Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pureria Javanica (Tropical Kudzu) cover crop - update

I have been experimenting with Pureria Javanic (Tropical Kudzu) as a cover crop in some parts of the farm. Many people had warned me about this, since it is quite invasive and climbs all over the saplings. Because of this warnings, I tried it on some plots in a controlled manner. One advantage is they establish well, even if you just plant a few plants and they produce lot of bio-mass. But as people had warned, they just climbs all over and small saplings won't be seen at all. I am still doubtful, but was happy that they provide lot of mulching material and also cutting them using scythe is quite an easy task.

Some pictures....

It has established so well, initially thought it will be a difficult task, but it was a smooth operation with Scythe...

Tapioca plants coming well

Friday, June 24, 2016

No-till experiments - 2016

Kept aside one paddy field for no-till experiments, may be around 0.2 acre. It has full of weeds, broadcasted around 3 Kgs of cowpea and cut the grass and mulched. I used Scythe for this and my helper used his bill hook. It took around 3-4 hours to clear the field.

Once the cow pea is established plan is to grow rice in no-till.


Cowpea has germinated and started growing.. not very thick, hope they will cover the whole field


Cowpea not established seeding causes lot of seed loss...According to Eric Koperek, it can be upto 90%?? seed ball is the way to go...and also watering at the initial stage should be good so that all seeds germinate well...



Harvested some cowpea...all together may be around 4-5 is really tasty and was distributed to couple of neighbours..felt happy about that. Even though harvest is minimal so was the effort..

Some seeds also...

Cowpea harvest is over, now has to plan for the next crop...may be green gram and sesame.


Got couple of rains after a gap, thought this is the right time to start the green gram cultivation. Last time cow pea germination was bad, this time instead of cutting with Scythe used Honda brush cutter. It cuts uniformly and cuts very low, so weed will be held back for some more time. Could not complete the whole field, rain started in between....completed close to half of the field. First broadcasted green gram in a small patch and cut it and then again broadcasted to another patch, in this way, I need not walk through the weedy field, scared of viper even though I have a gun boot.

Ideal tool for this use may be a Lawnmower, please see my friend Eric Koperek's quoute on this...

You can run a 25 acre ~ 10 hectare commercial vegetable farm with nothing other than a common lawnmower.


In another part of the field, grass was quite dense hence used scythe first to cut and move the long grass and then cleared with brush cutter. This was way field was much cleaner, in this area, green gram germinated well. Totally around 4Kgs of green gram was used. Applied cowdung slurry once.

On seeing this, I felt, it would have been better to cut the long grass and keep it away and then water the field and allow all the weeds to germinate and then use the brutal force of the brush cutter to clear the weeds, then sow the green gram and cover it with cut grass. In conventional cultivation, they till the land and then allow the weeds to germinate and then plough once again to clear the weeds. If we are using weed cutter for clearing weeds, the same approach can be used.


Green gram is establishing reasonably well...there is some creeper which gets spread also, removed some of them.....they are not very strong, I just hold on the top portion and then pull, they just come a small rain, hence ground is reasonably wet..has to apply cowdung slurry couple of times more...


Applied cowdung slurry for a second time...Palani was spraying it from the top, so one portion gets deposited on the leaves and gets wasted. Next time should ask him just to pour to the ground.

Green gram was harvested, got very minimal yield..some were eaten by birds..and towards the last stage some creeper weed took over. Broadcasted around 2 Kgs of cowpea, 0.5Kg of finger millet, 0.25Kg of sesame and some maize seeds. Basically wanted to grow some thing to keep the filed occupied so that weeds does not take over. Ideal choice was a low growing cover crop like white clover, but that is still missing.

Field after  green gram cultivation...

Field after broadcasting seeds and cutting using Scythe...First  a longer blade was used, but it was bit heavy for continuous cutting, after that slighly shorted and thinner blade was used, it was quite cool. I took around 8 hours to cut it completely. Plan was to irrigate it immediately, but water pump was not working, so it took 2 days to irrigate it, not sure about the seed loss from ants, could see ants all over the field.


Cowpea has germinated well in most of the places..two days back when I visited, could not see much, but now it is clear..

At this place germination is bad, so put some more seeds as a correction....

Most of the Cowpea plants wilted and died, partially due to high temperature and also felt seeds were not of good quality. Seeds were very small, compared to what I normally get from the shop. Time to save all the seeds.

Some of the maize and finger millet seeds are growing fine. Sesame were not seen at all, those tiny seeds looks to be very sensitive, they come up well in well ploughed/powdered soil.

weed pressure has reduced partly because of mulch and partly because of hot climate.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rice cultivation - Monsoon season 2016

This year monsoon started by around June 6th and some pre-monsoon showers were there by May 2nd week. But monsoon is not picking up the speed, it is just one or two rains, but climate is coludy and cool. It is raining well in South, but in Palakkad heavy rains are missing....what could be the reason???

While talking to some lady workers they mentioned about a farmer in nearby location who uses a machine to put seeds in straight line and it works very well for him. His name was Appukuttan and locality was Kurukkan Kulumbu, and could locate him easily. Saw the drum seeder and later asked him if he can rent it for a day, and he has agreed.

According to his advice, put seeds in water for 36 hours and then leave it for germination for a day.  Field is readied by using tractor, same old Mohanan came and did the ploughing using gauge wheel.


Horse gram growing well and some glyrecedia cuttings from side also dumped as green manure

In one part of the field, rice from previous harvest is growing...may be this can be nurtured to a crop?


Seeded using a drum seeder given by the neighbor for this trial. Line distance becomes 20 cm and in each line around 8-10 seeds fall at around 10cm. There should not be water in the field, but this condition was not met in all parts, water had to be drained in advance, taking small channels from where ever water had collected. The operation is quite smooth, and looks to be the ideal way for sowing seeds. Also there should not be rain for couple of days, so it looks like, this should be attempted before the heavy rain starts.


Rice seedlings are growing....germination rate is good and line is also fine, except some areas...water had to be drained completely before sowing...weeds started challenge is weed control...


Lines are becoming more visible...some places rice plants are missing, they will be repaired from a nursery maintained....



weeding completed..not much rain, so watering from pond on alternate days...


Flowering is completed...tillers are less and hence field is not very thick...but reasonable...cowdung slurry application was done, just once.

Harvesting completed on 8th October...Yield is not so good, got around 450Kgs of paddy. The straw was spread on the field, I did it all by myself, it was a complete day job.