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Bed-planting wheat farming acreage has started increasing in the Rajshahi region, including its vast Barind tract, for the last couple of years as a result of interest of farmers in the method, reports BSS.
In the current season, wheat farmers are expecting a better yield like the previous year through adopting the bed plantation system.
Farmers are also adopting other seasonal crops like mugbean, maize, potato and lentil. Some farmers, scientists and researchers narrated their success stories, revealing that raised-bed planting of wheat is advantageous in areas where ground water level is receding and herbicide-resistant weeds are creating a problem.
Farmers Anwar Hossain and Yousuf Ali of Nandigram village under Durgapur Upazila of the district said that they got two bed- planter machines from Regional Wheat Research Center (RWRC) and cultivated wheat on around 250 bighas of land last year.
They harvested five to seven maunds more yield from per bigha of land than the conventional system. The donation inspired them to purchase two machines by which they brought around 450 bighas under wheat farming in the current season.
Besides, they have become machinery service providers and are doing business and making money through sowing seeds on others’ land.
Similarly, the landowners are also getting benefit from the system. The farmers, however, said they need subsidy to purchase adequate planters for large-scale expansion of wheat and other crop farming in the region. RWRC Principal Scientific Officer Dr Ilias Hossain said wheat was cultivated on around 0.16 million hectares of land in the region this year and 5,000 hectares of those were brought under the bed-plantation method. He expected that wheat farming in the modern system will be increased in next season. For planting wheat on beds, a tractor drawn bed planter is used. The bed planter is mounted at the back of a medium size tractor.
In one pass of tractor, the front big lines of planter makes two beds and three furrows and seed drill at back sow three or four rows of wheat and heavy iron bar behind it close the seeded rows and smoothen the beds.
Bed planting improves water distribution and irrigation efficiency, gives better results in using fertilizers and pesticides and reduces weed infestation and crop lodging. It saves crops from disturbance from rats, Hossain opined. The pattern helps farmers save 30 percent irrigation water and 30 to 40 percent of seeds and fertilisers. To maintain sound soil health, it could be advisable to grow rice using a different system in order to improve compatibility between monsoon rice and upland winter crops. The farmers of the area said they need help to buy planters for large- scale expansion of the wheat and other crops farming in the region. For this method, a tractor drawn bed planter is needed.
Meanwhile, Department of Agriculture Extension (DAE) has set a target of producing around 4.39 lakh metric tonnes of wheat from around 1.34 lakh hectares of land in all eight districts under Rajshahi division.
“We have adequate preparations and all the field level officials and staff concerned are working relentlessly to attain the target,” said SM Mustafizur Rahman, additional director of DAE, while talking to BSS here today.
He mentioned that the farmers were seen bringing more lands under wheat farming than that of the target fixed by DAE for the last couple of years.