When it comes to staple foods, rice is at the apex globally. Rice farming is popular in regions characterised by high rainfall. Rice farming demands lots of human labour too. The significance of rice can never be overemphasised. Rice contributes at least 20 percent to the global calorie requirements of people’s diets. In this article we shall be discussing how rice farming is done. We shall cover from planting to harvesting whilst also highlighting noteworthy details.

Optimum Soil Conditions

Rice can thrive in virtually any type of soil though there are some things to consider. Rice farming does well in soils that are marginally permeable. With respect to soil pH, it must range from 5 to 9.5. The types of soil conducive for rice farming range from sandy loam soils to silt loam soil or a cross of both. The key characteristic is that the soil must not be acidic plus its permeability must be low.

 

Optimum Weather And Location Considerations

One of the key things to note is that rice farming needs lots of sunlight. Temperatures ranging from 16 to 30 degrees Celsius are ideal for farming rice – even 40 degrees Celsius. In principle, rice farming thrives in hot and humid conditions. Coastal wetlands are the best for rice farming based on rainfall. Coast wetlands are characterised by high rainfall and thus waterlogging. In summary, the 3 key weather and location characteristics for rice farming are lots of water, lots of sunlight and lots of humidity.

 

Rice Farming Approaches

There are different types of rice farming approaches which we shall explain shortly. The farming of rice can be done based on either rain water or irrigation systems. There are 3 basic approaches to rice farming. So we have dry rice farming, semi dry rice farming or wet rice farming. The great thing about rice is that it can even withstand flooding (which is water logging in essence).

 

Land Preparation

Land preparation for rice farming entails two key implements namely ploughs and harrows. The thrust of these two is to till, incorporate and then level the soil. Subsequently, this will create the right soil profile with ample depth, level terrain and good drainage. Land preparation depends on the rice farming approaching that you will be using.

For semi dry and dry rice farming you must plough and harrow the land many times before planting. There is also a need to incorporate lots of organic material into the soil here. It is recommended that this be done half a month or a full month before planting commences.

For wet rice farming it is only ploughing that is important. Along with that you have to puddle with the water that would already be on the land. Puddling depths vary from 3 centimetres to around 10 centimetres – clay-based soils require depth. After finishing with the puddling stage you have to ensure the land is levelled.

 

Planting

Rice does not have to be planted at particular times per se. Bear in mind that planting can either be by sowing seeds directly or by transplantation of seedlings. Planting can be done any time of the year with successful germination rates. The only issue is that the temperature must be optimum otherwise the time of the year does not matter. The temperature range we mentioned earlier is critically important.

Seed varieties for rice farming are so many that recommending specific ones is not that easy. You just have to consider things such as ease of availability, market value or superior qualities such as disease resistance. You can always consult experts on which varieties are best to settle for. Broadly, there are varieties that take approximately 4 months to reach maturity. Then there are varieties that take approximately 5 or so months to reach maturity. This can guide your choice depending on the duration to maturity that you want. Transplantation of seedlings is the most popular and cost-effective but it is extremely labour-intensive.

 

Growth Stages

Rice farming entails 4 basic growth stages. The first stage is germination which exhibits itself differently depending on the rice farming approach. For wet rice farming, the shoot comes first before the root. The roots set in when the initial shoot would have protruded out of the soil. For dry or semi dry rice farming, it is the root that comes first with shoots developing later on. After germination, there comes the vegetative stage which takes approximately 2 to 3 months. The reproductive stage follows thereafter followed by the ripening stage – the ripening stage takes about a month, on average. The ripening stage varies especially depending on temperatures and varieties. Typically, it takes roughly 3 to 6 months for rice to reach maturity from the beginning.

 

Harvesting Rice

Completely developed grains which are firm are an indication of imminent harvest. Usually rice fields are terraced – terracing is used as a means to control water level and content in the field. When harvesting starts, the terraces have to be drained of the water they will be containing. This is done by creating outlets between the terraces such that the water is drained down the terraces in succession.

It is possible that the method of used might not be terracing per se. Whatever way, the first step is to drain the water out of the field. The rice plants are then cut – sickles are usually used for this. This is then followed by placing them somewhere to dry – at most 3 days can be dedicated to this drying process. Manual harvesting of rice is very common but in some cases mechanical implements can be used. Drying is followed by threshing so as to separate the grain. The grain will still have to be dried again after which milling may then follow.

Lots of human labour is required in rice farming – it is during the harvesting and subsequent stages that it is needed the most. Manual harvesting of rice on 1 hectare can require as many as 7 days depending on the number of people involved. Roughly 4 tonnes of rice can be realized from 1 hectare. Read more about rice harvesting.