Chinese parachute method to ease paddy transplanting, increase yields

By Hiran H. Senewiratne

Rice farmers would soon greatly benefit with the introduction of the Chinese parachute method, a technique which would help transplant rice seedlings with less time and labour.

"It is estimated that it takes very little time to transplant paddy than manual plating individually. This enables to enhance the paddy harvest by 10 percent. This was proved and adopted in China and could be practiced under Sri Lankan ground conditions," Additional Secretary (Agriculture Development) Ministry of Agriculture Dr. D. B. T Wijeratne told The Island.

He said that, this parachute method was pioneered in China and that it was on the rise in Sri Lanka, India, and Pakistan.

"It has decreased planting time and increased yield", he said.

Rice Research and Development Institute’s Deputy Director (Research), Dr. S.W. Abeysekera said that the planting process uses polyethylene sheets covered with a nested matrix of small, perforated cups. Each sheet (33x59cm) has 434 cups. The seedlings grow in those melded sheets before transplanting into the growing field. With the sheets arrayed within the wet rice terrace, the farmer plants 5-8 rice in each micro-cup. Water and nutrients exchange was through the perforation.

Dr. Abeysekera said that as the seedlings grew, their roots and soil aggregated in the cup. After about three weeks, the farmer slowly pulls the sheet sprouted with fine green hair out of the mud and drapes it over one arm.

"In minutes, the small root plugs are pulled from their cups and tossed into the mud. Like a projectile, the root ball acts as a weight on the end of the seedlings and they all land roots down in the field.

Add a little water and they are upright in no time," he said. Currently, more than a million hectares were under paddy cultivation and produced more than 4 million tones which was considered being a surplus for the country, Dr. Abeysekera said.

This new method would be initially promoted as a pilot project in major irrigable areas covering 6000 hectares. Once this was successful, the authorities would be promoting the technique to other major paddy growing areas in the country.

According to Dr. Abeysekera an acre needed only 300 trays, which were currently imported from China. "However, now plans were afoot to produce these trays in Sri Lanka with the assistance of the Ministry of Agriculture. At present, the Hayleys Group imported trays from China selling at Rs 35 per tray, he said.

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