Saturday, June 23, 2012

Farmer Profile : Nuts about Groundnut

Often farmers change their cropping pattern, or in some cases, even stop farming when their crops fail. But there are only a few determined ones who try to find the root cause of the problem and overcome it. Mr. Dhirajlal Virjibhai Thummar, a groundnut farmer from Gujarat, is credited with developing a new groundnut variety named “Dhiraj 101,” which is resistant to stem rot.

Maturity period
The crop matures in 95-105 days and bears 35-40 pods per plant. About 90-100 kg of seeds are required for sowing in an hectare.
In the year 2004 he sowed GG-20 groundnut variety and the whole crop got infested resulting in wilting and almost complete failure of the crop. Any other farmer would have become depressed but not Mr. Dhirajlal. He identified a few plants, which did not get affected by this disease. Believing that these may contain some inherent property that makes them stem rot-resistant, he harvested and kept the seeds of these plants separately.
The farmer sowed the seeds separately in the next season and continued the screening and selection for three consecutive years. Finally he obtained plants, that were free from stem rot and wilt.
At 3,200-3,500 kg per hectare, the yield is higher than locally cultivated varieties in the region.

Oil content
The oil content is also higher, 42-45 per cent, according to him. This variety performs well when the monsoon is average as well as in less irrigated conditions. To promote good crop growth, Mr. Dhirajlal used only herbal pesticide such as neem, kidamari (Dutchman's Pipe), tulsi (Holy Basil) and akda (swallow-wort) for controlling insect pests and diseases.
Usually before harvest farmers irrigate the fields and then pull out the plants. During pulling, the pods get broken from the roots and remain under the ground. The problem is not encountered with this variety as it bears pods that are stronger and grow at lesser depth under the soil. 

Soil conservation
“Soil conservation and crops that require less water are urgent needs for farmers to keep agriculture sustainable in changing climatic conditions,” says Mr. Dhirajlal. Professor Anil Gupta, vice-chairperson, National Innovation Foundation says, “Many technical innovations have been centred on groundnut crop in our country. There is an urgent need to invent and popularise crop varieties, which require less water and have more productivity and at the same time are affordable to farmers.”

Helping hand
NIF facilitated the field trial of ‘Dhiraj101' at the Oil Seed Research Station, Junagarh.
The report mentions that it is resistant to stem rot as well and its production is 1.5 times more than a local variety ‘GG-20'. It performs well even in when monsoon is average and requires less irrigation. This variety matures eight to ten days earlier and also has more average oil content.

For more information readers can contact Mr. Dhirajlal Virjibhai Thummar, Mobile: 02792-286093, 9825513469.

Credits : Access the original and unedited article here

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Update on Jain Irrigation Visit, Udumalpet TN

In April, we visited Jain Irrigation Mango UHD farms at Udumalpet, Tamil Nadu.Fruits were fairly abundant in the Alphonso and Imampasand trees. According to their expert, this year the yield has been lesser than the previous years all over India due to late rains which affected the flowering.

A blog follower had inquired if UHD could be grown under organic method of cultivation. I asked the Jain expert regarding the same and he struck down the idea of organic cultivation in UHD. In this intensive form of cultivation, effort is made to obtain maximum fruits per tree. He also mentioned that cultar is used to enhance fruiting. However, the dosage is reduced every subsequent year.
Regarding the grid size, I have come across various combinations in the past year from them - 3x2m , 2.5x2.5m, 4x2m etc..which makes me feel that they are still in the process of determining the "perfect" grid size.

We followed 3x3m spacing since we did not have the bandwidth for 650+ plants per acre. In my next phase, we are planning to do 4x2.5 m (4 m between lines) for easier movement within the plot.  

In my opinion, one should aim to harvest about 10 - 15 kg per tree by year 4-5. This is definitely possible (unless there is a major pest problem or a natural calamity). Depending on grid size, the tonnage will add up pretty fast.

According to Jain, they expect to harvest an average of 1.5 tons per acre for Imampasand and 3 tons per acre for Alphonso (this on the lower side due to lesser flowering this year).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Mitsubishi mini tractor MT 180D

Choosing the right tractor can be as daunting a task as choosing the right car. We were in the market for a new tractor a couple of months back and after thorough research and analysis we went ahead with Mitsubishi  mini tractor MT 180.
Since the initial ploughing and development was completed by local tractors, we wanted a tractor for the "maintenance" mode that could maneuver through the closely spaced Mango UHD and Melia Dubia plantations.

Various implements can be attached to these types of tractor - Rotavator, 5 Finger and Disc Plough and Hydraulic Trolley. I would not recommend using the Disc Plough (for first time breaking of soil) with this tractor since the machine is relatively less powerful with 18 hp motor. However, implements for maintenance operations like 5 Finger Plough and Rotavator could be used when enough moisture is present.
In Tamil Nadu, tractors less than 39 hp qualify for government subsidy. In Sivagangai district, MT 180 was eligible for a maximum subsidy of Rs 1.25 lakhs (tractor costs approx Rs 2.8 lakhs exclusive of subsidy)

Apart from this, a fertigation pump can also be attached for easy spraying.

The pump has an inlet, outlet, and a bypass lever. Recommended pressure is 2.5 kg/cm2. It can be easily attached/detached from the back of the driver's seat. In the next couple of weeks, we are planning on spraying the plants. Will post a video regarding the operations of the pump. 

Specifications of the tractor can be viewed at

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Farm Practices : Soil, Water and Fertilizers

Agricultural production in India has increased through Green Revolution, growing high-yielding varieties of crops and adopting scientifically improved soil fertility management and water management over the past few decades. Yet, Dr Kumaraswamy of TNAU, Coimbatore has a word of caution for the agri community in our pursuit of maximizing our yields.

Integrated approach
Because of adoption of an integrated approach, we have been able to increase the agricultural production manifold, particularly in case of food grain crops from 50 million tones in 1950 to more than 220 million tones, which in turn has ensured near self-sufficiency in food for our ever-growing population.

However, the production has reached a plateau during the past few years for certain obvious reasons. Although we continue to grow high yielding varieties, we are unable to increase the crop production during the past few years as significantly as we did during the last three decades. Why has it been so?

Maximum potential
The high-yield & high-quality varieties of crops can perform to their maximum genetic potentials, only if they are grown in optimum conditions : Fertile, Healthy and Productive Soils with appropriate Water Management and Crop Protection measures. We must avoid not only under-fertilization but also over or distorted fertilization to realize the full benefits from the crops.

Balanced soil fertility management through integrated nutrient management involving judicious combinations of manures, fertilizers and bio-fertilizers must be done to ensure normal growth and high productivity of crops.
Next to soil management is water conservation. We should harvest and conserve the rain water received during the monsoons for farming at commercial scales throughout the year.

Future scope
Scope for extending the area for agriculture is limited due to diversion of more lands every year for non-agricultural purposes. However, we have very good varieties and hybrids with high–yield and high-quality potentials in almost all crops already on hand.There is not much scope to make further significant break-through in the genetic potentials of the varieties of the crops in near future. So, the only possible scope to maximize crop production with the available varieties is to enhance and sustain the productivity through integrated and balanced soil fertility and water management practices.

Feel free to share your stories (successes or lessons learned) around soil management, water harvesting and fertilizer conversations.