In the first part, we learnt about Nagarathina Naidu from Telengana state, who has been in agriculture for the past 26 years and who has spread the fame of organic farming up to the United States of America. Hereunder it continues.
Helpful multiple cropping method
After the lunch break, he took us around the papaya and mango orchards. “Now, there is papaya in an acre, separately and mango in five acres. In the two acres of mango orchard, there are intercrops such as papaya, brinjal, corn, pulichakeerai (Hibiscus sp / Gongura), dhosakkai (cucumber), rose plants, orchids and fodder crops. Among coconut and banana plants, there are intercrops such as tamarind, guava, custard apple, sweet lime trees in two acres. Paddy is in ½ an acre, ridge gourd in 25 cents, ladies finger in 25 cents and I have kept 3 acres ready for groundnut cultivation.
Usually, I will cultivate paddy in 3 acres. But it is only in ½ an acre this time as there is scarcity of water. I have planted paddy in 20 cents with SRI method and in 30 cents with conventional method. With SRI method, there will be 37 branches sprouting from a single seedling. On an average, we can get 70 bags of paddy in an acre.
I have been cultivating papaya, only for the past one and half years. I have sown Red Lady variety. I prepare the seedlings for that on my own. I routinely cultivate multiple crops instead of mono crops. Hence I included papaya too. He continued.
Beautiful orchids as intercrops
If there is talent and interest we can cultivate any kind of crops in any type of soils. This highly diversified garden is the best example. In some part of my farm I was able to bring down the microclimate and therefore could cultivate coffee and pepper in that part. At the beginning, I started planting coconut and banana with orchids as intercrops. Now, the coconut and banana plants have been overshadowed by the growth of intercrops. All the orchids grown here are commercially viable plants. Some of them are sold directly as such and the remaining by making bouquets and arches.
Mulching provides moisture
Heliconia hanging, Port of paradise, Ornamental ginger, Shower ginger, Lady heliconia, Shampoo ginger, Gerbera, Lady lass, Heliconia pad, Red ginger, Gladioli, Torch ginger, Gypsophila, Hospira cross, Thuja, Beautiful pome flower and Foot ball flower are the various flowers I grow at my farm. I have established drip irrigation for the orchids. The dead leaves falling from the trees and plants are made as mulches. Then only there will be moisture in the farm all the time. The dead leaves will turn into manure. The orchids played a major role in making me a successful farmer.
Unfailing palm tubers
Though the farm is full of mango trees, there are only 140 mango trees that continue to yield. There are about 20 varieties including, Alphonsa, Banganapalli, Neelam, Bengalura and Swarnarekha. Besides, there are 50 palms, 40 murungai, 10 guava, 10 teak, 10 custard apple, 3 tamarind, 1 sandal and 1 red wood tree available in the farm.
Based on the seasons, I sow the ripe fruits of palm in my farm and generate palm tubers and sell them. I get a good yield from custard apple, moringa and tamarind. Then Nagarathina Naidu invited us to his vegetable garden.
Simpler tools are adequate
Earlier, I cultivated vegetables in the green house that I used to construct. Now, I cultivate ridge gourds and ladies finger in conventional methods. Amidst mango trees are tomato, brinjal, chilies and gongura as intercrops. In coconut grove curry leaves are kept as intercrops. Only after planting vegetables I make plots to hold water. In order to weed out vegetable and paddy fields and also to tie coir threads as a marking to plant paddy through SRI method, I keep using simpler and smaller tools.
One liter milk rupees 42
There are 5 adult cows and 8 growing calves amounting to 13 cows available in my farm. Right now only one is providing milk and three are on gestation. I sell one liter of milk for rupees 42. Daily I allow them to graze in the farm. When restrained in the shed I provide them only with green fodder and no other feed is allowed. Through these cows I gather adequate cow dung and urine for the farm. He started describing about the returns from each and every crop that he cultivates and we will see it in the next part..
Paddy cultivation through SRI method
Paddy cultivation techniques of Nagarathina Naidu
“After Sal ploughing of the chosen farm land thrice, add 4 tractor loads of manure to it. Then spread neem leaves along with their spines throughout the ploughed land. Next, add half a ton of dry farm wastes to the land and allow the land dry up for a few days. Then level the land and make it miry. Then using marking tool make a square mark with 25 cm gap. At each corner of the square plant a paddy seedling. Irrigate the plot after 3rd day of planting and continue to precisely irrigate the plot, adjusting to the need.
On day 10, 30 and 45 weeds should be leveled using Cono weeder. Next day after weeding out, spread 100 kg of vermicompost to the land. From day 20, mix 200 liters of Jeevamirtham extract along with irrigation water, for every 15 days. If you follow this process pest will not affect the crops. If there are pests found, mix 2 liters of fermented (4 days) buttermilk along with 20 liters of water and spray on the crops. Insects can be rid of by using neem hasthiram too.
Ghee mixed Jeevamirtham
Unlike the usual way, Nagarathinam Naidu uses ghee mixed Jeevamirtham. Here is the method of preparation.
Take 10 kg of cow dung, 10 liters of cow urine, 1 kg of jiggery, half kg of termite mound soil, half kg ghee and 1.5 kg of Bengal gram. Mix cow dung and ghee thoroughly and keep it soaked. To it add cow urine and jiggery and then Bengal gram, all together in 200 liters of water. Mix the contents for two days in the morning and evening. Jeevamirtham is ready within two days.
Papaya by seedling method
His way of cultivating papaya is as follows. It is better to plant papaya as seedlings. Mix 40 parts of cow dung, 40 parts of soil, 10 parts of vermicompost, 5 parts Ganajeevamirtham and 5 parts of neem powder and fill it in pitted plates. Then sow papaya seeds on the pits and keep watering them. The seeds will sprout within 15 days and they can be transplanted within 60 days.
Dig a hole in 1 ½ square foot with one foot depth. In each pit add a handful of neem leaves, 50 gram neem powder, 1 kg cow dung and fill it with dug out soil. Continuously add Jeevamirtham along with irrigation water. When weeds are aplenty remove them promptly and add a handful of vermicompost to each plant.
(To be continued in Part-3)
(This article originally written in Tamil by Jayakumar in Dec 2015 for Pasumai Vikatan has been reproduced in English by V amalan Stanley)