Organic Farming :: Success Stories

Success Stories


1. Eco-friendly technologies for rice cultivation

A sound package of eco-friendly technologies to grow rice is being successfully adopted by a few progressive farmers in Puliangudi village in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu. "The technologies work well with indigenous rice varieties such as Kitchili Samba. The cost of cultivation is substantially reduced and the organic rice fetches a premium price in the market," says Mr. P. Gomathinayagam, a pioneer in organic farming in Puliangudi.

"I grew a medium-duration (140 days) Kitchili Samba rice in about 1.6 hectares. The seeds were treated with Panchakavya, and the nursery was treated with plenty of tank silt and a host of organic amendments. Liberal quantities of tank silt were applied and green leaf manure was incorporated a few days ahead of the final ploughing. Biogas slurry was applied through irrigation when the seedlings were just establishing in the main field," he explained.

One round of spray with 3 per cent solution of Panchakavya was given 20 days after transplanting. On the 30th day, a combination of coconut milk and butter milk, mixed in equal volume, in ten times their volume of water was sprayed on the crop to promote active plant growth and tillering. On the 40th day, another round of spray with Panchakavya (3 per cent solution in high volume spray) was given. A bio-insect repellent was sprayed on the 45th day of transplantation.

The crop was regularly irrigated, and a grain yield of about 6 tonnes was expected from the 1.6 hectare plot. He also was assured of high quality straw for his cattle. The cost of cultivation worked out to Rs. 14,000 for 1.6 hectares. "I sell the output as organic rice at a rate of Rs. 30 per kg, and it makes organic rice cultivation more rewarding economically as well environmentally," pointed out Mr. Gomathinayagam. He is championing the cause of organic farming in the southern districts of Tamil Nadu. Several farmers are following his advice.

"I adopted the organic rice farming technologies and harvested about 9.25 tonnes of paddy a hectare from the bold grained Trichi-1 variety. I dumped liberal quantities of daincha in the field and allowed it to decompose well in the field ahead of planting. There was no need for any plant protection also. The cost of cultivation worked out to Rs. 12,500 per hectare. I also harvested plenty of healthy straw for our animals," said Mr. V. Antonysamy, a progressive farmer of Puliangudi village.


2. Eco-friendly method of setting up vermicompost unit

Vermicompost is the basic ingredient for successful organic farming. More than 85 per cent of organic crop cultivation depends on it. Usually farmers across the country build a roof either with thatched straw or asbestos sheets as a cover for their vermicompost manufacturing unit.

The bottom of the unit will either have sand or plain cement or sometimes toughened red soil.

A progressive organic farmer, Mr. D. Bharani of Mayiladuthurai taluk in Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam district, has used local tree trunks for the four poles supporting his rudimentary compost unit.

Climbing tendrils

“The tree trunks absorb the moisture from the compost unit and grow as individual trees,” he says. For the roof, he has used the climbing tendrils of vegetable plants growing near the compost unit.

The plants grow well, absorbing the required moisture from the unit and their leaves provide shade to the manufacturing unit.“In addition to making the compost which I sell at Rs 5-8 per kg, I am also able to sell vegetables such as bhendi, brinjal, snake gourd and bitter gourd grown on the roof of the compost shed,” he says.

“Farmers, instead of spending money on constructing thatched sheds and asbestos, can follow simple methods like this. By doing so, they can get double income from the compost unit and the vegetables.” He is also cultivating rasthali banana variety in about four acres. “Commercially, rasthali has a good demand in the market compared to other varieties and if consumers know that it is grown organically, then the farmer need not search for buyers. It will be vice-versa,” he says.

Sturdy against winds

But why did he choose rasthali variety when there are so many other varieties? “Rasthali variety does not grow quite high and is often sturdy against strong winds.” Strong winds often uproot banana trees and farmers have to tie each tree to a wooden pole to prevent the tree from falling or getting uprooted. “Secondly organic practices are found ideal for my banana orchard as banana is often found susceptible to wilt disease which is a major and fatal infestation.

“Chemical control methods have not been found successful in controlling this infestation, compared to organic methods,” he explained.“I had purchased the suckers from known sources and from healthy trees. The suckers, before planting were dipped in a solution of 10 per cent Panchagavya and 50 gm of pseudomonas for 3-5 minutes. For an acre, about 780-800 pits of 8x8 (row to row and plant to plant) were dug and the suckers were planted in them. About 3 kg of farm yard manure (FYM) was also applied in each pit.

