Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Looking for Answers

I am looking for the right place to get answers for the following questions that I have in mind for a long time.

  1. What is the Average Profit / Per Acre / Per Year for the crops? This data will help the farmers to select the appropriate number of crops rather than a single crop.
  2. What is the crown size of the plants? To determine the optimal distance between the rows and between each tree.
  3. What is the root depth and root width of the plants?  This data will help to understand the competition between the roots of the crops for water and nutrients.
  4. What are the shade-loving crops? This data will help the farmers to choose the inter-crop while having large shade in their plantations.
  5. What are the crops that be kept for a long time (how many months/years) after harvest?  This data can help the farmers to choose the crops and sell the produce at the right time.
  6. What are the timbers trees and their growth period?
Is there any pointers available on the net for the above questions?  If anybody has information, please pass them on.

Please note that the above queries are related to India specific crops and hence require information in  regards to crops that are grown in India.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Organic Termite Control Method 1

In our Agriculture for Everybody blog series, we are going to see the ways to control Termites organically.  This method has been recommended by Bhaskar Save.

Please note that control of termites is not necessary in Natural or Organic Farming.  Only in extreme conditions, the termites may be controlled.

Required Ingredients

S.No.Ingredient NameQty in Litres/Grams/Kgs
1Cow Urine1 Litre
2Leaves of Bitter Neem, Calotropis gigantea, Pongamia pinnataAs required

Method of Preparation
  1. Take 1 Litre of Cow Urine.
  2. Crush the leaves of Bitter Neem, Calotropis gigantea, Pongamia pinnata and submerge in cow's urine.
  3. Stir the contents well and ensure the leaves are mixed well and submerged properly.
  4. Allow to ferment for 24 hours.
  • Please note that the stick (neem stick is better or any pole) used for mixing the ingredients should be cleaned before & after the usage so as to avoid maggots formations in the pesticide.
  • The pesticide should be kept in the shade and covered with a wire mesh or plastic mosquito net to prevent houseflies from laying eggs and the formation of maggots (worms) in the solution.

Method of Storage
  1. Not Applicable
How long can we store the Pesticide?
  1. Not Applicable
How to use the Pesticide?
  1. Spray System - The pesticide can be applied on the termite mound.
  • Dilute 1 Litre of the pesticide with 8 Litres of Water before applying.
  • Second spraying within 10 days is recommended.
    When to use the Pesticide?
    1. Generally, the ideal time for applying the paste is during 6 am to 8.30 am and between 4 pm and 6.30 pm.
    Which pests are controlled by the Pesticide?
    1. The pesticide is effective in controlling the termites.

    Saturday, 15 July 2017

    An Introduction to Bhaskar Save's "The Platform and Trench Method"

    In our Agriculture for Everybody blog series, we are going to see Bhaskar Save's "The Platform and Trench Method".  This method is mainly used for orchard plantations and even can be used for all other crops except for Rice.

