L Meghachandra Singh
The first international conference on organic seeds, in Rome in 2004, concluded with the following recommendations:
1. Networking to provide training, workshops and materials to integrate seed production into whole farm ecological systems.
2. Establishment of demonstration seeds for school and community vegetable gardens with seed conservation and activities.
3 Improve the biodiversity of landraces of food crops through the exchange of seeds from seed banks and farmers’ seed crops, and the on-farm biodiversity of native plant habitats for beneficial pollinating insects and predators of harmful insects.
4. Support participatory on-farm breeding to select and improve locally adapted native varieties for desirable traits, such as resistance to local diseases and pests, flavor and nutrition.
5. Collect, document and share indigenous knowledge on organic seed treatments.
6. Publicize the activities in an annual conference and on a linked website.
Organic farming is not new to mankind. Some cultural practices have already been reported by different authorities for organic seed production, but comprehensive specific packages for different varieties/crops should be standardized for the region, incorporating all available indigenous technologies/practices and information. In the context of the northeast, this requires clearly identifying and evaluating which crops should be prioritized for organic production and for what purpose (according to demand groups: whether for the local market or for export). For local markets, there may not be very strict requirements according to IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture), and conventional or traditional seeds and planting material could be used. But in those products, which we want to export high value products at particularly low volume, organic production must strictly comply with IFOAM requirements and the seeds to be used might also need to be certified organic. Thus, the development of organic varieties (which requires less production of organic rice seeds
The type of soil
Alluvial, sandy clay and clay soils are suitable for rice cultivation
The quantities of organic rice seeds needed for one hectare of land in different situations are shown below.
Short-lived variety (90-110 days) transplanted -60-70 kg
Variety of medium duration (110-125 days) transplanted -40-60 kg
Long-lasting variety (more than 125 days) transplanted -30-40 kg
· Dry and rainfed sowing -90-100 kg
· Separation of good quality seeds: Non-viable/unfilled seeds can be separated by floating the seeds in water. Salt or eggs can be used to increase the water density. This could be avoided if Certified seed is used.
· Seed treatment with Pseudomonas: 750 g of Pseudomonas can be mixed with one liter of chilled rice porridge. The germinated seeds are spread on cemented ground. Pseudomonas extract can be sprinkled on sprouted seeds and mixed well.
Preparation of the nursery
A nursery area of 700-800 m² is needed to cultivate on one hectare of land. Land should be plowed 6-8 times and neem/Artemesia/Vitex leaves should be applied as basal manure. For high yielding varieties, 2.5 kg of neem cake should be applied as bottom manure. For high yielding varieties, 2.5 kg of neem cake should be applied per cent of the nursery. Then the germinated seeds should be sown in the nursery. 45-50 kg of gypsum should be applied at the nursery before pulling up the seedlings to avoid any damage to the roots.
Main field preparation
Green manure seeds should be sown on the main field. Green manure plants should be plowed into the ground when they are 45 to 60 days old. The main field should be well plowed 6-8 times and leveled.
i) Farmyard manure: 12-15 tons/ha
ii) Poultry waste: 5 tonnes/ha
iii) Vermicompost: 5 tons/ha
Any manure mentioned above should be applied at the last tillage.
iv) 100-120 kg of neem cake should be applied as bottom manure.
v) 10% Amirthakaraisal should be sprayed before transplanting. Otherwise for 1ha of land, 800-1200 liters of Amirthakaraisal should be mixed with water and irrigated
Application of biofertilizers
5 kg of Azospirillum or 5 kg of phosphobacteria should be mixed with 75 kg of sand or compost and scattered on the ground.
· 1 to 3 seedlings should be planted per mound.
Short-lived variety: 5 x 10 cm
Medium length variety: 20 x 10 cm
Long-lasting variety: 20 x 15 cm
Cultivation of azolla or blue green algae
Azolla or blue-green algae should be scattered over the field 5-10 days after transplanting. After 25 days and 45-50 days of spreading, the field should be drained and the algae should be pushed into the ground.
Top of page
After weeding, 25 kg neem cake or groundnut cake should be applied as top dressing 120-150 kg vermicompost or 120 kg bone meal can be applied as top dressing. For medium and long duration varieties, 75 kg groundnut cake should be applied as a top dressing after 50-60 days after transplanting.
For coarse varieties, a spray of 3% panchakavya should be given during tillering and start-up. For fine varieties, a 3% panchakavya spray should be given during the priming phase.
Pest and disease management
Appropriate management measures should be taken for specific pest and disease attacks.
Keep bags of Neem cakes in irrigation canals
Bags of neem cake can be placed in the irrigation channel. This should be kept until the culture reaches the milky stage.
Place bird perches
Once the crop has turned a dark green color, approximately 25-27 bird perches should be placed per hectare of field. The perch should be 2-3 feet above crop level. Perches should be removed once the crop reaches the tillering stage.
Binding of Trichogramma Maps
The parasitoid Trichogramma japonicum egg card should be attached to the culture from the 25th day after transplanting. This should be done three times at 15 day intervals (i.e. 25th, 40th and 55th day).
Use pheromone traps
Adult male yellow stem borer moths can be attracted and trapped using pheromone traps. About 3 pheromone traps should be placed in an acre of land. This trap should be 2 feet above crop level.
Use light traps
Once the crop has turned a dark green color, approximately 8 light traps should be placed in one acre of field. The light trap should be 2-3 feet above crop level.
Paddy cultivation requires continuous irrigation. A water level of at least one inch must stagnate in the field.
The grains should be harvested as soon as they turn yellow.
Organic seed storage
In addition to organic seed production methods, seed should be properly stored and handled only organically, without any chemical treatment or fumigants. Proper drying below 12% moisture content before and during storage, treatments with locally available medicinal plants such as Artemesia, Vitex fumigants of Goniothalamus and Plectranthus combined prove useful. If neem products are available, the seeds can be mixed with neem seed kernel/leaf powders before storage. Periodic inspections, drying, cleaning, etc. should be performed regularly during storage.
PRODUCTION OF ORGANIC SEEDS IN OTHER CROPS
In general, the organic seed production packages in many crops, although they have yet to be established (except in a few crops), could be almost similar to those of conventional seeds, except for the restriction of the use of inorganic chemicals (fertilizers/pesticides), GM seeds, male-sterile hybrids. Of these, plant protection is the most crucial element in the production of quality seed.