Heat generation

The FYM was applied a little distance away from the pit, because if it were applied directly into the pit or near the suckers it would spoil the plant growth due to heat generation. Panchangavya spray was done once every month till the crop was about 5 months old. He was able to harvest his first yield in about 14 months after planting and this variety can be maintained for two years.

“One bunch was sold for Rs. 120-130 and I was able to get a net income of Rs. 80,000.“The expenditure for maintaining one tree comes to about Rs. 35 and after deducting the expenses for all my plants I am still able to get a net profit of Rs. 50,000.” he said.

For more information Mr. D. Bharani can be contacted at Kothangudi village, Komal post, Mayiladuthurai taluk, Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu: 609-805, phone: 04364-228711 and 04364-237415 and mobile: 9486278569.

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3. Ginger garlic extract: A Bio-pesticide for organic cultivation

Organic practices avoid investment on costly chemicals Ms. Rajareega at her farm in Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu seen manufacturing the botanical pesticides.

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that in the past 4-5 decades there has been an excessive dumping of chemical toxins on the soil. As a result the soil has become barren and ground water toxic, in many places. Contrast this with organic inputs that are safe, non toxic, and cost much less. For example, if using chemical pesticides and fertilizers for growing a crop in a hectare works out to about Rs.6,000-7,000 the cost of growing the same crop using organic inputs may come to only about Rs.500 - Rs. 1,000, according to Ms. Rajareega of Raasi organic farms at Muthupatti village in Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu.

Lower cost

Even if some critics say that organic farming cannot provide the same high yields as chemical farming, the organic farmers argue that at least their land is safe; that they have not invested in buying the chemicals and increasing their cost of cultivation.“If you look at the suicides by farmers, then you will understand that all those farmers who committed suicides have built up huge debts.

The debts kept growing because of borrowing at high interest rates for buying these chemicals which promised to increase the yield. In the end, it only increased their debts,” she explains.

“If only farmers use safer and natural pest repellents and manures then where is the question of debt and suicides,?” she enquires. She has been using only organic manures and bio-repellents made from locally available resources.

Five leaf extract

For example she uses 5 different leaf extracts (eindhu ilai karaisal in Tamil) derived from Calotropis (called y erukku in Tamil), Jatropha curcas (kattu amanaku in Tamil), Neem (vembu in Tamil), Guduchhi/Amruth (seenthil kodi in Tamil), Chaste tree (nochi in Tamil), Malabar nut (adathoda in Tamil), Kalmegh (siriyanangai in Tamil), Clerodendron (peenarisanghu in Tamil) and Usil (arappu in Tamil). These plants are commonly found in all villages. About 1 kg of leaves from each plant is taken and powdered and then ground into a paste. It is then mixed with 5 litres of cow’s urine.

The concoction is then diluted in 5 litres of water and left undisturbed for 5 days. When required for using about 500 ml of this concoction is diluted in 10 litres of water and sprayed over the plants, she explains.

Ginger garlic extract

Another tried and proven mixture she uses is ginger garlic extract (called inji poondu karaisal in Tamil). About 1 gm of ginger and garlic each, 2gm of green chilli and 5 litres of cow’s urine and water are taken. The garlic, ginger and green chilli are ground into a paste and mixed with cow’s urine and water. After 10 days the mixture is filtered and used. The prescribed quantity is about 500 ml of this solution diluted in 10 litres of water which can be sprayed over the plants.

Ideal spraying time

The ideal time for spraying these karasals is during 6 am to 8.30 am and between 4 pm and 6.30 pm. Depending upon the soil, crop and other climatic factors the concentration can be raised or lowered. Farmers can contact their nearby organic farmers who are using these karaisals or can contact Ms. Rajareega for guidelines regarding the concentration.

Effective control

Both the above karaisals have been found effective in controlling leaf roller, thrips, mealy bugs, fruit, stem and bark borer, hairy caterpillar and aphids. Even if a farmer is not convinced about the benefits of organic inputs he can continue to grow his crops using chemicals, but at the same time he can set aside a small portion in his field to grow the same crop using organic inputs. By doing so he can find out for himself the cost benefit ratio. That itself can convince him of its efficacy.

Readers can contact Ms. Rajareega, Raasi organic farms, Muthupatti, via Kallal, A. Siruvayal (post), Sivaganga district, Tamil Nadu, email: rajareega@rediffmail.com, mobile: 9865-582142 and phone: 04565-284937.

