Tractors for Paddy Cultivation : Rice is a crop of paramount importance. It is one of the three most important food crops in the world. India is the largest rice-growing country and China is the largest producer of rice.
About 50 percent of the total irrigated area is under rice cultivation in India and hence, 50 percent of irrigation water is used for rice crops. Enormous amounts of water are generally used in rice production.
Near about 75 percent of the water applied to the rice, the crop is lost due to deep percolation in the field. Puddling causes destruction of structure in rice, which results in a decrease in soil water transmission.
Consequently, puddling decreases percolation and therefore better retains standing water infield, which may also decrease the irrigation requirement. The destruction of aggregates triggers a series of changes in the physical properties of soil that affect the use of transplanters and plant growth.
Puddling intensity i.e. low, medium, and high refers to the numbers of passages of cultivation or rotary tiller in the field.
Rice crops required a good puddle field conditions to create a favorable Physico-chemical and microbiological environment for normal growth of rice plants. In wetland cultivation, puddling is an essential cultural practice for easier transplanting of seedlings and a better plant growth environment. Puddler and level of puddling influence the physical properties of soil.
- Puddling Methods
Some of the most prominently used puddling methods are classified according to their power used i.e. manual, bullock drawn, power tiller, and tractor operated/tractor-drawn puddling. The ease and degree of puddling depend on soil type, moisture content, tillage implement, and cultural practices.
- Manual Puddling
Puddling refers to the tillage system, in which the soil is repeatedly ploughed and harrowed under submerged conditions, to make it soft for transplanting and less permeable to water.
In puddling, various tillage implements are used to make the soil impermeable by manipulating it in standing water. When manipulating the soil is not possible by the remaining methods, then only farmers preferred to go for puddling operation manually.
The most commonly available tool is hand spade, it cuts the soil and inverts the same. Where the very less area and less water are available there only this method is preferable.
- Bullock-Drawn Puddling
The puddling operation is performed by the bullock-drawn country plough as the traditional practice and most commonly used in India. It has a high unit draft force requirement compared to forward-inclined cultivators whose unit draft force is low.
The bullock-drawn plough and country plough are still popular and used by small farmers in remote areas but on a limited scale. It is a laborious and time-consuming job when puddling operations done with bullocks.
In this method, the performance of rotary (helical blade) puddlers are found very satisfactory and gives better results for puddling operation than other Tractor implements, because of their rotary motion.
- Power Tiller Operated Puddling
This method used 8-12 hp self-propelled machines especially useful for rice fields also known as walking type tractors or Power tillers and it can take short turns. Puddling operations in small fields with the help of tractors is found impossible.
It has now been made possible with the help of power tillers specially designed for doing puddling operation, to suit small & marginal farmers. Power tillers can work well even at submerged water up to its exhaust manifold.
The puddling wheel is also called a cage wheel mounted on a wheel hub in place of a pneumatic wheel, supported and powered by the transmission system.
The lugs are triangular-shaped protrusions along the outer edges, which provide a more aggressive chopping and tillage action. At the rear of the power tiller, the rotary unit is attached, namely the rotavator consists of a rotating axle on which blade holders are welded to which blades are fitted spirally.
It is getting driven by the engine through transmission and reduction chain units. The main advantages of using a power tiller can replace the operations of 4 ploughing, harrowing, and leveling. Due to its multipurpose utility, it is a quite popular one among the former.
- Tractor Drawn Puddling
The tractor operated puddling equipment is mainly cultivator, disc harrow, rotavator, and cage wheels. Tractors fitted with full cage wheels and cultivators are also used in some of the parts in India.
It requires a greater number of passes for pudding than the field for getting the favorable field conditions for transplantation. Working in waterlogged conditions with tractor-mounted full cage wheels is more dangerous especially while taking turns at headlands.
Tractor fitted with a full cage wheel and cultivator required more time to complete the field when compared to a tractor fitted with a half cage wheel and rotavator. Nowadays tractor fitted with half cage wheels and rotavator are widely accepted by the Indian farmers.
The rotavator consists of a rotating axle on which flanges are welded to which blades are fitted. The Tractor attachment is mounted at the rear end of the tractor and is operated by the tractor engine through a PTO shaft.
Tractors fitted with cage wheels and rotavators can be used for doing wetland operation, soil churning, and understanding water to establish an impervious layer.
Since rotavator is an active tool, it efficiently does the puddling, maneuvers soil to form an effective semi impervious layer, and can be performed without doing secondary tillage under standing water.
Cage wheel, it is an accessory to provide traction requirements of the operation, especially when the tractor is used in wet tillage, as pneumatic tires get slipped and the forward moment is drastically affected.
It is fitted on both sides of the tractor rear axles and gets the power from the engine through gearbox and differential.
Conclusion – Puddling is the Most essential tillage operation in paddy cultivation. It provides a perfect field for the great growth of the plant and improves the production of rice.