Sustainable Methodologies For Integrated Polyculture
Diversified multi-crop farming practices wherein the 'micro output' of one culture becomes the 'input' of others, enhancing soil by natural processes. There are many natural methods to accomplish this, including:
Agricultural and other organic waste materials decompose and become good compost. It is prepared by digging a shallow pit of 75-90 cm depth and 1.0 meter width and then spreading the wastes in the pit as and when generated. The material gets decomposed over 4-6 months. This process is slow and the output material also very small although it is an age old practice of obtaining natural organic manure.
GREEN MANURES (shrubs/plants based): Green manuring is another age old practice for producing organic matter in the field itself. This can be done by sowing seeds of sunhemp, Daincha, horse gram, or beans, turning them in the soil at 8-10 weeks of age. The crop selections depend on the soil type, moisture avaialability, seasonals, and cost of seed. Another method of green manuring is to grow shrubs and trees and top branches from time to time for green manure. Such branches can also be used as ‘mulch’ particularly in fruit orchards. The mulch conserves soil moisture in initial stages and consequently turns into organic manure. When the volume of dried leaves (litter) is high, such material can be used directly in orchards as mulch instead of being used as manure. NADEP: A modified method of fast compost making is called NADEP, using an aerated tank constructed with brick or any other material. An improvised tank using bamboo and palm leaves is cost effective. The ground should be compacted with mud and dung to reduce seepage. An adequate tank can accommodate 1350 kg agricultural waste, 90 kg cow dung, 1675 kg fine soil and 1350 litres of water. All these materials are to be kept ready before filling up the tank. First layer of agricultural waste, second layer of water and dung mixture and third layer of sand. This can be repeated several times as long as materials last, maybe 12-14 layers. The top of tank then should be covered with a thick layer of clay soil mixed with dung. Any cracks that developed in due course can be sealed with mud paste. The top of the tank should be protected from sunlight and heavy rains by covering with organic mulch or by erecting a shed. This tank will produce 2.5 tons of fine compost in 3-4 months.
VERMICOMPOST & VERMICULTURE:
“Culturing of earthworms and their application for a variety of purposes is what is meant by Vermi composting by vermi culture”. Darwin writes: "Worms prepare the ground in an excellent manner for the growth of... plants and for seedlings of all kinds. They periodically expose the mould to the air... They mingle the whole intimately together, like a gardener who prepares fine soil for his choicest plants. In this state it is well fitted to retain moisture and to absorb all soluble substances, as well as for the process of nitrification....The leaves which are dragged into the burrows as food ... partially digested, and saturated ... are commingled with much earth. This earth forms the dark coloured, rich humus". Initially published for specialists, The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms has gained popular appeal due it"s emphasis on the significance that the cumulative effect of seemingly small things have over time.
Use of biofertilizers carrying RHIZOBIUM and AZOTOBACTER for crop production has been used in practice for a long time. Since these micro-organisms fix atmospheric nitrogen and supply to plants, these biofertilizers can substitute chemical fertilizers to some extent. While these bio-fertilizers help farmers to improve crop production, they also help reduce cost of cultivation.
AZOLA & BLUE GREEN ALGAE:
Blue –Green Algae, in symbiotic association with water fern belonging to Azolla species, fixes atmospheric nitrogen in the soil. Nostoc and Anabaena are the two popular species of blue green algae. They can contribute over 100 kg of nitrogen per hectare per crop like paddy under low land conditions. Hence Algae is an excellent association to supply nitrogen in low lying areas.
PHOSPHATE SOLUBILISING micro-organisms:
Soils containing high pH pose a problem of phosphorus availability for plants. For reversing this situation, phosphate sollubilising micro-organisms (PSM) can be useful. A group of heterotrophic microorganisms are capable of solubilishing inorganic P from insoluble sources. These include bacteria (Bacillus megaterium, B. circulans, B. subtilis, Pseudomonas straita, P. rathonis), Fungi (Aspergilluus awamori, Pennicillium digitatum, Trichoderma sp.), and Yeast (Schwannimyces occidentalis).
These microorganisms weather rock phosphate and tricalcium phosphate by decreasing the particle size, reducing it to nearly an amorphous form. In addition to P-solubilisation, these microorganisms can mineralize organic P into a soluble form.
The P- solubilizers also produce fungicides and growth promoting substance which influence plant growth. The performance of these micro-organisms is affected bv availability of a carbon source, P concentration, particle size of rock phosphate, and other factors like temperature and moisture. PSM will be a boon for the farmers whose land and soil Ph is high.
VESICULAR –ARBUSCULAR Mycorrhizae(VAM):
Symbiotic association between plant roots and fungi mycelia is termed as mycorrhiza. These fungi are found to be associated with majority of the crops. Found in a broad ecological range from aquatic to desert environments, VAM is associated with increased plant growth and enhanced accumulation of plant nutrients. Mainly available P, Zn, Cu, and S, nutrients are increased through greater soil exploration by mycorrhizal hyphae. It also reduces the severity of diseases caused by soil pathogens. Maximum root colonization and sporulation occur in low fertility soils. VAM inoculations increases yields. It is better to concentrate on crops normally grown in nursery beds where they can easily inoculated with selected strains and then transplanted.
Spraying of Bacillus thuringiensis, a pathogen capable of attacking several lepedopteran insects has been successfully adopted in many countries to control pests on many crops. Such bio pesticides are developed by culturing the pathogens found in the insect species. With environmental restrictions on chemical pesticides, these alternatives are gaining popularity. Many botanicals have the properties to control pests and diseases in plants. Extracts of neem, pongamia, custard apple, and callophylum (undai) seeds can control a wide range of insects, bacteria, fungi, and viruses. These pesticides are not only eco-friendly but economical too. Farmers can easily prepare their own pesticides from these seeds.
OTHER PLANTS IN PEST CONTROL: Ginger, Garlic and Chili Extract
This recipe is a mixture of 3 plant extracts. 1 kg of Garlic should be immersed in 100 ml kerosene and kept overnight. The next day, the outer skin should be removed and made into a paste. In another vessel, ˝ kg chili should be mixed with 50 ml water and made into a paste. Likewise ˝ kg of ginger should be made into a paste. All the three mixtures should be mixed together with 100 litres of water and 50 grams soap solution as an emulsifier. This mixture should be stirred well and filtered before spraying. The above quantity is needed for an acre. Allicin present in garlic serves as a repellent and capcicin in chilli serves as a pesticide.
1 kg of rice and 50 gms of turmeric powder is required to treat an acre. The rice is cooked and excess water is filtered. This is mixed with turmeric powder. Small lumps of yellow coloured rice is taken in small vessels and placed in the main field in at least 8 to 10 places. This practice usually acts as a bait on the first day; then from the second day onwards, it starts attracting the birds. When the birds feed on the rice, they feed on the semilooper larvae prevalent in the field. This procedure is repeated till the crop attains the flowering stage thereby reducing the pest attack.
To control rodents, pieces of papaya fruit are spread in the field. Papaya has a chemical substance which cause tissue damage in the mouth of the rats feeding on it. For an acre, 3 fruits are required.
Cow's Urine with Herbs
Collect the Herbs you have knowledge of which are used in plant protection. Clean and put the herbs in cow's urine for 24 hrs. Filter it the next day and the solution can be diluted in water for spraying. ( Ratio as per one's own personal trial & experience )