followed whereby sowing can be done directly on the same beds without field preparation. If wheat follows rice then it requires a fine seed bed preparation followed by sowing of wheat on raised beds. The sowing on raised beds is done with the help of the raised bed planter. The machine has adjustable blades for making raised beds of different widths and heights that can be adjusted by the shifting of blades on the frame and roller on the rear. It has seed-cum-fertilizer drilling mechanism for sowing one, two or three rows on each bed. The planter makes two beds at a time. The width of beds can also be adjusted from 65-70 cm. The planter is fitted with knife type tines so that it can also be used for sowing of other crops. The benefits of the machine are saving of cost of operation, seed (25%) fertilizer (25%), irrigation water (35%) and low Phalaris minor weed problem. The cost of the machine is Rs 18,000/- and its effective field capacity was 0.2 ha/h.

 BENEFITS

This system is being promoted mainly for the benefits that accrue from water savings (Table 1) , but also in areas where grassy weeds are a problem since this system allows mechanical weeding and a reduction in costly herbicide applications. This system also allows for fertilizer placement, both basal and topdress, and increased efficiency of these inputs.

  • 1. Management of irrigation water is improved.
  • 2. Bed planting facilitates irrigation before seeding and thus provides an opportunity for weed control prior to planting.
  • 3. Plant stands are better.
  • 4. Weeds can be controlled mechanically, between the beds, early in the crop cycle.
  • 5. Wheat seed rates are lower.
  • 6. After wheat is harvested and straw is burned, the beds are reshaped for planting the succeeding soybean crop. Burning can also be eliminated.
  • 7. Herbicide dependence is reduced, and hand weeding and roguing is easier.
  • 8. Less lodging occurs.

 SCOPE OF FIRBS

This system is now being assessed for suitability in the Asian Subcontinent. At Punjab Agricultural University, two bed widths and two or three rows of wheat planted per bed were compared with conventional flat bed planting. Two rows on 70-75 cm beds were best . Two of the major constraints on higher yields in northwestern India and Pakistan are weeds and lodging. Both can be reduced in bed planting systems. The major weed species affecting wheat, Phalaris minor, is normally controlled using the herbicide Isoproturon, which is not always effective. Farmers do not always apply Isoproturon well or on time; in addition, recent reports have confirmed that P. minor has developed Isoproturon resistance. Alternative integrated weed strategies must be developed to overcome this problem. Preliminary observations indicate that P. minor is less prolific on dry tops of raised beds than on the wetter soil found in conventional flat bed planting. Cultivating between the beds can also reduce weeds. Thus bed planting provides farmers with additional options for controlling weeds. Lodging is also less of a problem on raised beds. Additional light enters the canopy and strengthens the straw, and the soil around the base of the plant is drier. Reduced lodging can have a significant effect on yield, since many farmers in the Punjab do not irrigate after heading precisely because they want to avoid lodging. As a result, water can become limiting during grain filling, resulting in lower yields. On raised beds this irrigation need not be avoided for the reasons stated. Results show that there is no significant difference between flat and bed planted systems, which means that yield was not sacrificed by moving to a bed system. In fact, with the proper variety (PBW 226), the yield from bed planting can surpass that of planting on the flat. Upright varieties such as HD 2329 perform poorly on beds and cannot compensate for the gap between the beds. Wheat planted on beds is gaining popularity in Haryana and Punjab of India and in the Punjab of Pakistan. Farmers are particularly pleased with the water savings they obtain from bed systems.  An additional advantage of bed planting becomes apparent when beds are "permanent" - that is, when they are maintained over the medium term and not broken down and re-formed for every crop. In this system, wheat is harvested and straw is left or burnt. Passing a shovel down the furrows reshapes the beds. The next crop (soybean, maize, sunflower, cotton, etc.) can then be planted into the stubble in the same bed. Research in farmer fields has also shown that rice can be grown on beds making this system feasibility in the rice-wheat pattern. Rice can be grown on beds by either transplanting seedlings or direct seeded. At the moment, transplanting on beds is best since normal herbicides used for transplanted rice can be used to control weeds. As dry seeded herbicides become available and weeds can be managed, dry seeded rice on beds will become more attractive. One farmer in the Punjab obtained 9t/ha of rice transplanted on beds and saved more than 50% of the water he normally applies on flat, transplanted rice. This is being confirmed through monitoring water use in bed planted plots this year. The use of beds also provides a way for improving fertilizer use efficiency. This is achieved by placing a band of fertilizer in the bed at planting or top dress. Using slow release formulations and experimenting with urea super granules can make further improvements.

 

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Please note that this is the opinion of the author and is Not Certified by ICAR or any of its authorised agents.