Drip irrigation for rice is changing the rules of the game

Netafim’s precision irrigation solutions increase rice yield, improve crop quality through an efficient precision irrigation system, and the right water supply. With Netafim’s drip irrigation, you grow one kg rice in around 60-70% less water than the conventional cultivation system. Also, with drip irrigation, you reduce agricultural investments and increase profits.

Shift from flood irrigation to drip irrigation

Rice is a water-intensive crop. It requires water for three primary purposes – preparing land (puddling), continual seepage, percolation, and to grow the actual crop. Further, you have to keep the area spread continually flooded, which results in substantial unproductive water losses (up to 80%) for reasons other than rice cultivation.

Traditional rice cultivation demands high investments in water, labor, pre-crop preparation, and fertilizers as well. However, despite these investments, farmers don’t get the expected returns. This is because factors including water inefficiency, lower crop yield, and reduced crop-quality affect their profits, and they keep incurring financial losses every year.

Considering the existing and futuristic scarcity of water, the growing food demands, expensive land preparation, wastage of water through flooding, and the inefficiency of conventional techniques reducing land fertility and restricting crop choice in crop rotation, Indian farmers must shift from flood irrigation to drip irrigation.

Why Cultivate Rice through Drip Irrigation?

  • Grow More in Less Water: Drip irrigation reduces water use through a precise water supply to the crop. So, for the one kilo of rice that you used to grow in 5000 liters of water conventionally, you now need only 1500-1600 liters. On a large scale, you achieve a higher crop yield in lesser water. 
  • Shift to High-Income Crops: Drip irrigation allows you to choose any desired close spacing crop after rice in crop rotation. You can also shift from low-income crops to high-income ones after cultivating rice.
  • Grow High-Quality Marketable Rice Crop: In paddy farming, rice roots remain submerged. They consume heavy metals and increase the arsenic in the crop, thereby reducing the crop's market value. However, in drip irrigation, it helps reduce the arsenic uptake by around 90%, and further results in the growth of a high-quality and marketable crop.
  • Higher Profit-Earnings: With drip irrigation, you reduce labor costs, achieve water efficiency, increase crop yield, improve crop quality. All of these factors reduce investments and increase profits.
  • Eco-Friendly Irrigation Solution: Paddy cultivation produces around 10% of methane gas emissions globally. But, even if only 10% of paddy rice cultivators upgrade to drip irrigation, the world will be able to reduce methane emissions equivalent to those of a staggering 40 million cars.

Breaking the irrigation paradigm in Rice

The new generation of rice agriculture


Things we often get asked:

  • Can I increase my rice yield with drip irrigation?

    Yes! With precision irrigation, you can reach a yield of 8 -12 tons/ha – a 50% production increase over production with flood irrigation.

  • How much water can I save by using drip irrigation?

    With drip, you can use up to 70% less water than traditional flood irrigation requires.

  • Can I grow rice in sloping terrains?

    Again, yes! Pressure-compensated dripper lines deliver the precise amount of water required, regardless of pressure changes due to elevation shifts. There is a flexible diaphragm within the emitter which regulates the water flow, guaranteeing no flow variation across the entire field.

  • Without flooding, how can I control weeds?

    Just like when growing any other crop, there are recommended herbicides, ideal times for applications, and mechanical cultivation practices that farmers can easily follow to maximize weed control in aerobic conditions. Drip irrigation also gives farmers easier access to fields for pest and disease control.

  • Can I grow other crops with the same drip system?

    Yes, absolutely. Drip irrigation allows you to rotate several crops on your land, including vegetables like tomatoes or onions, or open field crops including soybeans or corn. Growing legumes in the same field will also improve your soil’s fertility.

  • How can drip irrigation help me reduce the cost of crop production?

    Drip irrigation is an efficient drip irrigation technique. Unlike traditional rice cultivation techniques, it brings a considerable reduction in crop production costs, making farming a more profitable venture for farmers.

    Drip allows you to cultivate rice like other garden crops through regular land preparation, and direct seeding. You use fertilizers according to the crop stages and supply them directly to the crop root zone. This way, you require lesser fertilizers, and subsequently, you reduce fertilizer investments.

    Furthermore, with drip irrigation, you can manage tasks such as land preparation, planting, irrigation, fertilization in a lesser amount of workforce. All these factors, along with the precise use of water, contribute to a significant drop in rice crop production cost.

  • How does drip irrigation prove beneficial to Basmati rice?

    Drip irrigation brings the following five sustainable advantages to Basmati rice farmers

    • On-time plantation of the crop during the season.
    • Cost-savings due to hassle-free and easy land preparation, less labor, and reduced water use.
    • Nutrigation results in increased crop yield and improved crop quality.
    • Water-savings increase the cultivable land.
    • Reduction in the accumulation of arsenic in grain.
  • Which crops can I select in crop rotation after rice?

    If you bring rice under drip irrigation, you can choose any seasonal close spacing crop after rice. It includes maize, pulses, oilseeds, vegetables, etc. based on the local market demand.

  • Is it possible to implement drip irrigation systems for rice fields that use surface area water?

    Yes. Suppose you are a group of farmers sharing common tanks, ponds, canal water, etc. In this case, Netafim can install drip irrigation systems in the community irrigation mode to all the farmers involved. Drip systems installed in community irrigation mode benefit every farmer, including the smaller ones, as everyone gets the right and equal quantities of water during the crop season.

  • Can I increase my annual income through the installation of a drip system? If yes, how?

    Drip irrigation reduces your farming investments. Unlike conventional rice cultivation, you don’t have to invest a lot in the water, labor, fertilizers, and other vital resources. So, here you save a lot of money. But drip irrigation does not limit itself to cost-savings. It also creates wealth for farmers! How?

    Bringing rice under drip allows you to increase your cultivable land, save water, and take a more significant number of high-value crops in rotation after rice. So, although you grow more and better-quality rice, you don’t rely solely on rice to increase your agricultural income. You create wealth through different crop sources, and you don’t spend much on labor, land preparation, water, and fertilizers with the other crops either. This way, eventually, and in the long run, you save and earn money!

  • Which cultivation practices should be taken care of more under the drip system? How can we manage it?

    Weed management should be taken care more under drip system. The following points should be followed for controlling the weeds.

    • If you feel weeds are more in your field, weeds can be allowed to germinate by giving a light irrigation/after rainfall. Then the emerged weed seedlings can be killed by using proper weedicide or shallow tillage. This will minimize the weed seed bank/growth after rice planting/sowing.
    • Weedicides are efficient for controlling the weeds. Pre and Postemergence weedicides should be used to weed control after planting/sowing.
    • Weedicide should be selected according to the weed flora (Grasses, Sedges, Broadleaf weeds) in your field.
    • In order to control weeds effectively, the protocol viz., Weedicide selection based on weed dominance, correct time/stage of the application, using recommended Concentration (active ingredient) of weedicides, Proper sprayer (Knap Sack Sprayer) and spray Nozzle (Flat fan) selection, Good moisture in the field and recommended spray volume of water, should be considered while applying weedicides.        
Are you ready to break the conventional rules on rice farming?

Are you ready to break the conventional rules on rice farming?

It’s time to grow profitable, safe, healthy and environmentally friendly rice.

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