Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Humus Formation

Humus formation in tropical climate is less since temperature is high and at high temperature mulching materials oxidise and lost to atmosphere. When we grow cover crop in rainy season and by the time mulch is formed and by the time it is useful for next cropping cycle, much of it will be lost in the summer coming after the rains. 

I grow cover crop like sunhemp, pureria javanica and also leguminous trees like glyrecedia and subabul. Initially I had a confusion when to cut and mulch these covercrops. I could see that when I cut the covercrop or leguminous trees after rain stops, then the cover will be lost and it becomes very dry. So I stopped cutting any grass or covercrop or tree cover after the rain. So basically to form good humus in your farm, grow as many different types of covercrops and after cutting and mulching, make sure there is good shade for the mulch. Another option is to make trenches in the farm and then mulch the trenches, since sunlight and wind does not reach trench directly, good humus will be formed here.

Recently while reading the book 'Restoring the Soil' by Roland Bunch came across the following text.

A combination of two or three gm/ccs may provide the best results. For example, using trees and another type of low growing gm/cc could be a practical answer to this problem. By reducing the ambient temperature at least 10°C, dispersed trees can cool the fields enough so that the gm/ccs’ organic matter will not be burned off, and the soil’s fertility can be maintained. The temperature can be lowered even more if the trees are not pruned until the months right before the next rainy season, as is normally the case. Thus, dispersed shade can largely eliminate the problem of dry season burn-off of the gm/ccs’ organic matter and nitrogen.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Parachute rice planting

Read about the Parachute rice planting from the Kerala agriculture magazine 'Kerala Karshakan' 2019 January issue. Later saw this in Mathrubhoomi agriculture news and when searched in youtube, there were more videos about this, was surprised to find this.

Basically seeds are germinated in trays filled with manure and soil, then 12-15 old seedlings are pulled out from tray and thrown across the field. The field is prepared in conventional manner by tilling and puddling and made muddy. The seedlings land with base and may be lying in the filed, but later gets up.

Planting in line also is possible and can be used for SRI planting.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6p44zjuEcg - Parachute paddy cultivation in Srilanka



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_BT3E3JlnI - How to planting rice parachute

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Sabi - Female farmer from Wayanad - Making a living from 0.1 acre of land

Came across a video about a women farmer from Wayanad called Sabi who makes a living from her 0.1 acre of land. Here is the summary of story...

Sabi and her husband Rahim are from Trivandrum and at one stage of life, they lost all what they had earned and relocated to Wayanad where they bought 0.1 acre of land which was barren land. There were inspired by a malayalam movie called 'Valsalyam' where Mammooty plays the lead role. He looses his entire property as part of family settlement and at the end of the film, he moves to a barren land and starts his life from there as a farmer.

Since Sabi just owns 0.1 acre land, no banks considered her as a farmer since as per the standard farmer needs 0.2 acre. Finally she takes loan from her uncle and buys 4 goats and sets the farm, later she sets up a shed and buys 1000 button quail (kada in Malayalam). Her house is at one corner of the land which is just 300 square feet and the rest of the place is fully utilized for farming. 

After 45 days, button quail lays eggs and gets around 800 eggs which she sells at two rupees per egg, spends around 700 rupees for food and net profit is around 900 rupees per day.

Right now she has around 13 goats and she has around 10 baby goats for selling and earns her around 150000 rupees per year. She cultivates vegetables around the house and does not have to buy any vegetables from and sells surplus. This earns her around 8000 rupees per month. Overall she makes a comfortable living from 0.1 acre of land. In addition, she has many fruit trees planted and also feeds lot of birds which makes them happy. Green leaves and manure from goat,quail,chicken etc are used as manure and is completely organic.




This is quite inspirational, and many can make a living with integrated farming of animals,birds and cultivating vegetables.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Sorghum (Jowar) in backyard

One plant looking like maize came up in backyard with start of rain in May and it grew well. Later when it flowered and grain formed in December, one whatsapp group identified it as 'Jowar' or Sorghum. Not sure, how it came up there, may be I had a number of millet seeds from Organic World Congress and it would have been one of it.

It grew very tall, may be around 8-9 feet and with many tillers and many bunches of flowers were seen and grains also are in plenty. It looks to be a good crop for natural farming, not sure how to process it or cook it, anyway will be trying it in one patch in next year.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Making trenches in farm

Summer is very harsh and there won't be enough water for watering all areas. So has been looking for options to fight the drought and one such option was to make trenches. Subash Palekar talks about this in his books and Bhaskar Save also used this in his farm. Fukuoka San suggests to take coutour trenches and fill it with trees cut while starting the orchard. All this motivated me to make trenches and also met couple of farmers who made trenches in their farm - Varghese Tharakan, Trichur, Mathai M Mathews, Nenmara etc..

Basically trenches allows to take rain water to subsoil fast, moisture is retained better in trenches since direct sunlight and wind does not reach here. Also mulches decompose under low temperature to form good humus. In tropical climate humus does not form easily because of high temperature, so once we shade the humus making process, it is formed better.


When any tractor or tools are used that brings out hiding insects and this bird senses it and immediately lands here. Some one was joking, this bird stays close to the tractor driver's house and follows to him to the working site.

Trenches filled with branches

Hitachi machine hired from Perumatty agro service, rentals 800 rupees per hour. Driver Arun did a good job and listens carefully to instructions and do accordingly.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Planting taro in more areas

Some time back collected a few seeds of taro from my native which is very tasty. In my childhood we used to cultivate it on raised bed and used to get good harvest. While at home, we were not having seeds, but one of my cousin used to still cultivate it every year, even though he is not a full time farmer, he kept the seeds. Some people like this left in our villages, are the real seed conservators. 

Last year I planted this taro here and there and resulted in more seeds. Since this is not eaten by wild pigs and rats so far, planning to expand it into more areas. There is also good demand for this and also it has better shelf life so selling is little more easier.

When I enquired about how to keep the seeds for the next rainy season, an old farmer called Manual (we call him Manualettan) from Wayanad who is a tuber expert and keeps many varieties of tubers advised me to keep them in soil and mulch it. So thought of planting them now itself. Cleared some areas by scythe and then made small opening using crowbar and put small seeds and then covered with soil and then applied mulch. I have promised Manualettan to give this seeds when I meet him in December in Vatakara for the annual meeting of Kerala Jaiva Karshaka Samithi.

Since this is being done in more areas, planning to apply some cowdung slurry in the rainy season after they come up.

Mulching after putting seeds

Tools used 

Small pits made and seeds put


Lot of mulch from this tree..


In two more beds taro planted...This bed was prepared earlier and had browntop millet growing earlier.

Inspected some of the seeds planted a month back after pulling mulches, they are doing good. The soil was bit cool under the mulch, hoping that they will survive the summer and will see the rain.


Applied some dried cowdung collected on the cow grazing area nearby, on one bed. This is the advantage of planting along with harvesting since it gives lot of time for these kind of activities.

Kodiyan - Another traditional rice variety

Couple of days back, had to visit Guruvayur area since my wife's uncle had expired. In front of their house there is a marshy land with still some water in it. While chatting with another uncle of my wife, he mentioned that earlier there used to be paddy cultivation in all those areas and a variety called 'Kodiyan' was used for this which is also called as 'Vella Pokkali'.

This comes with long straw and grows in clumps where each group will have many tillers. After harvesting,it again grows back and gives a second harvest after 3-4 months. According to him, that variety is not available now, have to check with some friends over there about this.

Some of this casual talks reveals very interesting information about the past.