The Climate Change and Land Resources Management Research Group (RG Perubahan Iklim dan Pengelolaan Sumberdaya Lahan), Sebelas Maret University implemented the local wisdom in farming called RICE RATOON in Wonosari Village is in Gondangrejo District, Karanganyar Regency, Central Java Province, Indonesia. The demonstration plot was established since March to July 2020. The demonstration plot pictures are presented in Figures 1 -4. The village has been the partner of this research group since 2013. The site has an altitude of 117 meters above sea level mountain topography. Most of the population has a livelihood in the agricultural sector, either as farmers or agricultural laborers. Rice, corn, peanuts, and cassava are the main crops cultivated surroundings. Apart from being farmers, people also own livestock. The animals that are usually kept are beef cattle, goats, pigs, purebred chickens, and domestic chickens.
Figure 1. Starting for ratooning rice after harvest at demonstration plot in Wonosari village, Gondangrejo, Karanganyar, Central Java
The rice field area in Wonosari village is 147 Ha with a rainfed irrigation system. But now people are starting to work on irrigation water from pumping out the underground water. The cropping pattern in Wonosari Gondangrejo Village is rice-secondary crops. In one year, Wonosari Village can only be planted with 2 planting seasons. The obstacle that is often experienced by the Wonosari community is the availability of water. In spite of the withdrawal of the groundwater when the rain is insufficient, it never enough for one crop season of the secondary crop, hence lack of water is the main problem for agriculture activity at the site.
Figure 2. Ratoon rice regrow from mother plant’s shoot
Currently, the climate change phenomenon leads to the irregularity of weather occurrences, hence the rain pattern has changed, too. Most farmers in Wonosari village have problems with the lack of preparation for agricultural implementation planning in facing climate change, therefore the attempts to increase the readiness of the farmers with a technology that can adapt with the current irregular climate conditions is urgent. Moreover, the agricultural sector is very vulnerable to climate change phenomena. That is why the lack of adaptation and mitigation actions to climate change can promote other problems, such as decreased welfare, decreased quality of public health, and other social problems in rural areas.
Figure 3. Ratoon Rice is growing
The current phenomenon shows high intensity within a short time of rain occurrences, which mostly become runoff. Thus, the cultivation technique of planting within shorter period but more yield can be an alternative for adaptation strategy by the farmer. The local wisdom of ratooning rice enables farmers to earn more yields by harvesting twice or more within a shorter period than the conventional. Rice ratoon is the method of cultivation that utilizes shoots regrow again after cutting during the harvest and hence can be harvested two to three times a year. Therefore, rice ratoon farming should be considered as an alternative for the strategy.
Figure 4. Ratoon rice is ready for second harvest
Since the rice fields in the Wonosari Village, Gondangrejo are considered rainfed land, farmers can only plant for two crop seasons, namely rice and secondary crops (maize, peanut, or cassava). Actually, such as farmland is considered very suitable for rice ratoon because of the possibility to produce rice more than once. Through demonstration plot, socialization, and discussion with the surrounding farmers (Figure 5.), they were interested in practicing rice ratoon but there are several obstacles that must be faced. Especially, they curious about the bird and rat pests, as well as limited water availability. Rat pests do not occur throughout the year, rat infestation increases during August / January (when the season changes). Rat pests usually occur when the harvest season approaches and rice in other areas have run out. When approaching the harvest, bird pests will consume the rice panicles that are ready to be harvested. To repel birds, farmers usually use nets or paranets that are placed on top of rice plants. In addition, farmers usually use a method that is still manual, namely, a can trap that is connected to a rope and then moved by the farmer. After the can is moved it will make a sound that can drive the birds away. Apart from rats and bird pests, diseases also attack the crops in Wonosari Village. For rice, the disease that often attacks is stem borer (cut neck) which causes drunk rice. If the rice has been affected by the disease, the yield can decrease by up to 50%. To anticipate this, farmers change the type of rice seeds used. Another action taken to reduce the intensity of stem borer disease is spraying pesticides. However, the use of pesticides is not the right solution because the longer the planthopper will be more resistant so that the use of pesticides will require more capital and will damage the environment.
Figure 5. Discussion with surrounding farmers about the implementation of rice ratoon for mitigation and adaptation strategy on climate change
The surrounding farmers are very interested to implement the rice ratoon because it can increase income if they can overcome the attack from rats and birds. That is also because of the availability of labor in agriculture in Wonosari Village began to decline. Youth and village girls prefer to leave the village and work as factory workers. The surrounding farmers are very interested to implement rice ratoon farming because it has many advantages.