Wheat and rice crops are grown in Pakistan over an area of about 8.2 and 2.5 mha, respectively. Area under Rice-Wheat cropping system during 2004-2005 was around 1.7 mha. Basmati rice varieties cover more than 55 percent of the area, which mature late. This results in decreasing the turnaround time between the two crops and eventually wheat sowing gets delayed.
Mostly European self-propelled combine harvesters are imported in the country. It is estimated that about 4000 units of such combines are in operation, and more than 50 percent of rice crop is harvested using these combines especially in Punjab Province. These machines cut paddy crop at the height of 40-80 cm and leave behind a swath of loose residue, which clog the openers of existing Zero-till drills. Residue management is a major problem in rice-wheat system of the country. Residue is either removed or spread in the field in order to overcome this problem. However, farmers prefer to burn it as an easy method of land clearance for subsequent crop. Burning of residue not only results in loss of potential nutrients to the soil but also poses a great threat to the natural environment, human health and economic loss when smog restricts road and air traffic. Residue appears to be the only organic matter available to most rice farmers. Incorporation of crop residue into the soil enhances soil fertility through supplementing soil nutrients. Burning of rice residue causes almost complete loss of Nitrogen 25%, Phosphorus 20%, Potassium and Sulphur 5-60%. The engineers of Pakistan Agricultural Research Council (PARC) Islamabad are working on this issue and have developed a machine namely FMI Seeder.
Technology Development, Development and Demonstration
This machine at first cuts the stubbles as well as picks up the loose straw lying in front of each opener of the Zero Till Drill and chops them into small pieces and spreads uniformly over the seeded rows in a single operation. It is a PTO driven tractor mounted for an eight-row machine and is suitable for the majority of tractors available in the country. Its effective field capacity is around one acre an hour. Efficient use of FMI Seeder will result in timely sowing of wheat substantial savings in its operating cost soil moisture conservation early decomposition of crop residue non- chemical weed control reduced environmental pollution; and, improvement in soil aeration and fertility.
Kalwar S. A, N. Amjad, H. S. Mahmood, J. Blackwell, and E. Humphreys. (2006). The FMI Seeder and its performance. Paper presented at workshop on permanent bed rice –wheat cropping systems & direct drilling into rice residues in the north west indo-gangetic plains from sep.3-7,2006 held at Punjab Agricultural university Ludhiana, India