Protected Environ – Key to Extended Vegetable Production

Grow Vegetables  in Protected Environs

Protected Environs are meant primarily to prevent incoming of pests, virus, fungis, etc. into your crops. Protected Environs also allow control on watering and fertilization of the crops.

Importantly, Protected Environs also help us from weather vagaries and allow production almost all year round.

Weather prediction is rather difficult. More difficult is believing in the weather predictions. Sophistication level of weather prediction has increased phenomenally due to advanced modeling; however, the uncertain unmapped effect of climate change makes weather predictions fuzzy. So there is we the farmers happy that sunny weather is predicted and happily we sow the seeds. But unexpectedly you get warnings of thundershowers and low temperature fronts moving towards your areas. So there goes all expectations.

Almost every agriculture crop (cereals, veggies, flowers, fruits etc.) can be produced in protective Environs. The type and size of protective environment is defined by the crop. If for home grown vegetables low tunnel is enough, for flowers full polyhouses are required. Farmer needs to consider several aspects before deciding on type, and size, of Protected Environs. Here we are considering vegetable production only.

Indicative List for deciding Protected Environs

1. Soil and Water quality available. Decision about fertilizer type and quantity.
2. What vegetables he will grow. Prefer self-pollinated varieties.
3. What type of Protected Environs he will provide. What will be the size?
4. Market analysis.

Farmer having decided on aspects 1 and 2 above, this blog discusses aspect 3 in some detail.

Types of Protected Environs

1. Air-conditioned Greenhouse.
2. Natural Air Flow Greenhouse.
3. Low cost Poly houses.
4. Walk-in-Tunnel.
5. Insect Resistant Net house, and
6. Low Plastic Tunnel.

I have discussed the first three types in this site and more information may please be seen there.

Walk-in-Tunnel

walk-in-tunnel

straight wall walk in tunnel

Walk in Tunnels come in various sizes and shapes.

Based on Size

1. Tall type
2. Low Type

Based on Shape

1. Hemispherical
2. Straight side

Typical sizes are: Height 7 feet to 12 feet; Width: 12 to 15 feet; Length: is as per land and acreage requirement. Length is also dependent on the size of poly sheet.

Too high tunnels mean greater wind resistant structures.

Straight wall type walk-in-tunnel is about 10 feet height at center and provides greater mobility to farmer.

The material used is based on economics and desired longevity of tunnel. Common material used for structures is:

• steel and GI pipes
• Bamboo
• PVC and polyethylene pipes
.
PVC pipe tunnels with short life are used with success. Such tunnels are easy to build and cost is less. It is also possible to shift place of such tunnels easily. Two-inch diameter SDR-11 black poly pipe is a better choice than PVC pipe for constructing houses up to 14 feet in width. This thick-walled, high density polyethylene pipe is commonly used in the oil and gas industry and in geothermal energy systems. It is more flexible and has a slower rate of photo-degradation (the process that causes brittleness) compared to PVC. More information check out here. https://www.noble.org/globalassets/docs/ag/pubs/horticulture/nf-ho-12-02.pdf

Use of such tunnels is recommended in winter season growing of such vegetables like cucumber, squash, pepper, bitter gourdes, water melons, brinjals, capsicum etc. Such tunnels are also productive for hilly places. If used for summers, vents are needed to be provided.
It is suggested that tunnels are aligned east to west to get most sunshine.

Insect Resistant Net house

nethouse

insect resistant net house

Net houses are basically naturally ventilated climate controlled Protected Environs. More useful for summer seasons to provide shade and thus bring down temperature to the crop.
Net house structures allow growing vegetables in a way similar to that of the regular greenhouses, but with a relatively low investment. Vegetables growth within net houses must start and end in adequate periods from the climatic point of view. Therefore, the crop must be planned in such a way that most of the produce should be collected before the rainy season and the consequent lower temperatures.

Rain infiltration through the net, even if minimal, wets the plants. Prolonged wetness produces chapping of fruits, lowers quality and increases the risk of diseases. It also causes withering and drying of the leaves.

The net houses must be thoroughly covered by means of a net of size mesh – 50 that does not allow the passage of insects. The use of mesh 50 net was standardized following experiments that verified that white fly’s cannot pass through through such nets. These nets are manufactured with 22-24 micron woven fibers at 50 threads per inch, and stabilized against radiation wear-and-tear, thus giving them an extended useful life.

The mesh nets contribute towards reducing the usage of insecticides due to their ability to physically impede the entry of insects into the net house.
The reduction of insecticide application allows the utilization of bees for pollination and fertilization of the tomato flowers within the net houses and the net-covered structures.
The design of shade house frames depend on the need and available engineering skill. Structural frames of Quonset, gable or Gothic arch shape or with minor modification suitable to local condition are recommended in high rainfall areas. Like for Walk-in-Tunnel structure, G.I. or PVC pipes may be utilized.

Low Plastic Tunnel

pvc low tunnel

pvc low tunnel

Plastics tunnel popularly known as low tunnels are miniature structures producing greenhouse like effect. These tunnels facilitate the entrapment of carbon dioxide, thereby enhancing the photosynthetic activities of the plant that help to increase yield. These structures also protect the plants from high wind, rain, frost and snow. Besides being inexpensive, these structures are easy to construct and dismantle.

Low tunnels have been used for producing healthy and high value nurseries. Use of low tunnels has been effective in crops such as Tomato, Cucumber, Radish, Beans, Asparagus, Strawberries, Melon and Tobacco etc.

Advantages

• Used for raising healthy and early nursery.
• Maintains optimum temperature for plant growth.
• Enhances nutrients uptake by the plants.
• Increases photosynthetic activities of the plants.
• Used for cultivation during winter.
• Protection against wind, rain, frost & snow.

Material Required for Construction

• HDPE / PVC pipes of one inch diameter & 2 meter in length.
• Transparent LDPE films of 25-50 microns having 2 meter width.
• 50 cm long with 6 mm diameter GI wires in which Peg to be made.
• 2 No. of Poles having 5 cm diameter.
• Twin Poly Propylene (PP) ropes.

Interested in further reading:

https://articles.extension.org/pages/18356/low-cost-high-tunnel-construction

https://www.ncpahindia.com/shade-net

Posted in grow veggies, implements&machinery

SIX STEPS TO MAKE AGRICULTURE AN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY

AGRICULTURE AN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY – FOLLOW THESE SIX STEPS

Farmer is the real king. He owes nothing to anybody. He works as per his will and pleasure. Out of his labor, mother earth provides all types of boons to the mankind for its very survival. All the factories producing mechanized gadgets, arms, clothes and what not cannot do what farmer does – provide nourishing and necessary food articles. There is a saying in Hindi, “Uttam Kheti madhyam Ban Adham Chakri Bheekh Nidhan”. Translated into English, it means that for human beings agriculture is the best profession, followed by Business, followed by Service and last is Begging.

All nations salute two classes – its soldiers and its farmers.

Given such a high place in the society, it is worth considering why the farming community at most places is under stress. That it is under stress is beyond doubt.

Just compare the cost of food articles and others such as cloth, steel, petrol, gold, land, rents etc. etc. in the past, say twenty years ago, and today. Prices of all others are far far higher than those of food articles which are only marginally higher. That is the stress of the farmers. True their land value is going up but the produce value is just even stevens.

A farmer is forever egged on to increase the production to get some marginally higher returns. Meanwhile due to expansion of family, the land available per farmer goes on decreasing. Value of fertilizers, the labor rates, machinery costs keep on mounting. That is farmer stress.

The root cause of stress is artificially lowered rates of his produce by governments of the world. Why – so that people and the government can spend money after money on entertainment, lavish lifestyle, arms race, etc. etc. That is why farmers are going into service and other businesses. That is farmer stress.

However that is not what this blog concerned about. It is only concerned about what can be done to alleviate farmer stress. How the pristine glory of farming can be restored.

AND THAT MEANS INCREASING INCOME OF FARMER IN SYNC WITH GENERAL PRICE INCREASE.

THE SOLUTION: TREAT AGRICULTURE AN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY — AS ANY OTHER INDUSTRY. CALCULATE YOUR INVESTMENT, PROFITS AND LOSSES.

So Farmer friends, say NO MORE to HIT AND RUN techniques of yore. I give below the SIX most essential steps to plan agricultural activity in your farm designed to raise the income. Just forget how you or your elders did farming and follow, if you like, the steps suggested. So here we go.

Be knowledgeable

Climate change is no longer a big ticket discussion topic now; it is happening – climate change is happening. Farmer needs to tune in to the weather predictions, study the pattern changes and do planting/sowing accordingly.

Wiki has following explanation on this climate changes.

“The effects of global warming in the Arctic, or climate change in the Arctic include rising air and water temperatures, loss of sea ice, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet with a related cold temperature anomaly, observed since the 1970s. Related impacts include ocean circulation changes, increased input of freshwater, and ocean acidification. Indirect effects through potential climate teleconnections to mid latitudes may result in a greater frequency of extreme weather events (flooding, fires and drought), ecological, biological and phenology changes, biological migrations and extinctions, natural resource stresses and as well as human health, displacement and security issues. Potential methane releases from the region, especially through the thawing of permafrost and methane clathrates, may occur. Presently, the Arctic is warming twice as fast compared to the rest of the world. The pronounced warming signal, the amplified response of the Arctic to global warming, is often seen as a leading indicator of global warming. The melting of Greenland’s ice sheet is linked to polar amplification. According to a study published in 2016, about 0.5°C of the warming in the Arctic has been attributed to reductions in sulfate aerosols in Europe since 1980”.

Another aspect of Being Knowledgeable is update soil and water data on a regular way. This will allow farmer to change fertilizer quantities and fertilization schedules as required by the particular crop – what is called DESIGNER CROPPING. This will save costs on use of excess or unrequired fertilizers and time on unnecessary fertilization scheduling.

Go for Variety

Agriculture scientists world over have found, and keep on finding, varieties of different agriculture seeds, plants etc., which have more power to resist diseases and viruses. And even pest resistant. And require less watering. There are methods of inter cropping which provide big benefits of fertilization and also of pest resistance. And then one can plant two types together to protect from pests. Farmers please this is a big subject and it is not possible to deal with this in this blog. But I hope you understand what is being said in this Para.

Diversify or don’t put all your eggs in one basket

Man is by nature a social animal and likes to lives in a cluster – a village, a city. This puts a strain on a farmer as then he is away from his farm for considerable time in a day. In some analysis done elsewhere, it was found that a successful farmer had his home where his farm was. In developing economies, this becomes one of the essentials for success in farming. In developed economies, easy availability of satellite based visual and sensor monitoring provides comfort – though travel times still exist.

Farming based purely on agriculture is a losing business. Farmers need to diversity – make farming an all-encompassing activity which runs all 12 months, all days, all the year round like any other economic activity or an industrial activity. Planning, Supervision, Monitoring and Control Techniques as applied to industry need to be applied to farming as well, and in the same routinized manner diligently. Dairy, Poultry, Agriculture, Storage, Value Addition… (Tomato ketchup), .Dairy would provide good amount of fertilizers to the field for your crops as required. Farmer would also make his own type of pesticides. Storage allows freedom from distress selling. Plant would allow utilizing unsold inventory of fruits and vegetables to be put into bottles can be sold to neighborhood malls. Earmark some part of your land for polyhouses where due to large control on environment all year round production is possible.

Idea is not to put all your eggs in one basket. So always farmer would have fail safe options to remain financially viable.

Be Ready With Strategies and Solutions for Any Risks.

Like in war Like in peace. Never take things for granted. There is some where a law which says that if things can wrong, likely they will go wrong. You may have ploughed beautifully, sown the best seeds, given the best fertilizer, the sun is bright, and things seem good. But what happens weather all of a sudden turns bad, locusts arrive from nowhere, there are so many things which can go bad for a farmer. Farming is not a controlled environment activity. It is here that farmer needs to be ready with pre-thought out responses to such exigencies and ready with solutions for same. New seeds, special spray material and machines for same, fast response all would count.

Conserve and Transform Waste into Fertilizer and Pesticides.

It is very obvious and yet so many of us would burn the residuals from wheat, rice, vegetables and what not. NO the correct thing is conserve and transforms all such waste in to fertilizers and pesticides. There are a number of methods how to do it. The easiest is to put all waste in a heap and let it rot into fine fertilizer material. The process can be accentuated by layering it with dung material and also by worms. I would refer to my blog on same.

Keep Up With government Schemes but Not Be Blinded By miss-selling By Agencies.

Governments do try to alleviate problems faced by agriculturists. They do it in various ways. It is done according to agreed formula in the WTO forum. This is so that global marketing is competitive. Governments directly or through its various agencies provides for incentive s and subsidies separately working in fields of agriculture or horticulture or floriculture or vegetable production or fisheries etc. Now the farmer faced with a number of schemes needs to concentrate on what would be really beneficial to him. There are schemes which could have riders attached requiring farmers to delve in newer activities. Newer activities could clash with the routinized activities of farmer and may sometimes not result in any gains at all.

Always Maintain a Balance Sheet of Expenditure and Income.