    This method uses least amount of water compared even to drip irrigation and hence all of the farmers should adopt this method.
    1. What is the direction of the pits?
      • North to South axis should be the direction in which the pits are to be created
      1. Open Question - If the rows of the plant is North to South, how will the intercrops and mix crops will get enough sunlight?
    2. How long the pits should be exposed to the sun?
      • The pit should be left to dry in the sunlight for 15 days
    3. What is the size of the pit?
      • The size of the pit depends on the plant
        • For e.g., the size of the pit for coconut is 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft
    4. What are the things that are to be used for filling the pit?
      • For e.g., the under mentioned has to be followed for 3 ft x 3 ft x 3 ft size
        • First Top 9 inches - River Silt
        • Next 6 inches        - Cow Dung
        • Next 6 inches        - River Silt
        • Next 6 inches        - Soil got from top layer of earth while digging the pit
        • Next 6 inches        - Wood Power or Paddy Bark & 500 gm bone meal
      1. Open Question - Only 2 & 3/4 have been filled. Is this an oversight in the book?
    5. How many trenches are required between the plants?
      • In the initial stages, every plant will have 2 trenches
      • Once the plant reaches the optimal size, only one trench is required at the centre of the 2 plants
    6. What should be the size of the trenches?
      • The trench should be of 1.5 ft wide and 9 inches deep
    7. What should be the direction in which the trenches are to be created?
      • North to South axis should be the direction in which the trenches are to be created
    8. What is the distance of the trench from the plant?
      • The distance of the trench from the plant varies according to the plant
        • For e.g., the following is the trench plan for coconut
          • 1st Trench - 1 ft away from the platform (centre of the plant)
          • 2nd Trench - 3 ft away from the platform (centre of the plant) - after 2 years
          • 3rd Trench -  5 ft away from the platform (centre of the plant) - after 4-5 years
          • 4th Trench -  12 ft away from the platform (centre of the plant) - after 8-10 years
      • Generally, 4 or 5 times only, the trenches are moved
      • The trench plan varies according to the tree chosen.  By observing the canopy, the trench plan can be planned.
    9. When should the trenches be closed?
      • When a new trench is opened, the previous trench should be closed by filling or placing organic wastes, cow dung and filled with soil on the top and closed
    10. Is tilling necessary?
      • Initial tilling is recommended for horticulture crops but seasonal crops may require tilling based on the soil condition
    11. Is weeding necessary?
      • Weeding is not necessary at all
      • Weeds or grasses should not be uprooted and the roots will bind the soil
      • Weeds or grasses can be cut only when the growth of the crops is affected due to the shade of the weeds or grasses
      • Weeds or grasses to be cut at 2 inches above the soil (twice a year) and mulched at the same place and it becomes manure
      • Weeds to be cut before they flower and mulch them at least 3-4 inches thick on the soil so that the sunlight does not penetrate and the weeds will not come again
    12. Does the crops require water directly?
      • Most of the crops require moisture rather than water directly and rice is the only exception to this
    13. How to irrigate the crops?
      • Irrigation (of water) should be done only in the trenches
      • Irrigation should be done in alternate rows of the trenches
        • For e.g., 1st (Odd Number) time the left side of the trench is irrigated and the 2nd (Even Number) time the right side of the trench is irrigated.  This allows the roots to breathe well
    14. How to identify the right time to irrigate the crops?
      • Croton plants to be planted at the edges of the trenches to identify the moisture level in the soil
      • Croton plants will droop once the water level goes below 10 inches as the roots of the croton plants are not more than 10 inches
      • Water to be provided within 2-3 days of time, once the croton plants wither (for mature trees)
      • Water immediately, once the croton plants wither (for young saplings)
    15. When to irrigate the crops?
      • Water the plants every alternate days.  As they grow, water them every 3rd or 4th day and can be extended to 10 days after much growth
      • Irrigation should be done every 15 days in the summer and every 25 days in the winter once the crops reach their optimal maturity
    16. What are the things that can be used as manure?
      • Weeds, grasses, organic wastes, kitchen wastes, city's green waste, cow dung,  animal waste, pond soil, river soil can be used
    17. Where to manure?
      • All the manures are to be placed either near the edges of the trenches or on the inside of the walls of the trenches
      • Bio slurry (liquid manures) can be placed inside the trenches
    18. How to protect the crops?
      • Tulsi, Curry leaves help in controlling the pests and should be planted at the edges of the trenches
      • One part of Cow Urine:Eight parts of water can be applied or sprayed on the plants to protect the crops
    19. How to improve the soil?
      • 2 inches of new river silt can be placed on top of the soil for improving the fertility of the soil
      • To improve the soil, humus has to be created.  For creating humus, scatter cow dung, organic wastes two months before the rains
    20. How much of the soil is fertile?
      • Generally, the top 6 inches of the soil is the most fertile soil and most of the organisms live in this layer and hence the top soil should not be disturbed often
    21. How long does it take to improve the soil?
      • The fertility of the soil improves in 3-4 years time by continuously following the improvement methods
    22. Is Fencing required?
      • Fencing is a must just to avoid humans and cattle tramping the land and hardening the soil
    23. What are the crops that can be grown in the shade?
      • Arecanut, Betelnut Vines, Black Pepper or Pepper Vines, Curry leaf shrubs, Spices & Ayurvedic medicines etc. can be planted in the shade
    24. When the shade crops need to be introduced?
      • The shade tolerant or shade preferring species are planted once the trees are fully grown and cover the entire plot
    25. Where the shade crops to be planted?
      •  The shade loving crops are planted at the edges of the trench
    26. How will the crops grown in the shade will get moisture?
      • The shade tolerant species will get the moisture as it is planted near the trenches
    27. How much seeds (for seasonal crops) to be saved for future use?
      • Seeds to be saved for at least 2 cycles of seasonal crop
    28. General Information
      • Compass is required to identify the right direction for planting the saplings
      • Seeds of local varieties are to be purchased within 7-8 kms radius
      • Buy a sapling after seeing the mother plant and its health condition
    29. How long can the crops be harvested without sowing?
      • Banana can be cultivated up o 7 times
        • 3 baby plants are kept of different ages
        • The old banana of 7 years production is kept as it is for creating the cool environment (the leaves can be cut and sold)
      • Sugarcane can be harvested for a lifetime once sown and grown in moisture
    30. Is pruning necessary in Baskar Save's model?
    References :

