Monday, August 20, 2012

Finger millet among weeds

These are not great discoveries, but minor observations while doing hands on farming which is part of my learning.

Today I was weeding my rice field. Once the weeds take over the field it is not easy to control them, I just want to make sure that they don't block sunlight to the rice plants, I don't have any objection in weeds coming in rice field. But the weeds were growing above the rice in some places. Weeds are so adjusted with their environment that they come back and outgrow the rice. The weeds are growing in the same field for years and they are well adjusted to the environment, but rice is a first timer and struggles. But the variety which I cultivate this time do much better and  has reached a height of 3 feets.

So I am in constant lookout for solutions on how to compete with grass.In the middle of the grass, there was a finger millet plant standing like a solution. Last year I had cultivated finger millet in that area and some seeds would have fallen and couple of plants had come out. All the three plants I saw had grown taller than the grass and that also with the same time as the rice, both would have germinated at the same time. It looks like, the rate of growth of finger millet is greater than grass and the rice plants. It had reached close to 3.5 feets and was standing high among the weeds. It may be too early to conclude, but the growth of this finger millet is promising and gives an option to compete with grass. There is so much unpredictability in the agriculture, so with my limited experience if I can replicate the same thing again...that is all the finger millet plants can outgrow the weeds...Here are some photos....

3 comments: said...

Hello friend, I hope your farming endeavor will evolve and learning the step-by-step way will make you happy, as I think it totally does! I was so lucky to meet Manoj Kumar at my first visit to India 2008 and learn about Natural Farming from him. Now everywhere on the Internet I read news about more people adopting the method. I'm so happy about that! Keep up the good ZBNF work!! Greetings from Germany, Lukas

Nandakumar said...

Thanks Lukas for the comments. Happy to hear more and more people are getting interested in natural farming


Jason said...

Yo (again) Nandan, too briefly, the bigger 'the weeds' the bigger (deeper) the mulch required *and available in the form of the weeds*, as you know; same same for the bigger (taller, stronger) the cover crop if you use that as well as the weeds. Just a reminder, for clarification of thinking after reading your enjoyable discussion; you already realise this, i think. Can add something new, in only that i think the way of cutting weeds/cover crop does have a non-trivial difference for the mulch created. In my experience farming in my different climate conditions, but with grasses tall at 1–1.5m, powdering is not any good for mulch for the crops seeds germination, establishment and growth. Even line trimming i've done, with not so much degree as powdering, but at more usual degree, the cut weeds/cover crops are made into short pieces because the line trimmer works by force of speed from high rev's, thus slicing and slicing the same weed/cover stem stem at least several times into smaller pieces than its full height.
Hand tools, when we can use them (for other conditions do also impinge on their use), and when properly used after some necessary experience, cut the weeds/grass/non-woody cover crops quite low (as low as the operator can is the natural way to use them), then as you're doing with the line trimmer, they push the full length stems aside from the cutting path, making a 'windrow' along the side of it. Therefore these stems remain more or less each the full length of the plant stem from the ground to the top of its growth height. When they are used as mulch, very loosely (not packed), as per late Fukuoka sensei's (clearly written) instructions, therefore by the law of averages the overlap of each of these longest possible stems with each other is more than shorter stems, hence on average they hold each other up of the ground more, and described reasonably as more loose, on average than shorter, more cut stems.
This subtle nuance of late Fukuoka sensei's natural ways (of mulching), not clearly written but evident in his media and confirmed in my own experience, may have more importance than we all have previously discussed—A subtle, not–described, benefit of these hand tools practises.
Hoping that makes sense, i laboured a bit in trying to wholistically describe it.
Biggest best wishes, together with all true nature,