This is one of the most essential activities. So what is a balance sheet? It is a statement of financial position of your agricultural and allied economic activities where your assets, liabilities and your own equity are shown at a particular time, generally once a year. It shows your net worth.

Have also your Income Statement and Cash Flows statement updated.One needs to count all the monies, expend it well to obtain calculated returns on same. Allocate funds in the beginning, plan for fund flows (as you sell your produce) and for investment on items such as seeds, fertilizer, water, electricity, purchase of new equipment, maintenance, wages for labor employed and salary and bonus for yourself and savings for next cycle.

A very strict monitoring is required, monetary discipline being the key. Normally a farmer does not fuss about such matters; but believe me it is a must must. As the title of this blog says AGRICULTURE IS AN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY. And profits out of this activity must be had. Do you realize your anticipated profits? please do share.

Posted in farm guide Tagged with: , , , , , ,

THREE STEPS TO FUTURE AGRICULTURE


Agriculture exists first to feed people and has done so for thousands of years, and it will have to continue doing the same for hopefully many more.” FAO

Each second, the world’s population grows by nearly three more people, that is 240 000 people a day. By 2025, the global population will reach 8 billion people and 9.6 billion by 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

That is an extra billion mouths to feed within the next decade. And in just one generation, there will be more people additional on the planet than there were at the beginning of the 20th century.
That is a BIG WAKE UP CALL FOR BOOSTING AGRICULTURE
PLANNING FOR FUTURE.

The first step then is to spread awareness and to educate our Farmers whom I shall refer in this blog as Agrarian Industrialists. Oh yes, make no mistake agriculture is an industry and one which employs perhaps the largest workforce.

There are THREE STEPS to this awareness and
education program.


  1. Awareness to Diminishing returns on classical farming methods still being followed by a large majority of Agrarian Industrialists.
  2. Adopt existing newer technologies fully towards sustainable and incremental returns.
  3. Inform Agrarian Industrialists about future farming practices to really explode production and income (and reverse diminishing returns).


STEP ONE:



Be aware to Diminishing Returns on classical farming methods still being followed.


Diminishing Returns – WHY? Several Reasons, but the TOP ONES ….

  • Shrinking Farm sizes due to division of
    land over generations, progress of urbanization, factories, hospitals,
    educational centers, etc. and other reasons.
  • Drying and dying water sources due to increased
    water consumption needs of an ever growing human race. Even the river origins
    are getting inhabited!
  • Fertilizer to output yields decreasing
    due to increase in saltiness in earth.
  • Chemical resistant pests and virus
    require ever increasing dosages. The high dosages retained in produce are then dangerous
    for human consumption.
  • Government policy directives banning use
    of several pesticides and insecticides which the environmental scientists and
    researchers found dangerous for humans and bees.
  • A Growing Go-Back-To-Organic movement;
    there is preference for a produce which carries “organically grown” tag.

STEP TWO:



Adopt existing new technologies fully towards sustainable and incremental returns.


SWITCH immediately to NOW READY technologies – HOW?


(May be useful to go over this list even for those Agrarian
Industrialists who are into it already)

  • Use more capital intensive practices than hitherto being followed.
  • Switch to Protected Cultivation. Vegetables are the best candidate.
  • Agrarian Industrialists could make a grouping amongst themselves to get benefit of
    Larger Scale of operations;
  • Implant Soil and Water Sensors distributed in fields. With ready moisture and nitrogen
    data of their fields, decisions result in more efficient use of precious
    resources of water and fertilizer. This also aids in water and fertilizer
    conservation. Wastage and leakages to ponds, wells and rivers is avoided.
  • Use drip and sprinklers for irrigation and fertigation.
  • Use government and community broadcasts on weather predictions for planning
    activities. Agrarian Industrialists would also not be caught unaware of adverse
    weather.
  • Group farming aids in Integrated Farming as well. Opens up more income generating
    streams. Big benefit ‘Produce your own fertilizers at your time’.

STEP THREE:



INFORM Agrarian Industrialists about future farming practices to really explode production and income (and reverse diminishing returns).


Plan for Future Ready Technologies:

  • Time to move to more capital intensive and KNOWLEDGE BASED practices. So while keeping up with what was suggested above, more is required;
  • Use Internet of Things (IoT). IoT is the art of connecting and integrating objects, people, information and systems for intelligent production and services.
  • Use data analysis which would be available through aerial satellite imagery, greenness sensors, soil maps and millions of weather data points.
  • Use of intelligent sensors for moisture, fertilizer, soil and weather so that AIs keep an eye on their crops and field (with the help of satellite and mobile technologies) without going to every corner of their fields (and
    even from their home).
  • Use automation. Too much farm labor reduces performance. Tractors in auto mode for all types of work. Irrigation and fertigation ON DEMAND.
  • Use the internet and sites of their government and other agencies to track the
    crops, yields, price movements, shortfall and excess production stats, weather,
    etc. Plan accordingly to produce what crop, with what aim, and when for
    optimizing returns. AIs need to be ahead of inflation index and decide on
    percentage increase year-on-year. This keeps up with real income parity.
  • Diversify to organic, GMO or non-GMO (his choice depending on his country’s policy), corn, soy, vegetable oils, high worth and exotic vegetables, etc.
  • Wean away from water guzzling comfort crops like wheat, rice and sugarcane to conserve on precious water in areas prone to water scarcity.
  • It is the practice of producing food in vertically stacked layers. Most of present
    Vertical Farming production is in urban areas itself and so transport is
    minimal. Fresh food is available faster and at lower cost. However, vertical
    farming is well adaptable to AIs as well. Farmers in all areas can use it to
    make better use of available land and to grow crops that wouldn’t normally be
    viable in those locations. Capital Intensive, why yes but returns are said to be great.
  • The beauty of what has been suggested lies in the ease and simplicity of its execution. By a
    device owned almost by everybody – the SMART MOBILE PHONE.



It is a struggle in which our Farmers, the Agrarian Industrialists, have been engaged from time immortal since farming began. And the struggle shall go on. But there are many new technologies to the aid of Agrarian Industrialists now and more developing faster. Adoption of technology and keeping an eye on the commodity churning on a routine manner is the need of the hour. Agrarian Industrialist also needs big help by the governments (and it is available already in different form in different countries). Like the human race does, adapting to changes in farming methods too is the mantra for success. Adapt to computer aided agriculture.

Posted in farm guide, TechTalks Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

WHEAT FARMING

Interested in WHEAT Farming ?

Some Introduction to WHEAT

Wheat is a staple cereal for a large population worldwide. It is difficult to believe of human sustenance without wheat. Wikipedia records that Wheat is grown on more land area than any other food crop. World trade in wheat is greater than for all other crops combined. In 2016, world production of wheat was 749 million tonnes, making it the second most-produced cereal after maize. Wheat is an important source of carbohydrates, protein, nutrients and fiber.

The seeds of wheat grass are cereal grains, and are staple food for millions of human beings. Botanically,wheat kernel is a type of fruit called ‘caryopsis’ – a type of simple dryfruit. Other such caryopsis is maize and rice.

Wheat is believed to have been cultivated in the regions of the Fertile Crescent around 9600 Before Common Era (BCE). By 6500 BCE it seems to have reached Greece, Cyprus and India. By 3000 BCE it reached British Isles and a millennium later China.(source: Wikipedia)

Classification of WHEAT

Wheat is named differently in different places. Whatever the names, classification methods for wheat varieties follow same standards:

Growing season – winter grown or summer grown.

Protein content. High, Medium or Low.

The quality of the wheat protein gluten. This protein can determine the suitability of wheat for a particular use.

Grain color – red,white or amber. Phenolic compounds present in the bran layer impart color to wheat grains.

Nutrition provided by WHEAT

Wheat provides carbohydrates, proteins, nutrients and fiber. Generally as an average, 100 grams wheat provides about 320 kilo calories.It also provides  multiple  essential  nutrients such as protein, vitamins, fiber, minerals. Wheat has about 13% water, 70% carbohydrates and negligible fat. Its 13% protein content is mostly gluten.

Commercial Use

Worldwide wheat is cultivated as cash crop and wheat farmers benefits from such cultivation. Wheat can be easily stored. Use of wheat flour in different ways is done, the best example being bread which is almost universally eaten across the world. Stored wheat is a highly concentrated form of food

Different countries Different Yields

According to Wikipedia, the average annual world farm yield for wheat in 2014 was 3.3 tonnes per hectare (330 grams per square meter). Among the top most productive farmers were: 1.Ireland with a nationwide average of 10.0 tonnes per hectare, 2. Netherlands(9.2), and 3. Germany, New Zealand and the United Kingdom (each with 8.6).https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wheat#cite_note-fao-prod2014-7

Top WHEAT producers in 2014

Country millions of tonnes
 European Union 157.3
 China 126.2
 India 95.8
 Russia 59.7
 United States 55.1
 France 39.0
 Canada 29.3
 Germany 27.8
 Pakistan 26.0
 Australia 25.3
 Ukraine 24.1
World 720
Source: UN Food & Agriculture Organization[7]

Suitable climate for WHEAT growing

It is grown under a wide range of climatic conditions. However, it can not stand too hot or too cold weather. It prefers moderate temperature in summer as well as in winter. Short days are not favorable for the formation of bulbs. Winter wheat lies dormant during winter and grows rapidly in spring. Too cold conditions damage the crop. Spring wheat is sown just as spring starts and harvested in summer. Winter wheat makes for fine flour.

Land Preparation

field ploughed and ready

field ready for plantation

Wheat grows in many types of soil, but it grows best in well-drained loam or clay-loam soils. Two major threats to the wheat plant’s growth are poor soil drainage and high levels of soil acidity. The wheat roots penetrate earth at shallow depths maybe around 6-7 cm. Land needs to be well pulverized. For this land maybe first irrigated and then ploughed two or three times. The seed and initial fertilizers (and if required pesticides and fungicides, depending on the soil) are then planted together. Thereafter one ploughing and one leveling is done so that there is no water drainage problems. This also eliminates any other type of vegetation in the field.

Sowing Methods

  1. Broadcasting: In this method the seeds are broadcast and then worked in by harrowing in order to cover them.
  2. Behind Local Plough: A majority of farmers uses this method. This method consists of dropping the seeds by hand into the furrows that have been opened with local plough.
  3. Drilling: In this method seed is sown by specially made drills called seed drill or ferti-seed drill. With the help of this implement seed drop at desired depth and results in uniform germination and regular stand.
  4. Dibbling: This method is used in case where supply of seed is limited. Sowing is done with the help of a small implement known as ‘Dibbler’. It is a wooden or iron frame with pegs. The frame is pressed in the field and lifted and then one or two seeds are dropped by hand in each of the hole. It is not a common method because it is a very time consuming process.
  5. Zero tillage technique: This new method is used in Rice-Wheat cropping system so that rice stubble need not be removed or destroyed but is utilized as a fertilizer itself. Specially made machines are used for this method.

Depth of sowing

Deep sowing may delay or stifle emergence, while shallow sowing risks seed damage from herbicide uptake. The length of the first shoot (coleoptile) has a bearing on depth of sowing. If a variety is sown deeper than the natural growth extension of the coleoptile, then seedling may not emerge. Most current varieties are derived from so called semi-dwarf lines which have shorter stems and shorter coleoptiles than older varieties.

Depth of sowing depends on soil type and availability of moisture influence. Sowing depths indicated are between 25mm and 50mm depending on soil type and available moisture. Moist conditions shallower depth placements may encourage faster emergence and crop establishment.

Quantity of seed

Farmers aim to achieve a crop density of 150-200 plants per square meter.  This means around 60kg/ha seeding rate in lower rainfall zones (up to 400mm annual rainfall) and around 80-90kg/ha in the higher rainfall zones.

Manures and Fertilizers

Fertilizer application actually depends upon the soil of the farmer. It is recommended to have the soil and water analyzed before deciding on the actual quantity of fertilizers. As a normal practice the following fertilizers are indicated for wheat farming.

Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, zinc, copper,boron, manganese, iron, and magnesium are required by wheat and most of them are available in soil. Nitrogen is required in the largest amount because it is part of all the proteins in the plant. High yields require higher nitrogen. Wheat also needs a lot of phosphorus, most of which ends up in the grain. Farmer may give 3kg/ha of phosphorus per tonne of expected yield. Other nutrients from the soil are needed in smaller amounts, but all must be present for healthy plant growth and color.

Farm Yard Manure is highly desirable in the land, whatever be the crop. It is same with wheat also. Mixing of  around 2 to 2.5 tonnes of FYM per hectares is sufficient. Apart from FYM, it is also recommended to give following fertilizers.

Nitrogen (N) @80 – 120 kg/ha, Phosphorus (P2O5) @ 40- 60 kg/ha and
Potash (K2O) @ 40 kg/ha.

Total quantity of Phosphorus and potash and half the quantity of nitrogen should be applied at the time of sowing. Remaining quantity of Nitrogen should be applied at the time of crown root initiation.

It is recommended to have soil studies done before sowing and application of fertilizers to arrive at correct estimates of fertilizers required. Micro nutrients, if indicated by the soil report, are also to be supplemented.