    1. "The Way to Health, Wealth and Happiness" by Ashok Sanghavi
    2. "The Vision of Natural Farming" by Bharat Mansata

    Tuesday, 4 April 2017

    Disease Management - Leaf Miner Control

    In our Agriculture for Everybody blog series, we are going to see the ways to control Leaf Miner.

    Leaf Miner can be controlled by different methods.

    Pre Control Method:

    Solution 1:
    • Yellow or Blue Sticky Traps need to be placed.  This will catch the egg laying adults.
    Post Control Method:

    Solution 1:
    • If the Leaf Miner issue is seen in few leaves, those leaves can be plucked away by hand and destroyed properly by burning them or crushing them.
    • If the Leaf Miner issue is seen throughout the plant but heavy damage is seen in few leaves, only those leaves need to be plucked away by hand and destroyed properly by burning them or crushing them and also apply the solutions given below.
    Solution 2:
    • Take 30 ml of Neem Oil and mix it with water.
    • Add a little bit of dish washer soap or Khadi Soap in the water and stir well.
    • This solution should be sprayed both on top and bottom of the leaves.
    Solution 3:
    • 2 Teaspoons of Vegetable Oil with 1 Teaspoon of liquid dish washer is required for 500 ml of water.
    • The contents should be stirred well before use.
    • This solution should be sprayed both on top and bottom of the leaves.

    Wednesday, 4 January 2017

    An Introduction to Country Chicken Farming

    In our Agriculture for Everybody blog series, we are going to see Country Chicken Farming.

    In this blog, we will see the important aspects of Country Chicken Farming (Poultry).  The entire focus of this blog is towards the traditional or indigenous or desi or local or country chicken breeds.  The information provided here is suited for Free Range type of rearing and can be combined in an Integrated Farming method.

