For decades, Wanchai Masrakhu wondered what he could do more to earn enough money to set him up for the start of the next planting season.
But the 54-year-old man from the northeastern province of Roi Et later realised that he did not have to do more but ‘do it in the right way’.
When he first heard about the laser land leveller and drum seeder, he wanted to learn the magic tricks these water-and-energy-saving technologies were capable of, not least because he had been hard hit by drought and unpredictable weather in recent years.
He decided to separate 13 rai of his land in Suwannaphum district for use as demonstration plots where these techniques were being tried out.
“My wife was surprised when I told her that only 9 kgs of rice seeds would be used per rai. She was not sure if it was going to work. She was also not sure if I had made the right decision,” Wanchai recalls.
In the past, he sowed 30 kgs of seeds/rai that cost him more than 10,000 baht (or 295 euros) every year, but now he spends just 3,500 baht (100 euros) because he uses a drum seeder to sow seeds.
The new techniques are not only saving water and rice seeds, but also his energy and overall production costs.
“I use the money to send my daughters to school,” Wanchai says happily.
Instead of using 7 sacks of fertiliser, Wanchai conducts a soil test and uses only 4 sacks, which is considered the appropriate amount for Gor Kor 15, the Hom Mali sub-variety that he grows across his whole 23 rai.
The soil test helps him identify common nutrient deficiencies and accurately portrays the soil health.
Now, he knows that it is not big quantities but the proper amount that makes rice grows so beautifully.
“I feel confident and have a better attitude towards my much-loved career,” he says.
In light of the severe climate situation and to ease the impact of climate change, Wanchai says he is much more open to climate-smart rice growing techniques.
About SARI – Thailand Project Through this joint project, Mars Food and Herba-Bangkok (Ebro Foods) are collaborating with Thailand’s Rice Department and GIZ to provide much-needed skills and knowledge to at least 1,200 local farmers to develop high-quality and sustainable rice. The project, which was first introduced to the northeast in July 2018, also facilitates market linkage with millers and international importers. The SARI – Thailand Project continues through the end of 2020.
About the Laser Land Levelling (LLL) technique
Laser land levelling (LLL) is a technology that has the primary benefit of reducing the loss of irrigation water that occurs due to undulating land while substantially increasing yield because it improves weed control.
About the drum seeder
The drum seeder is an innovative technology to efficiently sow seeds in most cost-effective way to reduce labour time and expenses. The technology is well-suited to Thai farmers, many of whom are growing old.