Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Sowing is one of the most labor, time, and equimpent intensive steps in agriculture, and particularly so for rice due to the transplanting practice. In natural farming, the costs of sowing are almost completely eliminated.
Seeds are sown underground mainly to protect them from birds and other pests. In the case of rice, the high density, submerged germination is meant to prevent weeds from out-competing the rice. However, this requires transplanting the young rice plants manually - an extremely labor and time intensive step.
On a natural farm, the presence of the continuous plant cover and straw holds weeds in check and hides the seeds from pests. For even more protection, seeds can be enclosed in clay pellets (similar to seed balls - more on this later). The seeds or clay pellets are simply broadcast by hand on to the field, resulting in tremendous labor and time savings, and requiring no equipments. Using this system, even rice has been grown successfully, without the need for transplanting.