Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Commercial Sprinkler System at Savera Farms

For this year, one of our goals was to install a sprinkler based system for our short term crop. At this time, we are under pilot for 4 acres of CO4 fodder and high density Moringa (leaves) using sprinkler system as the primary irrigation delivery.

Earlier in the year we had inter-cropped CO4 grass within our Mango plots with wide spacing. This impacted our Mango plants due to nitrogen deficiency created by CO4. Although our inter-cropping was 'experts approved' no one advised us of the nitrogen deficiency CO4 can cause. Since then we decided to separate the CO4 grass cultivation to prevent further impact to our Mango plots.

As part of increasing our short term crop portfolio, we decided to venture into Moringa leaf cultivation. Although the trade mostly comprises of traders and middle men, we feel encouraged by a recent spurt of processing units in India. We feel there is a good scope for expansion into Moringa leaves cultivation given its significant  health benefits and (slowly) growing acceptance &awareness. The biggest advantage is that it can be processed, packed and stored - unlike most short term crops. Note : Most buyers we got in touch with turned out to be brokers. Cultivators should establish contact and visit processing facilities of end customers during their crop planning phase.

During our plot design phase, we decided not to go for lateral based drip irrigation due to its high installation and maintenance cost. Inline and online drippers are often challenging to clean/unblock when dealing with intensive cultivation. Rain gun was considered but its limited irrigation area and high water pressure requirement was a deterrent. Eventually, we decided to implement a sprinkler based system. Low maintenance cost, fixed infrastructure (unlike rain gun that requires to be moved around) and uniform coverage were attractive features. Since we are still in pilot phase, the only disadvantage we can foresee is of water penetration into the soil. That may need to be mitigated by extending irrigation time. We hope once CO4 and Moringa take root, extensive watering will not be essential.

A view of the pilot plot after the sprinklers were installed. The sprinkler installation matrix is similar drippers but adjusted to crop, soil, irrigation and spacing considerations.

We took advantage of a recent bout of summer monsoons to disc plough the moist plots. 
Healthy red soil, post ploughing..

Finally, the sprinkler test in progress!

We have recently started with the sprinkler systems and are expecting a learning curve. Are there any cultivators which have hand-on experience with the setup, maintenance and usage of commercial grade sprinkler systems? I am sure all of us can benefit from hands-on experts ..:)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Mango Seminar at CISH

I am planning to attend a seminar on Mango cultivation practices with a focus on improved harvesting, handling, storage and processing techniques for fruit preservation and fruit waste utilization. The seminar will be on June 10th and 11th 2013 at Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture at Lucknow. If anybody is interested to attend, kindly inform me by Tuesday, 28th May. The charges for the seminar is approx Rs 5000 (lodging not included).

I think this is a great opportunity for those already cultivating or planning to get into Mango cultivation and learn a few tricks of the trade from the experts out there.

Feel free to mail me at if you have any queries.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Farm Mechanization : Tractor based spraying system

A few months ago, I had posted a blog on tractor mounted spray for Moringa. Some of you had expressed interest in knowing more about the attachments. I received a few email queries as well, this post includes my direct responses for everyone's benefit.  In case you missed the video of the spray, you can access it here .

The attachments for the spraying system are few and easy to work with. The tractor mounted pump is attached at the back of driver's seat. There is an input hose that connects the spray drum to the pump. Additionally, there are 2 output hoses that connect the pump to the spray guns and lastly you have the spray guns.

This is a view of the 2HP pump that is powered by our mini-tractor PTO (Power Take-Off). There is one inlet holes at the bottom that connects to the drum by the red hose below. Additionally, there are 2 outlets with small valves to control the pressure and operation. The screw at top left is instrumental in adjusting the pump pressure.

The lever below is the pressure screw that is used during transit time (when the tractor is running but spraying is not required). Lifting the lever results in activation of 'bypass' i.e. medicinal concoction is pumped back into the tank and not into the spray hoses. The hole at the bottom of lever is for the bypass hose.

This is the inlet hose that connects the storage tank to the pump. The circular disc is a filter to screen out impurities getting into the pump.

These are heavy duty outlet pipes which carry pressurized spray solution. We decided to use the 50m hoses since our plots can be fairly deep and away from motorable roads.
- Wrapping method shown here is not best practice! :) 

Lastly, the hand held spray gun which delivers the solution to the plant. Pressure in these spray guns can be adjusted by the cylindrical handles on the left. We have generic spray guns but I have seen more sophisticated spray guns with multiple spray adjustments harness features.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Combating Algae

May has been a very hot month this year with the mercury crossing 42-43 degree Celsius. I do not think last 2 years have been as hot. We should be getting a couple of showers this week which should cool down things considerably. Last couple of monsoons have been deficient and we are hoping this year we get ample rains.

We have noticed that in the last couple of months, algae growth in our irrigation tanks has increased tremendously. We have emptied the tank totally dry, scraped the walls and floors and refilled it. However, a couple of days later, the green matter re-emerged.

I believe it is due to the extreme heat, however the challenge is to contain it to an acceptable level. Our current school of fish (katla and 'tiger shark') in the tank have not been very effective in combating the problem.

Below is a pic of our staff 'fishing' out algae. They love to get into the tank this given that they get a chance to cool off in the simmering heat.

Has anybody expressed this issue? If so, we would be happy to hear some suggestions how to control the issue.