Weed Management

Generally weeding is done after 1 ½ to 2 months after sowing.

Farmers have to plan for weed control quite well in advance. A number of herbicides are available for controlling weed problem. As a good practice, it is recommended to rotate herbicides. This will take care of any development resistance to any particular herbicide.  The weeds must not be allowed to grow to a threat level. Some herbicides are as follows: (mix all in 250 -300 liters of water/ha)

  1. Fenoxaprop-ethyl @ 89 to 120 gram/ha
  2. Cipdomafpr @ 400 gms a.i./ha
  3. Metribuyzin @ 175 gms a.i./ha
  4. Sulfosulfuran @ 25 gms a.i./ha
  5. Fenoxaprop-ethyl @ 80to 120 gms a.i./ha

Irrigation

  • 1st irrigation 3-4 weeks after sowing
  • 2nd irrigation 40-45 days after sowing
  • 3rd irrigation at 60 to 65 days after sowing
  • 4th irrigation 80-85 days after sowing
  • 5th irrigation 100-105
  • 6th 115 -120 days

Control of Pests and Diseases

Some information on insects, pests and disease of Wheat is discussed below. The control measures depend upon type and intensity of the problems and also whether organic or inorganic pesticides are to be used as decided by the Farmer. For more information on pests and diseases please go through my blog on same.

Downey Mildew: spraying Dithane M-45 at interval is recommended.

Green Jassids: spray of chloropyrofos/ dichlorvos/dimethoate/phorate/imidacloprid

Shoot and Fruit Borer: spray endosulfan/chloropyrofos. Spread phorate.

White Fly: spray malathion. Drench with thimet.

Thrips: spray imidaclorprid/chloropyrofos/dimethoate. Several sprays may be required.

Some supposed Health Benefits of Wheat

This vegetable has a long history in traditional medicine. It has nutrients, vitamins, minerals and other organic compounds which gives wheat a special medicinal value.

The nutritional value of 100g of edible Wheat is said to be equivalent to 12 gm protein, 1.5 gm fat,71 gm carbohydrate, 3.2 gm minerals and 12.2 gm fibers. It contains vitamin B-6,vitamin C, iron and calcium. It’s low in calories and has a high dietary fiber content. There would be minor variations in between varieties.

It is good in lowering of blood sugar levels !

Wheat has been suggested to help manage blood sugar due to presence of sulfur compounds (S-methylcycsteine) and quercetin. These compounds have a beneficial effect in controlling the blood sugar level in the body.

Quercetin in red wheats have significant role in destroying breast and colon cancer cells.

The same compound also prevents release of histamine in body. This helps in allergies.

Some other Benefits are thought to be in help in asthma and allergic rhinitis by using wheat extracts.  The use of wheat is also good for eyes, oral healthcare and hair healthcare.

Risks of eating WHEAT

Like with everything which has good properties, Wheat may also have some side effects. It is true that only a few studies Wheat have linked to negative side effects.

Over consumption of wheat for diabetic patients can be harmful.

It goes without saying that Wheat can contain bacteria, pesticides, and other dangerous substances if it is not thoroughly washed before flour is made.

Harvesting and Storage

The rain-fed crop reaches the harvest stage much earlier than the irrigated crop. The crop is harvested when the grains become hard and the straw becomes dry and brittle.Depending on the scale of planting, farmers would utilize Harvester Machine or harvest manually by laborers. The crop is threshed by treading with power driven thresher by most of the farmers. However, at some places farmers of small land holdings or deprived of machines still use  cattle on the threshing-flour.

Storage

The grains should be thoroughly dried before storage. The storage life of the grain is closely related to its moisture content. Grains with less than 10 percent moisture store well. The storage pits, bins or godowns should be moisture-proof and should be fumigated. Rat proofing is a must. Zinc phosphide is very effective against rats.

 note: The author himself is a small farmer and involved with such farming. Certain data are taken from usually reliable sources on the net.

 

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Farming Tools, Implements And Equipment

Must Have List of Farming Tools,

Implements And Equipment

Farmer needs to undertake a number of activities on a routine basis. The activities take a troll on the time and money of the farmer. Fortunately as mankind has evolved,  more and more systematic methods of farming have evolved. These depend on a number of tools, implements and equipment. We shall discuss only some of the more important ones.

Tools and equipment are terms that are often used interchangeably without knowing the actual difference between tools and equipment, but in fact, they have different definitions.

TOOLS:

What is meant is a simple type of equipment which is used manually by the farmer. The tools are all hand held and operated manually.

Tools examples:
  1. Fork Hoe: this tool is to be used for loosening, lifting and turning over soil by gardeners or farmers.
  2. Spade and shovel: this tool is to be used to break any lumps in soil. The tool is angled forward for digging and scooping.
  3. Sickle: this tool is used for harvesting. It has a curved blade and wooden handle.
  4. Cutlass: this tool is a flat metal long blade with a wooden handle with one sharp edge for clearing of bushes, cutting of tree branches, etc.
  5. Water can

IMPLEMENTS:

Are meant as appendages to mechanized machinery and add more value to that piece of machinery. Implements when added allow the machine to be used for different type of usages. Implements would be pulled or pushed by the machinery to be able to perform its designated purpose. The implements need to be pulled manually, by bullocks or by tractors and made accordingly. Now a days tractors are used extensively though there are places where by necessity oxens or manual method has to be used.

Implements examples:
  1. Cultivator: This implements is used for removing weeds, preparing soil for planting.
    cultivator

    cultivator

    The use of this implement allows soil to be aerated and also water can penetrate down to roots.

  2. Harrow: This implements is used after ploughing operations. It will smooth out the field surfaces.
  3. Plough: This implement lus used for turning over the upper layer of the soil so that fresh nutrients are brought up, buried weeds and remains of previous crops.

 

MACHINERY:

Used by farmers by definition is a mechanized equipment which can run on electric or diesel or petrol or hydraulic. Machinery is to apply force and control movement for an intended action. Most of farm machinery is still operated by human but there is a gradual introduction of machinery which is smart and can run according to program pre fed into its computer. A common machinery used extensively on farms is TRACTOR.

Examples of Machines:
  1. Tractor: Probably the most used and most important machinery in a farm. It is used for pulling or pushing agricultural for planting, tilling, ploughing, harrowing etc.
  2. Harvester: Mechanical harvesting is the order of the day these days due to problems of farm laborers. Larger amount of crop can be harvested quickly and most efficiently.
  3. Knapsack Sprayer: this machine could be manual, electric or petrol driven. It is used to apply soluble pesticides to plants. A much used piece of equipment.

Tractor

Wikipedia has the following description for tractors.

tractor

tractor

A tractor is an engineering vehicle specifically designed to deliver at a high tractive effort at slow speeds, for the purposes of hauling a trailer or machinery used in agriculture or construction.

The most common use of the term “tractor” is for the vehicles used on farms. The farm tractor is used for pulling or pushing agricultural machinery or trailers, for plowing, tilling, disking, harrowing, planting, and similar tasks. The word tractor was taken from Latin, being the agent noun of trahere “to pull”. The first recorded use of the word meaning “an engine or vehicle for pulling wagons or ploughs” occurred in 1896, from the earlier term “traction engine”.

Tractors can be generally classified by number of axles or wheels, with main categories of two-wheel tractors (single-axle tractors) and four-wheel tractors (two-axle tractors).

2-wheel tractors:  it is a single axle tractor, self powered and self propelled. It can both pull and power various farm implements such as trailer, cultivator, harrow, plough, seeders, harvesters.  When pulling some implement, operator can ride on the tractor.

 

Sprayers:

Manual Backpack Sprayer

Manual Backpack Sprayer

Sprayers are used to apply soluble or dry chemicals suitable for fighting pests, virus and infections in the plants. There are a number of sprayers distinguished by their design – manual, electric and petrol driven. The nozzles of sprayers also come in different designs to provide for desired droplet size and spread geometry.

During the process of spraying certain losses occur which could cause dangers to environment. Although sprayers are designed to apply the right doses of chemicals to the target area, the spray tends also to spread further than intended because of air currents. The spray on the plants also either deposits on the leaves or runs down thru the earth to water bodies and contaminates water therein though seepage, leeching and drainage.

Depending on the volume of spray per square area, the sprayers are generalized into three categories:

  1. High Volume will spray more than 150 l/ha. Used for pesticides, fungicides, herbicides applications by khanpsack sprayer, motorized spray, tractor mounted sprayers.
  2. Low Volume for 10-150 l/ha. Used for insecticides, fungicides applications by motorized knapsack sprayers, aircraft mounted sprayers.
  3. Ultra Low Volume for 1-5 l/ha. Used for well controlled insecticides applications by high r.p.m.  spinning disc in motorized knapsack sprayers. The limiting of insecticide solution reduces any contamination to water bodies and is economic in usage.

 

 

Posted in farm guide

GROW ONION THE RIGHT WAY

onion farming

onion farming

ONION farming and uses

Some introduction to onion

Onion belongs to the family Amaryllidaceae with botanical name Allium cepa. Onion is thought to be originated in Pakistan. It is now grown almost world wide North America, Japan, Spain, Netherland, Canada, India, Pakistan being major growers. Total area of onion crops in the world under cultivation is considered to be about 20,00,000 hectare which gives about 3,00,00,000 metric tonnes of produce.

Suitable climate for onion growing.

It is grown under a wide range of climatic conditions. However, it cannot stand too hot or too cold weather. It prefers moderate temperature in summer as well as in winter. Short days are not favorable for the formation of bulbs.

Soil requirements

Onion can grow in all sorts of soils, but sandy loam and clay-loam soils are best for its cultivation. An ideal soil should have pH in between 6.5 to 8. The soil should be well aerated. Heavy soil should be avoided.

FYM (Farm Yard Manure) or compost should be incorporated during land preparation. Lay out should ensure that Soil has good internal drainage.

Salinity effect on onion yield

Salinity Effect on Onion Yield
Salinity as E.C. value Percentage Decrease in yield
1 -1.2 ds/m 0%
1.8 ds/m 10%
2.8 ds/m 25%
4 ds/m 50%

Therefore there is need to keep a check on the salinity of the soil. For further reading I suggest a read of my blog.

Methods of growing Onions

Onion is normally grown in two steps:

  1. Preparing seedlings from onion seeds in nurseries
  2. By planting seedlings in the field

Seedlings

The onion seeds are prepared for growing by first treating it with Trichoderma viride or Thiram for fungal resistance. After drying the seeds are sown in raised nursery beds which have been given proper dosage of farm yard manure and NPK in proportion (discussed in this article further). The beds have also been fumigated (also drenched with Bavistin) and all and any grass has been removed beforehand. Approximately 9-10 kg of seeds is sufficient for one hectare planting. The seeds are normally sown in the months of September/October. The onion seedlings are ready by January.

Planting

Land is prepared by ploughing 3 or 4 times (or as required). The earth should not have any lumps or boulders. It should be well aerated. The onion roots penetrate earth at shallow depths may be around 6-7 cms.

Fertilizer application actually depends upon the soil of the farmer. It is recommended to have the soil and water analyzed before deciding on the actual quantity of fertilizers. As a normal practice the following fertilizers are indicated for onion farming.

Farmyard manure around 250 kg per hectare. Add following as top dressing.

  1. 100-125 kg N/hectare
  2. 50-80 kg P/hectare
  3. 50-100 kg K/hectare

As per standard practice, Nitrogen fertilizers are given in two split dosage – one right in the beginning and the other after about 30 days.

The farmer may after studying his soil report also provide micro nutrients if indicated. Normally this is not required.

Planting is done at distances of 10 x 10 cm on flat surface. Sufficient watering is required for onions so that plants do not have water distress. Over watering however is detrimental for the onion plants. Watering is stopped when plants mature and start falling.

Weed control in Onion Farming   

Weed control needs to be an important cultural operation. Weeding, thinning and earthing up are the important intercultural operations of Onion farming.

Shallow rooted inter-row cultivation and hand weeding may be used to minimize weeds in the inter row zone.

Control of Pests and Diseases in Onion Farming  

Some information on insects, pests and disease of Onion is discussed below. The control measures depend upon type and intensity of the problems and also whether organic or inorganic pesticides are to be used as decided by the Farmer. For more information on pests and diseases please go through my blog on same.

  • Downey Mildew: spraying Dithane M-45 at interval is recommended.
  • Green Jassids: spray of chloropyrofos/ dichlorvos/dimethoate/phorate/imidacloprid
  • Shoot and Fruit Borer: spray endosulfan/chloropyrofos. Spread phorate.
  • White Fly: spray malathion. Drench with thimet.
  • Thrips: spray imidaclorprid/chloropyrosdimethoate. Several sprays may be required.

Some supposed Health Benefits of Onion

This vegetable has a long history in traditional medicine. It has nutrients, vitamins, minerals and other organic compounds which gives onions a special medicinal value.

The nutritional value of 100g of edible Onion is said to be equivalent to 1 g protein, 0.1 g fat, 9 g carbohydrate, 0.15 g minerals and 1.2 g fibers. It contains vitamin B-6, vitamin C, iron and calcium. It’s low in calories and has a high dietary fiber content.

