Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Upland rice cultivation in Kerala - Some information

While I was searching for upland rice information, could get some information scattered in the web, so thought of putting some information together. I haven't started upland rice cultivation yet, but planning to start it in the monsoon season 2012.

There are two types rice cultivation - Upland rice and Wetland rice. Most commonly seen rice cultivation is  Wetland rice where the paddy fields will be flooded with water and there will be always standing water in the field. Newly developed SRI (System of Rice Intensification) method require no standing water, but still the land has to be moist all the time, and field will be muddy all the time. Upland rice cultivation is done on fields where there is no provision to make standing water available. Even after rain, the water will be drained immediately. Upland rice is normally cultivated in the space available in coconut farms and other upland farm area near the houses.

While talking to some elders they told that upland rice was cultivated in Kerala during the start of monsoon, and it was a common practice. They plow the land and apply some cattle manure and then put seeds at the start of monsoon, typically by around May 15th. The seeds germinate and there is enough water from the rain in the month of June,July,August..and harvest is in August end or in September. Since there is no standing water weeds will be there, and some weeding may have to be done. But the seeds used for upland are special types which grows tall (4-4.5ft) and wild and hence weeds is not much of a problem. Also these seeds are drought tolerant so they are not much affected even with less rain, but the yield of these traditional seeds are less.

Some of the traditional varieties used are - Parambuvattan, Karuthamodan, Karanavara, Kalladiaryan etc...The yield of these are - Parambuvattan - 456Kg/Ha, Karuthamodan - 1632Kg/Ha, Karanavra - 2532Kg/Ha, Kalladiaryan - 2160Kg/Ha.

There are HYVs developed for upland rice and some of these are with their yields - Vaisak (3768Kg/Ha), Swarna Prabha (3900Kg/Ha) and Aiswarya ( 3840 kg/ha). But these HYVs are supposed to require higher input for their optimum production, may be more chemical fertilizers while traditional varieties are supposed to be low inputs.

Here is the source of these information
Some videos about upland rice cultivation

Friday, February 24, 2012

Subash Palekar's zero budget no-till rice farming

This is some information about Zero budget farming after reading Subash Palekar's books and also interacting with farmers. I have also given a brief about zero budget no-till rice farming given in Subash Palekar's "Techniques of Spiritual farming". I don't practice zero budget farming, but follow natural farming as advocated by Masanobu Fukuoka.

Zero budget farming advocated by Subash Palekar from Maharashtra is popular in different states of India. This method basically talks about mulching using agriculture waste generated from farm, mixed cropping with stressing importance of leguminous crops and also applying a set of preparations based on cow dung, urine of traditional Indian cow. This is called as Zero budget since all the required things can be cultivated at farm itself and hence no inputs has to be brought from outside.

The most popular preparation is Jeewamritha which has cow dung, cow urine, pulse powder, jaggery and a handful of soil. Jeewamritha is not talked as a fertiliser rather it contains lot of microbes and hence decomposition of the mulch becomes faster and earth worm activity becomes more and land becomes fertile. People who has used Jeewamritha tells that visible changes in the earth worms can be seen within a week itself. Also one good thing is that 1 local cow is enough for 30 acres of land. The calculation goes like this, Jeewamritha has to be applied once in a month per acre and local cow gives 10Kgs of cowdung per day which is sufficient for an acre in a day. So within a month all 30 acres can be completed once and cycle repeats. I was impressed with this scheme, since 1 cow per 30 acre of land seems to be a sustainable model. After seeing some farms I felt that if the cows increases in the farm, the fertility will reduce since no grass will be left for mulching.

Subash Palekar's has written three books on Zero budget farming..Principles of Zero budget farming, Philosophy of Zero budget farming and Techniques of zero budget farming. The book Techniques of zero budget farming gives a clear description of how all mixed cropping can be done and a description of how various crops are cultivated using Zero budget farming philosophy.

I had visited some zero budget farms - Krishnappa Dasappa Gowda in Mysore, Manoj in Kanjikode, Palakkad, Chandrasekhar, Vithinaserry, Palakkad and Dr. Raju , Karivannur, Thrissur.

Subash Palekar also talks about zero budget no-till paddy farming in his book - Techniques of spiritual farming. This method goes like this..

