A well prepared and levelled field gives a uniform, healthy crop that can compete with weeds, uses less water, and gives higher yields at a lower cost.
A well prepared field has:
- Many small soil clods to give good seed-soil contact, i.e. clod size and seed size are similar.
- No weeds
- Harder layer at 10cm soil depth to stop water penetration
- Level and smooth surface after working
- Well-constructed bunds
To prepare the field
- Whenever possible, plough immediately after the previous harvest, especially if the soil is still moist.
- First or primary plowing: Use a disc or mouldboard plow to kill weeds and incorporate crop residue, preferably 2–3 weeks before planting with maximum depth of 12.5-15 cm.
- Second plowing: Plow across the field with the disc or tine harrow at least twice to make small sized clod. Second plowing should be 10-15 days before planting and the last harrowing 5-7 days before planting with a maximum depth of 5–7.5 cm.
- Repair bunds, destroy rat burrows, repair all holes and cracks, and re-compact the bunds. Bunds should be at least 0.5 m high and 1 m wide.
- Levelling the field will give better water coverage, better crop establishment, and better weed control.
- Soil puddling should be done at least 1-2 days before seeding to allow the water to clear when wet direct seeding.