Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Some thoughts on natural cultivation

I am just summarizing the current thoughts on Fukuoka natural farming which I am planning to follow.

Starting on a grassy field

On a grass growing field, it is very difficult to get the rice/millet crop established, since grasses are well adapted to the environment will outgrow the rice/millets. It is relatively easy to grow leguminous crops in grass field. So it is necessary to get a legume cover established which can be sunhemp,cowpea, horse gram,green gram etc. Sunhemp is much better, since it grows tall and creates lot of biomass compared to other.

By the time I cleared one area for cultivation, which has not been cultivated with any crops for long time, the strong rains had receded, and there are only occasional rains. The land is moist, but seeds does not surface germinate. So if I leave the area free, weeds will grow again so thought of trying out cowpea. Since moisture was less and rains are not expected and no watering possible, just cleared the area and kept the mulch aside, sown the seeds and slightly tilled it using a fork so that seeds are inside the soil. Found that this gives better results in this kind of environment. Also the grass kept aside can be put over the seeds so that there is enough space for the seeds to poke through. If there is lot of mulch, then should not keep all of it for mulching since there are chances that most of the seeds won't get through it. Also keeping the mulch aside in 3-4 different places gives a clean weed free field and small weeds also can be cut and start on a good field.Another option is to use a brush cutter with wire so that all small weeds can be cleared quickly.

Starting rice/millet

If the field is wet or rain is in picking up stage, broadcast clay pellets of rice/millet one month before cutting the cover crop. This makes sure that the crop is already growing for 3-4 weeks after germination period of 1 week while cutting the cover crop.  If there is enough moisture, pre-germinated rice seeds also can be sown, provided, moisture is retained after this. Basically weeds should not be given any space for growing and there should be crops growing all the time.

If not sure about the rain and we want to complete the sowing while anticipating rain, make seed balls and sow it. If there are termites in the field, it may be better not to put clay balls much in advance since termites may eat the clay balls or some insects which are desperate for food will figure out the seed ball secret. Cut the cover crop and keep it accumulated in 3-4 places in the field and cut and clean all the weeds. Here also even if the main cutting is done by scythe, the cleaning can be done by brush cutter. Then spread the mulch so that there is room for seeds to poke through. Basically standing at the field, you should be able to feel how seeds will get through the mulch. Assume you are the seed and ask yourself, if you can get through the mulch, based on this spread the mulch to the required thickness. If you fail once, next time learn from the failure.

Fertilizing

It may be better to spray cowdung/urine mix on thf field so that decomposing mulch will be faster and microbe population will increase in the field. Applying cowdung in large quantities will be costly, just applying filtered slurry/urine mix will be easier and effective. May be 3-4 times applying this will be enough for the crop. If we identify a proper sprayer and filtering mechanism of cowdung slurry/urine mix, this should be doable.

Weeding

Till a certain maturity level is reached for soil, it will be good to de-weed the field depending on the weed density. It is always better to start weeding at the early stages, definitely weed pressure will be less, but don't go by theories such as weeds are friends, they will assist you etc, in no time, your crop can be over grown by weeds. Fukuoka san also says, initially composting, weeding etc can be done and it can be reduced and later can be managed without any of these. As I see, weeds are the major issues why the crop fails.


1 comment:

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