Warming temperatures in early spring allows the soil to dry from winter rains. As soon as the soil is no longer sticky on tires, farmers enter the fields to prepare for spring rice planting.
A light scratching of the soil in early spring disrupts the root system of winter vegetation prior to planting. As the rice beings to sprout and grow, the new plant cannot compete with weeds for soil nutrients. Creating optimal growing conditions for the rice plant makes a strong environment for high quality rice to grow.
After the soil is lightly tilled, the field is now ready to plant. A drill, or planter, has many discs that create neat rows, and it uses powerful streams of air to push the seeds about one inch into the ground. The marriage of science and technology helps farmers to avoid over or under planting fields to ensure a better yield. A monitor inside the tractor cab shows the workings of the drill as rice seeds are being planted.
Look closely at the green squares. Each square represents the 64 tubes used for planting. The green color indicates the machine is functioning properly. When a tube stops working correctly, the square will turn black and an alarm will sound. The farmer will know when and where adjustments need to be made.
A GPS device and scales help the farmer know how many pounds of seed are planted per acre of land. Farmers can plant around 25 pounds of seed per acre of land, or about 45,000 seeds.
Farmers create drainage furrows to channel water throughout the field after planting. The furrows are deep ruts strategically placed throughout fields. Water follows these ruts to exit the fields after heavy spring rains. Although rice plants thrive in water during a later stage of development, the rice seedling will not grow well in standing water. Also, water exits the field through these furrows in fall in preparation for harvest.
With winter vegetation no longer threatening the young rice plant, the field has been planted and drain furrows pulled, and now the farmer is ready for levees.