Is Organic Farming / Natural Farming practical?

organic-farming

#221

@hegdegg, Yes, I would like to join you(may be, along with my family) not tomorrow(i.e. on 18th Nov. 2012) but the coming Sunday. If at all possible can you please postpone it onto the coming Sunday.

Thanks a lot,
best wishes
g


#222

after reading long posts on natural/organic farming i am planning for half acre. my first crop will be wheat within 7 days i am going to sow seeds of wheat. can any body please guide me what things should i do? my previous crop in this field is green manure dhaincha…pls suggest details of further operations in wheat crop.


#223

Well Come to Forum and wishing you great ahead.
It will be better for you to choose any other companion crop with wheat for better diversification.
Ensure to do beeja samskara with Beejamrutha and then sow the seeds.

Beejamrutha is a very good pesticide to control seed borne diseases .
Ingredients necessary for Beejamrutha.

  1. 20-25 kg capacity plastic drum.
  2. 10 litres indigenous cow urine.
  3. 10 kgs indigenous cow dung.
  4. 1 kg jaggery.
  5. 100 gms lime solution mixed with 50 gms turmeric powder.

Procedure :
Mix 10 litres of cow urine, 10 kgs. of cow dung and 1 kg. Powdered jaggery in a clean drum. Add 100gms of lime solution and 50 gms. of turmeric powder in to the drum. Stir the entire content clockwise direction in the drum properly until a paste is formed. The paste has applied to the seeds up to 30 minutes before sowing and dried under shade

Do not forget mulching(Either straw or live mulch)
Maintain decent spacing between the lines and utilise the said spacing for growing companion crop of legumes specifically.


#224

Chandra, i am trying to review…

Guru, Sorry, i had not seen your message until late Saturday evening, as i had to go Mysuru and beyond with someone else, i could not postpone that visit, and as i was on that anyway i visited this place.

KrishNappa has both sugarcane and arecanut farms, looks like perfectly made for demos.

Sugarcane field

This farm is little less than one acre, where KrishNappa has grown sugarcane in ZBNF way.  Rows are in north-south direction,  having 2 ft distance between the plants. Columns are in east-est direction, having 8 ft distance between them.  There are some plots where 8  x 4 is also used.  He was suggesting to have the plants in north-east to south-west to harvest max sunlight.

It seems he has followed Palekar’s instruction in the books ( in fact he attended his training) meticulously and got the first yield.  Initially, he had multiple rows of onion, Mary gold + chili, cow pea, vegetable ( of any variety), cow pea,  Mary gold + chili and onion in between the columns. As this is the 6th year of operation, we could see only traces of cow pea and Mary gold in very few places and rest all were filled with sugarcane.

When asked about the yield, he did not really answer the question, in turn he asked the people to count the number of canes and their approx weight and apply it to the whole area ( smart ?).  And as always people counted high number.

Sugarcane looked healthy, we tasted it and were very much impressed by it.  Certainly the yield would be comparable to chemical farming if not more.

Have taken some pictures of this please have a look and let me know if have anything to be clarified.

Arecanut farm

This reminded me of my childhood days, when one of our farm was started it was in similar way.

This is mixed farming, growing Coconut, arecanut, banana, coffee, coco, orange, mosambi, some more citrus fruits, gliricidia and ginger and turmeric.  As far as we could see, we could not find the traces of water, it was not watered after the rainy season.  When was the last rain? did it rain there because of Neelam?.

Arecanut produce were impressive, as its only 6 years old, we could not see any coconut produce other than in one plant.  Coca and other plants are doing good job of creating forest like feel and does not let any sun-rays reach the earth ensuring there is no weeds in the farm.

We need to wait to get the farm going fully operational, details of expenses and number of farming days for harvest and maintenance not yet know.  Note that the income information that was put along with the video is potential earnings not the actual earning.

some pictures @ picasaweb.google.com/1072704091 … sKKalLjwXg

Coming back to the thread question, Is Natural Farming practical? …seems so.

Points to ponder

  • If you see the pictures you will realize that the farm is in the middle of the area where paddy is grown, water level quite high.  Will the same no water work elsewhere? …need to really try out.
  • After using Jeevamrutha once or twice, if the micro organisms are formed, why continue?..can we follow fukuoka method from then?
  • Please take the possible revenue with pinch of salt, not all crops are produced yet, so actual returns are just number as of now, its not the actual earnings for last year. 
  • We heard Krishnappa comparing with neighboring chemical farm that chemical farm produce less and the sugarcane are not as big ( both girth and height).  Is that because of large spacing used in this format? 8 x 4 or 8 x 2, this increase in yeild could be also attributed to SRI or the spacing used.
  • How can a large scale farmer use this technique? Can we mechanize some operations like cutting sugarcane or run trailers to collect arecanut and coconut or banana produce in the farm?. seems tough.

