Chennakesavan is one of the organic farmers using his field not only for farming but also as an experimental centre to implement his innovative ideas. He belongs to Tuticorin and he has proved his mettle as an organic and unique farmer in the case of cattle rearing as well as an expert in growing the mountain crop of beetroot in the plain surface as an intercrop in drumstick cultivation.
Chennakesavan’s farm is situated at Chinnamalai Kundru which is 5 KMs from Ettayapuram in the district of Tuticorin. Chennakesavan shares his experience . He has 23 acres of black soil farm in which drumstick occupies 5 acres, wood crops like neem, match wood and Gamar(Timber tree species) etc. 4 acres, sabre beans 2 acres and Hedge Lucerne(velimasal) 1.75 acre. In about 9 acres of farm, he cultivates corn wherein the harvest has just been completed. The remaining land is kept ready for seeding. In the drumstick planted area, he has introduced the intercrops like ribbed gourd, bitter gourd, brinjal, tomato, white pumpkin, groundnut and coriander seeds. Similarly, he has made an attempt with beet root also. He further says that because this is handled as an intercrop, it does not involve separate expenditure nor require maintenance. There is a good demand in the market also. He has been growing beet root as intercrop for the past 4 years and the harvest is now going on’’ said Chennakesavan.
So far, Chennakesavan has been selling the beet root in the local markets and the remaining quantity in the localities of Kovilpatti and Ettayapuram where he is not able to sell at any higher price than usual because they are organic-based. He says that in uzhavar sandhai, they are planning to sell under the banner of Southern Wholesale Producers Association to be started at Kovilpatti wherein exclusive organic vegetables will be sold. He is planning to sell the beet root that is being harvested now in his farm in this market.
Income & Expenditure account details of growing beetroot as an intercrop across drumstick trees in an area of 1acre and 25 cents
Particulars Expenditure (Rs.) Income (Rs.)
Beetroot seeds 6,000
Partitioning & sowing 2,000
Sprinkling of inputs 1,200
Sheep manure 2,250
Return from sale of beetroot 87,644
Total 18,650 87,644
Net Profit 68,994
The above amount of net profit that Chennakesavan got in his 1.25 acre of beetroot cultivation is as confirmed by him shortly after completing the entire harvest and sale of beetroot. He harvested 8424kgs of beetroot which was sold at a minimum of Rs.6 and maximum of Rs.14 resulting in a revenue of Rs.87,644.
Drumstick cultivation does not require special maintenance until completion of beetroot harvest. Drumstick plant will grow to 2.5 feet on the 50th day from sowing. At that time, the edge part of it should be cut so that the side branches will be increased. After completion of beetroot harvest, panchakavya and fish amino acid should be sprinkled on a rotational basis once in fifteen days Drumsticks can be plucked after 128 days. Subject to proper maintenance, drumstick can be productive for 5 years.
Beetroot fries (vattral):
Big size beetroot weighing more than ½ kg. can not be sold in the market. Chips can be produced from this and they must be dried in hot sun without moisture. This can further be put in water with required salt and boiled. It will become like ripe beetroot which can be cooked. That is how Chennakesavan does for his personal consumption.
Concentrated sheep manure:-
We must spread long plastic sheet in which a tonne of sheep manure can be spread. With this we must add 2 kgs.each of acospirillam, phosphor bacteria, Potash mobilizing bacteria, pseudomonas and Trichoderma Viride. This mixture must be mixed with water for kneading and it must be allowed to become concentrated for about 48 hours.
We must take 1.5 lt.water in a vessel and mix 50 milli.panchakavya. Further we must pour 900 gms. drumstick seeds (for an area of 1.25 acres of land) and soak for 12 hours. We can then take them out, dry them for 15 mts in shadow and then sow them. We may require 1,400 g. beetroot seeds as an intercrop for an area of 1.25 acres of land. Same process may be followed for treating the beetroot seeds.
Cultivation process of beetroot:
For both drumstick and beetroot, the Tamil month of Purattasi(October) is suitable. In the allotted land of 1.25 acres, it must be ploughed twice with the help of tiller. It must be allowed to dry in the sun for a week after which it must be ploughed again. The field must be levelled with the help of tractor and partition is required to be arranged with 8 ft .breadth and 10 ft. length and canals must be created. 5 ft.distance between two plants and 8 ft. distance between two rows and with 1.5 inch depth pit should be made on one side of the canal. In each pit, the drumstick seed needs to be sown with water. Similarly, the next day, with a distance of ½ ft.the beetroot seed should be sown. Only those seeds which are treated must be sown. If we ensure that the area is divided into parts and then beetroot is planted with adequate gap in terms of time, we will be able to avoid harvesting of entire area at the same time. On the third day, the concentrated sheep manure should be mixed in water and fed into the canals. Beetroot will sprout after 5 days while drumsticks after 9 days. Weeding must be done after 25 days. On the 30th day, 300 ml.panchakavya must be mixed in 10 lt. water and the same should be sprinkled with the hand sprinkler. On the 35th day, 50 ml.fish amino acid should be mixed in 10 lt. water and the same should be sprinkled. This will increase the size and taste of beetroot plant. After 48 days the beetroots will show up and after 60 days, the harvest can be undertaken.
Beetroot harvest can be done either daily or on alternate days depending on the market for it. Another important point to be noted in preserving the beetroots intact for 6 days is that the harvested beetroot should be kept along with 3 inches of leaf stem as they are.
Chennakesavan is not only confident but also successful in achieving profitability in beetroot cultivation as an intercrop by following the above guidelines.
(This article written by E Karthikeyan in Tamil for Paumai Vikatan magazine 25/5/18 has been transcreated by P.S.Ramamurthy)