New technologies to reduce pollution and increase soil fertility in rice-wheat crops are under the microscope in a new ACIAR Impact Assessment Series report.
The report, ‘Rice-wheat cropping systems in India and Australia, and the development of the Happy Seeder’, was published in April this year by ACIAR.
The Happy Seeder is an implement that attaches to the back of a tractor and allows the direct seeding of wheat into rice stubble. While direct seeders have existed for some time, the Happy Seeder allows the seed to be sown directly into combine-harvested rice stubble.
What this means is that using the Happy Seeder removes the need to burn rice stubble before planting wheat, therefore reducing air pollution. Direct sowing also reduces soil disturbance, enabling it to retain more nutrients and organic content.
The report notes that the Happy Seeder also saves money because less time is needed on carrying out field operations, which in turn reduces fuel and labour costs.
However, despite the benefits of the Happy Seeder, there are some barriers to its adoption, the report says. These barriers include cost, risk aversion and existing subsidies for using herbicides and electricity. To overcome these barriers, subsidies are being offered for the purchase of Happy Seeders.
The report estimates that these projects will deliver ‘significant’ benefits of around A$96 million, far exceeding the A$5.6 million of costs invested.
‘Rice-wheat cropping systems in India and Australia, and the development of the Happy Seeder’ – ACIAR Impact Assessment Report No. 77 can be downloaded for free, or purchased online.