“Zero budget farming is akin to a chariot. As it needs four wheels to run ahead, zero budget farming requires four important aspects to function successfully”.
The first wheel is ‘Beejamirtham’, which is a seed treatment process. Second is ‘Jeevamirtham’, which is an important input formulation. Thirdly, ‘Achadhana’, the process of mulching. And ‘Vapasa’, the aeration in the soil, which is the fourth aspect. With a loss of even a single wheel, the chariot might collapse. Similarly, the complete benefit of zero budget farming may not be accrued if any one of those aspects is not attended properly. This is what the zero budget expert, Subhash Palekar, reiterates often.
Of the four key aspects, the second one, Jeevamirtham, the input formulation is the most significant process in regard to zero budget. It has the capacity to transform the land that has long since been used with chemical inputs, so rapidly. Farmers who are using canal irrigation can easily mix Jeevamirtham along with the irrigation water. At the same time, those who use drip and sprinkler irrigation can only do so after filtering Jeevamrutham. There are many ways of filtering it. Dr K Sampath, a young farmer from Coimbatore district, has been following a method that has been followed by many among the northern farmers.
Sampath Kumar has been working as a Professor in a private engineering college, after having completed his doctoral thesis. He has been doing organic farming in Jaggarpalayam village, Pollachi circle. We met with him during one of the holidays, at his farm while he was working with his wife and other farm workers.
“This is my native village. We have ten acres of coconut farm of our own. I have been reading ‘Pasumai Vikatan’ since its first issue. All its publications are safely kept with me. I used to interact with the farmers mentioned in ‘Pasumai Vikatan’ and learn key techniques and lessons from them. Pasumai Vikatan is the primary reason for this ten acres of coconut grove thriving successfully at zero budget. My wife is working as an Assistant Professor at Tamil Nadu Agriculture University. She also used to share her knowledge at the farm. Surely, there will not be any loss with organic farming if we follow certain principles. That is why I’m able to succeed in this farming activity despite working as a professor. The major reasons for my success include nurturing indigenous breeds of cattle and poultry, honey bee rearing, intercropping methods and also value addition of our products”. He took us around the farm while describing the use of Jeevamirtham.
“At my farm, I have 20 Kangayam cows including six calves. With the dung and urine derived from these indigenous cattle, I am able to make Jeevamirtham. With that input I am able to grow 700 coconut trees, the papaya, banana and orchard plants are intercropping, in this ten acres of land. In the beginning, I used to mix Jeevamirtham along with the canal irrigation water. Then I opted to drip irrigation in order to conserve water. But while irrigating Jeevamirtham through the drip irrigation system, there were many blocks and the tubes needed to be dismantled often for cleaning.
While I was in search of finding out a solution to this problem of blocking, I learnt from a friend that the farmers in Pune, Maharashtra, collect Jeevamirtham in a tank and it is easily filtered and passed on in the fields. Immediately, I went to Pune, learnt the technique and returned home. I improvised the technique to suit our need and started using it”. He then began to explain the Jeevamirtham tank and filtering process.
“With the help of machines, the content of Jeevamirtham is stirred regularly. There is no need to stir the tank manually. I have fixed a motor for that purpose. I fixed the tank nearby the manager as it lies at the elevated part of the land. Therefore, Jeevamirtham runs through by gravity. I have fixed totally three tanks. The first tank is with 3 foot in diameter with 3 foot in height.
From the manager, cow dung and urine will get collected directly in the tank. The tank has the capacity of holding 50 litres of urine and 50 kg of dung. After collecting adequate urine and cow dung, 5 kg of country jaggary, 5 kg of flour and 5 kg of farm soil are added to it. A pestle like a rod with the machine fixed with the tank stirs the content with the help of a motor. This helps in mixing the content thoroughly.
After the Jeevamirtham formulation is ready it will get into the second tank. This is a plastic tank with 1,500-litre capacity. Here Jeevamirtham is allowed to ferment for three days. Its content should be stirred every day morning and evening using a stirrer. From here the content will automatically be filtered and moved on to the third cement tank and then to the plastic tubes fixed for drip irrigation. The sludge filtered will remain in the third tank. The sludge is added with the leaves of neem, ergot, nochi, seetha, and datura, all having a bitter taste, which can be used as an insect repellent after long soaking”.
“It cost about one lakh to construct this whole structure. With it, it is now easy to irrigate Jeevamirtham without any hassle and therefore able to achieve a rich harvest. The products earned from dung and urine gathered from the in house cattle are value-added and therefore provide considerable secondary income. Whatever is possible at our farm should be implemented so as to maximize the output, the farming venture will be surely profitable”. Thus Sampath Kumar concluded.
Dr K Sampath Kumar, Cell phone, 86108 66479
Sampath Kumar has been maintaining a home for cows that have stopped providing milk. He briefed about it, “There are many who show much interest in having indigenous cattle. We help people who are not able to maintain the cows between the dry period of having stopped giving milk and the next conception. We home those cows after having stopped milk and provide them fodder and also help them get conceived and maintained throughout their gestation period. We then return the cows at the time of parturition. We collect a maintenance fee of Rs 1200 per month. The urine and dung gathered from them at the home are additional income to us. There are seven such cows at our home”.
10 Lakhs profit annually
Sampath Kumar elaborated on the farm income, “There are 26 honey bee boxes in the farm. With their help, there is enhanced cross-pollination that helps increased yield. Besides, we get 10 kg of honey and we get an income of Rs 6000 per month, and it is Rs 72,000, annually.
There are 36 hens and 10 cocks among this indigenous poultry. There is no much expenditure for poultry in terms of feed. They gain enough food from grazing around the farm. From 4,200 eggs we get Rs 63,000 per year. We also get Rs 24,000 from selling cocks annually.
From coconuts and most ripe ones, we get more than Rs 10,00,000 in a year. There is no additional expenditure from the input as it is generated within the farm. Profit is to its entirety.
From the yields from cows that are value-added and from selling the inputs, we get Rs 2,00,000 annually as income. In totally, we get Rs 13,59,000 as income annually. Deducting all other related expenditure at the farm, we get a net profit of Rs ten lakhs in a year”.
Live Mulching as Manure
“Next to Jeevamirtham, Palakar emphasises the need for mulching. We follow that practice well here at our farm. We spread cowpea throughout the coconut grove so that it grows and covers the entire land as mulch. They also prevent other weeds to emerge. The leaves drying from the plants, manure the soil. They also fix nitrogen from the atmosphere in their roots, thereby improve the fertility of the soil. We also get considerable income from the mulch plant. These climbers also become fodder for the cattle”.
Value Addition of Wastes
“From the dung, urine and milk gained from the Kangayam cattle and other cattle homed in the farm are used to make Panchakavya, Jeevamirtham, Ganajeevamirtham, Neem Asthra, Pathilai karaisal, soap and viboothi. Besides, we also prepare farm inputs like fish amino acid, Thaemorekaraisal and sell them. Those farmers not having indigenous breeds buy these products from us. They are also bought by those who have home gardens. As our coconut farm is maintained organically, those farmers intended to go for organic farming buy our most mature coconuts to grow saplings from them”.
(This article written by G Palanisamy in Tamil for Pasumai Vikatan magazine dt 25/12/2018 has been transcreated in English by V Amalan Stanley)