Request people to share their thougt on this, humble request to go with facts and figures.  I am big fan of Natural Farming, hope my views here expressed here are not biased towards any way ( Natural or otherwise).


#225

My real concern with this model is its scalability. Can this be replicated across acres and acres of land? Most of the coffee estates indeed follow this layered structure with Silver Oks being the first level shade canopy, other jungle woods forming the second layer canopy. Jack fruits, Banana, Lemon, Oranges , Areca, Pepper trailed on all of the trees, Ginger, Pineapples, cardamom being part of the package. The real challenge tends to emerge from marketing the intercrops. They tend to go waste in most of the plantations or get sold for peanuts.

The distance between the market and farm and consumption trends play a major role. Sending bits and pieces across to cities like Bangalore or Mangalore which are 250 KMS away eats  into margins and does not make outright sense at times.

This looks good and is a pleasant “feel-good-factor” for those who visit plantations for the weekends, but can a business be setup and scaled just based on the farm products with the model that is being discussed in this thread?


#226

Here is an attachment with research paper on Jeevamrutha. Hope it is useful
Analysis of liquid manures and their use_ND Kumar_UAS Bangalore_OFAI SAC_2009.pdf (1.27 MB)


#227

What would be the challenge in scaling it up?. 

I think when we want to mechanize certain activity we would face certain problems.  I remember, most of the areca farms started that way in my area too, but we had to cut down the coco plant to make way for processing arecanut which is the main cash crop.

When i saw the sugarcane farm, my first thought was can we use mini tractor or tiller for cutting sugarcane and transporting it?. He has less area now, manual labors would be just fine, suppose we have 10 acres, we may have to think about a solution to scale.  As the spacing is 8 ft, we should be able to run the tiller with customized trailer, but cutting the sugarcane would be a challenge, as they use selective cutting and leave the rest for next crop.  I suppose those large scale farmers use large number of resource for these activity.

He (Krishnappa) did not like any challenging questions.  Like when i asked him how will you pluck the areca, he said he will wait for it to fall and then pick it up.  That method would certainly not scale,  i know the pain of picking the fallen areca :slight_smile:,  i think the Farmnest  think-tank should contribute to solve this problem.

I tend to agree here, but then if the main crop yeilds more than average and without the chemicals  wouldn’t that be good.  We certainly need to get better returns for inter crops, isn’t that a general problem.

That seems to be a general problem, i think we need to find better alternatives that can do the same job.

True,  feel-good-factor can be both for visitors and the farmer,  getting the farm produce that is equal (or more) to chemical farming is major advantage,  and the optimized use of water resource is another big thing.  We might be able to grow in more areas.

I have no doubt on practicality of organic farming, we practice it.  To convert our areca farm  to Natural farm i am thinking we can introduce Gliricidia or Moringa and avoid the use of external organic compost, Jeevamrutha may be a good to start with.  Next thing would be to control the use of water, at present we have Sprinklers and micro- sprinklers, need to investigate best way to reduce water.


#228

I am all for organic or natural way of cultivation. No problems there. Challenge is marketing bits and pieces of side crops. Pineapples, Lemons, banana all get sold for peanuts. Since its growing area every farm would have it. So the local market does not pay good for them. Transporting bits and pieces does not make sense. Alternative at this moment is create a collection center, but that has its own challenges.

Looking at the coffee plants in the video, i would really be surprised if it yielded 1 KG per plant. Ie, 1000 KGS (tonne) for an acre. Normally there are 1000 coffee plants or bit more or less depending on the spacing. In my last ten years I have seen only one plantation which had that kinda yield and that was only for a year. That too not across the entire plantation, but only a pilot plot.

While i really cannot comment intelligently on other crops, its sounds real funny waiting for arecanut to fall by itself and economics of it for making a living out of it. Its probably stretching the logic of natural farming beyond its limits.

Logic up to using of jeevamrutha sounds fare as of now for me, beyond it needs to be seen.


#229

thank u Dear dns 1807 for reply…i think mixing of cow dung, urine,jaggery and applying to seeds can be done but  iam not all satisfied with ur comments abt mulching with straw/live mulch…is it will be practical to mulch please think twice it can produce main problems for germination…availability of mulch, labour/ time consuming are problems to be faced actually to farmers.


#230

As wheat is high nutrient demanding crop it has to be grown in three years rotation or grow it along with other soil fertility enhancing legume crops.
Mulching is highly beneficial in nutrient supply and water conservation. It also reduces weed growth.
Spreading the partly decomposed crop residue/straw lying on the bunds over entire field to act as mulch.
You can also use any other companion legume Sunhemp, Sesban, Cowpea, Moong, Cluster bean & other crops @ your choice can keep the fertility status of soil at reasonably good level.

