Mardi issues guide to optimise rice field management

Efficient process: A rice harvester in action at a padi field in Kampung Pada Telela in Perlis.

PETALING JAYA: The latest edition of “Rice Check”, a comprehensive guide aimed at optimising rice field management in Malaysia, has been issued by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (Mardi).

Comprising 10 checklists, it covers crucial aspects such as land suitability, padi plot conditions, planting, fertilisation and water management, integrated pest management, harvest management, post-harvest handling, and environmental management, said Dr Mohd Syaifudin Abdul Rahman, who is the director of Mardi’s Padi and Rice Research Institute.

“Through this book, all the important aspects of rice field management are analysed and made into points called ‘checks’ starting from the beginning of the land preparation up to the management of the harvest,” he told The Star.

Mardi has introduced 58 rice varieties, with MR 297 being a standout choice due to its ability to yield up to eight tonnes per hectare, among other attributes.

He said this variety dominates nearly 50% of the agricultural area in Peninsular Malaysia, especially in the Muda Agricultural Development Authority (Mada) and the Integrated Development Agricultural Area (Lada) Penang.

Furthermore, Mardi supplies 150 tonnes of foundation seeds annually to seed producers, contributing to the production of certified seeds for farmers.

“Using high-quality breeder and foundation seeds from selected varieties is the key to success in cultivating all types of crops,” he said.

Mardi has successfully commercialised speciality rice varieties like MRQ76 to FGV Holdings Bhd and MARIA (MRQ103) to Syarikat Padi Pukal Parit 7 (Sekinchan) Sdn Bhd.

In the case of MARIA, it offers a healthier rice option with its aromatic, non-sticky, and low glycemic index properties.

As for challenges ahead, Dr Mohd Syaifudin said Mardi has implemented strategies to combat seed-borne diseases like bacterial panicle blight, and introducing a standard operating procedure (SOP) for seed treatment using copper sulfate pentahydrate.

Additionally, Mardi has developed a bio-fertiliser called RealStrong® N-Bio Booster containing Bacillus subtilis, contributing to increased soil fertility and beneficial microbes.

In tackling the issue of weedy rice, Mardi had introduced the WRFree® SOP, significantly reducing weed infestation during wet-seeding rice systems.

Dr Mohd Syaifudin said that Mardi’s ongoing efforts included setting up showcase plots utilising seven of its rice crop-related innovations.

“These showcase plots, located in three different areas, aim to demonstrate the effectiveness of Mardi technologies in maintaining farmers’ income while achieving a 15% yield increment,” he said.

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