ITK in Rice weed management

Indigenous Technological Knowledge and its Sustainability in Rice Weed Management

The advent of the concept of sustainable agriculture in late eighties in Indian agricultural scenario as evoked interest on indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) that has the element of use of natural products to solve the problems pertaining to agriculture and allied activities. Indian farmers, over centuries, have learnt to grow food and to survive in difficult environments, where the rich tradition of ITK has been interwoven with the agricultural practices followed by them. India, a country spreading over 3287.26 thousand sq. km. and inhabited by about 1000 million people has been nurturing a tradition of very rich civilization over a period of five thousand years. India’s ancient scriptures consisting of 4 Vedas, 108 Upanishads, 2 epics, Bhagavad Gita, Brahma Sutras, 18 Purana, Manusmriti, Kautilya Shastra and Smritis as well as the teachings of innumerable sayings, proverbs and sages contain profound literature of ideas, concepts and practices which are designed to address the process of building harmonious relationship among man, animal and nature. The enhancement of the quality of life of the Indians who in great majority live in and depend on agricultural production systems would be impossible by keeping this rich tradition of ITK aside.

Indigenous Knowledge refers to the unique, traditional, local knowledge existing within and developed around the specific conditions of women and men indigenous to a particular geographic area. Indigenous knowledge is the local knowledge – knowledge that is unique to a given culture or society. IK contrasts with the international knowledge system generated by universities, research institutions and private firms. It is the basis for local-level decision in agriculture, health care, food preparation, education, natural resource management, and a host of their activities in rural communities.


ITKs are based on experience, often tested over a long period of use, adapted to local culture and environment, dynamic and changing, and lays emphasis on minimizing the risks rather than maximizing the profits.

ITK covers a wide range of subjects such as crop production, livestock rearing, natural resource management, food preparation, health care and many other related topics. Various aspects of agriculture and allied activities have been included in this project such as soil, water and nutrient management; crop cultivation; plant protection; farm equipment, farm power, post-harvest preservation and management; pasture and fodder management; agroforestry; biodiversity conservation and exploitation; animal rearing and health care; animal products preservation and management; fisheries and fish preservation; and ethnic foods and homestead management encompass ITKs.


ITK in Rice weed management

Importance of ITK practices in Rice weed management

Rice is an enormously important staple in many tropical and temperate regions of the world. Billions of people rely on the crop to live and hundreds of millions are now threatened by food shortages that are increasing each year. Weeds are a major impediment to rice production through their ability to compete for resources and their impact on product quality. Weeds are responsible for heavy rice yield losses, to the extent of complete crop loss under extreme conditions. . Out of the losses due to various biotic stresses, weeds are known to account for nearly one third. Weeds not only cause huge reductions in rice yields but also increase cost of cultivation, reduce input efficiency, interfere with agricultural operations, impair quality, act as alternate hosts for several insect pests, diseases, they affect aesthetic look of the ecosystem as well as native biodiversity, affect human and cattle health. Herbicide control of weeds not that much effective for sustainable rice production. Hence, the indigenous technological knowledge have an vital role in sustainability rice weed management.

Scientific rationales of the indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) on rice weed management

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ITK No. ITK Rationalization
1. Before sowing, farmers sieve rice seeds in order to separate  the seed of weeds
  • Weed seeds are smaller than rice seeds, they are filtered   out in sieves.
2. Farmers irrigate the rice nurseries on the first day and they store the water for three-four days, Some farmers wait even for one week. Then they plough the fields by turning the soil upside down .Again, they irrigate the nursery area and repeat the entire practice.
  • This irrigation enables the weed seeds to germinate. The water slowly dries up leaving the weeds. Thus, the germinated weeds are killed. Farmers claim that meticulous practice of alternative wetting and drying of rice nurseries helps them to minimize weeding.
3. Storing water continuously up to 15 days from planting.


  • Draining of water especially during the first 20 days from planting leads to emergence of the weeds.
4. Frequently ploughing the fields by wooden plough made up of Neem trees and frequent application of Neem cake in the soil.
  • To control nut grass.
5. Cultivation of Sun hemp or Daincha Growing cowpea as a green manure.

Raising Calotropis gigantea as a green manure.

Raising and ploughing the green manure crop kolingi (Tephrosia purpurea) in the field.

  • Helps to control the nut grass (Cyperus rotundus) weed.
  • To check the growth of Aarai (Marsilea quadrifolia) weed.
  • Before their flowering to reduce weed population.
6. Allowing swine in the fields to eradicate nut grass.
  • Involving pigs for burrowing the puddled fields and addition of Tamarind husk complimented control of rice weeds especially nut sedge, which was reduced by 61 per cent.
7. Continuous submergence of field and Keeping the irrigation channels clean.
  • Effective for weed Control.
8. Application of salts:

  • Dissolving 1 kg. of salt and 100g. of sarvodaya soap in 10 lit. of water and spraying this solution.
  • To control all the weeds except nut grass.
  • This practice  is being  used by 40 to 50%  farmers of Makarbili village in  Nawadpada district of Orissa with 60% effectiveness in controlling weeds .
9. Beushening In Rice
  • Practiced in direct -seeded low land rice in odisha ,MP,bihar,WB,UP to control weeds optimize crop stand and provide soil aeration
  • cross ploughing young crops 4 to 6 weeks after sowing with a light country plough in 5-10cm standing water once or twice depending upon the density of weeds and crop stand. if there are too many weeds it is followed by flanking.
10. Control of Wild Rice by Growing Purple Rice
  • Control the wild rice in rice field by growing the purple colored rice variety R –575. The practice is followed by farmer in Dangu Kummi Khuda and Karni villages of Bath and Gopalpur development blocks in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh.
  • The farmers are practicing this for the last 45 years.

Traditional knowledge of the Earth is based on thousands of years experience and cannot be left out of the formula for environmental management. There is so much we can learn from indigenous peoples and as scientists devise plans for regulation and restoration, traditional knowledge provides guidance and solutions.

The author, Vishnudevi. M.Sc (Agronomy) is a Ph.D Scholar in Agronomy at Annamalai university. Currently she is pursuing her research on farming systems for disadvantaged districts especially for small and marginal farmers of Tamil Nadu.


This article was originally published in ‘The Agraria’ e-Magazine.

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