Germination may not be problem while sowing wheat in lines. Hope you may use  the tool used In Maharashtra for sowing is called ‘Pabhar’. It has three ploughs equipped with iron tips and holes for seeds to pass.

It is up to one’s own choice to choose it. Wishing you all the best for your first attempt.


#231

[quote="dns1807"]
As wheat is high nutrient demanding crop it has to be grown in three years rotation or grow it along with other soil fertility enhancing legume crops.
Mulching is highly beneficial in nutrient supply and water conservation. It also reduces weed growth.
Spreading the partly decomposed crop residue/straw lying on the bunds over entire field to act as mulch.
You can also use any other companion legume Sunhemp, Sesban, Cowpea, Moong, Cluster bean & other crops @ your choice can keep the fertility status of soil at reasonably good level.

Germination may not be problem while sowing wheat in lines. Hope you may use  the tool used In Maharashtra for sowing is called ‘Pabhar’. It has three ploughs equipped with iron tips and holes for seeds to pass.

It is up to one’s own choice to choose it. Wishing you all the best for your first attempt.
[/quote]still not satisfied…


#232

All the best.


#233

True, certain intercrop is difficult to market, but some of them that you mentioned like Lemon and Banana fetch reasonable market anywhere.  But then, we may have to find some way to market it. Let me take a example: Jackfruit in my area sells for peanuts ( as you mentioned ) but if you see the same thing in Bangalore then it costs more than 80 Rs.

True about arecanut, Generally, we pluck it from tree and then send it down thru a rope so that it wouldn’t litter.imagine if we have to pick the areca when its is ripe, it would be daunting task.

This would work for small area, as the question was of scale, this solution may not really work.  Imagine some case where both coconut and areca both mature and start falling, it would be mess there, to add to the problem there is dry leaves and mulch, it would not be easy to spot them too.

Believe me, its really tough to pick the areca when it falls in large number.  Even in this case of mixed farming there would be around 700+ areca trees. 

We really need to find a way around this.

Intelligent way of handling things, just we need to have a scalable solution.  I think we should all be able to think thru to a better solution that can be scaled.

Young ones could be handled that way, once it reaches certain height we will face problems.  As the plants are grown very near, it is fighting for light and grows tall, if you see the picture of areca and the height of the rings ( mark formed by fallen leaf ) you would get an idea how tall it is growing.

At least in this farm, there is hardly any space for any tiller or tractor ( width of these are around 120 CM), as there are large branches.  May be once cocoa and Gliricidia reaches certain height it need to be cleared at the bottom to make way for using tillers with trailer.

Coconut seems to have lesser problem as the nut is large and visible in the mulch too,  picking the fallen one may be tried,  i am afraid if the labours will agree to do this, and then how do we tackle areaca.


#234

Thanks indeed Mr Hegde.
Curious to see the pattern on a paper how the plants fit in a 36 by 36 ft area with each plant represented differently in the diagram.

Regards,
Seshu


#235

Sure, i can get that picture, in fact he has followed Subash Palker and the same is mentioned in Palekar’s book. I have a copy of the same, currently i have lent it to someone to read, once i get back i will take a picture and update here.


#236

Ok it is one of those patterns that are present in the 4th book of Palekar’s books


#237

Areca picking discussion moved/consolidated here: farmnest.com/forum/farm-equipmen … -arecanut/


#238

Check out the latest issue of Adike Patrike there is a report on a tool for harvesting Arecanut.

adikepatrike.com/

This is a farmer run magazine and please subscribe to it and support. It is also an excellent magazine.

On this debate on organic farming vs chemical farming. I think the goal of all farmer is to get max yield with lowest cost. This is possible with so called organic farming…I’m not sure how this goal can be achieved with Chemical farming.


#239

I’ve been a weekend farmer for over four years now and have learnt a lot from others experiences. Since beginning I have been a follower of natural farming and has never used any chemical inputs whether as fertiliser or pesticide. Whenever I encountered a problem I have tried to find answers in Nature itself.  I have realised that dependence on growth promoters and other things kills the joy of farming. The fun is in learning from Nature. Do check out my blog (sundayfarmer.wordpress.com). It may be of great help to beginners. 


#240

Thank You Sir,
Thank You Very Much for your Power Point Presentation of Natural Farming Practices.You have Provided the ingradients for Bheejamitra,Panchagavya etc. But it dose’nt Contains the Proportions of each ingrdient like Cow Urine,Cow Dung etc.

Kindly Provide and upgrade the same Article.