It is good in lowering of blood sugar levels !

Onion has been suggested to help manage blood sugar due to presence of sulfur compounds (S-methylcycsteine) and quercetin. These compounds have a beneficial effect in controlling the blood sugar level in the body.

Quercetin in red onions have significant role in destroying breast and colon cancer cells.

The same compound also prevents release of histamine in body. This helps in allergies.

Some other Benefits are thought to be in help in asthma and allergic rhinitis by using onion extracts.  The use of onion is also good for eyes, oral healthcare and hair healthcare.

Risks of eating ONION

Like with everything which has good properties, Onion may also have some side effects. It is true that only a few studies Onion have linked to negative side effects.

Over consumption of onions for diabetic patients can be harmful.

It goes without saying that Onion can contain bacteria, pesticides, and other dangerous substances if it is not thoroughly washed.

Harvesting of Onions

onion ready for harvest

onion ready for harvest

Onions are harvested after the foliage dies down and the outer layers of onion bulbs are dry and peeling off. The harvested onions are dried, graded and ready for market or for storage.

note: The author himself is a small farmer and involved with such farming. Certain data are taken from usually reliable sources on the net.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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OKRA Farming

Okra farming

OKRA farming and uses

Okra farming

Okra farming

Some introduction to Okra

Okra or okro, known in many English-speaking countries as Ladies’ Fingers or ochro, is a flowering plant in the mallow family. In India it is called bhendi. It is valued for its edible green seed pods. Wikipedia

Scientifically  named Abelmoschus esculentus, okra may have been grown as long ago as 2000 BCE in Egypt.

Okra belongs to the same family of plants as hibiscus, cocoa and cotton.

This plant welcomes temperate climates, producing large hibiscus-like flowers that eventually give rise to green seed pods. Okra is by nature a perennial plant; but mostly cultivated as annual plant. It grows quite tall as much as 2 meters.

Cooking

Okra fruit or pod can be eaten raw since It has a mild flavor. It can also be steamed, cooked, or fried. Okra pods can  also be used in soups and stews where due to the gooey mucilage it adds to soups.

Conventionally okra pods are pre-cooked  at very high heat by sautéing, roasting, blanching or grilling. Then add cooked okra to your recipe. This is done so that the naturally occurring slime in okra pods is finished. One can also reduce slime of okra pods by first soaking in vinegar or lime juice for about half an hour before cooking.

Suitable climate for Okra growing.

Okra is grown throughout the tropical and sub-tropical regions and also in the warmer parts of the temperate regions. Ladies finger requires long warm growing season during its growing period.

Okra gives good yield in warm humid condition.  A temperature range of 22-35°C is very good for its growth.. It can be successfully grown in rainy season even in heavy rainfall area.

Soil requirements

Okra can grow in all sorts of soils, but sandy loam and clay-loam soils are best for its cultivation.

The optimum pH range is between 6 and 6.8. Soils with high organic matter are preferred, FYM (Farm Yard Manure) or compost should be incorporated during land preparation. Lay out should ensure that Soil has good internal drainage.

In order to maximize the yield about 30 t of FYM (Field Yard Manure), 180 kg Super phosphate, 100 kg Murate of Potash and 200 kg Ammonium sulphate should be applied in the rows before sowing for one hectare of land. Nitrogen should be applied through fertigation in three split doses. The recommendation of fertilizers may be reviewed keeping in view the particular place soil and water analysis for pH, E.C. and minerals composition.

Preparation for sowing

Before sowing the seeds are soaked in a solution of Bavistin (0.2%) for 6 hours. The seeds are then dried in shade and sown in the prepared beds. The beds could be ridge and furrows type or flat beds depending on land.

Weed control in Ladies Finger Farming   

As Okra is harvested over a long period, weed control needs to be an important cultural operation. Weeding, thinning and earthling up is the important intercultural operations of Okra farming.

Farmers may make use of available herbicides for controlling weeds in okra as these are very effective in weed control.

Shallow rooted inter-row cultivation and hand weeding may be used to minimize weeds in the inter row zone. Black plastic mulch may be used to suppress weed growth. The black plastic mulch also keeps the soil warm and encourages plant growth.

Pests and Diseases in Ladies Finger Farming  

Some information on insects, pests and disease of Okra is discussed below. The control measures depend upon type and intensity of the problems and also whether organic or inorganic pesticides are to be used as decided by the Farmer.

  • Powdery Mildew: A grayish powdery growth appears, both on the upper and lower surface of leaves causing severe reduction in yields.
  • Green Jassids:The nymphs and adults suck the cell sap from leaves resulting to yellowing of leaves.
  • Shoot and Fruit Borer: Initially larvae bore into tender shoots and make tunnel downwards. The affected shoots wither, droop and ultimately destroyed. Side shoots arise giving plant a bushy appearance. The borer also bores into buds, flowers and fruits.
  • White Fly:Nymphs and adults suck the cell sap from leaves. White fly also spreads yellow vein mosaic virus disease due to which young leaves turn yellow resulting in stunted growth and reduced flowering and fruiting.
  • Red Spider Mites:Nymphs and adults suck the cell sap from underside of the leaves resulting in yellow white spots. Leaves gradually curl, get wrinkled and crumple.
  • Root-Knot Nematodes:The knots damage the roots and affected roots turn into knots like structures. Plants become yellowish, remain stunted and wilt permanently.

Some supposed Benefits of Okra

This vegetable-like fruit also has a long history in traditional medicine. Kew Royal Botanic Gardens report that in Eastern traditional medicine, okra leaves and fruit were used as pain relievers, moisturizers, and to treat urinary disorders. In Congolese medicine, okra is used to encourage a safe delivery during childbirth.

The nutritional value of 100g of edible okra is characterized 1.9 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 6.4 g carbohydrate, 0.7 g minerals and 1.2 g fibers. It contains potassium, vitamin B, vitamin C, folic acid, and calcium. It’s low in calories and has a high dietary fiber content.

It is good in controlling diabetes !

Recently, a new benefit of including okra in your diet is being considered. Okra has been suggested to help manage blood sugar in cases of type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.

A 2005 study published in Planta Medica investigated the effects of okra on rats with diabetes. A substance called myricetin is present in okra and some other foods, including red wine and tea. Researchers isolated myricetin from okra, then administered it to the rat. The treatment increased absorption of sugar in the rats’ muscles, lowering their blood sugar.

A 2012 Food Science and Human Wellness review points to a number of other laboratory and animal studies that have linked myricetin to lower blood sugar. The study argues that myricetin may also reduce other risk factors for diabetes..

Some other Benefits are thought to be like preventing and improving constipation, lowering cholesterol, reducing the risk of some forms of cancer, especially colorectal cancer,  improving energy levels and improving symptoms of depression, helping to treat sore throat, irritable bowel, ulcers and lung inflammation.

Risks of eating OKRA

Like with every thing which has good properties, Okra may also have some side effects. It is true that only a few studies have linked okra to negative side effects.

Okra may make the drug metformin, a diabetes drus, less effective.  Okra is high in substances known as oxalates. Oxalates may increase the risk of kidney stones in people vulnerable to kidney stones.

It goes without saying that Okra can contain bacteria, pesticides, and other dangerous substances if it is not thoroughly washed.

Harvesting of Ladies Finger or Okra or Bhendi   

Flowering in okra plants begins from 35 to 40 days after sowing. It is advisable to harvest the crop in 55 to 65 days after planting when pods are 2 to 3 inches long. At this stage the pods are still tender. Larger okra pods will tend to be tough and fibrous.

Round-podded okra varieties remain tender at larger pod sizes and are good to use for slicing and freezing.

Since, Okra grows very fast, it should be harvested every two days. The pods should not be allowed to mature on the plant because this will inhibit more pods from developing and reduce the productivity of the plant.

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Crops and Vegetables Sowing Planting Calender

INDICATIVE SOWING/PLANTING CALENDER

FOR SOME CROPS AND VEGETABLES

Sowing and Planting Decision

Sowing and Planting decision is the most essential activity by a farmer. This activity comprises of following, amongst others:

  • assessment of the market requirements,
  • assessment of the expected favorable weather conditions,
  • suitability of a particular variety of the crop or the vegetable being planned for growing.

Recommending or deciding on a particular date for sowing and planting is difficult (see below a discussion on sowing and planting). The reasons are weather may not be suitable on that particular day; the seeds may not be available or the field itself may not be ready.

Indicative Period for Sowing and Planting

Given below is an indicative period when sowing and planting activities would be beneficial; there could be differences due to difference in weather from place to place. This is mostly for farmers who do outdoor farming.

For crops like onion, rice, tomato farmers would first prepare a seedbed and then grow seedlings. These seedlings would be planted in prepared field at proper stage of development. I propose to discuss this aspect in another of my blog.

Time slots for planting/sowing for crops like rice, wheat, maize etc is put in one table.

Time slots for planting/sowing of vegetables is put in the second table.

The time slots are only indicative in nature. Depending on the geographical locale, there would be differences.  Farmers also need to keep an eye on the likely market requirement and the weather forecasts. Arranging for proper seeds and seedlings from good known sources well in time is another effort to be made.

Below are the two tables.

Indicative Sowing/Plantation Times for some CROPS

Crop Sowing time Transplantation

Time

How much seed kg/ha
Wheat 2 – 3 week Nov; 120-130
Wheat 1st week Dec 130 – 140
Rice Paddy June to July July to Aug 30- 40
Maize Normal Mid June to mid July; in early rain areas sowing could be earlier. 20 – 25
Mustard October 5
Sesame (Til) October 5
Ground nut June to July 70 – 75
Soybean June to July (Mid) 70 75

 

Indicative Sowing/Plantation Times for Some Vegetables

Vegetable Name Time of Planting
Brinjal, Tomato, Okra, Bean, Carrot, Gourds January
Gourds, Bean, Okra, Spinach February
Coriandar, Spinach, Okra, Bean, Gourds March
Capsicum, Onion, Tomato, Chilly April
Onion, Pepper, Okra May
Gourds, Brijal, Cucumber, Okra, Onion, Tomato June
same as above July
Carrot, Cauliflower, Radish August
Cauliflower, Cabbage, Peas, Radish, Lettuce September
Capsicum, Cucumber, Peas, Spinach, Lettuce, Brinjal, Radish October
Eggplant, Tomato, Radish, Pepper, Beans, Lettuce, Okra November
Tomato, Pumpkin, Watermelon, Gourds December

Note on difference between Sowing and Planting.

Sowing activity means that one would put seeds, after due pre-processing, into the earth soil. The seeds would germinate where ever they are sown.

Planting activity means that one puts small plants into the soil. The soil is already prepared for the plants. The plants themselves could be raised by farmer himself in carefully prepared seed beds. The farmer could alternatively purchase the plants from nurseries.

Interested Farmers may also consult NHB and F&AO

 

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Polyhouse Saline Soil – prevention and cure

Polyhouse Saline Soil – prevention and cure

Many polyhouse/greenhouse growers see Saline soil problem. White grayish powder deposit on the sides of the beds and even on top of the soil is usual first visual manifestation of this. Indication of Saline Soil are also seen as falling production, stunting and die back of plants.

Definition of Saline Soil

There are many ways to define what is Saline Soil. One can define soil as saline when whitish crust is seen on top of the beds. One can also define it as when plants are not growing as expected and yield is down. A quantitative way to describe a soil as Saline Soil is when its E.C. is 4 ds/m or more. Some tests make it as 2 ds/m. The E.C. is measured by saturation soil extract method.

What make soils as Saline Soil

Soils become saline due principally to the irrigation water used and the fertigation methods. Different sources of irrigation water have different salinity as measured by T.D.S. or E.C. Most farmers using well water would have higher T.D.S. or E.C. and over time this would contribute to soils becoming saline.

The reason for Saline Soil is the accumulation of increased levels of nutrients and naturally occurring salts in irrigation water. All of these are not accumulated by the crop. The amount left over gets deposited in the soil beds. Growers rotate the same crop over a long period of time. Over years fertigation leaves sulfates and chlorides of sodium, calcium and magnesium. Over fertilization is the direct cause for saline soil.

Mechanism of Saline Soil

Fertigation followed with watering tends to make deposition of salts in layers. Salt accumulation makes it difficult for the plants to absorb moisture in beds. Generally near the top of the soil due to leeching of water, there would be less Saline soil. As the depth increases the Soil becomes more Saline. This is due to the fact that water in enough quantity does not leech through to deeper depths. Saline soil becomes compacted towards depth and this also prevents water leeching.  Deeper salts travel to  top and sides of beds due to capillary action, and are seen as white crust.

unabsorbed salts travel upwards due t capillary action

unabsorbed salts travel upwards due t capillary action

Measure Saline Soil E.C.

The preferred method is to have saturation soil extract. Mix soil sample in just sufficient water to get saturated paste. This method mimics the condition of soil at actual root zone of the crop. This takes some experience and time. Therefore some persons would take 1:1 or 1:2 ratio samples and try to extrapolate. However recommend saturation paste method.

