It is essential to have an intercrop that suits whatever crop that has been cultivated. The intercrops remain as biological mulch thereby sustaining soil nutrients and also facilitate additional income. Govindarajan, an organic farmer from Thirupur district has been growing pumpkin and bottle gourd as intercrops at his coconut grove.
His farm is situated at Thandukaranpalayam village on the highway from Avinashi to Punjaipuliyampatti. We met him at his farm during midday.
“We have 12 acres of grove sustained by well irrigation owned by my family. Three acres of the land is having coconut trees. I have also planted turmeric, honey banana, stick tuber, papaya and tomato in each acre. I have also planted a variety of trees in three acres. I have been preparing one acre of land for mulberry cultivation. Along with these, there are pumpkins in an acre and Thambura bottle gourds in another acre as intercrop to coconut trees. Turmeric is yet to reach harvest. But other four crops, honey banana, stick tuber, papaya and tomato, are ready for completion. I have been getting pumpkins and bottle gourds right now.” He continued. “I have learnt making of improved micronutrient formulations through training. The micronutrients that reproduce in the formulation serve as growth promoters. Through this improved micronutrient formulation all nutrients that could be served by chemical nutrients can be compensated. Because of that the crops are growing well.
Some of the farmers have joined together establishing a ‘Green Tribunal’. This is an establishment completely founded by organic farmers. I have been serving as a Secretary of the Tribunal.
Through this establishment, we procure vegetables from organic farmers and send to other cities for sales. I sell my vegetables too through this establishment without any brokers and therefore I get more price than the market price.
Besides, I keep selling my vegetables directly at my place using a vehicle. As my farm is lying on the highway many come in search of my farm and buy the vegetables. Through that I get considerable profit”. Then he shared details about the income with us.
“Pumpkin and bottle gourd can be harvested after 90 days. And weekly twice they can be harvested for another 90 days. During the last harvest till 180 days I could harvest up to 5000 kg of pumpkin, cultivated as intercrop.
Having sold one kg of pumpkin for Rs 12, I could get Rs 60,000 as income. Similarly, I could get 3000 kg of bottle gourd. Having sold one kg of bottle gourd for Rs 15, I could get Rs 45,000 as income. Having planted both as intercrops in two acres of land I could earn a total income of Rs 1,05,000 in 180 days. Deducting all other expenditure of Rs 15,000 towards plowing, inputs and transport I could earn a profit of Rs 90,000”. With that Govindarajan uploaded his vegetables in his vehicle getting ready for selling them.
For contact, Govindarajan, Mobile: 99655 37403
Improved Micronutrient Formulation
Govindarajan explained about the preparation of improved micronutrient formulation. “Build a cement tank with a dimension of 10 feet length, 4 feet height and 4 feet breadth. Spread pebbles on the floor of the tank and spread nylon net over the pebbles, tying the surface tightly. Cover the surface with sand throughout up to 4 inches height. Fill the tank with any one of the plant leaves such as tamarind leaf, curry leaf, Aavaram, Erukku, brinjal plants, aloe vera pulp, Thuthi leaves, Casuarina leaf or Glyricidia leaf and finally filling the tank up to 90% with water. Followed by it pour 50 litres of cow urine in the tank.
Mix ten kg of moist cow dung along with 1 kg of ‘Pseudomonas’ biofertilizer and keep them together in a gunny bag. Similarly mix and keep 10 kg of dry cow dung with 1 kg of ‘Azospirillum’, 10 kg of buffalo dung with 1 kg of ‘Phosphobateria’ and 10 kg of horse dung with 1 kg of ‘Trichogramma viridi’, keeping each in a gunny bag separately. Similarly, keep 10 kg of goat dung and 10 kg of pig dung along with other biofertilizers in a gunny bag separately. Take each gunny bag with respective contents in the cement tank, hanging each of them along the wall of the tank, submerged in water.
Similarly, keep each gunny bag with 10 kg of ripe papaya, banana, mango, sapota and also the soil of the farm hanging each of them along the wall of the tank, submerged in water. Also hang gunny bags each with 5 kg of coconut oil cake, groundnut cake and horse gram flour, submerged in the water tank. Allow these bags to get soaked in the tank for a week and the improved micronutrient formulation is ready to use. For every fifteen days, supply the formulation along with irrigation water, 200 liters for an acre. All bags submerged in the cement tank should be replaced every three months. As the tank volume comes down, add 50 liters of cow urine and fill the water in the tank up to its brim. It can be used for three months continuously.
Then, the crops can be supplied with nutrient formulation using new bags replaced in the cement tank. To build the tank and make our own formulation through this technique will require about Rs 25,000. He stated that ‘subsidies can be provided by the Government for the formulation tank, the way it has been providing subsidies for vermicompost’.
This is the way to cultivate!
Here is the information on cultivating Pumpkin and Bottle gourd as intercrops in an acre of coconut grove, as shared by Govindarajan.
The cultivation practice is same for both pumpkin and bottle gourd. In an acre of coconut grove, fill 5 tons of farm yard manure and plow the land thoroughly. Sow multiple grains at the time of Avani. When those grains attain flowering stage plow them along the land surface. Then at the time of Karthikai, plant pumpkin after doing seed treatment with 3% Panjakavya formulation, soaked in it and air dried and sown. It is enough to have 50 seeds sown in an acre of land. Plant them widely, and facilitate them to gain water from the drip irrigation system provided for the coconut trees.
Weed out the land on day 15, 30 and 45. For every fifteen days, supply the micronutrient formulation along with irrigation water, 200 liters for an acre. By day 50, the climbers will spread over the land completely making the soil invisible. By Margazhi, the plants will flower.
During that period, there will be sucking insects which can be controlled by sprinkling neem oil formulation. At the time of young pumpkins and gourds emerge, boll worms will affect the plant and they can be controlled by mixing the extract of ginger, garlic and green chilies and sprinkling on the plant. By day 90, the pumpkins and gourds will grow bigger, getting ready for harvest. Those vegetables of 2 to 3 kg size can be harvested”.
(This article written in Tamil by Palanisamy for Pasumai Vikatan magazine dt 10/3/18 has been transcreated in English by V Amalan Stanley)