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Discussion Development

Thesis, CO2 adsorption/emissions
Kualitas Lahan
Land Qualities
Land Classes and Areas

Environmental Impacts

Impact, including CO2 emission
Problems, including CH4 emissions
Forest Fires
Landsat TM

Management inputs

Water Management System
Macro Design
Micro Design
Water Control
Model Areas
Information System




One of the major constraints for agricultural development in Tidal Swamps is the limited availability of labor. Farmers own mostly 2 Ha or more; too much for rice cultivation based on manual labor.

This limitation has a major impact on the potentials of the rice and how the rice is cultivated in Tidal Swamps.

This page will focus on the influence of Mechanization on the potentials in the Swamps. Its information is mainly based on a Publication by AARD, Jakarta/ Bogor (Badan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Pertanian, Departemen Pertanian, 2000), with the title; 

              PENGEMBANGAN ALAT DAN MESIN PERTANIAN.               Menunjang Sistem Usahatani dan Perbaikan Pascapanen di Lahan Pasang Surut di Sumatera Selatan

The big question is how will farmers change to mechanized farming in Tidal Lowlands. At the moment the ministry of Agriculture is promoting a system called UPJA (Unit Pelayanan Jasa Alsintan) . This is a private village organization that organizes the equipment and machines for mechanization with the Ministry of Agriculture and takes care for the operation and maintenance of the needed mechanical inputs. Farmers can hire machines for land preparation, harvest  and post-harvest management. They can find credit to start the input payments. These organizations could be connected to the other farmers organizations such as the Water Users Associations and the Agicultural Farmers Groups (Kelompok Tani).

This system looks very promising presently and proved to be much better than providing the farmers directly with mechanical equipment. In that case they take little interest in maintenance of the machines as already has been proven frequently.

Land Preparation

When there is no possibility for mechanized land preparation by hand-tractor, the farmers will do the land preparation manually. That means land preparation will mainly concentrate on burning and/or slashing the weeds or using herbicides. This land preparation will be carried out with no or only little soil tillage. Planting of seedlings will be done by making a hole with a stick and planting the seedling in the hole.

Allthough this is a sensible way to cultivate the land in the swamps when there is a lack of labor, it has severe negative effects on potentials.


Without tractor use the planting period is quite extended, because the manual land preparation takes a long time. It means the planting by the farmers as a group in a tertiary unit is spread over quite a long time, resulting in more attacks of rats and other pest. It is a generally known fact that planting rice over a large area in a short time strongly reduces the hazards of pest attacks.


Deep mechanical plowing increases the potentials for flushing the toxic components from the topsoil. When there is no soil tillage it  will increase the hazard for toxic components in the topsoil that will harm the rice plant.


The result of the extended planting period and the increased hazard for toxic components makes local traditional rice varieties the most suitable rice variety for planting. However local varieties do not have a potential higher than 2 ton dry husked rice/Ha.


When the soil becomes more ripe and the shallow pyrite layers have been oxidized and leached out, the mechanical land preparation (tillage) will promote the formation of a plow layer. A plow layer will extent the period a water layer can be maintained on the field. This condition will encourage farmers to grow a second crop at the end of the rainy season.

When improved rice varieties can be introduced after the introduction of plowing by hand tractors, many farmers will also prefer a broad-cast system of the seeds to reduce the long time needed for transplanting. AARD recommends also the use of a manually operated row seeder to be more effective for weeding, pest control and harvesting etc., but most farmers still use the broad-cast system in Telang.

For more information about problems with second crop: See the PowerPoint presentation for farming system technology (Should be viewed using Internet Explorer and not Mozilla Firefox)

Effects of mechanization

1) It will become possible for the farmers to change from local varieties to high yielding varieties. Also the cultivation of two rice crops per year might become a possibility

2) The inputs for two crops of rice per year will cause major changes in the physical environment of the Tidal Swamps

To encourage the farmers to cultivate two crops per year, the following conditions are required:

Physical ripening of the soil

opsommingsteken The soils should become more ripe. So the effects of mechanized land preparation will be optimized. More ripe soils are obtained by keeping the groundwater level at about 60 cm below surface in the dry season when no crops are on the land. This requires an On-Farm Water Management system of small ditches combined with a main system with water control structures to operate the water levels in the canal system at lower levels than at the moment.
opsommingsteken The ripening process also requires that flushing and leaching will be required at the beginning of the rainy season. The far best method for leaching is deep mechanical plowing (20-30 cm) at the beginning of the wet season, sun-drying of the clods, followed by leaching/flushing using rain water and/or tidal irrigation water.
opsommingsteken When a plow layer will be created by mechanical plowing in the ripe soil, it will become possible and economic to use additional pump irrigation for the second crop when required.

Reduced and more efficient labor use during the post-harvest period

An important limitation for the farmers to grow a second crop is the long time it requires to harvest the first crop, do the threshing of the padi, and to dry the husked rice during the wet season.

opsommingsteken The bad management during the post-harvest period in the wet season will cause that farmers receive a low price for their crop. The long period it requires to carry out the post-harvest activities delays their planting for the second crop and while rainfall will become lower with time, causing more severe drought risks for their delayed second crop. Further the low rice price for their poorly managed post-harvest crop does not encourage the farmers to grow the second crop.
opsommingsteken An important help to reduce the labor inputs in the post-harvest period is the power thresher which will reduce dramatically the time required to thresh the padi to husked rice.
opsommingsteken Drying of the husked rice using a flat-bed drier with a blower and burner (box-driere) will greatly improve the quality of the dried rice and will increase the price the farmer's will receive for their rice crop. The newest models use husks of the rice for burning instead of kerosine. (much cheaper costs, while kerosine is often difficult to buy in Indonesia).

For the second crop it is also important that there is additional water supply and the land is flooded during land preparation to puddle the soil. In most cases extra water by pump irrigation will be required for the second crop. (The wet season rice crop in most cases does not have that problem, as there is enough water from rainfall and tidal irrigation)

At the moment BULOG have installed for the first time a Rice Mill with post-harvest facilities in Telang I, South Sumatra province. The Ministry of Agriculture build a second Rice Mill now. See Post Harvest investments promoted by the Ministry of Agriculture: DG of Land &Water Management. (Also only good visible using Internet Explorer and not Mozilla Firefox)

A pilot area will be monitored for three years. See for some pictures also : Tidal Lowlands project for Guidelines Development.

(Bulog= Indonesia Logistic Bureau  and controlling the rice market in Indonesia)

Land Preparation starts with using herbicides in August to kill the weeds on the land. Wait one month and plow the land in September and wait at least 1 month again until October/November before using the rotator and harrow and start broadcasting the seeds of rice including part of the needed fertilizers.

For the second crop the main limitation is the lack of time to repeat this procedure for two/three months land preparation. This means that the plowed remnants of first crop cause fermentation in the soil that increases temperatures in rootzone of the soil and there will be competion between young rice seedlings and the fermentation process for the applied fertilizers and the young rice seedlings of the second crop will suffer. Yields rarely become higher than 1.5 ton/ha in that case.

This problem could be solved by using quick working herbicides. But also EM4 applications might help solve the fermentation problem such that planting would be possible within 1.5 month after harvesting the first crop. Another possibility that works will be cutting the rice remnants of the first crop until the roots, collect these remnants and ferment them using EM4 at the corner of the field.

For more detailed information collected by the Community Organizers from the successful farmers (with participation of my grandson Xander).

See Agronomy Flooding Type A/B (with corn), Type A/B (without corn), Type B/C and Type C/D (This are pdf files that should by right clicked and using Save Target As..to download it).

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