Sunday, March 27, 2011

Learning new vocabulary!

The broker who represented the land we finally bought was an interesting person. He had fairly good command over English and made an earnest effort to speak in Hindi at times (more often than not he would make grammatical mistakes in Hindi), however the most fascinating aspect was the new words I learnt in his association.

During one of our trips together, we started discussing about Karunanidhi (Tamil Nadu Chief Minister) and his monogamous life. I inquired about his marital status since I had read he had more than 1 wife.
He replied “Recordically, (i.e On record) Karunanidhi has 2 wives but otherwise he has 3 wives”.

In another instance, we started talking about vast tracts of lands in and around Madurai and Virudhnagar districts that seemed fertile but were not being cultivated. He stated that majority of the lands in those districts were investment lands and were under litification (i.e litigation)

The first time we met, I inquired about the soil color of the land he represented. He replied the land has piyuuuure (pronounced  p-yoor) red soil.  I did not understand the first time, and then later I figured he wanted to accentuate on the purity of the soil.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Japanese Tsunami Disaster

As you all know, Japan has been devastated by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and Tsunami. I hope none of our readers have been affected by this tragedy. Some of the coverage I saw on TV was heartbreaking and overwhelming at times.Giant walls of water swallowing vast tracts of lands was just too surreal.

This tragedy also brings back memories of the 'Indian Ocean Tsunami' of 2004 that killed over 200,000 people across countries in Asia and beyond. At the time, I was in Chennai on winter vacation. Although we live about 1 km away from the beach, houses on the beach side were inundated severely. This event also gave us an opportunity to do some relief work further down in Mahabalipuram area, where multiple fisherman hamlets were marooned.

We pray and hope that the situation improves in Japan as soon as possible and the country that has seen many disasters before, limps back to normalcy. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers!

Monday, March 14, 2011

When waste turns into a cost cutting measure!

In one of the previous posts, I mentioned how I thought of using existing calcium heaps on our farm borders (dumped by neighbouring farmers when they dug their wells) in order to decrease our pit marking expenses. Typically, calcium strata is found at 30-40 feet below ground, after which hard rock strata commences.

Fortunately, the idea came soon enough and we were able to reduce pit marking expenses as well as get rid of some of the waste.
A 10 Kg bag of processed white powder costs Rs 60 and rate of consumption of 1 bag was every 150 pits.

Below are some of the pictures of 'raw' calcium carbonate.

Another method of reducing the powder was to put two lines instead of four.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Length and Area conversion factors on Useful Info tab

Dimensions in some of my blogs bounce between meters and feet. So in interest of those of you who are not familiar with the conversion factor, check out the bottom of Useful Info tab under
Conversion of area and length metrics

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pit marking - Better get your math right!

We started pit marking first week of February. Pit sizes vary from crop to crop but the typical dimensions are:
Melia Dubia  : 2 ft x 2ft x 2ft 
Mango : 3 ft x 3ft x 3ft
Banana : 1.5 ft x 1.5 ft x 1.5 ft

Since rows across our farm can go as long as 200 metres, we thought of having a long nylon rope (and paint it with yellow) for easy identification of the points to be marked.

However, due to strong winds and elasticity of rope, that was a disaster. So we resorted to the traditional way of marking, using a 30 m tape.

Preparing the 3 foot pit marker.

2 poles/sticks were planted across a unit in the farm and then using straight line of sight, intermediate poles were placed. Having established the line, distance was measured and pegs were put at the right spot.

3 feet marking around a peg

Painting the peg yellow for easy identification in the sea of red soil.

Pit marking complete. Having spent over Rs 500 on white powder, we undertook some cost cutting measures - instead of putting 4 lines, we are now putting only 2 horizontal lines.
FYI - white powder (or choona) costs Rs 6/Kg

Pit marking for Melia Dubia is more laborious due to higher grid density -
8 ft x 8ft, i.e. 680 plants in 1 acre. Currently, our rate of pit marking (with 4 labors) is about 320-330 pegs a day.

Grid  for Ultra High density mango is 3m by 3m (440 plants in 1 acre), whereas for banana it is 6ft by 6 ft (1200 plants in 1 acre)

The pic on left was taken on a Melia Dubia plot.

Yesterday, while I was taking a nap under the big tree on the farm, I dreamt that we could further reduce our pit marking expenses by utilizing the white heaps at our boundary. There are multiple calcium deposits at our boundary dumped by neighbouring farmers when they dug their wells. I guess we could finally use some of this waste to mark our pits along with reinforcing the access road. (Refer to Getting the Entrance Strategy right post about white deposits)