Prevention of Saline Soil

The only way farmers can prevent is following two rules:

  1. Run enough irrigation water after every fertigation so as to cleans fully the drip lines as also to give enough water to leech salts to root zone and below.
  2. Give fertigation at levels just sufficient for vigorous growth of plants and fruits/flowers. Stay away from giving excess quantities to get more than optimum production.

Cure for Saline Soil

There are two ways to go for curing saline soil.

  1.  Allow land to lie fallow and open to rain water. Or give excess irrigation water plus R.O. water.
  2. Adopt inter crop. Certain crops can assimilate water even when saline soils. Wheat, Barley, Mustard, Cotton, Spinach, Potatoes, Onion, cucumber, Tomatoes are some such crops.

More readings:

1. F&AO article on the subject

2. Wikipedia article

 Would you, reader, like to share your experience with all of us? It would be knowledge gained.

Posted in farm guide, TechTalks Tagged with: , ,

Irrigation Water Alkalinity Control in Polyhouse

Irrigation Water Alkalinity Control in Poly house

 

Alkalinity of water and substrate determines to a large extent whether the fertilizers Farmers so lovingly and at good cost use is actually absorbed by the plant crops.  This is because fertilizers and pesticides are absorbed well by the plants when the pH of water and substrate is within a defined range.  Most of crops require a pH within range of 5.5 to 6.8. Some crops require higher pH.  Pesticides also require some what acidic water solution. Alkalinity affects the pH of both water and substrate. I have discussed this interconnection between fertilizers and pH  in my page “Let us Talk about Fertilizers”.

What is pH

Before we can discuss Alkalinity, we must understand what is pH. This is discussed by me in my page “Control of E.C. and pH  in your Soil and Water“.

According to dictionary, pH is a figure expressing the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a logarithmic scale of 1.0 to 14.0 on which 7 is neutral, lower values are more acid and higher values more alkaline. The pH is equal to −log10 c, where c is the hydrogen ion concentration in moles per liter. Solutions with a pH less than 7 are acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are alkaline. Pure water  is neutral, at pH 7 (25°C), being neither an acid nor a alkaline.

pH is a dimension less quantity. Low pH  allows toxic elements and compounds such as heavy metals to become mobile and “available” for uptake by aquatic plants and animals. pH of water depends upon its source, and also to seasons. In rainy season, pH tends to drop. Since the pH scale is logarithmic, a drop in the pH by 1.0 unit is a 10-fold increase in acidity. So, a water sample with a pH of 5.0 is ten times as acidic as one with a pH of 6.0. It may be noted that Alkaline and Alkalinity are two different meaning words. It is unfortunate that word Alkalinity has been coined but we are stuck with it.

What is Alkalinity

Alkalinity is a measure of water’s ability to neutralize acids. For substrate or the growing media Alkalinity is the main factor which will resist a change in pH. Alkalinity is due to presence of bicarbonates or carbonates or hydroxides of calcium and/or magnesium. The same comes from rocks and soils, salts, certain plant activities, and certain industrial wastewater discharges.

High alkalinity water often has a higher pH. If you are trying to reduce the pH of water by adding acid, more acid will be required if you are starting with high alkalinity water because the acid will react with the calcium or magnesium carbonate or other ions buffering the solution first before the pH decreases. The recommended upper limit for alkalinity for both greenhouse and nursery production is 100 mg/L (100 ppm).

Buffering capacity

Buffering capacity of water indicates how much acids are to be used to bring pH down to desired value. Buffering capacity depends on Alkalinity. Alkaline compounds in the water such as bicarbonates, carbonates, and hydroxides combine with H+ ions to make new compounds. This makes water more basic. Alkalinity affects media pH. Too low or too high pH affects intake of micro nutrients and main fertilizers.  Higher the Alkalinity higher is Buffering capacity.

Effects of High Alkalinity

  • Precipitates  nutrients in concentrated fertilizer solutions
  • Increases pH of the growing medium
  • reduces the availability of micro nutrients
  • reduce efficacy of pesticides and growth regulators
  • can also cause foliar residue if severe

Measurement of Alkalinity

Total alkalinity is measured by collecting a water sample, and measuring the amount of acid needed to bring the sample to a pH of 4.2. At this pH all the alkaline compounds in the sample are “used up.” The result is reported as milligrams per liter (mg/l) of calcium carbonate.

A commercial pH meter

a comercial pH meter

We would advise Farmers avail the services of any nearby laboratory for this purpose. However, a Do-It-Yourself method is explained below:

  1. Collect a pH meter (which has been calibrated), graduated glass beaker, stirrer, 0.16N Sulfuric Acid.
  2. Collect 100 ml of water sample in the glass beaker
  3. Put the pH meter in the beaker and take reading of sample pH
  4. We assume that pH is above 6.8 value
  5. Add few drops of acid and stir well
  6. Take pH value
  7. Continue till pH value drops to 4.2
  8. Add the total ml of acid used

Farmer can perform this result on the total irrigation water required.

Methods to adding Acids to irrigation water

Several techniques have been developed for applying fertilizers through the irrigation systems and many types of injectors are available on the market.
There are two main techniques: the ordinary closed tank; and the injector pump. Both systems are operated by the system’s water pressure.
The injector pumps are mainly either Venturi type or piston pumps.
The closed tanks are always installed on a bypass line, while the piston pumps can be installed either in-line or on a bypass line. I have personally used a venturi for acidification for its simplicity and cost economy. The injection point should be ahead of the fertilizer injection point.

For further reading please see my page, “Fertigation“..

Also suggest read F&AO publication on Fertigation.

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Modern Technology Boosts Agriculture Farming

 

MODERN TECHNOLOGY AND COMMON SENSE = EASE OF DOING AGRICULTURE + BETTER PRODUCTION

 

Farmers in advanced and developed countries have now the benefit of having Modern Technology tools which greatly increase their ease of doing agricultural activities. The use of Modern Technology also boosts their  crop production  However, it is also a fact that majority of Farmers in developing countries still use old folk lore agricultural practices in their farms. The farmers will plant crops in fixed seasons.  From cultivation, Fertigation, harvesting and marketing at every step method is all fixed. Farmers continue to sell in the pre-ordered markets with a lot of middle men. Farmer continue to sell produce to the same person(s) and continues to receive under valued price for his produce as always.

 

Today Modern Technology in the field of communication, both audio and visual, has brought virtually the whole world together. A farmer in India has the means to have same knowledge as say a Nigerian or U.S. farmer operates. Communication through smart phones coupled with numerous agricultural apps supported by government and private agencies bring the knowledge of best modern agriculture technologies to the finger tips of Farmers.

 

Farmers can easily get through help of Modern Technology all required knowledge to help him in his agricultural practices. Farmers get on their smart phone, T.V. channels, News channels, Publications of various government agencies such information  like weather prediction, weather warnings, drone base soil mapping for cultivation and water content, advisories on what to sow in the field at what time in which place, advisories on how to fertilize the crops from planting to production stage, etc.

What is required is extension of these developed systems to the field. This work requires combined efforts by the respective governments and private sector agencies.

 

Before we come to discussion of Newer Modern Technologies in the agricultural practices, as a first step Farmers need to pay attention to UTILIZATION OF RESOURCES  at their command effectively.

 

ZERO TILLAGE in wheat is reported have reduce the production costs by 2000 to 2500 Rupees per hectare and 15-20 per cent saving in irrigation water.

 

Similarly by using DRIP AND SPRINKLER irrigation methods more area can be brought under irrigation.

 

Use of Farm Yard Manure (FYM), Compost, and Bio fertilizers help reduce over dependence on the chemicals led intensive cultivation.

 

F&AO report 2016 says:  Restoration of forests and degraded soils, climate-smart agricultural practices, agro ecology and better management of water resources can all contribute to the productivity improvements needed to respond to the growing demand for food, improve the resilience of farming systems and reduce the emission intensity of crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry, while increasing carbon sequestration in soils and forests.

 

The annual crop yield in China using modern agricultural technologies is 415 million tonnes per year. On the other hand despite having more agriculture land (than China) , India produces 218 million tonnes per year (Piesse & Thirtle 2010).

Modern Technologies

There is urgent need to embrace Modern Technology as below to accelerate agriculture production.

  1. biotechnology
  2. nanotechnology
  3. high-tech protected cultivation
  4. modern irrigation methods
  5. Farm Mechanization

 

Bio-Technology

 

The first thought which comes when we talk of bio-technology is hybrid seeds. Such seeds have greater pest resistance and requie lesser water. They also  result in higher productivity. The role of bio-technology is very important in improving greatly food supplies.

 

Nano-technology

 

Use of nano size silver particles is now prevalent as a faster and more enduring pest and anti-microbial agent. Presenly this technology is a some what costlier than traditional pesticides but the cost would come down with scale of use.

 

Protected cultivation

 

Protected cultivation method is a boon to the crops as the same provides protection from harsh climate differences, water conservation, irrigation as requires, fertilization as required, protection from pests, etc.

 

Modern Irrigation methods

 

Drip system allow water to be deposited directly to the root zone of the plants. Water given through drips does not overflow. Irrigation water and fertilisers can be applied at the right time and in right amounts. A closed loop is possible where continuous monitoring of soil is done and the system itself triggers irrigation and/or Fertigation.

 

Farm Mechanization

 

There has been considerable mechanization in farming activities in India and all over the globe. However, the use of Modern Technology Robotized machines is still not very much prevalent, at least in India. Use of drones for mapping of land, water sources etc.

Farmers now need to get all basics right. He needs to concentrate on three aspects, namely:

  1. Take as much help from Modern Technologies in the field of communication, bio-technology, nano-technology, high-tech protected cultivation, modern irrigation methods and mechanization.
  2. Conserve Eco-system by using bio-fertilizers, build resilience through practices like green manuring, nitrogen-fixing cover crops and sustainable soil management and integration with agroforestry and animal production.
  3. Utilize his resources in optimum ways
  4. Market his produce by studying the country and world trends; if required create storage to avoid distress selling.

 

The need of the hour is to have interlinking with crop sowing with the weather forecast system. The effect of climate change needs to be tackled. Farmer also contribute towards mankind’s efforts on controlling and slowing down Climate Change due to Global Warming by change in agricultural practices. For more on Climate change please see my blog, “Agricultural Practices Mitigate Climate Change …”

 

 

Posted in farm guide, TechTalks

Agriculture Practices Mitigate Climate Change and Global Warming

 

Friends,  Most of northern India has had a freak weather. Rains and hail storms over a wide swath have caused heavy loss to wheat crop and vegetable crops in its wake. We have seen unusually warm winter season, a very different kind of rainy season. We say it is due to CLIMATE CHANGE.

What is Climate Change and what can be done by us to mitigate this change ?

Model by US EPA to differentiate between influnces on global temp rise

Model by US EPA to differentiate between influnces on global temp rise

Causes and Effect of Climate Change.

Temperature on the Earth would have shot up many times due to Sun Rays had there not been a naturally occurring balancing act going on. Earth is heated up by Sun Rays. Release of absorbed heat into space cools the earth. By reflecting the sun’s energy, earth avoids heating.

 

The Balancing is between:

  1. Variations in sun’s energy which is received by earth.
  2. Changes in reflectivity of earth’s surface and its atmosphere.
  3. Changes in green house effect (retention of heat by earth’s atmosphere).

There.  That is some discussion on  global warming and climate change.

The climate changes were thought  to relate to naturally occurring phenomenon such as volcanic activities, solar energy changes and natural changes in green house gases (GHG) concentrations. However recent climate changes cannot be explained only on naturally occurring cases. It is now required to factor in effect of human activities which also causes climate changes. From the time of Industrial Revolution, human activities producing greenhouse gases like CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide and others is only increasing.

increasing carbon in atmosphere

sources of carbon increasing while absorbing remains lower

Human activities currently release over 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year.[2] The resultant build-up of CO2 in the atmosphere is like a tub filling with water, where more water flows from the faucet than the drain can take away.

Methane is produced through both natural and human activities. For example, natural wetlands, agricultural activities, and fossil fuel extraction and transport all emit CH4. Due to human activities, CHconcentrations increased sharply during most of the 20th century and are now more than two-and-a-half times pre-industrial levels.

Nitrous oxide is produced through natural and human activities, mainly through agricultural activities and natural biological processes. Fuel burning and some other processes also create N2O. Concentrations of N2O have risen approximately 20% since the start of the Industrial Revolution, with a relatively rapid increase toward the end of the 20th century.[2]

The entire world is now united in devising ways to mitigate this worsening scenario of earth temperature increasing and causing uncertain climate changes. 

Below I write down some thoughts expressed by Mr. Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General in his Foreword in publication the F&AO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), titled “2017 – The State of Food and Agriculture” on this subject.

