This study was aimed to develop the spaced mat nursery to suit the available transplanter for System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method of cultivation. To achieve 100% seed germination, enough root networks to provide enough rigidity for the mat and to offer conducive growth environment, the soil medium was optimized. Nine treatment media were prepared namely vermisoil (field soil+vermicompost-1:1, 2:1 and 3:1), soil+farm yard manure (FYM) soil (field soil+farm yard manure-1:1, 2:1 and 3:1), field soil+coirpith (1:1 and 2:1) and field soil alone. After 14 days of sowing, seedling height and root length were measured in all trays. Among the nine treatment media studied the maximum nursery height and root length of 17.06 and 10.75 cm was observed in FYM soil and vermisoil, respectively prepared in 1:1 ratio. For the same treatment media when ratio was changed to 2:1 it recorded 16.26 and 10.14 cm respectively. For the stiffness studies, field soil was mixed with decomposed sieved coirpith and fibrous coirpith each in the ratio of 1:1 and 2:1 and tested with and without base layer and measured the stiffness force. The mat stiffness was found to be maximum for a media mixture of field soil and coirpith at 1:1 and 2:1 ratios with a corrugated sheet base layer. From the results, the soil medium for growth and stiffness was optimized as field soil, FYM and fibrous coirpith in the ratio of 2:1:1.
Key words: System of rice intensification (SRI), mat nursery, rice transplanter, soil medium, mat stiffness.
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