    The entire blog will be presented in a Question & Answer format.  While it will be beneficial for the first time user to read the entire blog, the frequent users of this blog can just focus on their specific needs.
    1. What are the feeds that chickens eat?
      • Chickens eat a lot of different things but a few are given below
        • Agathi Leaves
        • Azolla
        • Amaranthus Leaves (Greens)
        • Dried Fish (Finely grinded)
        • Kudirai Masal Leaves
        • Leaves (Tender Ones)
        • Maize
        • Millets (Cumbu etc)
        • Oil Cakes (Groundnut etc)
        • Paddy
        • Passi (in Tamil)
        • Rice (Broken Ones)
        • Sea Shell (Finely grinded)
        • Seeds (any)
        • Sorghum
        • Subabul Leaves
        • Termites
        • Wheat Flour
        • Worms
        • Vegetable Wastes etc
    2. How many times to feed in a day?
      • Chickens to be provided feed twice a day (morning and evening)
    3. How many times to provide them with water in a day?
      • Chickens to be provided water twice a day (morning and evening)
      • 1 Gram feed intake requires 2.5 Milli Litres of water
      • 100 chickens require 30-35 Litres/day
    4. How much to feed?
      • Chickens eat 6-7 kgs concentrate in their entire life
    5. When does the chickens be allowed to graze?
      • The pregnant chickens should be allowed to graze in the afternoon period only
    6. What is the % of expenses that goes towards feed?
      • 60% of the expenses goes towards feeding the chickens
    7. What is the average Male:Female ratio?
      • 1 (M):10 (F) is the average ratio
    8. What is the lifetime of a chicken?
      • Chickens live up to 15 years
    9. What is the right age for buying a chicken?
      • Chickens of 5-7 months is the right age for buying for reproduction
      • Buy chickens as well as the cock from various places to have diversification
    10. When does the chickens start laying eggs?
      • Chickens will start laying eggs after 26 weeks of age
    11. How much eggs does a chicken lay in a clutch (continuously)?
      • A chicken lays up to 15 eggs in a clutch
    12. When does the chicken lay the eggs?
      • Normally, the chickens lays the eggs in the morning period
    13. Where does the chickens brood?
      • Normally, chickens feel safe to brood in a dark place
    14. How to identify the dates of the laid eggs?
      • The only way to identify the dates of the eggs is to put the days in the eggs using a marker
    15. How many eggs can a chicken brood at a time?
      • 9-11 eggs can be kept for brooding at a time
    16. Which eggs are to kept for brooding?
      • The last laid eggs (9-11) are good for brooding
    17. Within how many days, the eggs has to be kept for brooding?
      • Within 10 days of laying the eggs, the eggs need to be kept for brooding
    18. How to keep the eggs until the brooding time?
      • A pot with a little bit of salt in it will keep the eggs in good condition for 10 days
    19. How many eggs are laid in a year?
      • On an average, 70-80 eggs are laid in a year
    20. How long does it take for a new chicken to get familiar/used to the new environment?
      • A chicken take 4-5 days to get familiar/used to the environment meaning they will remember the new home
    21. How to help the chickens in brooding?
      • A round shaped circle containing sand with a little bit of ash, charcoal, a iron piece and 3 pieces of dry chillies should be kept for brooding
      • On top of the sand, paddy straw can be placed for comfort
      • Charcoal will absorb the moisture
      • Dry chillies will keep the place free from ants, insects etc
      • Iron piece will absorb lightning
    22. How long does it take for the chicks to emerge out of the eggs?
      • Chicks emerge out of the eggs in 21 days
    23. How to take care of the chicks in the initial period?
      • Chicks to be kept in the cages until they can fly a little bit
      • A little bit of turmeric to be added in the water for 1 week for providing the chicks
    24. What is the average weight of a fully grown chicken?
      • Chickens attain 1.5 kgs of weight in 5-6 months
    25. What other poultry goes well with chickens?
      • Turkey and Guinea Fowl goes well with chickens
      • It is said that they eat small insects including small snakes
    26. When to retire the chickens?
      • After 27 months, the laying capacity of the female chickens will reduce and hence the chickens can be retired
      • The male chickens (cock) is retired after one year and new one to be replaced
    27. What are the indigenous breed varieties of chickens of Tamilnadu?
      • Aseel
      • Kirappukkoli
      • Karunkalikkoli
      • Kontaikkoli
      • Kuruvukkoli
    28. What are the indigenous breed varieties of chickens of India?
    29. What is the ratio of chickens to be maintained?
      • 60-80% of laying chickens is needed at any point of time
    30. What to sell?
      • Eggs that are not kept for reproducing can be sold
      • One day old chickens can be sold after proper vaccination
      • Male Chickens (Cocks) need to be kept to the average required as they tend to fight within them
      • Chickens of 5-7 months of age can be sold (when it attains 1 kg and above)
      • Chickens beyond their laying capacity (after 27 months) can be sold
    31. When to sell?
      • Should plan to grow in such a manner to sell them during religious festivals like Deepavali, Bakrid etc as it will fetch handsome returns for mass selling.  Otherwise, they can be sold even daily
    32. What basis to sell?
      • Eggs can be sold at double the market rate for white eggs in retail
      • Chickens to be sold on Live Weight basis for meat purposes for better returns
      • Chickens to be sold at 3/4 of market rate
        • If the market rate is 400 Rs, the farmer can sell at 300 Rs leaving a margin of 33.33% to the buyer
      • Chickens to be sold on Live Weight basis for growing purposes on par with the market rate or even 25% above the market rate
    33. How much space is required for chickens?
      • Chickens require 1-2 Sq Ft of space
    34. What are the diseases that occur commonly in chickens?
      • Fasting in a week improve the immunity in the chickens against diseases
      • Country Chickens are hardly animals and are mostly disease resistant.  Still diseases can attack the chickens and they need to be managed by providing the proper medicines
    35. What are the vaccination schedule?
      1 day
      HVT vaccine
      5-7 days
      10-14 days
      IBD Live
      Drinking water
      24-28 days
      IBD Live
      Drinking water
      8th week
      16-18 week
    36. What the main enemies of the chickens?
      • Birds (mainly Vulture)
      • Cats
      • Rats
      • Mongoose
      • Snakes