If any farmer invites him to his farm, Nammazhvar, the organic farming scientist, will try to pay a visit to the extent possible without fail. But even if it is an organic farming, he would not visit the farm where there is monocropping. Whatever the crop being cultivated, be it coconut, banana or vegetables, he used to emphasis that it should be a mixed or intercropping method.
So, most of the organic farmers used to cultivate various crops even if the land is small. If one crop fails the other one will save the farmer.
Besides, the nutrients required for different crops will be shared among them and there will also be minimum pestilence. Same benefits can be accrued with intercropping. The inputs provided to the primary crop including irrigated water will be utilized by the intercrops as well. This will reduce cultivation cost. Based on this principle, G Mani from Virudhunagar district, has been earning considerable returns from his 75 cents of land, cultivating Nadan banana with brinjal as intercrop.
His banana farm is situated in Kothangkulam village, situated 5 km from Rajapalayam to Shrivilliputhur road. The farm looks green amidst the cotton mills surrounding it. He was waiting for us based on the prior intimation about our visit.
Deep interest in organic farming
“My native is Rajapalayam. I am the first farmer in my family. After completing my +2, I joined cotton mill for a job. After six years I established a cotton waste grinding mill here in Kothamangalam village.
In 2006, I got introduced to Pamayan through my friend Kalidas from Kovilpatti. He only taught me about organic farming. Then I visited the farms of Gomathinayagam and Antonysamy of Puliyangudi. They too taught me more about organic farming. That made me committed more to organic farming.
Farming on lease land
Nearby my mill I found a piece of 40 cent land and I cultivated brinjal through sapling method following organic farming in 2007. They grew well, were tasty and of good quality. Hence I decided to go for vegetable cultivation. But I did not own a piece of land. At that time I took 4 acres of land from my neighboring place on lease.
From 2008, I started cultivating brinjal, lady’s finger, tomato, papaya, spinach and banana”. He continued his story of how he got into organic farming.
No pests by preventive action
“Including my lease land I have 4 acres and 40 cents in total. It is an alluvial and black soil. It’s completely organic. Nadan variety of banana is cultivated in 40 cents. I also cultivated Nadan in 75 cents of land with green and round country brinjal as intercrop. Now brinjal harvesting has been completed. It’s one month since I raised single saplings of country brinjal in a separate piece of one acre land. There is country papaya in half an acre and it is reaching maturation. In ¼ acre of land small onion is planted. Remaining one and half acre of land is awaiting planting of spinach and papaya.
People say that pest control is not possible with brinjal. But use of herbal insect repellents is helpful as a precautionary measure.
Country brinjal grew well with organic farming. My wife, Muthulakshmi, is the one who prepares all organic inputs like herbal insect repellent, fish amino acid, ginger, garlic, chili extract and buttermilk formulation.
Mani’s income-expenditure sheet for cultivation of brinjal as intercrop in 75 cent land (INR)
Harvesting for 8 months by organic method
If country brinjal is grown as monocrop, we can harvest it for eight months. We can get brinjal in two months after planting and it will continue to give brinjal for another six months. I was harvesting for eight months when it was maintained as monocrop. Now, it is kept as intercrop with banana and therefore I destroy them after six months of harvest. Banana will provide fruits on seventh month and therefore the brinjal plant will not get sunlight.
I don’t get special price as it is organically grown. I send 25 kg of brinjal every week to organic shops in Chennai. The remaining is sold in Farmers’ market in Rajapalayam and also to friends locally. The pest afflicted brinjal is provided to cattle as fodder”. He explained about the yield and income through brinjal cultivation.
6,370 kg yield in 75 cents
“We can harvest brinjal from 60th day with country brinjal. I have harvested twice a week for 48 times. After removing pest afflicted brinjal I could get 6,370 kg. The price of it is from a minimum of Rs 18 to a maximum of Rs 38.
By that calculation, from 6,370 kg of brinjal sale I got a return of ₹1,27,400. After deducting ₹ 33,350 as expenses, I have got a net profit of ₹ 94,050. He felt contented with that.
More profit with intercropping
“Had I planted only banana I would have got returns only after 10 months. But I could get returns from 6th month because of brinjal harvest as intercrop.
Besides, with the help of inputs to brinjal the banana plants also were also able to grow. So, there is no considerable expense for banana but only for harvest and transport. In another two months banana will also reach harvest time. Therefore, the complete income due to banana is fully profitable. I could get daily income as it is a vegetable.
There is a local proverb that says ‘even when crying keep ploughing’. A farmer should not be inactive. Even a foot of land is there you should plant a crop. Then only one can win as a farmer”. He looked determined.
For contact: G Mani, Mobile: 98421 21562
This is the way to cultivate
Here is a lesson as described by Mani with regard to the cultivation of banana with brinjal as intercropping in 75 cents.
