Sunday, October 16, 2016

Peanut,finger millet and sesame - 2nd crop season 2016

This year south-west monsoon was very bad...so not trying rice farming, thought of trying some thing which needs less water..Trying out peanut, finger millet and sesame...no experience with these, so just trying ...

Straw from previous rice crop was completely spread and then got a tractor with rotovator attachment and tilled it.

8-Oct-2016



23-Oct-2016
Some peanuts which I had put it initially started germinating and growing...Made a channel using sharp tool and then put seeds and then using the tool with tooths, closed the channel. But it was time consuming and lot of effort, so finally broadcasted the seeds and then using the tooth tool put some mud here and there.




Monday, October 3, 2016

Starting no-till on a weed free field

Have been experimenting with no-till on a field. Since complete rotation for an year and right crops are not working, wanted to do no-till on a weedy field. In Fukuoka's case he had a complete rotation in place and there will be overlap between crops, like after rice, barley/wheat would be starting. But practically if there is a break in the circle, not sure how he was handling it. For e.g, due to some reason he could not sow wheat at the stage of the harvesting rice...

Anyway in my case, I am doing no-till, but uses Honda brush cutter and scythe for cutting weeds. While experimenting I found that if long grass is cut and kept aside by using Scythe and then field is cleared with Honda brush cutter then field is relatively weed free. At this time, we can sow the crop and then cover it by using cut grass with immediate irrigation or if it rains, well and good.

Another option to control the weeds to next level, after cutting and clearing using brush cutter, irrigate the field and allow the weeds to germinate and then once again clear using brush cutter using string. Using string, we can complete the task of clearing the field when the weeds are small..this way all the surface weeds would have exhausted and we get a weed free field to start with.




Sunday, September 18, 2016

Backyard cultivation

I don't stay in my natural farm, so have been staying in the rented house. A few months back, I moved to a new house and this place is around 0.2 acres. So started some backyard cultivation for vegetables, with cow at home, vegetaables are growing very well now. So thought of blogging this part of cultivation also.

I just apply cowdung slurry continuously to all the crops. Raised beds are made with mulching so that effort is reduced drastically. Right now I have ladys finger, brinjal, tomato, chilly, tapioca, taro, bitter guard etc...Some are in the initial stages....Cowdung and mulching does magic, crops grow very well...


Lady's finger and couple of maze plants

2-Oct-2016

Spinach coming up on raised bed, the one below was growing well in the start of the rainy season, the current growth is not so good.




This spinach had come up on its own around the house, just put them in the raised bed, it grows reasonably well.

3-Oct-2016


Tomato plants in fruiting stage....it looks like, they don't need much water, but in rainy season, they don't grow well



new seedling getting ready for transplantation...lady's finger,pumpkin, tomato etc...


In one area, since there was not enough space for raised beds, made some heaps after putting some organic matter and cowdung over top of it.


Taro...


Tapioca....

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Cow at home

I had two cows in the farm and the traditional one was brought to home recently since looking after them became difficult after they gave birth. It was excitement at home to receive them, since this is the first time we are having cow/calf at home. We were not well prepared, since shed was having problems, sides were open, ground had no slope, no place for them to feed the grass/hay...

Slowly all of these problems got solved..Finally milking was a problem, since she does not allow and just kicks, some times sideways. I was scared how to handle it...finally put a bamboo pole and then tied her one leg and my wife calmed her by holding and I could milk..Suddenly we had lot of cowdung at home..instead of piling it, thought of using it completely so that premises will remain clean. Made slurry by mixing water and applied to all the vegetables ..and they are growing quite nicely...Initially almost daily I put the cowdung slurry, later reduced the frequency. People say, the microbes in the cowdung makes the land fertile, anyway the effect is magical. Here are some photos..






9-Sept-2016

She was scared of us even after 3 years at the farm, but our interactions were limited. When she came home, it continued, she will move back when we approach her, slowly it changed. Now she is at ease with us, when others come, she will move near to us. She has been named 'Ammini' and her boy is named 'Appu'.



He is quite strong, has to be very careful when we are near him, he just pushes with his head. Once he jumped a fence of 4.5 feet height without any issues. He is bubbling with energy. We can not handle him longer, so ready to donate him to some one free of charges, provided they take care of him.



Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pureria Javanica (Tropical Kudzu) cover crop - update

I have been experimenting with Pureria Javanic (Tropical Kudzu) as a cover crop in some parts of the farm. Many people had warned me about this, since it is quite invasive and climbs all over the saplings. Because of this warnings, I tried it on some plots in a controlled manner. One advantage is they establish well, even if you just plant a few plants and they produce lot of bio-mass. But as people had warned, they just climbs all over and small saplings won't be seen at all. I am still doubtful, but was happy that they provide lot of mulching material and also cutting them using scythe is quite an easy task.

Some pictures....




It has established so well, initially thought it will be a difficult task, but it was a smooth operation with Scythe...



