Summer season is a time of worry for most farmers across the country since water becomes an important, and much sought after commodity.
“Though water harvesting and conservation are being encouraged by the government the number of farmers adopting it is still quite negligible in the country,” says Dr. Sreenath Dixit, Zonal Project Director, ICAR, Hebbal, Bangalore.
What do farmers who own small acres do?
“Naturally we cannot expect them to dig a small pond to collect rainwater since it eats away into their cropping area. For such growers we have introduced the poly mulching technology. This method is already in existence and proven in some parts of the country. It has helped small farmers cultivate vegetables well,” he says.
Mulching is an age old practice of mixing dried leaves, twigs, stalk etc into the soil to improve its fertility condition and conserve moisture.
It is common in organic cultivation methods. In modern conventional methods plastic sheets are being used.
The sheets are laid on the field by a machine on top of the furrows and seedlings are planted in small holes made on the sheets.
Plastic sheets have been found to conserve soil moisture because the water that gets evaporated from the soil in the open, condenses on the lower part of the sheet as small droplets and falls back into the soil.
The Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK) under Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR, Bangalore) at Hirehalli, Tumkur, Karnataka, initiated demonstrations to popularise this practice in the region.
This technology is quite popular in Tamil Nadu expecially in dharmapuri areas and Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, Coimbatore have been popularising this method through thier precision technology system
A small farmer, Saroja, from Deverayanapatna village in Tumkur taluk, with two acres, was encouraged to grow the tomato variety arka samrat released by Indian Institute of Horticultural Research (IIHR) under this technology.
The normal duration of this variety is 135-140 days only but due to the impact of polythene mulching, the crop period extended to 10-15 days more.
The farmer harvested nearly 32 tonnes from an acre in 150 days and sold them at Rs.10 per kg in the local market. She earned a gross profit of Rs. 3.25 lakhs in 150 days. Total cost of cultivation was Rs.60,000 per acre and the farmer earned a net profit of Rs. 2.65 lakhs in five months.
“I used to grow only ragi and some paddy crops and was unable to get a profit from these due to lack of technical knowhow and labour scarcity. I happened to visit the KVK at Hirehalli and based on their advice, decided to grow arka samrat tomato during summer,” she says.
The tomato seedlings were grown on raised beds with poly mulch film laid with drip irrigation.
A package of practices like mulching was suggested which minimised the incidences of pests and viral diseases.
Farmers from surrounding villages, on seeing her field, were quite impressed by this technology since it reduces water requirement, prevents moisture evaporation, brings down pests and diseases. The fruits obtained are of better quality and colour, which fetch better price in the market, according to Dr. Loganandhan, programme co-ordinator, Hirehalli, KVK.
“Initially very few farmers expressed willingness to try this method. Many were just silent spectators. But after they saw Ms. Saroja’s success they have been approaching our office to replicate the same for them,” says Dr. Loganandhan.
The farmer was conferred the Best Progressive Farmer Award in Tomato by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) on the annual foundation day held recently at IIHR in Bangalore,
For more information and details interested farmers in the region can contact Dr. N. Loganandhan, programme co-ordinator, KVK, Hirehalli, Tumkur: 572 104, phone: 0816-2243175, Fax - 0816-2243177, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, mobile: 08277252099.
Source: Published in The Hindu, July 30, 2014 [ http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/poly-mulching-helps-small-tomat... ]