- Contributes to the expansion of organic rice cultivation by increasing the efficiency of mechanical weeding -
The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) has developed a planting position control mechanism that allows rice seedlings to be planted in both longitudinal and lateral rows. Mechanical weeding in both longitudinal and lateral direction is now possible by planting in rows at equal intervals and weeding efficiency is improved among plants where weeding rates were previously low. It is expected that by utilizing a rice transplanter equipped with a planting position control mechanism will contribute to the expansion of organic rice cultivation in paddy fields, where the hassle of weeding has been an obstacle.
In the "Green Food System Strategy" (formulated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on May 12, 2021) which aims for sustainable agriculture, an objective has been set to increase the cultivated land area devoted to organic cultivation to 25% (1 million hectares) by the year 2050. On the other hand, the current area of organic cultivation was 0.6% (26,600 ha) in year 2021. Hence, to achieve the objective, efforts in paddy rice cultivation, which has a large cultivation area, are essential.
Weeding is a time-consuming process in organic rice cultivation, which is a barrier for the expansion of the cultivation area. NARO has developed a high efficiency weeding machine for paddy fields in order to improve the efficiency of weeding work in rice cultivation. However, although this machine can weed between rows with high efficiency, the weeding rate between plants is not as high as between rows.
Therefore, NARO developed a planting position control mechanism that enables the rice seedlings to be planted not only in the working direction (longitudinal direction) but also in the orthogonal direction (lateral direction) of the rice transplanter, and the seedlings are planted in a grid pattern on rows at equal intervals. We created a prototype machine that incorporates this mechanism into a commercially available riding rice transplanter. This makes it possible to perform orthogonal weeding by running the paddy field weeder in two directions, longitudinally and laterally. Since this technology improves the effectiveness of mechanical weeding, it is expected to contribute for the expansion of organic cultivation area, making it possible to practice organic cultivation in large plots of paddy fields, which has been difficult until now. In the future, we will accumulate data through demonstration tests and aim for early commercialization.