© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Occupations Food Production Market Small Business Building Other Occupations

Fertilizing the Paddy Fields

Artificial fertilizers and pesticides are in common usage nowadays although traditionally natural fertilizers such as fallen leaves (a daily task for the Sri Lankan housewife is  sweep up leaves that have fallen over night which are collected into a compost heap), old hay, collected manure etc, were used to enrich the paddy field soil.

During the rice growing season cattle and buffalo are kept well away from the paddy field areas to stop them eating and destroying the crop. However between seasons they are allowed to wander through the fields grazing on the stubble. Their hooves help to break up soil that becomes  hard packed during the dry season. This helps to ready the paddy field surface for when the rains come and thus prevent the rich top soils of the paddy field from being washed away by the monsoon rains. The rain is absorbed into the ground rather than washing away the topsoil.

The bovines’ dung is obviously a very useful natural fertilizer.

Cattle on an “island”. The paddy fields are in the background

Cattle grazing between rice growing seasons on the stubble in paddy fields after the rice has been harvested.