I like the whole concept of mixed farming. Basically using every sq ft of space to grow a mix of plants & as well as harvest every bit of the sunlight which falls on the land. So we have Turmeric, Yams & Tapioca in the middle (on raised beds). I’ve sowed Marigold, Flax, Mustard & Kurasani with it (germination was good, but the heavy rains did take a toll on its growth), a few local variety of cucumber, Ragi (finger millets) have been transplanted (or kept) on the bunds. On the boundary of the each plot we’ve Lemon grass & Vetiver grass to stop the topsoil from running away & interspersed with Adulsa for the green leaves to mulch in the future.
But still it is all in single tier planting. Since most of these yams do not need full sunlight it is possible for them to thrive under other plants like for eg: Banana’s or we can also try to have climbers/ creepers on a trellis. So it’s still a long way off to establish these small plots into complex eco-systems by itself. But given the particular location of our land, during the rainy season sunlight is very much at a premium, winds are strong (trellises may fall), humidity is low & i would place soil fertility as of now at 4 in a scale of 10. But now if any one asks me hows things in the farm all i can say is that things are looking slightly better than what it was last year at the same time !
The major task now is the Rice transplantation. About 30% is remaining to be done. Coming back to mixed farming i find rice fields a hard nut to crack, especially because of the flooding which is required to be done to control the weeds. What can be grown along with rice? Recently i’ve heard of rice with turmeric, a web search is throwing up many combos. But with our “Cherrapunji” like rain fall its difficult to visualise what can be grown along with rice.
We’ve planted lots of Karanj trees (for leaves) all along the bunds of the rice field. Since our rice fields cover 1.25 acres it is without doubts our major crop. It’s also time for a reality check about our rice growing methods. For the last 3 years the external inputs which came into the fields were in the form of cow dung or goat dung. Did i get any decent yields ? The answer is a simple NO. The fact of the matter is that i cannot go on with what i’ve been doing. i cannot live on hope that suddenly something is going to change for the better. The fact of the matter is that i need yields….decent yields.
Now to a bit of simple calculations of the average expenses incurred while growing rice right from the beginning of preparation of soil till it reaches our kitchen, which includes preparation of the fields, preparation of nursery beds, transplanting, weeding, fertilizer requirements, harvest, threshing, milling etc. On an average i spend 20k & the rice i get is worth about 5k & the yields have been dropping drastically each year. Plus, we buy from the shops rice worth of 8k for a year to suffice our requirements. We consume a lot of rice, our dogs eat more than us… so this damn thing has to work.
I’ve reached a point where i need to have yields & i’ve reached a point to say that with organic inputs as of now i am not going to get yields on this soil. I’ve reached a point to say that i need to put chemical inputs into the soil to minimise expenses. I reached a point where i need to take practical decisions. For eg: a tractor load of cow dung/goat dung mix costs INR 5,000/-, a couple of sacks of chemical fertilizers costs me INR 900/-
Decision time !!
This year for the rice i will use Urea & Suphala 15:15:15.
Hope this guy has some clues about where we are heading ??
Quoting author Amruta Patil here…… I have the job I want to. Since I am eminently unemployable for any other, it works out alright. Would’ve been perfect if there were a salary and pension, but ‘perfect’ comes at a heavy price and isn’t, subsequently, perfect. We’ll just have to ensure that we do not linger overlong…..
Peace & love