Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘bali rice’

Bali Day 2: Sunday, August 6, 2017

Lush green rice field

Rice fields near Ubud, Bali.

Along our way to our first destination, the rain continued to fall intermittently. We passed along narrow roads without many other cars (our driver knew the back roads very well) and we wound through small villages and rice fields. I asked Gusti questions about rice planting and harvesting. I’ve already talked about the harvesting that I saw around Banjarmasin a week before, so I’ll talk about the planting here.

Mountains over rice fields

Rice fields and mountains in Bali. This rice has been planted and growing for about one month. When the rice is green, the paddies are kept flooded. One the rice starts to mature and comes into the head, the fields are drained and dried out.

Gusti told me that Indonesia gets two rice crops per year, and that they are timed to coincide with the two seasons: rainy and less rainy. The rains begin in earnest in October and last until March, then things gradually dry out through August to September. Usually there are a few weeks between one harvest and the next planting, which we were beginning to see here. The second crop of rice should be planted and growing before the rains begin. As Bali is a mountainous island, the rice paddies are built into terraces and the dikes between need to be repaired before the fields are flooded in preparation for planting. A system of ditches carries the rain water from paddy to paddy.

Rice field with adung

The rice terraces of Bali are famous. I didn’t get to the ones that are most photographed, but I still saw plenty of rice paddies in various stages of maturity. Here, andung plants mark the edge of a terrace.

At the beginning of planting season, the ground of the paddies is worked. Weeds have tried to grow up in the weeks between, and the ground is plowed or a motorized rototiller is used to churn up the mud and churn in the weeds. I saw this happening in several locations today, but mostly the planting was beginning.

Freshly planted rice

Rice terraces near Ubud, Bali. Each terrace or paddy is walled to contain water. The rice is first planted from seeds in a small fenced off and flooded area, then the seedlings are transplanted by hand. In the field in the foreground, the rice seedlings had just barely been transplanted the day before. The paddies behind have seedlings that are several days to a week old.

As the ground is being prepared, a small area of the field is fenced off from grazing animals for growing seedlings. Rice must be planted and mostly grown wet. The desert environment I am from is simply too dry and rice takes too much water as a crop in an arid region. It requires a place like Bali.

Once the seedling reach about 8-10 inches height, they are manually transplanted into the rice paddies. This is difficult labor and because of the muddy conditions of the paddies, it can’t really be automated. A team of planters will poke the seedlings into the mud, going in a pattern and working quickly. Each seedling is spaced out about eight inches. Even in the rain this morning, I saw many groups of farmers in rain gear and conical hats planting the rice. I managed to take several good photos.

Planting rice

This farmer is transplanting rice seedlings into a flooded paddy. It is very labor intensive, and the muddy fields make using machinery difficult (and expensive). A practiced hand can poke the seedlings into the mud with surprising rapidity.

Planting rice in the rain

Here, a team of four people are transplanting rice seedlings into a flooded paddy in the rain. A rainy day is actually ideal for planting. I can only imagine how one’s back would feel after bending over and planting rice all day.

We saw fields in many different ages, ranging from unplowed to plowed but awaiting planting to planting going on to rice that was a week or two weeks old. Since rice can grow all year here, the seasons and crops aren’t precise. Some places like Banjarmasin are just harvesting the rice while in Bali they are planting the next crop.

Irrigating fields

A rice farmer moving water from one rice paddy to another. Working in rice fields is a wet and muddy occupation. As the son of a farmer, I appreciate machinery and automation even more after seeing the work involved to plant, transplant, water, and harvest rice.

I grew up as the son of a farmer so for me this is fascinating. We planted grain (wheat, barley, and oats) with a seed drill after we had leveled and plowed the fields. Since the spring rains can’t be counted on, we would irrigate the fields several times before the final harvest in late July or early August. We only got one crop, and would often plant alfalfa with the grain so that it would grow up during the fall for a good first crop the next spring. Because of the poor quality of the soil where I live (highly alkaline and nutrient poor), we have to fertilize and rotate our crops. We start with alfalfa for several years, since it has nematodes which fix nitrogen in the soil. Then we relevel the field and plant corn, which is chopped for silage. Since they are large plants, corn will quickly deplete the soil. Then we plant grain for a year or two and it’s time to start the rotation over again.

Drying rice

Because farmers are able to get two crops of rice per year, one can see planting, growing, harvesting, and drying of rice all at once. The farmers near Banjarmasin were harvesting rice last week, the farmers here are planting. Here, rice is laid on a tarp to dry.

Because the soil here is derived from volcanic ash, it is fertile and will grow anything. Rain just falls from the sky and only has to be diverted. It seems like an idyllic way to farm. Yet I would not ever want to plant rice in a muddy field by hand. Give me modern farm machinery any day. I grew up in the desert and I like nice, dry air and clear skies.

Week old rice

The rice growing here was transplanted about a week ago. It will eventually fill in all the space, and will be drained as the rice begins to mature and come into the head.

Terraces on hillside

Terraced hillsides on our way up Mount Batur on Bali. These are a bit overgrown and not being used, but there are famous terraced paddies in many places over the slopes of the hillsides of Bali.

Towns and rice from air

Rice fields and towns from the air (approaching Jakarta). Some areas are clear (brownish) because they are between crops for a few weeks. Indonesian farmers can harvest two crops per year.

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »