KERALA AGRICULTURAL UNIVERSITY
As part of its numerous initiatives to enhance production and productivity of paddy in the state Kerala Agricultural University (KAU) is planning commercial production of paddy mat nursery to popularise mechanical transplanting.
Agricultural Research Station (ARS) , Mannuthy under KAU, which has been persistently propagating macro level mechanisation of farming through appropriate machineries and well trained Food Security Army Units, is set to begin the new venture with the help of a Chinese made automatic rice nursery sowing machine.
Dr.U.Jaikumaran, Professor and Head, ARS said that the machine acquired by the station automate all the processes involved in the raising of mat nursery viz; spreading soil, sprinkling water, sowing seeds, covering soil in the trays automatically at a stretch. ‘Inorder to set up paddy mat nursery commercial enterprise, the station is undertaking studies on best mat nursery media, its transportability and efficiency in transplanting. A research team has been assigned with this task. The containers required to transport the paddy mat trays to distant places will be developed by the station. On going studies are aimed at streamlining the commercial production of paddy mat nursery so that paddy mat trays can be distributed to farmers who make advanced booking. Such paddy mat nursery enterprises are functional in countries like Philippines, Malaysia etc. Ready to transplant mat nursery trays will be of great help to farmers’ he said. Dr. U. Jaikumaran explained that the machine has an output of 600 trays per hour and is powered by one hp electric motor. It consists of four major parts, a hopper for holding mat media mixture, a pipe system for irrigating mat, a hopper for holding seeds and another one for storing soil to cover the seeds. These parts are fixed on a rail of length 6.8 m fitted with conveyor beneath. As the plastic trays fed into the conveyor move on, the soil gets filled into them, then it is sprinkled with water through pipe system. In the next stage seeds are laid over the soil and then they are covered to a thickness of 4 mm. The machine has the provision of adjusting quantities of mat media, water, seeds and soil falling into the trays. Once the process is over, trays are taken to nursery yard and kept for 14 days before transplanting. On an average, l20 paddy mat trays are needed to transplant an area of I acre using a mechanical transplanter.