Archive for the ‘monitoring crops’ Category

ARTI assist with rice harvest 25.11.2010

December 1, 2010

Dr Karve and Mr Prabunhe from ARTI (Appropriate Rural Technology Institute – India) assisted with harvesting the rice on the last of the trial plots in Chireve Commune, near Siem Reap town. The same trial design, and same treatments was used as the Nagathom farmers, and this farmer also used the same variety of seed – one of the reasons for selecting this farmer. This farm was planted over a month later however than the Nagathom farmers, and yields were significantly lower an average yield of 0.32 t/ha of paddy and 0.71 t/ha of rice straw. There was some rat damage reported by the farmer, and the height of the rice was noticeably lower (which also made it easier to harvest!). The picture shows the string which is measured to include only the part of the plot which is to be harvested for the data collection. The farmer can then harvest the remaining rice in the field – we compensate farmers for this inconvenience.

Harvesting in Chireve - within the plot boundaries. Photo by Mr Prabhune.

Some useful comments were made by the ARTI team, who suggested that simple management changes could lead to higher yields. The main comment, was that the rice was harvested early, and another 15 days would likely see higher yields. However the farmer may have been reluctant to do this since surrounding farmers were harvesting and leaving the rice in the field would lead to it being susceptible to further damage from pests. The method of threshing was also discussed. The farmers use a traditional method when the rice is wet – using their feet to pound the rice straw to break off the paddy. This led to some of the paddy being still left on the straw – which is subsequently used as fodder so not wasted, but does mean that the potential revenue for the harvest or amount for human consumption is reduced. When the rice straw and paddy is drier, it is beaten with a stick to remove the paddy which may be more effective.

Threshing rice, Chireve 25.11.2010. Photo by P. Karve.

Rice harvest 20.11.2010

December 1, 2010

Rice was harvested on two Nagathom outgrower farmers, who grow Phka Rumduol rice variety. These farmers were in Sasadom Commune which is near the Nagahtom rice mill. The variety is an improved seed, and is provided by the Nagathom Fund. Having an improved variety is useful for the trials since it is more consistent than local saved seed. The harvests across all the plots (3 replicates in each treatment – biochar 41.1 t/ha and control with no biochar), gave an average yield of 2.03 t ha of paddy and 2.42 t/ha of rice straw. In all cases the average was higher in the biochar amended plots – the results will be available in the project report which will be available early next year.

Rice harvest Nagathom farm 2. 20.11.2010. Photo by Mr Tan.

Is there any ‘waste biomass’ in a rice system?

November 17, 2010

Harvesting rice 14.11.2010 (Picture by Vichida Tan)

Last week, we had a practice run harvesting rice in trial plot formation. It is essential to ensure that each plot harvested is the same size (for example the same border is left to account for the border effect in each plot), and that the area harvest matches exactly with the area where the biochar was applied (not so easy when the plots are in 1.5 feet of water! The harvested straw with rice was then weighed, then the rice thrashed (in this case using the traditional method involving stamping on the harvested straw), and the paddy (rice with husk) weighed. After this the paddy is dried, and then milled to remove the husk. Other processes such as polishing the rice, or colour sorting can be done in more high technology mills.

So what happens to the ‘waste biomass’ (and is there even such a thing as waste biomass in this system)?

– Straw – used as feed for cattle (which are used for ploughing the field),
– Husk – used to make rice wine (then the then the char put in the field),
– crop stubble – Left in the field and ploughed in (soil amendment)

Rice straw is used as cattle feed. 14.11.2010

In this case there is no biomass which is either left to rot, or burned for no purpose. However where rice is taken to other mills, the husk is often left in large piles, and where this is not all used for gasification, we can call it ‘waste’.

India cabbage update

October 18, 2010

The cabbages planted in ARTI – India continue to grow well (06.10.2010). The difference in pots can be visibly seen, however differences between treatments will be determined by the measurements at the end of the crop cycle.