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4. Organic farming in banana a profitable venture

Organic farming is the in-thing now in Thanjavur district- the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu. Having used chemical fertilisers for some years, farmers are now reverting to organic farming.

Nearly one hundred farmers of Thanjavur district were given a first hand idea of how successful is organic farming by the Central Bank of India recently. They were taken to TARI high-tech horticulture farm at Marunkulam, where banana, maize and paddy were raised using organic farming.

According to Kulandaisamy, a progressive farmer and owner of TARI high-tech horticulture farm, organic farming helps to increase the yield and nutritive value. In his farm at Marunkulam he has raised banana crop using organic fertilisers. He found that the yield and quality of the crop was good.

He has raised Rasthali and robust variety of bananas on 1.5 acres and three acres respectively in his farm adopting organic farming methods. With respect to Rasthali, a bunch has five to six hands (hands means seeppu in Tamil), instead of three to four hands, which are normally seen in ordinary cultivation.

The bunch has adequate space between hands and hence the fruit is big, says Mr. Kulandaisamy pointing to the big bunch of bananas in his farm. A bunch weighs 20 kgs and fetches Rs. 200.In the case of Robust variety (green banana) he has resorted to a high density cultivation with 1600 plants in an acre. In the case of Rasthali he has gone for 1000 plants in an acre.

Robust variety of banana has 12 to 15 hands in a bunch and the bunch weighs 30 to 35 kgs. Fertiliser used by Kulandaisamy was composed organic matters, neem, pancha kavya prepared using cow's urine and cow dung, etc.
As a farmer who is practising integrated farming, he has a dairy farm from where he produces panchakavya and uses the cowdung generated in the dairy for organic farming.

What about marketing of bananas produced under organic farming?
They fetch a premium price and already a shop in Chennai selling organic produce has booked for bananas. He is also selling the bananas to Tiruchi market.

He has also gone for maize in two acres of land under organic farming and paddy in two acres under organic farming.
He says that `Rasthali', which is normally prone to wilt attack is free from the disease in organic farming. "There is a tendency even now among farmers to go for chemcial fertilisers. This has to be discouraged and they should be enlightened about organic farming," says Mr. Kulandaisamy.

Another uniqueness of Mr. Kulandaisamy is that he produces liquid bio-fertilisers. He has put up a plant under the New Anna Marumalarchi Scheme for Rs.1 crore and is producing liquid bio-fertilisers. An innovative farmer, Kulandaisamy has raised Vanila on one acre of land.

He has spent Rs.9 lakhs for infrastructure alone to raise the sensitive crop. The crop is irrigated using micro-sprinklers under a shade net in a conditioned atmosphere. "Vanila can be a profit-oriented venture when raised as an inter-crop in coconut," says Kulandaisamy.

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5. Organic practices for increasing mango yield

Mango trees respond well to organic manure applications. Organic manures such as vermicompost, panchagavya and vermiwash are used for promoting healthy tree growth and fruit formation.

Essential nutrients

From the initial planting stages to caring of full-grown trees, Panchagavya and vermicompost can be effectively used to supply essential nutrients to the trees and prevent pest infestations, according to Dr. S. Sundaravadivel, Vermitechnologist and Environmentalist based in Chennai. Vermicompost is prepared by using earthworms. Vermiwash is the liquid collected after the passage of water through a column of activated earthworms. It is very useful as an organic spray for all crops.

Pest repellent

Panchagavya is an organic growth promoter, which is prepared by mixing cow dung, cow urine, cow's milk, curd and ghee in suitable proportions, and is sprayed on the plants. It contains several macro, micronutrients, beneficial bacteria and fungi, which aid in growth promotion and act as effective pest repellents.

It can be prepared by thoroughly mixing five kilos of fresh cow dung and one litre of cow's ghee in a plastic or cement tank or earthen pot. The mixture is stirred daily for three to four days."About three litres of cow's milk, two litres of cow's curd, three litres of sugarcane juice, three litres of tender coconut water and 10 to12 bananas are mixed well and added to the mixture. The entire concoction is allowed to ferment for fifteen days," said Dr. S. Sundaravadivel.

