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

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