When the paddy crop is standing and 15 days before harvest, broadcast Bijamritha treated seeds of pulses like beans,cow pea, green gram etc..Some seeds will fall on the paddy but eventually they also will end up in ground. There will be sufficient water for these pulses to germinate.Since paddy is already matured the leaves will allow more sunlight to reach the pulses which will be sufficient for them to germinate and come up.

During harvesting the seedlings of the pulses will be crushed, but they will again standup. The same thing was described in One straw revolution, but the seedlings in that case are rice seedling..typically the pulse seedlings may break if they are crushed by the foots of the harvesters, so not completely convinced if it will work. Now apply Jeewamritha periodically.

Now on the bunds of the fields he asks to plant glyricedia, pegion pea, turmeric, ginger, cow pea etc..and use the waste from all these for mulching the field later. Glyrecedia provides mulching material at each 21 days.

In March, pulses will be matured, harvest and return all the remains to the field. Also mulch with straw immediately after harvesting the pulses. This may be to avoid hardening of soil with sun light and wind...Apply Jeewamritha over this...March, April and May the soil will be covered with straw.. In the first week of May treat the paddy seeds with Beejamritha. Make holes in the mulch at the distance of 9 inches to 1.5 feet and dibble the seeds into this and add some soil over to it using sickle. Pre-monsoon rain starts by may end and apply Jeewamritha and keep applying Jeewamritha once in 15 days. And again before harvesting the paddy sow the pulses and cycle continues.

This method looks to be impressive, now would like to see some one really practicing it.

Traditional rice seed savers

As part of my search for traditional rice seeds for natural farming, came across some interesting people who knows the importance of traditional rice seeds and try to conserve them. It is interesting to note that there are many traditional varieties which can yields of 2-3 tonnes per acre and can out perform HYVs, so this suggest that if traditional seed varieties are developed properly, then the green revolution itself was not required !!!

1. Prakash Raghuvamshi 

Raghuvamshi is a 50 years old farmer from UP. He began developing a living seed bank on 3 acres of land and chose wheat, paddy, arhar and moong seeds for their high yields, disease resistance and ability to adapt to sudden climate changes.He has developed 80 varieties of wheat, 25 varieties of paddy, 10 varieties of arhar, besides moong, peas, mustard, papaya, ladiesfinger and vegetable varieties. All of their seeds can be saved as they are open pollinated seeds.His paddy varieties yield 25-30 quintals per acre and his wheat varieties 18-20 quintals per acre. For a traditional paddy yield of 25-30 quintals is extremely good yield, I have heard that the best High yielding variety gives around  8 tons per hectre which is 3.2 tons per acre.

See the following links - 

2. Dr. Debal Deb

Dr.Debal Deb is an ecologist who has been conserving traditional rice varieties of eastern India single handedly for the past 15 years on his farm BASUDHA in the Bankura district of West Bengal.

He is preserving around 700 heirloom varieties and has been giving seeds free to farmers. According to him, there are some varieties which grows as tall as 18ft and one variety which needs just one rain. Also there are many varieties which can outperform the HYVs.

Please see the links..

3. Natbar Sarangi

Natbar Sarangi is a retired teacher who preserves 310 rice accessions in his two hectare farm, located in Narisco village in Khurda district of Orissa. He claims that 50 of the varieties that he cultivates give an yield of 15 to 23 quintals per acre.

4. Ghani Khan

Ghani Khan is from Karnataka and saves 146 traditional varieties and also many mango varieties. The 20 acres of land had been gifted to his forefathers by Tipu Sultan, as they had served in his army, which he had then inherited.

5. Boregowda

Boregowda is from Mandya district of Karnataka. Boregowda cultivates 70 different traditional varieties.
The traditional varieties Coimbatore Sanna and Doddibatha gives him 2.7 - 3 tonnes per acre. Coimbatore Sanna is drought tollerant and fine quality rice. This yield is quite remarkable..

6. Srinivasa moorthy

Srinivasa moorthy is from Karntaka and saves 300 traditional rice varieties

7. Cheruvayal Raman

Cheruvayal Raman is a tribal farmer from Wayanad,Kerala who preserves many seed varieties. Here is a video about him

8. Jai Prakash

Jai Prakash Singh from Varanasi, Uttarpradesh preserves 460 types of paddy,120 types of wheat, 40 kinds of arhar dal and three types of mustard.

Here are some links about him.