Cabbages 06.10.2010 India

Long beans results taster…

August 9, 2010

Biochar was added to plots earlier in the year at 14 t/ha and 28 t/ha and has increased production of long beans in both cases. The largest increase however was seen in the 14t/ha row (>113% of the control).

Rice progress – 17.07.2010

July 22, 2010

Rice planted this season (usually planted between May and July), is wet season rice, irrigated through rainfall, although some farmers in this region have access to irrigation channels from the Barai (link to other post). Reportedly late rains have led to some difficulties for farmers in keeping their paddies flooded.

The plots with biochar added for the two farmers in Krable Riel were visited to see if there were any visible impacts for the addition of biochar. These had been planted at the beginning-middle of June. In one farmer’s field, there were more visible weeds in the plots amended with biochar. The farmer commented that once the field was flooded these will die off naturally, although he would also be doing some weeding of the field in the next few weeks. This demonstrates some of the impacts which biochar can bring to fields, a soil improvement which is a favourable environment for plant growth, although in this case weeds. It is hoped although was difficult to see, that the rice was growing better too.

In another farm with the same application of biochar, the rice appeared slightly yellower than in the areas which did not have biochar. No other changes were visible so it is hoped that this is not a problem.

Keep reading the blog for the final results at harvest (October onwards).

Weeds in farmer CADF3's rice field 17.07.2010

Results are in from lettuce biochar trials

June 25, 2010

Lettuces grown in Krabeil Riel were harvested on the 18th June 2010. The biochar was added on 11/05/2010. As is typical in this area, the whole plot was harvested and sold to buyers who visit farmers every day to collect their produce.

Results were positive, with biomass (above and below ground) recorded as: (43t/ha biochar) > (21.5t/ha biochar) > (0t/ha biochar).

Crop yield data collection… Lettuce

June 17, 2010

After the lettuce were harvested from the pot trials at the research farm, they were taken to be measured at the office. Plant length, number of leaves, total biomass and root biomass were measured.

Weighing lettuce from Tuk Vil, 17.06.2010.

Biochar application physically alters soil

June 17, 2010

The third cycle of crops grown in the pot trials at the Apsara farm were harvested today. The lettuce were grown for 28 days in the pots, after a 14 day germination period in growing treys.

Biochar is reported to improve soil structure, as it can alter porosity, particle size, infiltration, drainage and water storage capacity. The physical impact of biochar in the pot trial soil was easily identifiable; it was much easier to remove the plant from the pot and the soil from the roots of the lettuce. A dense structure like that of the unammended pot will reduce the ability of the air and water to move through the soil and will make it more difficult for the plant roots to propagate through the soil.

The pictures show the two of the amendments, the soil clods are visible in the left hand picture (T0) which does not have any amendments. The picture in the right shows the biochar (84t/ha equivalent addition), compost and sediment amended soil.

Un-amended soil after lettuce harvest in pot trials. 17.06.2010

Biochar amended soil after lettuce harvest in pot trials. 17.06.2010

Cabbages harvested at APSARA authority research farm

May 4, 2010

The pots from the lettuce trials were replaced with cabbages, and were harvested early to avoid being eaten by a caterpillar infestation.

The cabbages were planted on 4th April, so were growing for 30 days. The pots were first set up 23rd February.

The results were promising, with an increase in biomass in the pots with 20, 40 and 120t/ha equivalent biochar. The rest of the growing substrate for these was sieved soil from the research farm plus compost and sediment from the local Tonle Sap lake.  All but one of the cabbages in the nine pots with only soil from the research farm died, so the comparison with the research farm soil only plus biochar could not be made.  This however was an interesting result in its self, that adding biochar meant that all nine cabbages in these pots survived. It was noticed that in the absence of biochar, it was difficult to remove the soil from the cabbages, since the clay had set around the roots, it is therefore probably easier for the roots to penetrate the soil in the biochar pots.

Cabbages just prior to harvesting 04/05/2010 at APSARA research farm