Indonesia: Tidal rice

Paraquat allows rice planting in currently non-productive land and reduces the time between rice crop cycles in Indonesia. The population of Indonesia is increasing at 2% per year and its government is desperately trying to achieve self-sufficiency in rice to feed this population. They hope to achieve this by bringing currently non-productive land like the tidal areas of Kalimantan into cropping and by increasing the number of rice crops grown each year. Planting riceThere are currently 1 million hectares of tidal rice, mainly in Kalimantan, but the potential is close to 10 million hectares. Approximately 60% of this area is influenced by tides. Inundation is caused when the incoming tide forms a barrier to rivers flowing into the sea, which then flood areas with fresh, but somewhat brackish water. Much of the area has an underlying layer of iron pyrites, and while rice can be grown on these soils there is a danger of soil erosion


Displacement of solids (soil, mud, rock and other particles) usually by the agents of currents such as, wind, water, or ice by downward or down-slope movement.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources This site brings together reliable information on soil erosion from a wide range of disciplines and sources. It aims to be the definitive internet source for those wishing to find out more about soil loss and soil conservation.
The manual preparation of rice paddy fields is not only very arduous, but it also a major cause of soil erosion. In contrast, the development of no-till


Also known as conservation tillage or zero tillage is a way of growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage ie cultivating the soil usually with tractor-drawn implements.

Authoritative On-line References and Resources  A portal for on-line information about no-till farming.
systems has minimized this erosion.
Paraquat is a key component of the developing tidal rice growing system because it is the only herbicide that can provide fast weed control, even when the land is flooded twice a day. Paraquat is fast-acting, allowing timely land preparation, and it is rainfast within 30 minutes, allowing application between the tides. Weed infestation is generally very high in tidal swamps and only small areas (0.5 hectares) can be cultivated if manual labor alone is used. However, with the advent of a paraquat-based system, one family can manage 1.5 - 2.0 hectares of land. The sustainable benefits of this paraquat-based system are:
  • Soil erosion is minimized, allowing rice production on these difficult soils for many years to come
  • Farming families can cultivate more land, maximizing production and income
  • The quality of life for farming families in tidal areas is improved through the reduction of arduous labor and increase in disposable income.
Tide levels greatly affect the area of productive land Agriculture continues to be the dominant economic sector in Indonesia and food security is a major priority. There is still considerable potential to increase rice production and this is a key government objective for the next decade. In irrigated areas it is common to grow at least two crops of transplanted rice each year, using traditional cultivation methods. In a few areas where irrigation is adequate all year round, it is also possible to grow a third crop of rice, but in most areas, because of the lack of water, only a poor crop of maize or soybean can be grown. However, it is now believed that three rice crops can be grown in all areas if the third crop is direct-seeded, rather than transplanted. Using this technique, the crop can be sown earlier and hence will have a longer growing season to provide a good harvest. Paraquat is a key component of this system. Its fast action allows for rapid turnaround between crops.  For the direct-seeded crop to be successful it is essential that there is a minimum delay between harvesting the crop and sowing new seed. Rice seedlings are vulnerable to weed competition; hence paraquat plays an important role in the preparation of a minimum-till seed bed. With paraquat, weeds are killed quickly allowing timely preparation and sowing, and seedlings grow free from weed competition.