Tapioca plants coming well




Friday, June 24, 2016

No-till experiments - 2016

Kept aside one paddy field for no-till experiments, may be around 0.2 acre. It has full of weeds, broadcasted around 3 Kgs of cowpea and cut the grass and mulched. I used Scythe for this and my helper used his bill hook. It took around 3-4 hours to clear the field.

Once the cow pea is established plan is to grow rice in no-till.




30-June-2016

Cowpea has germinated and started growing.. not very thick, hope they will cover the whole field




8-Aug-2016

Cowpea not established well...direct seeding causes lot of seed loss...According to Eric Koperek, it can be upto 90%?? ...so seed ball is the way to go...and also watering at the initial stage should be good so that all seeds germinate well...



11-Aug-2016



8-Sept-2016


Harvested some cowpea...all together may be around 4-5 Kgs...it is really tasty and was distributed to couple of neighbours..felt happy about that. Even though harvest is minimal so was the effort..

Some seeds also...






Cowpea harvest is over, now has to plan for the next crop...may be green gram and sesame.

17-Sept-2016


Got couple of rains after a gap, thought this is the right time to start the green gram cultivation. Last time cow pea germination was bad, this time instead of cutting with Scythe used Honda brush cutter. It cuts uniformly and cuts very low, so weed will be held back for some more time. Could not complete the whole field, rain started in between....completed close to half of the field. First broadcasted green gram in a small patch and cut it and then again broadcasted to another patch, in this way, I need not walk through the weedy field, scared of viper even though I have a gun boot.

Ideal tool for this use may be a Lawnmower, please see my friend Eric Koperek's quoute on this...



You can run a 25 acre ~ 10 hectare commercial vegetable farm with nothing other than a common lawnmower.





2-Oct-2016

In another part of the field, grass was quite dense hence used scythe first to cut and move the long grass and then cleared with brush cutter. This was way field was much cleaner, in this area, green gram germinated well. Totally around 4Kgs of green gram was used. Applied cowdung slurry once.




On seeing this, I felt, it would have been better to cut the long grass and keep it away and then water the field and allow all the weeds to germinate and then use the brutal force of the brush cutter to clear the weeds, then sow the green gram and cover it with cut grass. In conventional cultivation, they till the land and then allow the weeds to germinate and then plough once again to clear the weeds. If we are using weed cutter for clearing weeds, the same approach can be used.

17-Oct-2016

Green gram is establishing reasonably well...there is some creeper which gets spread also, removed some of them.....they are not very strong, I just hold on the top portion and then pull, they just come off...got a small rain, hence ground is reasonably wet..has to apply cowdung slurry couple of times more...





23-Oct-2016

Applied cowdung slurry for a second time...Palani was spraying it from the top, so one portion gets deposited on the leaves and gets wasted. Next time should ask him just to pour to the ground.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rice cultivation - Monsoon season 2016

This year monsoon started by around June 6th and some pre-monsoon showers were there by May 2nd week. But monsoon is not picking up the speed, it is just one or two rains, but climate is coludy and cool. It is raining well in South, but in Palakkad heavy rains are missing....what could be the reason???

While talking to some lady workers they mentioned about a farmer in nearby location who uses a machine to put seeds in straight line and it works very well for him. His name was Appukuttan and locality was Kurukkan Kulumbu, and could locate him easily. Saw the drum seeder and later asked him if he can rent it for a day, and he has agreed.

According to his advice, put seeds in water for 36 hours and then leave it for germination for a day.  Field is readied by using tractor, same old Mohanan came and did the ploughing using gauge wheel.

18-June-2016


Horse gram growing well and some glyrecedia cuttings from side also dumped as green manure



In one part of the field, rice from previous harvest is growing...may be this can be nurtured to a crop?



23-June-2016

Seeded using a drum seeder given by the neighbor for this trial. Line distance becomes 20 cm and in each line around 8-10 seeds fall at around 10cm. There should not be water in the field, but this condition was not met in all parts, water had to be drained in advance, taking small channels from where ever water had collected. The operation is quite smooth, and looks to be the ideal way for sowing seeds. Also there should not be rain for couple of days, so it looks like, this should be attempted before the heavy rain starts.




30-June-2016

Rice seedlings are growing....germination rate is good and line is also fine, except some areas...water had to be drained completely before sowing...weeds started growing..next challenge is weed control...






8-July-2016

Lines are becoming more visible...some places rice plants are missing, they will be repaired from a nursery maintained....



24-July-2016




11-Aug-2016

weeding completed..not much rain, so watering from pond on alternate days...




8-Sept-2016



Flowering is completed...tillers are less and hence field is not very thick...but reasonable...cowdung slurry application was done, just once.

Harvesting completed on 8th October...Yield is not so good, got around 450Kgs of paddy. The straw was spread on the field, I did it all by myself, it was a complete day job.