Sunday, September 23, 2012

Crimping tall grass

After one part of the monsoon is over, the farm is full of grass. In some places they have grown taller than me. Today I was cutting the grass on the walking path by using the hond string cutter. In one place while cutting the grass, the tall grasses were standing all around, it was little scary. It was taller than me, ie. taller than 5feet 3 inches. I had seen videos about roller crimper for controlling cover crops and was thinking that kind of equipment will be useful here. Cutting that grass is laborious even using the string cutter. So I took one big stick (stem of coconut leaf) and used its stem to press the grass. To my surprise the tall grasses fell down easily and I could do it quite fast. But this is possible only for certain grasses which after falling does not getup and grow. There are some grasses which will grow back easily.

But if we grow a tall cover crop, then pressing them with this kind of tool is possible, once they mature. In organic no-till we can find many videos of roller-crimper and walk behind roller-crimper which does the same purpose. But I felt I was able to achieve the same thing with this thick stick. Here are some photos...

An update....a week later when I visited this area, found that the grass is standing at half height..they had fallen, but came back and growing again..if the grass had already turned yellow, then it wouldn't have got up, but by this time seed also would be there and hence they will come back in the next season. So some thrashing also will be required to keep them just this method of folding alone won't be enough.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Fertilization in Natural farming

Generally people think that there is no need of any fertiliser in natural farming. Fukuoka san talks about fertilization in his book, natural way of farming. In the chapter 'Rice and Winter Grain' under the sub-heading ' Direct Seeding, No-Tillage Barley/Rice Succession with Green Manure Cover' there is a topi called Fertilization and the book reads as follows..

"Following the rice harvest, spread 650-900 pounds of chicken manure per quarter acre either before or after returning the rice straw to the fields. An additional 200 pounds may be added in late February as a topdressing during barley heading stage.

After the barley harvoest, manure again for the rice. When high yields have been collected, spread 450-900 pounds of dried chicken manure before or after returning the barley straw to the field. Fresh manure should not be used here as this can harm the rice seedlings. A later application is generally not needed, but a small amount (200-450 pounds) of chicken manure may be added early during the heading stage, preferably the 24th day of heading. This may of course be decomposed human or animal wastes or even wood ashes".

So there is fertilization done in natural farming, but it is much less effort in just scattering in chicken manure. May be this was not considered as fertilizer, rather just a decomposing agent for straw. So whoever gets into natural farming should observe these facts very closely, before concluding that no fertiliser is required for natural farming.