Thursday, November 4, 2021
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
This year have been doing some experiments with no-till rice. One field is in the farm using Pureria as cover crop which had controlled all strong grasses and gave a clean field to start no-till rice. Had removed all the cut Pureria to one side and sown the pre-germinated rice seeds of an upland variety called 'Katta modan'. The density was more and there was good line spacing. But could see that there is no tillering for the rice. One reason could be that no-fertilizer and soil open to sun and rain, built fertility would have lost? When conventional fields are compared, they till the soil and all the grass and straw will be allowed to decompose and then transplanting starts. Even though field is plowed, it is made fertile and hence growth of rice plants is better.
In natural farming no-till field, even Fukuoka san recommended 600-900 pounds of well decomposed chicken manure per quarter acre. So this is some thing to be seriously considered. Also the field should be covered with mulch.
Thursday, October 21, 2021
This year tried a turmeric crop and it was doing well so thought of analyzing what went well. One thing is that soil where this was tried was reasonably deep after years of mulching and not disturbing much. Also in this patch, distance between fingers were almost a foot and this was suggested by worker, he always tell if there is good distance it is better.
Also after couple of months, this was weeded and compost was applied and soil put over this compost and then mulched with fodder grass which decomposes very slowly hence soil cover was there.
Friday, October 15, 2021
Even though I tried some seeds in March-April as soon as I had received it, knew that is not the actual season, so trying it with monsoon when the temperature is cool and ground is wet. The seeds received were not very healthy, lots of plants turn yellowish and die. But in one area, could get some harvest, so trying those seeds again, so they are happy hill rice grown in this climate being tried out again here.
The seeds used were harvested in around August end 2021.Have put around 130 seeds in grow bags, after soaking them in cowdung water for 24 hours. Soaking may have to be reduced to 12 hours, that is the typical practice, some where I thought it is 24 hours and kept it. After 3-4 days, rice seedlings are seen.
Transplanted the seedlings..1/2 seedlings in every 10cms. Also broadcasted some fenugreek seeds as a ground cover. It rained heavily at the night, so not sure, if fenugreek will germinate.
Applied cut leaves of mexican sunflower throughout to keep the soil covered and also applied some fresh cowdung slurry
Have been growing in small patches in backyard and with that experience wanted to try it in the farm in small area. To the extend possible, wanted to try it in minimum tillage way, hence cut the tall grass in the raised bed using Scythe and then cut it short to ground using brush cutter. This is the combination I am using, Scythe allows to cut the tall grasses easily but since it is heterogenous grass, cutting may be not be that neat, there the brush cutter helps. If there are millipedes, they will be hurt badly, so I just pick them move away before cutting. This can be done with a stick very easily.
I put a line using Homi hoe and put two seeds at 1 feet and covered it using the same tool, but germination was very poor. One is that if the moisture content is not good, germination will be bad and also could see that ants taking away seeds immediately after sowing.
Next time, made sure that there was enough moisture in the soil and also dipped seeds in turmeric powder paste and sown, most of the seeds germinated, was happy about that. A few places it didn't germinate, those places put the seeds once again. Finding that a uniform crop stand is a must to get good yield, so may have to put seeds couple of times, or worst case transplant to places where there is a gap. Also from previous experience, distance between corn plants should be large, at least 1 feet so that plants grow healthy. Now I am seeing, the planting distance really matters...SRI rice tells 1 feet distance, similarly lots more evidence on this..Fukuoka San also tells sparse seeding is good.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021
Used to see Mexican Sunflower in Youtube videos and permaculture articles, where it is called as a Dynamic Accumulator. But never was there a mention from any local farmers or any one in the farming community. Happened to see them on road sides and started looking them closely and started reading more. Took some cuttings from road sides and planted at home and they were growing quite fast, so was impressed. Then thought of introducing them to farm, since any biomass generator and diversity addition is good for the farm.
This year planted them around newly planted saplings and also near the trenches. Recently planted 3 cuttings on the front yard where one chaya mansa tree had fallen from ant attack and we lost the shade in the front porch. Mexican sunflower cuttings grew in 4 months and brought back that shade.
Showed this plant to my helper Palani and he said he has seen them in big bunches on road sides and went with him and collected lots of cuttings and planted around trenches and as shade for saplings.
Mexican sunflower planted to provide shade for the newly planted fig saplings
Tuesday, October 5, 2021
I am not growing Mucuna, but this article gives some inputs from the video
Mucuna is a vigorous leguminous perennial creeper cover crop used in plantations. In Kerala it is seen in rubber plantations. It is not good for cattle, there are reports that it may kill cattle, if eaten in large quantities. Since it is perennial and vigorous creeper, once established all the weeds will be gone. When I was looking for perennial cover crops, this was one option for me. But since it may kill grazing animals, didn't prefer it, and went for Pureria. Even though both Mucuna and Pureria generates enormous amount of biomass, but never seen anyone using it in orchards. So when I saw Mucuna being used in West Africa for regenerating soil, I was amused.
The following scenarios are discussed in the video..
West africa has 2 rainy seasons, major rainy season from April through June and short rainy season from October through December. Farmers typically grow maize and casava with start of the rain. After maize is harvested casava continues and then casava is harvested. Some farmers do two maize crops and with erratic rains, they may not get a second harvest. Also since nothing is returned to soil, soil depletes and maize harvest declines. To regenerate soil some farmers plant mucuna in between maize when maize crop has completed 60 days, by this time pods would have formed. Planting is done between maize rows.
Maize is planted at 80cms distance between rows and 40cms within rows. 2 maize seeds are planted in one hole. Maize field will be weeded before planting Mucuna.60Kgs of Mucuna seeds are required per hectre. Every 40cms, two seeds will be dropped in the hole and covered. By the time maize is harvested Mucuna grows over maize and this continues till the end of the short rainy season. After this, thick layer of mulch decomposes in the summer. With first rain, they sow seeds of maize and some farmers do this without ploughing. If the soil is poor, they advise to sow Mucuna for 3 years and after that on alternate years.
Mucuna improves the soils and also gets rid of some difficult weeds. After the rain field with Mucuna remains, there is little run off and retains water, while field without Mucuna,water just runs off. Soils with Mucuna is soft and easy to work with rain, while the other fields become hard. Even without tilling planting becomes possible with Mucuna left over. Conventionally they harvest 10 bags of maize per hectre and with Mucuna it is 30 bags per hectre.Similarly for Casava, it is 30 bags of flour per hectre with Mucuna and 4-5 bags of flour without Mucuna
Here is the video which tells how they use Mucuna for regenerating soil.
Since Mucuna grows very fast and fixes lots of nitrogen and generates lots of biomass, it is a good option to grow that as a cover crop after the harvest of the rice, this typically gives around 8 months of growth, considering a 4 month duration rice variety. If the mucuna is sown 1 month before harvest of rice, this can become 9 months. If we go for two crops, each with duration of 4 months, we can still grow it for 5 months. One problem is that seeds are not readily available.