  1. Rapid change in the world’s climate is translating into more extreme and frequent weather events, heat waves, droughts and sea-level rise.
  2. Unless action is taken now to make agriculture more sustainable, productive and resilient, climate change impacts will seriously compromise food production in countries and regions that are already highly food-insecure.
  3. Climate change .. will expose both urban and rural poor to higher and more volatile food prices.
  4. Small holder production needs to adapt to climate change and make the livelihoods of rural populations more resilient. Agro ecology and sustainable intensification are examples of approaches that yield and build resilience through practices like green manuring, nitrogen-fixing cover crops and sustainable soil management and integration with agroforestry and animal production.
  5. Livelihood diversification in rural households helps in climate risks y combining on-farm activities with seasonal work.
  6. In order to keep the increase in global temperature below the crucial ceiling of 2oC, emissions will have to be reduced by as much as 70 percent by 2050. The contribution of agriculture sector in this important. At least a fifth of increase in global temperature is due to emissions increase with conversion of forests to farmland, and from livestock and crop production.

He has further cautioned that we need to promote food security hand in hand with climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The international community needs to address climate change today, enabling agriculture, forestry and fisheries to adopt climate-friendly practices. ….. Business as usual is not an option.

Agriculture has always been the interface between natural resources and human activity. It holds the key to solving the two greatest challenges facing humanity: eradicating poverty, and maintaining the stable climatic corridor in which civilization can thrive.

 

I leave you readers on this note. I hope to bring blogs on different aspects brought out here shortly.

Meanwhile please feel free to input your valued advice.

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Why Go For Organic Fertilisers

Organic Fertilizers

Use of Organic Fertilizer has been in use for time immemorial. It is as old as our ancestors when human started farming for living.

Let us be clear what is organic. Organic Fertilizers means fertilizers made from living beings. Chemically speaking their molecules have carbon and hydrogen. Organic Fertilizers are made from composting of the remains of living beings be it leaves fallen from trees, shrubs, grasses, roots of pulses, fish, sea grass, dung of animals.

Composting

Composting is a process where the above materials are left to rot in controlled environment for a period of time such that at the end what is left is fine humus material without any odor. This compost when mixed with earth enhances the soil by way of increased aeration, increased water retention, increased levels of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and other minerals.

Composting requires good care and right conditions for it to be successful. Made with proper care and procedures, composing produces very good Organic Fertilizer.

A good compost requires:

  1. Browns like dried leaves, dried pieces of branches of trees and plants, dried bark and dried grass, which would provide for aeration.
  2. Greens which could be any sappy material, fresh grass cuttings, green leaves provide for fungi  and bacteria, and
  3. Dung of animals, most favored being cow dung for fermentation.

A good ratio for the above three is that first make a layer of one part of browns. On top of this layer put greens which is half of browns. On top of green, put a layer of dung which is half of green. One can put start another set of layers on top. This needs to be covered. Occasional drenching by water is required to keep it moist. The heap should be stirred at two weeks or so intervals. The compost should be ready by fourth month. Your Organic Fertilizer is ready for mixing with soil.

There are any number of variants to the composting methods for making Organic Fertilizer. Composting can also be of:

  1. cow dung or chicken: even though fresh dung can also be used, and in fact many places it is done, composting of same prior to use in field is preferred as it would remove any disease or virus or pests or weeds.
  2. green leaves and cuttings can also be composted though it will take longer.
  3. a mixture of greens and browns is a very acceptable composting method for urban people. They do have good access to the materials if they have small gardens and vegetable patches. Organic Fertilizer activity can be done easily in their homes, backyards or on roofs.
  4. Vermi composting is a class in itself. Very much adopted in a number of places.

a small composting drum for home useExample of a Home Composter using green leaves and dry material.  Material is stored and is easily stirred by rotation of the drum. There is an opening in the drum from where the compost material is poured in.

Advantages of Organic Fertilizer

The Organic Fertilizer have their advantages. They contain nutrients which are released into soil slowly. The Organic Fertilizer improves soil by greater aeration and high water retention. It improves health of plants and boosts growth of friendly soil organisms.

Unlike inorganic fertilizers, Organic Fertilizer are not designed to target any particular plant. What it does is produce a healthy plant. Amendment with Organic Fertilizer enriches the soil gradually. It causes no such excess of minerals. Use of Organic Fertilizers ordinarily causes no to harm human beings when the produce is consumed. It does not contaminate the water soures.

Organic Fertilizers are a joy to make for the farmers. Most of the ingredients are well available and cost of preparation is small. The time taken to produce is more and therefore this exercise of making Organic Fertilizer needs to be adopted as a part of the process of farming as a routine activity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in farm guide Tagged with: ,

Organic Pesticides as aid to Pest Management

 

USE ORGANIC PESTICIDES PRESERVE ECO SYSTEM

Pests and Pest Management are big issues in the farming activity. Use of Organic Pesticides is a great force multiplier in fighting pests in natural ways. Organic Pesticides are also one of a step in adapting the Integrated Pest Management.

When practicing organic pesticides and fertilizing, we think of preserving our Eco system consisting of the living weeds, plants, bugs and insects, fungi, etc.  and their nonliving environs i.e.  soil, water, air, minerals, pesticides, etc.

Advantage

Organic Pesticides have the advantages:

  1. Organic Pesticides unlike inorganic pesticides do not cause toxic run off into the soil.
  2. The microbial population of the soil is not disturbed.
  3. Naturally occurring mineral in the soil are not disturbed.
  4. No soil contamination or soil poisoning is caused by application of organic pesticides.
  5. No water pollution happens due to the application of organic pesticides.
  6. Reduces the requirement of heavy applications of inorganic pesticides.

On the other hand, the effective period of organic pesticides is not as long as the inorganic pesticides. In case of severe pest attack inorganic pesticides are the only way to avert total economic loss of the produce.

It is also to be mentioned that that organic pesticides are still pesticides and therefore some danger to friendly bugs and insects would be there.  When dealing with pesticides the timing and potency of the application is critical.  Farmers all over the world have any number of homemade organic pesticides formulations. And that is why using organic pesticides is so practical and profitable. Organic pesticides can be made with locally available vegetables, roots, soil and other ingredients.

Some of the formulations are discussed below.

Neem Tree

Neem flowers and leaves

Neem spray:

Ingredients   Neem oil at 10000 PPM  100 ml, castile soap liquid 10 ml, vegetable oil 10 ml are mixed in a 15 liter capacity hand or motorized sprayer.  The foliage spray may be undertaken in the evening. Sprays are effective when plants are not water stressed. This spray is also very useful as a preventive for any pest onslaught. The Neem oil is a very powerful natural insecticide. It is biodegradable and is non-toxic to birds, bees, animals. Neem oil spray is used for a number of pests infestations and also used as a natural fungicide.

chillies

red chillies

Chile Pepper / Diatomaceous Earth:

Grind two handfuls of dry chilies into a fine powder and mix with 2 liters of water. Strain out the chilies. Add 1 cup of Diatomaceous earth and a small amount of castile soap. Let it set overnight. Shake well before applying. Chilies as such may or may not be an insecticide but it is very potent action on the insects. Diatomite is used as an insecticide, among its many uses. Due to its abrasive and physico-sorptive ( tendency of a material to absorb and transmit water and other liquids by capillarity) properties it absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects’ outer skeletons causing them to dehydrate. It is also helpful to add onion or garlic to this solution.

 

garlic cloves

garlic cloves

Garlic spray:

Garlic is used as a non-toxic pesticide. It repels the pest and affects their respiration. To make garlic spray, take 2 whole bulbs (not just 2 cloves) and puree them in a blender or food processor with a small amount of water. Take one liter of water. Mix garlic puree in this water. Let the mixture sit overnight, then strain it into a jar, adding 1/2 cup of vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon of mild liquid soap, and enough water to fill one liter jar. To use this homemade insecticide, use 1 cup of mixture with 1 liter of water and spray liberally on infested plants. Garlic may be used as an inter crop to protect from fruit borers, aphids, moths etc.

Soap and oil Sprays:

Ingredients: one cup of vegetable oil mix with 1 or 2 table spoons of liquid Castile soap. Shake well and let it settle down for some time. For spraying use 2 table spoons of this liquid with 1 liter of water. The spray deposits on the bodies of the pests and affects their respiration.

Castile soap is made from vegetable oils of coconut, olive, and hemp. Like most soaps, which are on the more basic or alkaline side of the pH scale, Castile soap registers at about 8.9 on the pH scale. This is around the same level as baking soda and slightly more alkaline than mild dish soap, although less alkaline than bleach or corrosive tile cleaners.

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Concept of Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management saves in cost

and ensures eco balance

INTEGRATED PEST MANAGEMENT is a strategic management practice which is designed developed and managed by the FARMER himself to contain, reduce and eradicate the pests which reduce the economic value of his produce. Integrated Management is the key word here as the farmer has designed this for the total life cycle of his produce.

Why Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management keeps eco system balanced and uses a mix of cultural, biological and chemical methods to fight any pest menace to the crop. Proper Integrated Pest Management program would ensure least disturbance to the ecology of agricultural system of that place. Integrated Pest Management aims to maintain the dynamic balance between the Biotic (living) e.g. plants, weeds, pests and their Abiotic (nonliving) environment e.g. rivers, sun, air, ground, minerals, pesticides. Examples  – Farmers using pesticides to kill one living thing (pest) will also affect another living thing (beneficial). Pesticides usage affects ground water.

Pesticides may not always be effective. The application of pesticides usually does not ensure complete wipe out of pests – they can still survive and resurface. This will happen if pesticide is applied inappropriately, at not the proper times and not delivered with proper machines.

Integrated Pest Management is done by farmers for farmers. It is designed by farmers. It is easy.

Economy in cost. Integrated Pest Management program, implemented as per the design, would save Farmers big savings by way of higher yield resulting in higher income and reduced expenses on pesticides and labor cost on pesticide application.

Good for Environment. So many stories come to light about contaminated ground water making life unhealthy for residents of that area. Integrated Pest Management by avoiding excessive pesticide usage helps in creating a healthy environment.

Integrated Pest Management has four components:

  1. Preventive Measures
  2. Monitoring the crop
  3. Continuous assessment of any pest damage to the crop
  4. Applying an appropriate action

Preventive Measures

polyhouse cultivation

polyhouse cultivation

The Farmer would think out a number of preventive measures to guard against any loss of crop due to pest attacks. The following are some management practices which would be beneficial.

  • Ploughing and tilling operations of field; fencing around crop; netting over the crop.
  • Full sanitation methods, cleaning of tools, implements, own self; eliminate any place where pest may hide.
  • Biological control methods e.g. use natural enemies of pests. This method once established would become permanent. Farmer may also plant flowers or crops which attract such natural enemies of pests.
  • use herbicidal products such as Neem leaf extracts.
  • Pheromones usage to confuse the pests multiplying.
  • Use seeds and seedlings which are of disease and pest resistant variety.
  • Inter cropping with crops resistant to pests.
  • Get a vigorous growth of the crop.

Monitoring

After the crop is planted, Farmer needs to monitor the same. Farmer would be scouting and looking for telltale signs of presence of pests, type of pests, and the intensity of attack by such pests. This activity would include:

  1. Regularly going round the field and observing. This activity helps in early detection of any pest attack on the crop.
  2. Correct detection is the key to the success of the Integrated Pest Management. My page has some details on the pests and diseases of plants. Identification of the pest allows curing of only the target areas and target pest. By proper detection of the pest, farmer would choose the correct pesticide, choose the most effective time to apply the pesticide and could also consider use of organic control.

Assessment of pest damage to the crop

In Integrated Pest Management Farmers would refrain from using Chemical Pesticides haphazardly. An assessment of the threat is first made based on:

One FORECASTINGS – using weather reports and weather conditions that can exacerbate any break out of diseases and pests formations. It may be possible to use non-chemical herbicidal pesticides for such occasions. Another forecast may be based on the past records kept by the farmer for any particular season or crop.

IPM threshold

setting IPM thresholds

And second on THRESHOLDS levels that would trigger the type of action on pests whether mild or vigorous, that would be taken to ward off the pest menace. The farmer would set up a threshold of crop injury he would tolerate waiting for the biological and herbicidal anti pest measures to take place. Only after that threshold mark is passed, the farmer would weigh in with chemical pests (which have already been identified in the monitoring activity).  The cost of pesticide would be less than the cost of loss of crop.

Applying an appropriate action

Farmer would take all control measures to control the pest menace once he finds that the economic threshold has been reached. Here also it is possible to take out the diseased crop and let the remaining stand which would be more cost effective. Full chemical control is required in case of loss of crop in whole is seen and there is no other strategy of containing the pest density. Needless to say that chemical control would only succeed on the availability of a pesticide identified for the type of pest in question; and on proper application of the same.

Summarizing Integrated Pest Management has the following advantages even though Farmer needs to give more of his  time and energy as well as getting into the technical aspects of the methods.

  1. Resistance to a Pesticide is slowed down
  2. Helps in keeping Balance of Eco Systems
  3. Ultimate cost effective for farmers
Posted in farm guide Tagged with: , , , , , ,

How to choose a Pump Motor for Irrigation

How to choose a Pump Motor for Irrigation

You need a pump motor for irrigation.  Yes one can go to the market and buy the best and biggest pump available and start irrigating. But remember nothing is free and cost in running operations with this pump may become too high to sustain. Also the best of market may not be best for your needs.

A pump motor consists of two parts: first is the Pump and second is the Motor. The Motor provides the energy to the Pump which will create the required water Head Pressure.

