Friday, July 6, 2012

Principles of Best Mangement practices apply to agriculture and home gardens too

Good practices used in farms large or small can lead to profitability

Excellent way to do farming. Intercropping with a legume such as beans means low nitrogen input. Use of drip irrigation means less use of water less evaporation of water and less leaching of fertilizers. Hats off to this guy for adopting all best management practices in farming. He needs to be publicized widely among farmers to prevent flood irrigation and loss of water to the country and contamination of water ways.

Intercropping is similar to combined farming practices where one crop benefits another crop and thereby reduces inputs. In home gardens if one puts beans among tomatoes and eggplants then biological nitrogen fixed by the legumes such as beans will feed the non legumes there by increasing production with minimal inputs.

Both the examples below have certain practices in common intercropping where one crops benefits the other but it also helps to market in a better manner and obtain consistent income when one crop may be low and the other high. Next both these farmers have used mulch to conserve water and create better soil texture structure and soil environment for their plants. They have used water efficiently to reduce their inputs and not squandered the fertilizers.

These farmers are clear examples of Indian farmers being smart progressive and intelligent to adopt best practices in agriculture. These people are the examples of good custodianship of the land while living comfortably. These farmers are also demonstrating that one does not have to loot the land to make profits. Western farmers have been using fertilizers excessively for a long time and this had led to initial productivity and now decline of the land and thereby farm gate profits and productivity. These people in their small way are setting the example to the world by listening to good advice and using good practices. This way can be applied in home gardens too.

Beans and roses for this progressive farmer

V Rajagopal Malur, July 5, 2012, DHNS

A progressive farmer, Manjunath Reddy, of Hulimangala village of H Hosakote gram panchayat, has been successful in intercropping of beans with roses, with minimum use of water.

Manjunath first planted roses in his two-acre farm and in between two rows of roses he planted beans. On the advise of his relative, who work at Gandhi Krishi Vignan Kendra in Hebbal, Bangalore, he planted rows of Gold Orange breed of roses maintaining a distance of three feet between two rows. In between rows of roses he sowed Anupama breed of beans. It takes three months for the rose plant to bloom, while the beans start growing in a month. Beans grows during all seasons. While the water table is declining in the taluk, Manjunath has adopted drip irrigation managing with whatever little water is available in his borewell.

Intercropping is the practice of growing two or more crops in proximity. The most common goal of intercropping is to produce a greater yield on a given piece of land by making use of resources that would otherwise not be utilized by a single crop. Careful planning is required, taking into account the soil, climate, crops, and varieties. It is particularly important not to have crops competing with each other for physical space, nutrients, water, or sunlight. Examples of intercropping strategies are planting a deep-rooted crop with a shallow-rooted crop, or planting a tall crop with a shorter crop that requires partial shade.


When crops are carefully selected, other agronomic benefits are also achieved. Lodging-prone plants, those that are prone to tip over in wind or heavy rain, may be given structural support by their companion crop. Creepers can also benefit from structural support. Some plants are used to suppress weeds or provide nutrients. Delicate or light sensitive plants may be given shade or protection, or otherwise wasted space can be utilized. An example is the tropical multi-tier system where coconut occupies the upper tier, banana the middle tier, and pineapple, ginger, or leguminous fodder, medicinal or aromatic plants occupy the lowest tier. Intercropping of compatible plants also encourages biodiversity, by providing a habitat for a variety of insects and soil organisms that would not be present in a single-crop environment.

Manjunath has also used mulch paper to control weeds and maintain soil moisture. The re is the added advantage that soil nutrients also do not get lost, resulting in a better crop yield. With the prices of vegetable, including beans, shooting up in June, Reddy was able to fetch a price of Rs 25 to Rs 30 per kg of beans of Rs 1,500 to Rs 2,000 per quintal. Beans are also sent to Tamil Nadu. While the peak season of beans is over, it is time for roses to bloom. Before adopting intercropping, Manjunath grew capsicum successfully, but now as beans get a better price he decided to grow beans. Gangappa, a technical officer in horticulture department says that it requires Rs 20,000 to Rs 30,000 to grow beans in one hectare of land. But it can fetch a profit of Rs 3 lakh to Rs 4 lakh. Beans is therefore called ‘farmer’s friend’, he adds.

Woman farmer extracts record oilpalm yield from a hectare

M. J. Prabu The Hindu July 4 2012
A record yield of 53.20 tonnes in three years has been achieved

Whatever the crop, it is the price that matters to farmers. “Getting a good price is essential for a farmer and especially for those growing crops like oilpalm, the price to a large extent depends on the international market over which we may not have much control. Nevertheless we are trying our best to guide oilpalm farmers in India to get a good yield,” says Dr. S. Arulraj, Director, Directorate of Oil Palm Research, Pedavegi, Andhra Pradesh.

New start

Research on oil palm under irrigated conditions means practically a new start and the Indian Council of Agricultural Research established the National Research Centre for Oil Palm at Pedavegi in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh in 1995. It was upgraded as Directorate of Oil Palm Research (DOPR) to cater to the location specific programmes across the country. The institute serves as a centre for conducting and co-ordinating research on all aspects of oil palm conservation, improvement, production, protection, post-harvest technology and transfer of technology. It also has a research centre at Palode near Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.

“While it is true that in some areas of Andhra Pradesh and adjoining States farmers cut down their oil palm plantations in frustration of not being able to get a good price, there are also farmers like Mrs. Suma Kumar who has been able to get a record yield of 53.20 tonnes and also a good price from a hectare in three years,” says Dr. Arul Raj. The Directorate of Oil Palm Research honoured her with the best farmer award during the recent Kisan Mela celebrations. “This is the highest yield recorded so far in India,” says Dr. Arul Raj and adds the main reason being the innovative practices adopted by the farmer.

Suma Kumar planted the trees on 0.56 hectare 15 years ago. She also cultivated banana as intercrop during the first and second year of planting to generate income. Trenches were cut across the slope in the garden for draining excess water during monsoon. Mulching the palm basins using the cut fronds was also done to conserve moisture. Fertilizers were applied to the oilpalm crop in six split doses, thus, maximizing the fertilizer use efficiency. In addition, she applied poultry manure mixed with neem cake available locally at low cost. The poultry manure was kept for 2-3 months for decomposition in the trenches along with trash and cut leaves, and well decomposed material was applied in palm basins. Care was taken to apply the manures and fertilizers within an area of three metre radius in the basin. In addition, tank silt was applied, once in five years, to the garden to improve the soil physical conditions.

Harvested tonnage

The farmer harvested 58.24 tonnes in 2009-10, followed by 46.71 tonnes in 2010-11 and 54.68 tonnes per hectare on January, 2012. Thus, during the last three years, she could achieve an average yield of 53.20 tonnes per hectare over a period of three years. “We are ready and eager to address any issue or grievance from oilpalm farmers in the country. “They can contact me on my mobile or office phone and our institute will try its best to solve any problem an oil palm farmer is facing,” assures Dr. Arul Raj.

Ready to guide

Oilpalm farmers can contact Dr. S. Arulraj, Director, Directorate of Oil Palm Research, Pedavegi - 534 450, Andhra Pradesh,, Phone: 08812-259532 and 259409, mobile: 09491198244 and Mrs. M.S. Suma Kumar, Marse Village, Mandakahalli (P.O.), Varuna (Hobli), Mysore taluk and district, Karnataka, Mobile : 09986962289.

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