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04 Dec 2017 70 views
 
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photoblog image The Rice Harvest #1

The Rice Harvest #1

There is a 1000+ year tradition of growing rice in the region around our Village.

 

We live on the vast Korat Plateau...a fryingpan-flat area at about 170metres above sea-level...and we share this space with more than 10million other Thais who are also mostly employed in subsistence farming of premium Hom Mali [Smells sweet like the Jasmine Flower] rice.

 

There is no irrigation here...we depend entirely upon The Monsoon natural phenomenon for timely and sufficient rainfall. Rice is usually grown around June, and harvested around November each year.

 

Only 30 years ago Water Buffalo were used to pull the plough and the cart, as had been the custom in the era of the Khmer Kingdom of 1000 years ago, and the rice was hand cut, threshed and winnowed by co-operative teams of Villagers.

 

Now there is some mechanisation...we have a small 4WD diesel tractor and a small rice harvester that is diesel powered and runs on rubber tracks.

 

In this image you can see Na's nephew driving our Rice Harvester, and Na's brother operating the two-bay bagger from a platform on the side of the travelling "factory".

 

I'll spend this week describing the harvest, and I hope you find it informative and interesting.

The Rice Harvest #1

There is a 1000+ year tradition of growing rice in the region around our Village.

 

We live on the vast Korat Plateau...a fryingpan-flat area at about 170metres above sea-level...and we share this space with more than 10million other Thais who are also mostly employed in subsistence farming of premium Hom Mali [Smells sweet like the Jasmine Flower] rice.

 

There is no irrigation here...we depend entirely upon The Monsoon natural phenomenon for timely and sufficient rainfall. Rice is usually grown around June, and harvested around November each year.

 

Only 30 years ago Water Buffalo were used to pull the plough and the cart, as had been the custom in the era of the Khmer Kingdom of 1000 years ago, and the rice was hand cut, threshed and winnowed by co-operative teams of Villagers.

 

Now there is some mechanisation...we have a small 4WD diesel tractor and a small rice harvester that is diesel powered and runs on rubber tracks.

 

In this image you can see Na's nephew driving our Rice Harvester, and Na's brother operating the two-bay bagger from a platform on the side of the travelling "factory".

 

I'll spend this week describing the harvest, and I hope you find it informative and interesting.

comments (15)

it looks like a thrifty device, Ray. i will look forward to the series and wish a successful harvest.
Ray: Thank you, Ayush. The harvest went ok, but the yield was about 30% down on the previous year...the good news was that the price we received for what we sold was up about 40% on the previous year.
C'est intéressant à  voir.
Ray: Je suis content que tu trouves ça intéressant, Martine.
Machines like this totally fascinate me, Ray. After seeing the video, I was wondering where the rice went. Who thinks up these things???!
Ray: I'll give a bit more of an explanation about the workings of this travelling factory in a couple of days, Ginnie. This nifty little machine was invented by the clever folks of Japan.
  • Lisl
  • England
  • 4 Dec 2017, 06:51
Yes, this certainly will be very interesting, Ray. Presumably as it is the monsoon rain that you depend on, there is never any chance of it failing
Ray: It is the Monsoon, Lisl...a reliable but not infallible weather phenomenon.
  • Chris
  • Not Nowhere
  • 4 Dec 2017, 07:22
This really is an interesting & informative story Ray, the machine certainly whizzes quickly around the field..
Ray: The machine is quite nifty, Chris...made by those very clever Japanese folks.
  • Astrid
  • Netherlands
  • 4 Dec 2017, 07:24
This is very interesting. The video is very educational. In my humble thoughts I always thought rice was in water and this to me looks 'solid' ground. I assume there are a gazillion types of rice?
Ray: Rice is nearl always grown in water, Astrid. In fact there is water in this field, but you cannot see it for the thick straw mat.
  • Alan
  • Great Britain (UK)
  • 4 Dec 2017, 07:24
All very different when I leant about rice harvesting at school (ah... but that was over 50 years ago sad ) mechanisation is need now to feed the increasing population of the planet.
Ray: Ha Ha

We lust-driven people have increased the World's population of naked apes about 3 fold since you were at school, Alan.
  • gutteridge
  • Somewhere in deep space
  • 4 Dec 2017, 07:28
Who but the luddites can resist incorporating some labour saving devices Ray.
Ray: Extremely poor folks are not luddites, Chad, but cannot afford machines like this.
  • Louis
  • South Africa
  • 4 Dec 2017, 10:10
That little harvester is a nifty machine. The stalks left behind - is it used in any way, or left to mulch into the ground as fertiliser for next year? Maybe they will be good for keeping a few pigs.

