eld. After that, we did a secondarywet tillage and then a nal smoothing
before we transplanted.”“Our team decided to do aregular puddled and transplanted
eld,” explained Sarah Beebout,
a soil chemist on Team DoubleTrouble Makers. “We decided on thistraditional cultivation because thereare a lot of weeds here in this part ofthe research farm. And, it’s very well-suited for lowland rice production.“We also tried mechanicaltransplanting rather than hand
transplanting of two dierent
varieties,” Dr. Beebout added. “In onehalf of the plot, we tried a popularcultivar, NSIC Rc 222, while in theother half, we tried traditional varietyPirurutong, which has purple grain.”Team Future Techs was theonly group that tried direct seeding.“We opted for mechanized seeding
using a 4-wheel tractor aached to a
seeder,” said Bhagirath Chauhan, aweed expert. “We think the futureof rice farming is in mechanization
because geing labor at critical times
such as transplanting is becoming
more dicult,” he explained.
The diversity of approachesthe teams took in how to establishand manage their rice crops andthe various management methods
employed reects how farmers
themselves operate and makedecisions.
Let the games begin
The rst real physical challenge for
the teams started with transplantingthe rice plants. Everyone quicklyrealized that this is hard work!
“It’s my rst experience to pull
out the seedlings and sow themrow by row,” said Valerien Pede, aneconomist on Team Hayahay. “It wasquite challenging. When I looked back and saw how crooked the rowswere, I said to myself, ‘Wow, theylook terrible!’” related Dr. Pede. “Ichecked what the more experiencedguys were doing and then realized Iwas not doing it right. So, I adjusted.Anyway, I enjoyed the learningprocess.”After transplanting, thechallenges kept rolling in. There werea few surprises, which worked wellfor some, but not so well for others.For example, Team DoubleTrouble Makers experimented withalternate wet and dry irrigation, whichentailed keeping the plot dry for sometime. Unfortunately, a well-meaningfarm worker irrigated their plot, pluswater seeped in from the adjacentplots. So, they switched back to the
more traditional continuous ooding
The curse o the snails
Golden apple snails were one ofthe most serious concerns for allcompetitors. “You can take onestep, and maybe pick up 50 snails,and then take another step and dothe same, said Jason Beebout. “It’soverwhelming.”In the beginning, his team waslooking at a good crop stand of one totwo tillers per hill, but they had to re-plant after the snails had a chompingfrenzy on their seedlings. “One thingthat I’ve learned is that we shouldhave thought about snails before theseedlings ever went into the ground,”Mr. Beebout said.
More feld surprises
Team Future Techs didn’t have anyproblem with snails because theywent for dry direct seeding, so theydidn’t irrigate their plot. But, they hadto contend with their own problemwhen using this practice—weeds.“We didn’t get it right at the startof the season,” said James Quilty, apostdoctoral fellow in IRRI’s Cropand Environmental Sciences Division(CESD). “Our crop establishmentwas poor and as for crop protection,there wasn’t any. They direct seededtheir plot right before the start of theChristmas season. With the Instituteclosed for the holidays, by the timethe team returned to its plot in January, lots of weeds were there.“Since we did not use herbicides,we had to pull the weeds with our bare hands,” said Dr. Quilty, “and itwas very labor-intensive.”Like Team Future Techs, TeamHayahay
also had a weed problem.“One thing that came through for us
was the need for a leveled eld,” said
Noel Magor, head of IRRI’s Training
Golden apple w f th f mtt.rice survivors tk bt th ttg f th t y f r s.
i s a g a n i s e r r a n o ( 2 ) n e a l e M a r v i n P a g u i r i g a n