Two pump motors of same horsepower may not perform in same way in a system of irrigation.  I discuss below steps to choose pump motor which will meet your requirements best.

Let us see the figure below which illustrates the text.

choose a pump motor based on flow required

pump curves

Any pump motor has a capability of flow of liquid measured in lpm (liter per minute) or gpm (gallons per minute). It also has the capacity to raise the water level to a height called the pressure head.

The curve in red color and denoted as H/Q is the flow rate curve of a pump motor. As can be seen if the Head is high the flow rate is lower and if the Head is low the flow is more.

The curve in green and denoted by n/Q is the efficiency of a pump motor. The efficiency n is never going to be 100% for reasons which are discussed below. Generally efficiencies around 55% are achieved. This allows for a 5 to 10 percent plus or minus efficiency to accommodate for higher pressure or higher flow rate.

We need to determine what flow rate is to be achieved at what Head pressure on the flow rate curve.

FLOW RATE

IT IS the total volume of liquid to be discharged from the various places and points in the irrigation system in a given time. It is usually measured in lpm (liters per minute) or in gpm (gallons per minute).  You would need to count how many drippers, end points, sprinklers and to know their respective discharge rates. Then simply add every discharge to get the total flow rate.

In a practical application, there would be several routes of discharge. It needs to be noted that discharge cannot exceed the supply.

PRESSURE HEAD

calculation of total water head pressure on a pump

total water head

The above diagram shows physically the various static Heads when water is to be lifted to a desired height from a given depth. In addition if drip lines or sprinklers are used their operating pressure is also to be considered.

Pumps will operate with Dynamic Head which is calculated as:

Dynamic Head = Static suction head + static elevation water head + sprinkler/drip pressure + all frictional loss heads due to pipes and fittings used.

The sprinkler/drip pressure is mostly given in psi (pressure per square inch). This should be converted to water head with the formula:

PSI  =  2.31 feet head of water

General values for drip/sprinklers are:

Drip Irrigation = 70 feet head (30 PSI)
Spray Type Sprinkler Heads = 93 feet head (40 PSI)
Rotor Type Sprinkler Heads = 104 feet head (45 PSI)

Let us assume the well water is at a depth of 20 feet. The maximum height to which water is to be elevated is 10 feet. And let us assume drip irrigation so the water head for this is 70 feet. Therefore the total dynamic head = 20 + 10 + 70 = 100 feet head of water. To this frictional losses are to be added as the total length of pipe and number of bends and other fittings.

Choosing a Pump Motor

Now that we know the Flow Rate and Water Head required for the irrigation, consider the pump motor curve shown in the beginning. This curve is an illustrative one only and you need to go through manufacturer’s specifications to choose a pump which meet your requirement of flow rate and water head.

Calculations for pump motor power requirements

Earlier I have mentioned that the efficiency of a pump would not be 100%.  The reason is in two terms used to calculate power requirement  of a pump motor.

The first terms is Water Horsepower = (Flow Rate in gpm x Water Head in feet) /   3960

The second term is Break Horsepower = Water Horsepower / efficiency

For calculation in lpm and meters, conversion tables may be used.

General formula for the same calculation is as follows taking the specific gravity of the liquid also into consideration.

BHP   =  (Total Head *Flow Rate*Sp. Gravity) / (efficiency*3960)

Example:  20 drip lines each with 200 drip points each @ 2 lph  at 30 psi (70 feethead of water).  suction head 5 ft. Elevation Head 5 ft. Efficiency 50%.

Total Dynamic Head  = 5+5 + 70+20 (friction)=100 ft

Flow = 200 x 20 x 2 lph = 8000 lph or 2000 gph or 34 gpm    approximate value

Bhp = (100 x 34) /(3460 x .5) = 2  hp

A quick note please —   while the lift head of a centrifugal pump is limited only by the power of the pump, the suction is limited by gravity and frictional losses in the pipe to about 22 feet ! 

Refer also to Drip Irrigation

Posted in Drip Irrigation, farm guide Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Importance Of Soil Testing OR How To Save on Unnecessary Fertilization

Importance Of Soil Testing

OR

How To Save on Unnecessary Fertilization

Every crop or plant require different nutrients and in different quantities at different stages of its life cycle. The farmer needs to take decision on this after carefully carrying out a thoughtful exercise. The soil and water itself have nutrients available and therefore it is cost economic first to have proper soil and water testing done, analyzed and evaluated, and, then only make only the required addition of fertilizers to bring up total content of nutrient up to mark for the particular crop or plant.

Gone are the days when one would happily spray or distribute all types of fertilizers in the field, sow the seeds, water the land and then be happy that he has done the best and now nature will reward him with its bounty. The arable land is constantly shrinking due to many reasons – expansion of cities, rapid industrialization, expanding colonies, road networks. The mankind is growing very fast. The happy go lucky attitude will not do now. One now needs to work out how to optimize the produce from his farming. Agriculture has now become a science and industry – and happily both science and industry have come forward to help the farming community.

There are three important stages in any crop life cycle:

  1. Sowing stage
  2. Growing stage
  3. Maturity stage

The stages would take different time spans depending on the particular variety sown or cultivated or planted. The nutrient requirement for three stages seldom remains same. Therefore one would need to schedule fertilization according to the particular stage after having soil testing.

From where plants get nutrition

Sun, water and soil have for ages provided all nutrients of all kinds available for plants. The soil is giver of nutrients to plants. Water also is a giver of nutrients. The soil however differs from place to place and all soils do not yield equal doses of nutrient contents required for the plants. Here is where science helps in understanding the soil i.e. the physical aspects of soil, its chemistry and biology.  Physical aspects include TEXTURE, WATER CONTENT, WATER HOLDING CAPACITY, and WATER FILTERING CAPACITY. Biological properties would include how much respiration is in the soil, whether earth worms are present. Chemical properties include pH and E.C. and soil minerals levels.

Soil Test act as aid in determining nutrient requirment

In determining requirement of fertilizers, the first step is to know the levels of the nutrients available within the soil mass and in water which is used for irrigation. With this knowledge, the farmer would be able to take an informed action to supplement the exact nutrient required by the plants at each stage of its life cycle. SOIL and WATER tests do just that. Both SOIL and WATER TESTING would  determine the E.C. as indicator of salinity (or presence of minerals), the pH as measure of alkalinity or acidity and the individual mineral content mainly N, P, K, Ca, Mg and specialized for others such as Fe, Mn, B, Zn etc.

Steps for soil and water testing

  1. Collect samples
  2. Analysis of samples
  3. Interpretation of the analysis

Collection of Samples

The collection of samples involves collecting earth samples in small quantity from a number of pre-determined spots of the land. The selection of these pre-determined spots is based on the topography of the land and must include any type of land generally different from rest of the land. If the field is uniform even one sample per field may be enough. In case different crops are planned, a Grid survey suitably divided would be beneficial. Generally,  land where piles of manure are there or nothing is to cropped, are not tested.

It is advisable that samples are taken from about 4 to 6 inches depth from the top layer which is the root zone; however if the root zone is deeper or shallower then samples are required to be taken accordingly. Various tools are used for collection of samples.

After collection at each selected point, all samples collected are put in a plastic bag. All samples are mixed together at the last; the samples of different type of land are kept separate. The reason for taking deeper samples is that top soil receives fertilizers but roots are below and we need to know how much nutrient is available in the root zone.

Analysis of samples for E.C. (general ppm of N, P and K) and pH

The collected sample is handed over to the Soil Testing Laboratories. There are normally government run laboratories but there are also specialized private laboratories. The difference would be that former would be having a pre-set number of tests whereas the latter would be able to do a number of additional specialized tests in addition to normal tests.

The soil is first aggregated, cleaned of any stone particles, grass or big boulders. It is now dried out in the sun after which it is powdered.

This powder is taken by a set volume and then mixed with pH neutral water. According to test methods, different dilution volumes may be used. One is to use same volume of water as the sample; the second is to use twice the volume of water as the sample and third also used is have a further diluted solution by having greater volume of water as the sample.

Here it needs to be understood that whatever method of dilution is used, the same needs to be continued for any further soil testing.

The E.C. and pH can easily also be measured by the farmer as there are a number of portable pen type meters available in the market.

Specific analysis of soil samples for Nutrients

This test can be performed by soil labs only and to a certain extent by purchasing soil testing kits which can test for N, P, and K separately. Depending upon the method followed by individual soil testing laboratory, different extraction methods may be used for extracting the N, P and K contents. Such extraction method is written in the test report. The extraction methods followed generally are not uniform across the soil laboratories and one could get different results for the same sample. The test results are not absolute numbers but are empirical numbers. The farmer again needs to keep continuity with the same soil test laboratory for all further test results. The test result in addition to numbers may also indicate terms like “LOW”, “GOOD” /”HIGH”

A HIGH would mean cutting down on fertilizer and LOW on apply more of fertilizer. see this indicative chart.

Interpretation of tests

Now that both the samples of soil and water have been tested at first what leaps to eye is the E.C. and pH of the soil and water and what it tells is the presence of minerals in both and the acidic or saline nature. Further reading of the analysis brings out individual component of nutrient present in soil and water. Aided with this knowledge the scheme for fertilization is drawn up which would include adding particular nutrients to increase nutrient levels and pH levels to optimum for that crop.

The pH values of soil and water are also to be studied. It is known that difference types of crops, plants, flowers prosper much more in particular pH range. The addition of fertilizer is also to be selected so that correct pH conditions can be obtained in the soil. See also Let us talk about Fertilizers

The fertilization scheme would also include doses, rates at which dose are to given, timing, and irrigation management.  It may be stated that soil testing is an economic cost in the production of crops. It is time consuming. By itself a soil test would not prevent crop growth due to pests, diseases, bad irrigation etc. As shown in the chart above, if the soil is having High nutrient, there no need for adding fertilizer and the probability of increasing yield is less.

The yield versus fertilizer application rate is discussed in more details by me in my post.

The importance of the soil and water tests is in maximizing our yield while economizing on fertilizer cost.

As discussed above we may summarize as follows:

  1. Determine need for fertilizer nutrients by SOIL TESTS.
  2. Take care of pH of soil and water
  3. Choose crop most suited to your land characteristics
  4. Take advantage of nutrient already available in soil and water
  5. Maximize efficiency by giving only required fertilizers
  6. Avoid unnecessary additions of fertilisers

Please feel free to share your views and comments.

Posted in farm guide Tagged with: ,

Are You Inviting Pests and Virus in your farm?

Are You Inviting Pests and Virus in your farm?

Ringing your farm boundary with trees may just do that.

 

Some Farms just love to invite Pests and Virus to what ever crop is planted. Farmers need to be careful in planning their farms to avoid inviting Pests and Virus.

In this farm, lemon trees have been planted sometime late in the rainy season. The farm boundary has a number of forest trees, some variety of teak, bottle guard trees, camphor trees, bamboos etc. – some are quite tall and some are middlish height. Due to this in winter a lot of shade falls on the farm ground as sun is low in east as can be seen in photo. Only when sun is in south do the full sun rays fall here. As said, in winter, in this particular place, the direct sun rays are only just warm.

So as I was taking a visit to this farm house, I was observing how the lemon plants were coming up. All plants in the south side were well looking good. But in this northeast corner plants were showing upward curling of leaves, yellow leaves and in some leaves presence of leaf miner. See photos.

I have also had occasion to observe that the roots of trees in the periphery of land had come into the Polyhouse and then risen upwards into the flower beds and through these root the  daily dose of Fertigation and watering which was actually meant for the flowers was going to the trees. And this diversion of feed to trees was causing distress in plants of flowers with some plants outright wilting and production in others going down substantially. A lot of effort had to be made to cut the roots coming into the Polyhouse. This effort I am happy to say did result in restoring the health of flower plants in the Polyhouse.

That brings me to the headline of my blog today. The trees which are normally planted around the boundary of a farming land:

  1. Occupy the space above the ground.
  2. Roots extend on all sides inside the ground in search of food.
  3. Any number of worms, pests, parasites make their residence in the tree trunks and limbs.
  4. The tree canopy obstructs the sun rays.
  5. The canopy also obstructs smooth falling of rains on the land below.
  6. A lot of farm land becomes useless for any other farming activity.
  7. The trees extending on all sides, roots extending all sides, cause a number of disputes between neighboring farms.
  8. Birds make a perch on the trees and it is easier for them to damage your crops.

Yes trees provide for environment; provide a scenic value and a solid sense of ownership. But the problems created by trees probably far outweigh the same. Installing cement or plastic posts at intervals between farm lands should normally be enough solid ownership experience, besides being cheaper and free from pests, worms, parasites, birds, virus generated by trees.  Trees are best in a group of its own apart from farming lands. Trees and even barbed or other type of wire mesh are really not required for boundary indications of farming land. Why I include barbed or other wire mesh is because of high cost of installation and then high cost of maintenance of same. If one does not maintain the wire mesh, not only it looks ungainly but is dangerous to those working around the same.

Fencing is really required if animals are to be protected and then good fencing needs to be installed. Otherwise ….

Let us have your opinion on this.

