Friday, January 26, 2018

No-till experiment 2018

It has been failures after failures..but still the experiment continues. The reason for the last rice failure was that the field is still not ready for rice in the 2nd season, when the rain recedes. I thought the moisture holding capacity of land would have improved considerably, but it takes time. The failures makes me more cautious about things I do. I don't expect to seeds to germinate with little water and make sure that weeds are cut rather than just broadcasting seeds over standing grass.

Still there is presence of strong weeds, the build up of mulch on the top is less. Much of the mulch disappear, due to decomposition, termite activity and may be because of heat itself. So I wanted to establish a cover crop of sunhemp before starting the next rice.

I cut the existing grass and rice which had come up here and there by scythe. I took close to 2 days to cut the entire field. I first broadcasted around 5-6Kgs of sunhemp seeds then cut the grass. Felt very happy since I could complete the work all by myself.

Asked Palani (my local helper) to water it and he did a goo job and sunhemp is establishing nicely. Plan is to cut when it flowers and keep the field ready for rice in the next season.

8-Jan-2018






27-January-18

Quite happy to see that sunhemp germinated well, now the challenge is how to establish rice in the next season. Sunhemp can be cut after 2 months, may be by April beginning.  Some time first rain starts by April mid, and mostly grass will start growing with this, before that rice should germinate and grow. If I make seed balls and throw, will it survive the summer, last time, I had seen termites eat lot of them.Some time, rain gets delayed and starts by May mid, so till that time, seeds should be waiting in the summer. But it looks like no other way, since if weeds establish first then there is no way rice can compete. Also seed balls generally need more water to germinate, but weeds gets an advantage, they germinate fast, may be with first rain, if water is less, I may have to give some irrigation just to make sure that rice germinates.






14-Feb-2018

There was two rains in February, sunhemp is growing well.



This area, there are some gaps, still looks OK.
23-Feb-2018


Looks little bit of water stress, may be watering in every 10 days will be needed

2-March-2018

Watered it once, already yellow flowers started coming




This area density is poor, weeds may come back quickly


This is the input from my friend Eric Koperk of  "https://worldagriculturesolutions.com/"

"Sunn hemp is NOT a good mulch crop because it produces significantly less biomass than grass crops and decomposes rapidly.  Because there is less mulch on the ground and the cut foliage rots quickly, weed control is about 1/2 as effective as a grass crop used for mulch-in-place.  Translation:  You might get only 3 or 4 weeks of weed control rather than 6 to 8 weeks."

13-March-2018

Sunhemp started flowering and may have seeds in 3-4 weeks, so wanted to terminate this and sow cowpea, so that another 3 months, they will grow and cover the ground. If I cut sunhemp and leave it, grass may take over, so doing rice later will be difficult.




16-March-2018


Broadcasted 4Kgs of Cowpea and then cut Sunhemp using Scythe, just at the flowering stage, it is quite tender and cutting is quite easy. Since there were lot of bees and other insects feeding on the flowers, left one area for them, in that area also, cowpea is sown. Cowpea was bought from 3 different shops and per Kg cost was 90/-, 80/- 66/- per Kg. I could have complete the cutting in 5-6 hours in a single stretch.




25-March-2018


Broadcasted another 1Kg of cowpea in the remaining area, and cut the grass. Cowpea has germinated reasonably well in the previous cut area.

30-March-2018




Cowpea growing well, there are some weeds in between, to get a clear covercrop, may be some manual weeding will be useful.

16-April-2018


Cowpea still has the majority, but weeds are not bad, they are also taking up the competition, I am worried about very strong weeds, which will come back after cutting.

27-April-2018




Weeds are also growing in between, so not sure, I will have a clean weed free field. On terminating the cowpea, I am planning to cut the weeds also close to the ground and make it weed free while starting rice and also weed rice twice so that rice has a better chance. May be some weeding here also would have helped to establish a uniform cowpea crop. Fukuoka san says initially some weeding, composting etc will be required but slowly this can be reduced.

8-May-2018


Cowpea started flowering and some peas are seen.


11-May-2018




There are some weeds seen in between cowpea which is a concern, while cutting cowpea, these weeds being small may not be cut so may interfere with paddy. One way is to cut using brush cutter, otherwise after one round of cutting using scythe, have to weed manually.

16-May-2018


With good rain, cowpea is establishing well.

5 comments:

ravinder reddy said...

Hi Nanda kumar , its pleasure to read you farm activity, your are true natural farmer. But i wish you could be successful so that other could follow you.

ravinder reddy said...

Hi

Please check this method in case you might have not seen. video link below

https://youtu.be/y0xmEDq3NIs

will be glad to hear your comments on method shown in video link.

Nandakumar said...

Hi Ravinder,

Thanks for the comments. I had seen this video long back, it looks to be a workable solution since there is a clean weed free field, but they says, it takes 6 months for the black velvet beans to reach this stage.

Also cutting/rolling and spreading is a laborious process, many people are involved in it. So have to see if there is a better solution.



Regards,
Nandan

challa onkareswarrao said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thEsqBjsoR0. Please see the above link. It may helpful


Nandakumar said...

Hi Challa,

I have seen this video, I learnt some of this from Raju Titus sir. People who have visited him tells his farm is extremely fertile, even though there is less rain. So once the land is very fertile, weed pressure may be drastically reduced.

He says, any ground cover is OK, but I have tried it multiple time, with established grass, no-till just won't work.

Regards,
Nandan