RAJSHAHI: Wheat farming in bed planting method has been gaining popularity as the farmers are getting benefits from the modern system everywhere in the region including its vast Barind tract.
Concerned sources said wheat farmers are adopting the bed planting method as part of their efforts to promote farm mechanisation in the region.
Not only in the wheat farming, the farmers were seen to adopt the method in some other seasonal crops like mungbean, maize, potato and lentil next season.
Some of the farmers, scientists and researchers narrated the success story while talking to the agency here on Wednesday. They revealed 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 5/7 mounds 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 lands. Similarly, the landowners are also getting benefits in the system.
Dr Ilias Hossain, Principal Scientific Officer of Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute, told that the 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 the wheat farming in the modern system will be increased 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 a tractor, the front big lines of planter make two beds and three furrows and seed drill at the 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 fertilisers 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, more than 4.03 lakh tonnes of wheat are expected to be produced from around 1.33 lakh hectares of land during the current season in all eight districts of the division.
Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) has set the target of producing 3.56 lakh tonnes of wheat from 95,210 hectares of land in four districts of Rajshahi Agricultural Zone, while 47,735 tonnes from 37,570 hectares in four districts of Bogura Agricultural Zone.