The container should be covered with a net (or) cotton cloth to allow aeration of the fermenting unit, according to him. The concoction is stirred two or three times a day for about fifteen days and then used. For mango trees of about 6-7 years age, vermicompost may be applied at the rate of 10 kilograms per tree and one litre of panchagavya diluted in 30 litres of water may be sprayed over the foliage (crown) and at the base of the tree. Spraying Panchagavya over the crown and at the base of the tree must be done four to five times, according to Dr. Sundaravadivel. The first spraying must be done before the flowering season (January-March) to increase flower formation.

A second spraying must be done after 15-20 days. The process must be repeated till the flowers turn into small sized buds. Once the buds start forming then the application can be done once a month, according to him. Use of Panchagavya and vermicompost has been found to increase the size, number and enhance the colour of the fruits.

Recommended practice

The recommended practice for one hectare of mango trees is about 25 litres of panchagavya (mixed in 750-800 litres of water) and four to five tonnes of vermicompost. Spraying panchagavya has been found effective in the control of fruit fly menace, a common infestation in all fruit bearing trees, according to Dr. Sundaravadivel. According to him, trees treated with organic manures bore large sized leaves and formed a dense canopy with profuse rooting systems. The taste and shelf life of the fruits were also found to be more satisfactory.

Nitrogen-fixing bacteria

"The interaction of the root hairs of these trees with the organic manures also increased the activity of the nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the soil.

"The organic manures also act as a carrier medium for the development of several beneficial micro organisms such as azospirillum, azotobacter, rhizobium and phosphobacteria," he said. Dr. S. Sundaravadivel can be reached by mobile at 98843-90104 ,and email: sundaravadivel66@hotmail.com.

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6. Alphonso mango ideal for organic farming

Alphonso, the king of mango varieties, does well under organic farming conditions in Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts of Tamil Nadu, and its full potential should be exploited by the small and marginal farmers in the districts, says Mr. S. S. Nagarajan, Vice President (Agricultural Research), TAFE (Tractors and Farm Equipment Limited), Chennai.

An authority on mango cultivation, and a pioneer in establishing the largest `Rumani' orchard in Kanchipuram district at `J-Farm', Kelambakkam, Mr. Nagarajan has successfully demonstrated the promises held out by the superior mango variety `Alphonso'. "After working with `Rumani' variety in the last thirty five years, I shifted my focus to `Alphonso' variety in 1998, and it has done exceedingly well in the farm. It responded favourably to drip irrigation and organic inputs, and yielded high quality sweet fruits of attractive aroma," explains Mr. Nagarajan.In about 0.8 hectares in `J-Farm' he planted 140 Alphonso grafts got from a nursery in Dharmapuri district. This variety is suited for high density planting, and it will make up for the low yields in the initial few years of bearing.

The regular bearing commences from the ninth or tenth year of planting," he points out. Every young plant was regularly manured in August with liberal quantities of ripe farmyard manure along with 400 g each of Azospirillum and Phosphobacterium. Drip irrigation to provide 25 litres of water per tree per day was established. All other regular orchard practices such as clipping the sprouts below the graft union, weeding and hoeing in the basins, and ploughing the interspaces and plant protection with eco-friendly botanical insecticides were adopted.

"During the first five years Daincha was raised as rainfed crop, and ploughed in situ as an organic nutrient supplement. Groundnut was grown as an irrigated crop in the interspaces, and haulms were incorporated in to the soil as green leaf manure. Of the 140 trees, 112 trees started yielding in the fifth year after planting, and on an average each tree yielded about 70 fruits each weighing about 250 g. In all about 2000 kg fruits were harvested and it fetched Rs. 12 per kg at the farm gate. The gross income in the first year of bearing is Rs. 24,000, and the cost of cultivation in the first five years worked out to Rs. 24,000'', he said.

"The quality of the fruits were of superior quality, and they were sweet and free of spongy tissues. The results were quite encouraging," says Mr. Nagarajan. The trees would yield as high as 3000 kg from the 0.8 hectares from the sixth year of planting, and it would fetch a handsome profit to the growers. As the tree grows, the yield will go up, and a thirty year-old tree would produce as much as 2500 quality fruits, according to him. `J-Farm' has perfected the organic farming practices for raising Alphonso mango, and the farmers should benefit from it, according to him. Farmers, however, should avoid using chemical fertilizers and fruiting hormones to get quick returns from the variety, as they may prove harmful in the long run, he says "Alphonso is an excellent variety for export and if grown organically, its value in the export market will go up significantly," explains Mr. Nagarajan.

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