Posted in farm guide Tagged with: , ,

Easy Detect If You Are Giving Less or More of Nutrients

 

Easy Detect If You Are Giving

Less or More of Nutrients

Like a child we care for our plants.

Local environ provides the basic to a plant – the earth, the air, the water and sunshine. Fertilization is to be done as part of fertility management so that the growth and production of the plant of whatever type is on course with the desired objectives which will remain maximizing yield and optimizing costs for same. Such management would in some ways reduce the differences in environs at different places.

We have discussed in our article how usage of fertilizers slowly increases productivity at first but pushing it beyond a point is actually detrimental to productivity and if not corrected plants will die. A balancing of Fertigation is thus most essential in fertility management.

There are number of advisory articles as to how much Fertigation is optimum quantitatively. Below we discuss how by visually monitoring our plants also such information can be gleaned for a quick assessment. Thereafter more can be attempted to regain the balance in Fertigation management.  Let us discuss one by one the nutrients Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), Potassium (K), Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and Iron (Fe) below.

NITROGEN (N)

Deficiency symptoms: plants show slow growth, will show chlorosis in lower leaves the leaves will turn yellowish.

Excess symptoms:  delayed flowering and plant growth will be reduced. Older leaves are curled, chlorosis (yellowing) and necrosis occurs in the leaves.

 

PHOSPHOROUS (P)

Deficiency Symptoms: leaves tend first to turn dark shade of green, plants growth is less. When deficiency is more, leaves would turn reddish purple and if persisted then necrosis may set in. Such behavior is also seen in winters.

Excess symptoms: Excess of P would also stunt growth. Additionally intake of nutrients Iron, Zinc, Magnesium and Copper would be reduced in plant thus inducing deficiency of these.

 

POTASSIUM (K)

Deficiency Symptoms: Plants gets weak, its stalk thin, and necrosis sets in the lower leaf margins.

Excess symptoms: Excess of Potassium reduces intake of certain nutrients and induces deficiencies like Zinc, Calcium, Magnesium and Magnesium.

 

CALCIUM (Ca)

Deficiency Symptoms: it is important nutrient. Deficiency of same results in necrosis (darkening) of budding points and in roots.

Excess symptoms: reduces uptake of nutrients Potassium, Magnesium and Boron.

 

MAGNESIUM (Mg)

Deficiency Symptoms: deficiency of Mg affects older leaves by way of chlorosis; also the leaves curl upwards on the edges.

Excess symptoms: if in excess, will affect uptake of Calcium.

 

IRON (Fe)

 

Deficiency Symptoms: show first as Interveinal chlorosis of the younger leaves and slowly extends to tips; dieback may occur if persistent deficiency.

 

Excess symptoms: excess reduce uptake of Manganese. The iron deficiency or excess is related also to pH of soil so that needs to be seen before any fertility management is undertaken. Lower leaves show necrotic specking.

 

A continuous observation of the condition of the plants tells us a lot about the health of the plant. This is how plants communicate. It is possible to make a quick assessment of our Fertility Management practice and thus take care of many a problems in fertigation.  Welcome if the readers add some thing of your own experiences and share with  us all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in farm guide

UAE builds world’s largest artificially desalinated water reserve in desert

UAE BUILDS WORLD’S LARGEST RESERVE

OF

ARTIFICIALLY DESALINATED WATER

 

Satellite image of the Liwa Strategic Water Reserve in UAE. Green spots are locations of pumps for filling up and draining the reserve. (ADWEA)

Today I write on a novel method of water conservation and preservation by the desert state of UAE.   This deal with how a desert population deals with scarcity of potable water and brings out a new innovative dimension in conservation of water. Below are the excerpts from an article in qz.com.  This would be of great interest to the farmer community also.

On Jan 15, 2018  at the launch of the 2018 International Water Summit in Abu Dhabi, The Abu Dhabi Water & Electricity Authority unveiled the world’s largest reserve of artificially desalinated water.

The reserve exists in an aquifer under the Liwa desert at the southern edge of the country, about 160 km away from the desalination plants located at the coast. It contains about 26 billion liters of water, and needed 26 months to fill it up. In case of emergencies, the reserve can provide about 100 million liters of water per day to the country’s residents.  The planning to build the reserve began in 2002, and it cost about $450 million.

The desalinated water is transported through large pipes (about 1 meter in diameter), which had to be pieced together in the desert through high-precision welding to make them leak-proof for at least 50 years. The water is then dumped about 80 meters underground through perforated pipes, where it seeps deeper into the aquifer. There are about 300 wells to recharge, recover, and observe the aquifer’s water.

UAE requires around 6 billion liters of water daily so the amount of about 100 million liters may seem small, but as they say every little drop of water helps manlind.

Pl read the full article on https://qz.com/1180035/uae-has-built-the-worlds-largest-water-reserve-in-liwa-desert/

Posted in world events

Are Robotic Devices the future for increasing Farm Productivity

Are Robotic Devices the future

for increasing Farm Productivity

Perspective

There are lot of information circulating as to how the population is increasing, and not only increasing but actually consuming more per capita, and how rapid urbanization and industrialization all over the world is shrinking availability of arable land for farming. There is any number of statistics in favor of all such assumptions. One such statistics by.. is that while in 1990 the average world food consumption per person was 2000 calories it is expected to be 3000 calories by year 2050! Add to this expected increase in the human population of world … the number do become huge … And pose a big challenge to the farmers as how to increase productivity to keep pace with increase in consumption demand. It also indicates that farmers can expect better deal in the foreseeable future as the supply of agro products may just keep up with the demand.

Compounding the problems of less arable land and less water would also be lesser availability of human manpower for the fields. This would entirely be due to rapid industrialization and urbanization as also due to reduction in land holding as large lands would be parceled out in successive generations. Smaller parcels of farms are inherently incapable of self-sustaining.

Way Forward

The way forward for increased and increasing agricultural (and related) yields would lie in better management of farm lands, management of scare water resources, management of fertilization methods and of fertilizers used, development of high yielding pest resistant varieties of seeds, control of production environment, management of storage, management of logistics to optimize time delays from farm to homes, ready availability of sophisticated and timely weather report, and other related matters.

No matter which way we look at the above requirements, we are struck with the fact that no longer the farms can be tended without smart persons capable of using smart technology. The farm workers need to be trained to use these new technologies and the biggest requirement of farm workers is that no longer would they deviate from what are the laid down procedures. They would need to always follow the instructions to the letter just like a computer. Are we talking of ROBOTS then!!!

There is a book by author Dan Brown where he prophesizes integration of humans with machines. Although even now we do have a lot of such integration with the way we do every day routines like banking, ticket booking, purchasing, communicating etc. etc.

Yes and NO. Robotic devices would need to be used. In fact they are being used at several places in different ways. But the human hand is always required.

Some of the ways robotic devices would be used are:

1. Identifying the very good, good and just good area in your farm and plant the seeds accordingly. This is possible by integration of the soil health map of your farm with gps coordinates and having an autonomous seed dispensing machine that will plant seeds taking into account such factors like the optimum depth of planting and location as per the soil of your farms. The idea is to support the seed best way possible for growing up.

2. Irrigation of plants as per need by having sensors planted in the soil and the data integrated with automatic drip irrigation system so that optimum fertilizers are added and watering done as per requirement of the particular patch of plants. Such a system would dispense water or fertilizers several times in a day in small quantities instead of in one go as in  a week or daily basis that does result in wastage of water and fertilizers. Robots can actually go into the thick fields of crops like corn and provide fertilizer and water directly at the roots.

3. Monitoring of crop round the clock by drones or ground robots. These drones or robots have hardware and software built in so that farmer in one sweep of his farm would get crop health data. Robotics can also help in routine weeding operations.

4. Tractors – robotics is playing great part in tractors. According to a report in published in IdTechex.com written By Dr. Khasha Ghaffarzadeh more than 300 thousand tractors with autonomous functionality such as auto steer were sold in 2016. The sale is predicted to rise to 660 thousand by year 2027. There is some degree of reluctance on acquisition of such tractors at present due to costs involved and natural distrust of new technology. But it is hoped that things would slowly change and sales of unmanned or follow me tractors would be acceptable.

5. With land scarce, green house cultivation of even cash crops would be resorted and this would benefit by greater yields and less pests.

The Food and Agriculture Organization, the United Nations’ agency charged with thinking about such matters, published a report in 2009 which suggested that by 2050 agricultural production will have to rise by 70% to meet projected demand. Since most land suitable for farming is already farmed, this growth must come from higher yields.

The thoughts on ways and means to increase the productivity and cost reduction are many.

Would you readers like to share your ideas?

Would Farming tomorrow be run like Factories?

Posted in TechTalks

Easy Calculate Amount of Fertilizer for a Given Volume

Easy Calculate Amount of Fertilizer for a Given Volume

 

Many a time’s new farmers are confronted with how much of a fertilizer to add to water to make a known PPM strength. There are a number of ways to so calculate. Some are rough measurements and some are very precise computer controlled methods. However, what I use is a small formula for such measurements. The formula is:

Formula for measuring individual fertiliser element in a fertigation solution:

Amount of fertilizer to make one volume = A

Desired concentration ———————— = X

Percentage of required fertilizer ———– = P

 

Then:   A = X / P x K, where K is a constant depending on the units used e.g. K = 75 if units are ounces per gallon; K = 1200 if units are pounds per gallon and K = 10 if units are grams per liter.

 

Here, before going further in our calculations, let us remember that chemical fertilizers are described as NPK quantities, N being Nitrogen, P being Phosphorous and K being Potassium. A fertilizer mentioned as 20-20-20 NPK means 20% N, 20% P2O5 and 20% K2O. So it means this fertilizer has 20%N, 20% P2O5 and 20% K2O. Further –

 

%K = % K2O/1.2     and % P = % P2O5/2.3

 

Therefore, this fertilizer has actually N= 20%, P = 8.7% and K = 16.67%

 

Shall we do a little calculation – assume we require a concentration of 200 PPM of nitrogen to be given to our crop with a given volume of water. Let us calculate for one liter of water how many gram of this fertilizer to be mixed to get a concentration of 200 PPM of nitrogen. Apply to our equation above

 

A = 200 /20 (%of N) x 10 = 1 gm. / liter

 

Now if farmer requires 1000 liters of water to irrigate, he needs 1gm x 1000 = 1000 grams of fertilizer.

 

The concentration for P or K is also carried out in the same manner taking care to first calculate P% and K%.

 

If two or more types of fertilisers are being used, then total PPM needs to be added for each of the fertilisers used.  As an example if 20-20-20 and 13-0-45 are being used, the concentration of N and K in both would be additive and of P remain same.

 

Do interact if you have any suggestions or comments or modifications which you are using.

 

 

 

Posted in farm guide Tagged with: , ,

Do Farmers Need a Big Push from their Governments

This is my first blog on my site. It is appropriate that it is devoted to farmers worldwide. Farmers who toil hard facing the nature in all its colors from being friendly to adversary, fighting the odds of infestation by pests and blights, of having been supplied with inferior seeds, of insufficiency of irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides, uncertainty of quality and volume of produce. And when it comes time to get his rewards by selling the produce, again face uncertainty of price received. Many a times farmer would not receive even the price for his seeds, fertilizers, irrigation and his time what to say of opportunity cost. There are a number of mechanisms the governments of various countries have made to avoid such disappointments to farmers but all are singularly not even approaching the objective. And the reason is very obvious – the governments need to first consider the expectation of local populace to have plenty of food at affordable prices. And therein lays the rub. What is affordable price to the populace means that farmers would not get the required price of their produce for also having a life style compatible with those who work in offices and factories. And the irony is that those who work in factories and offices do not have to face the elements in its raw form face to face; they are assured of monthly income and pensions when they retire. But the farmers who daily face the raw elements would not be assured of their yearly income and retirement corpus…. They would have to work till the end of their lives. And why because the governments are more committed to keeping prices of food stuff at a level considered affordable by the populace.

This thought process is now turning out to be an egg and chicken example. Because affordable price for the populace is determined by the earning capacity of the individual. The governments have to keep a lid on the salaries disbursable at all levels of the jobs tied to a standard. If the standard is higher, individuals across the job spectrum – be it office workers, factory workers, the politicians, the armed personnel, even the president of the country – all get higher salaries. Consequently their interpretation of affordable food price is tilted towards higher side and the farmer would also benefit. Exactly the opposite would happen in case of governments who due to their peculiar conditions – could be the population is very high, low GDP, low natural resources, etc. – need to down side the salaries, obviously the farmers would get lower prices for their produce.

And this is the point:  Regardless of which government the farmers are situated, the costing for produce would remain the same. The farmer would still have to work hard fighting elements, fighting for irrigation, fertilizers, pesticides, and facing uncertainty of volume and quality of his produce at the end of his labors. So for farmer he has to do same amount of labor and investment to get his produce. So should such a farmer be in a country where affordable price is on the lower side he would get fewer amounts for his produce. Such lesser amounts ultimately tell on the sustainability of the farmer and his farming. The country would ultimately suffer. Imaging a country where all are factory workers or office works and there are no farmers!!!

 

Do interact if you have any suggestions or comments or modifications which you are using.

Posted in farm guide Tagged with: , ,