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Report on Farmer Field Schools Demonstration Plots
Monsoon Season, 2003
Sunsari-Morang Irrigation Project

Farmers field schools (demonstration plots) were established as one of the components under DFID-funded "Guidelines for Good Governance on Irrigation Management Project, " implemented in the Sunsari-Morang Irrigation Project area in the monsoon season 2003. The objectives of the inclusion of FFSs were to provide hands-on knowledge on improved methods of paddy cultivation through learning-by-doing and experimenting, as well as to identify problems and find solutions for future planning. This season-long programme was conducted at the locations of both major and minor schools. There were three major schools along with four minor schools corresponding to each major school. Hence a total of 15 FFSs were established under this programme.

FFS Activities
WUS was conducted once in a week as per schedule. Field layout was prepared, and the treatments were allocated randomly to the plots. The treatments included were all related to integrated crop management. The various treatments of the experiments are presented in the PD reports. Land preparation, raising of seedlings in nursery bed, uprooting of seedlings, transplanting, irrigation water application, and other operations were mainly done by the participants. Generally in each school session a day-long programme was organised for field work, and observations of the treatments were made. The major activities were:
- Carrying out agricultural operations as per need,
- Identification of harmful and useful insects,
- Counting of tillers,
- Observation on different stages of plant growth,
- General observations on the performance of the crop with various treatments,
- Harvesting, threshing, cleaning, drying, and weighing of grains, and
- General discussion on the observations.

Field layout
Fields were selected to establish FFSs, and field layout was prepared for the allocation of experiments. The experiments were the same at all 15 locations. The field layout and allocation of treatments were done depending upon the location of the field, availability of water, etc. Field layout is presented in the PD reports.

FFS Results
A format was developed to record the data of the experiments. The Farmer-Trainers were oriented on recoding the data. Data were collected, compiled, analyzed and interpreted. The data were presented in two separate formats. In the first format, yield data from the different treatments in the experiments conducted at the major and minor schools were presented (Table1). In the second format, data were recorded on different characteristics (plant height, no. of productive tillers, length of panicle, no. of grains per panicle, 1000-grain weight, and yield) of (a) improved practice, (b) farmers' practice, and (c) SRI method (Table 2) in order to compare the performance of those three methods of rice cultivation.

The data from 2 locations (T2-2 & T5-1) could not be recorded and analyzed as the farmers harvested and mixed the plants of all three experiments. Hence the results of 13 locations are summarized below.

Improved Practice vs. Farmers' Practice
At all locations, the yield of improved practice, requiring more purchased inputs, was higher than that from farmers' practice. The difference in yield between improved and farmers' practices varied from 1 to 3t /ha, with an average difference in yield of 2.01 t/ha. On average, the yield of improved practice (6.21 t /ha) is about 50% more than the yield of farmers' practice (4.2 t/ha) .

SRI Practices
SRI method using 10-day-old seedlings and manual weeding gave highest average yield (8.48t/ha), followed by SRI method using 21-day-old seedlings (6.74 t/ha) and SRI method using 10-day-old seedlings and weedicide instead of manual weeding (6.27 t/ha). As weeding is costlier and a tedious job to the farmers, the reason for using weedicides instead of manual weeding was to study the performance under this situation. In 50% of the locations, the results were encouraging but in 50% of the locations it was reported that 10-day-old younger seedling could not tolerate the weedicide, and burning symptoms were observed. Use of 21-day-old seedlings with SRI methods also gave encouraging results in some locations. Farmers reported that transplanting of 10-day-old seedlings was difficult, and re-transplanting had to be done if rain occurred within 24 hours of transplanting. 21-day-old seedlings were used in SRI method to study the performance.

Water Management
Table 1 revealed that there is no significant differences in yield among various treatments (10 cm depth of pounding at 1-week interval, similarly 10 cm at 2 weeks, 5 cm at 1 week, 5 cm at 2 weeks, saturation for 1 week, and saturation in 2 week).However, the average highest yield was obtained under 5 cm pounding depth at 2 week intervals (6.05 t/ha), followed by 5 cm pounding depth at 1-week interval (5.96 t / ha), and saturation at 2- week intervals (5.76 t / ha). The results showed that there is no need of excess water for paddy crop; only saturation level is sufficient. It also showed that almost doubled the area could be irrigated by the same quantity of water.

Varietal Performance
Kanchhi Mansuli variety was included as a check variety. The highest yield was obtained from Radda-12 (7.09 t/ha) followed by Sufla (6.29 t/ha), 4 BPI-3-2 (6.10 t/ha), Mansuli (5.78t/ha), and the check Kanchhi Mansuli (5.46t/ha). Lokanth variety (4.99 t/ha) was found to be inferior to check variety

No. of Seedlings per Hill
The yield of 1 seedling, 2 seedlings and 3 seedlings per hill were almost the same. (6.42, 6.04 and 6.05 t/ha) . There was decreasing trend beyond 4 seedlings per hill. The yield of 1 seedling per hill was about 40% higher than 8 seedlings /hill.

Comparison of Cultivation Methods
Data on different characters of three cultivation methods were recorded as presented in Table 2. The result showed that the average yield of SRI method was highest (8.48 t/ha), followed by improved practice (6.27 t /ha), and farmers' practice (4.2 t /ha). The range of yield in SRI method was 7.5 to 11t/ha, while that for improved practice and farmers' practice was 5.5 to 7.2 t/ha and 3.00 to 5.22 t/ha, respectively. The average yield of SRI method is around 37% higher than the average yield of improved practice and double the average yield of farmers' practice. At one location (T5), the yield (11t/ha) is about 77% higher than the average yield of improved practice.

Plant height was almost the same in both SRI (135.2 cm) and improved practice (136.5 cm), but it is less with farmers' practice (117.5 cm). The number of productive tillers was 45% more in SRI method (19.1) than improved practice (13.2). The length of panicle was 8% longer in SRI compared to improved practice. The numbers of grains per panicle was about 5% more in SRI than improved practice. With regard to 1000-grain weight, the grains obtained by SRI method is about 15% heavier than from improved practice.

These data revealed that the increase in yield with SRI methods was contributed mainly by greater number of tillers per hill with contribution also from number of grains per panicle and 1000-grain weight. Due to several reasons, SRI method could not be applied following all of the instructions, such as maintenance of saturation level of water, four weedings, etc. Hence, it is expected that the yield of SRI methods if well and fully used could have been still higher.

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