Applied Geography formerly Rural Training Center, Thailand

plowing the paddies

Posted in: Rural Training Center-Thailand

What a great section in the newsletter this month! I found it interesting the note about elders continuing with the tradition of following the plow! do they follow the entire plow time, or just to oversee? Whet are the pros to it? Do they see differences in the outcome at the end of the harvest? What do you think they prefer?

Glad you like the update report.  Let me try to answer your questions.


I would have to say that economics tends to drive the decision on plowing methods: it call comes down to what you can afford and who is available to do the work.  More and more labor is becoming an issue.  Many are leaving for the city to earn more money to meet the rising cost of living leaving grandparents and grandkids back home on the farm.


Most small farm families don't own a plow or walk behind tractor.  They hire someone and so stand by as supervisors to oversee the work.  But the supervising is mostly watching that the work is done and doesn't involve direct supervision of the plowing.  Using more modern tractors tends to get the job done faster, but at a higher cost.  But if the tractor gets stuck, you may not get the job done faster.


Recent government programs to buy rice directly from farmers at prices higher than international market prices has encouraged more farmers to try to plant more to earn more.  But the amount of government bought/stored rice plus the storage costs further drives up the prices.  Currently Thai rice is selling for $527+ per ton but the international buyers are only paying $400+ per ton from other rice suppliers.


Labor shortages cause many to broadcast seed into paddies rather than manually or mechanically transplanting it.  Mechanical transplanting is faster than manual, but the machine is a major expense.  Most smaller family rice paddies in our area manually transplant. 


There are many factors that impact the ultimate yield you get: quality of seed, availability and timing of water, soil quality, use of fertilizers, the impact of crop pests and disease, weather (high winds, etc).  We, personally, tend to get higher yields (but we also prepare our paddies differently BEFORE plowing than most folks).  And our goal is to grow our annual rice supply for personal consumption not for commercial sale.


Best wishes.

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