Ssheeps should be kept for a week in the selected land of 75 cents. After keeping the land dry for two days plough the land with five plough twice and again allow the land to dry for five days. Followed by this using power tiller plough the land twice and again allow the land to dry for five days. Plough the land once again using power tiller and then lay channels for irrigation. With 6 feet gap dig pits with ¾ foot depth and ¾ foot length and breadth and allow the pits air dry for two days. Add a handful of mixed manure in each pit and fill it with soil. Plant the banana tubers, pretreated already, one in each pit at the centre. Do not irrigate the land as the brinjals need to be planted the next day.
For planting brinjal saplings in 75 cents 6000 saplings are required as intercropping. Next day, plant one month old brinjal saplings with 2 feet gap in between banana plants. Irrigate the land once in two days continuously for 10 days. Then continue irrigating it as required.
Once in every 15 days, spray 200 liters of Jeevamirtham extract and ground nut oil extract (one day soaked groundnut oil cake of 6 kg in 200 liters of water) on rotational basis, along with irrigation water.
Weed out the farm after 15 days of planting and spray 300 ml of herbal insect repellent mixed with 10 liters of water, using hand sprayer. On day 22, weed out the farm and strengthen the base of each brinjal plant by adding mixed manure with soil. On day 25, mix 300 ml of Panchakaavya and 50 ml of fish amino acid in 10 liters of water and spray it on the plants using hand sprayer.
On day 30, mix 250 ml of ginger, garlic and chili extract with 10 liters of water and spray it on the plants using hand sprayer. On day 35 and 70, once again strengthen the base of each brinjal plant by adding mixed manure with soil. Every week, spray ginger, garlic and chili extract and herbal insect repellent on rotation.
On day 35, fix up three light traps, one per 25 cents. Add 1 liter of water and 100 ml of kerosene in the tray provided with the trap so that the insects reaching out to the plants during flowering time will be attracted to the trap and get killed. In order to avoid beneficial insects getting trapped, keep the light lit in the evening between 6 and 9 PM only.
Brinjal will start flowering from day 40. During that period spray the mixture of coconut- buttermilk extract (300ml) with 10 liters of water. It will prevent the flowers from shedding off and also boll worms of brinjal.
After 45th day, young brinjals will emerge out. Soak 2 kg of groundnut oil cake in 6 liters of water and filter it the next day. Mix one liter of this extract with 10 liters of water and spray it on the plant using hand sprayer. This will increase the size of brinjal.
On day 55, there will be stem insects on brinjal. To control them, use a mixture of 75 ml neem oil, 75 ml pongamia oil, 75 ml of Iluppai (Madhuca sp) oil, 25 ml of kerosene and a small piece of Khadi soap in 10 liters of water, spraying on the plants. From day 60, brinjals can be harvested.
Seed treatment for banana saplings
To a drum of 200 liters capacity, fill it with 150 liters of water, 2 liters of Panchakaavya and, 2 liters of herbal insect repellent. Soak banana tubers in it for 15 minutes and then shade dry them for another 15 minutes. By treating the tubers as described root rot disease can be avoided. Banana plants will grow with disease immunity and also cracking can be avoided.
Take 5 liters of fermented buttermilk and mix it with 5 liters of coconut water and keep the mixture undisturbed for two days. Now the extract is ready.
Herbal insect repellent
To a container mix 10 liters of cow urine and 5 kg of crushed neem seeds. Add to it 2 kg each of crushed leaves from papaya, neem, pongamia, nochi (Vitex) and custard apple. Also add 2 kg of cut Aloe with its peel.
Mix the content clockwise and anti clockwise, twice, in the morning and evening. This should be repeated for 7 days and the repellent is ready now. Filter the content and take 300 ml of the extract and 25 grams of turmeric powder, mix them in 10 liters of water. Spray it on the plants using hand sprayer.
Mixed manure for banana
Spread a polythene sheet on the floor. Add on it 200 kg of goat dung, 200 kg of decayed cow dung, 200 kg of ash from wood stove, 50 kg of groundnut cake, 50 kg of neem cake, 4 kg of Trichogramma viridi, 4 kg of Pseudomonas, one above the other in the same order. Spray on it 2 liters of Amudhakaraisal. Cover it with another polythene sheet and leave it undisturbed for 5 days. Then open it and mix it and manure is ready to be used for banana.
Cut the root tip
Before planting, cut the root tip of brinjal saplings. It will help the plant to grow more adventitious roots spreading sideways strengthening the plants. This will also help the plant to absorb water easily.
It is better to plant the saplings after soaking them in a mixture of 250 ml of insect repellent or Panchakaavya in 2 liters of water for 15 minutes.
Ginger, Garling and Green chili extract
Take ¼ kg each of the above and crush them using mortar. Add to it 4 liters of fermented buttermilk and soak it for 2 days. Filter it and mix 200 ml of the extract with 10 liters of water and spray it on the plants using hand sprayer. Instead of fermented butter milk, cow urine can also be used. And if it is cow urine it is better to have it soaked for 5 days.
(This article written in Tamil by Karthikeyan for Pasumai Vikatan has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)