The capitalist society where I live in, it is normally make or break for the individual. When I was in the Netherlands the first time, father-in-law broke a leg at the time that his potato harvest was ready. Harvesting was a manual exercise and I could only do one tenth of his efficiency and speed - being a raw beginner. So when I arrived at the fields with his tools, to try my best - lo and behold, a number of people were already at it. It proved to be people he helped in the past and others, 'donated' a son (13 years and up) from their effort to get f-i-l's harvest out of the ground and some even helped getting it to the buyers. Well afterwards I did what I could - a huge thank you party. The Dutch are also individualistic, capitalist - but in the smaller communities, lending a helping hand in crisis times, is the thing to do.
Ray: Thank you for your most interesting comment, Louis.

The remaining stalks...stubble...can be baled and stored for feeding to cattle during the dry season. Otherwise it is left in the field, where it is partly eaten by grazing cattle, and finally ploughed in before next year's crop. Some people burn it, as they believe the ash is better for the ground.

10 years ago, before we acquired this harvester, the Villagers worked co-operatively in extended family teams, helping each other to do their harvest... they were paid in kind rather than in cash. Harvest was a time of lubrication of community togetherness. Unfortunately, most younger people from the Village had moved to Bangkok to earn higher salaries, and had lost the will to return home to assist with the harvest...this draining of human resources left an over-powering burden with the ageing remainers, and they could not cope, which led to increasing crop damage and loss of product. I was persuaded to acquire the harvester when I saw this happening. Now, we get the crops off, but there is a cost in terms of commercial relationships replacing community ones. Na has been working on reversing this by personally restarting a couple of lapsed community rituals, and I have shown some of this in my blog in the past.
What an interesting post, I really enjoyed the video, can't wait to see the rest of the series.
Ray: I am pleased you found it interesting, Brian.
An interesting start to the series Ray. Perhaps we will appreciate what we get next time we have rice what work goes into its production
Ray: Farming is interesting to me, Bill. In Australia I had experience of working in wheat farming, market gardening, and fruit orchard farming. The dramatic move away from small holding farming, Worldwide, means most people are now ignorant of how their food is produced.
The first thing I noticed is a bird, probably a field bird that has a nest in the area. This is what happens to many field birds, one of which is the bobolink I have studied for so long.

The harvester is similar to a blueberry producer friend's who has a small operation compared to most around here.
Ray: That bird is a swallow, Mary. Swallows and Swiflets have learned to follow the machine to feast on disturbed insects.
i enjoyed reading about the rice harvest Ray... it looks primitive compares to the commercial machines but it looks like it does the job....petersmile
Ray: Thank you, Peter.

Our machine is basically the same as the big machines, except that it is smaller, lacks an air-con cab for the driver, and has a bagger instead of an auger for taking the seed directly to a truck for transportation.

Our machine is manufactured by Kubota...it is the "Rolls Royce" of small farm machinery. We use it as the basis for a small contract harvesting business we run as a service to the farmers around our Village, and this enables us to fund the maintenance of the machine, harvest our own farm for free, and make a small profit for the extended family.

The bigger machines would not fit in our tiny fields.
Looks somewhat like an American thresher...
Ray: Threshing is one of its functions, Larry.
Looks as though that machine does a pretty good job - I wonder how much back-breaking labour it has replaced!?
Ray: The machine, with a team of 3 people, harvests about the same area in a day as would take a team of 10 people 5 days or more to harvest manually, Tom, and the seed loss is about half as much.

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