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Precision farming benefits sugarcane growers

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Precision farming has worked wonders in sugarcane fields in and around irrigated belts of Aranthangi in Pudukottai district.

Sugarcane growers who reaped harvest of sugarcane at the demonstration plots in Erukkalakottai village on the occasion of the 'Field Day' on Thursday realised the benefits of this subsidy-based scheme in terms of higher yield, better quality in produce and less cultivation cost besides profitability through more attractive returns.

The harvest per hectare has shot up from 150 tonnes, which was obtained using  conventional methods, to 225 tonnes now by employing the precision farming technique. The cost of cultivation has also registered a drastic cut by at least Rs. 20,000 per hectare. Further, the profit per hectare has increased from Rs. 50,000 to Rs. 1.25 lakh.

The Agriculture Department, under the National Agriculture Development Programme, had floated during 2008-09, a special cluster of demonstration plots on 20 hectares with 20 farmers. Each farmer raised the crop on one hectare. “This is the first cluster under the precision farming technique in sugarcane cultivation in Aranthangi”, said R. M Sivakumar, assistant director of Agriculture.

C. V. Meiyyanathan, Aranthangi Panchayat Union chairman, who inaugurated the harvest of cane, said the cluster called the  ‘Avananthankottai Cluster of Sugarcane growers' had farmers identified from  Avanathankottai, Poovatrakudi; Panankulam and Erukkalakottai villages. Each farmer got a subsidy worth about Rs. 65,000 per hectare for raising the CO-86032 variety.

The subsidy component included  water-soluble fertilizer worth Rs.20,000; besides Rs. 40,000 towards the purchase of fertilizer tank. Pointing out that the Centre had released a subsidy of Rs. 13 lakh for the Cluster, he appealed to the sugarcane growers to ensure the sustainability of the programme.

R. Niraivu Anna, president of the Cluster, said the farmers took to precision farming after an exposure visit-cum-training in Madurai, where it had proved its success. The precision technique was less labour-intensive in terms of crop protection techniques, he said.

K. S. Senthilkumar, senior manager, EID Parry (India), said the sugar factoryencouraged precision farming in sugarcane. A special subsidy of Rs. 6,000 a hectare was being released to cane-growers. He explained that uniform supply of fertilizer to the sugarcane and efficient nutrient management had gone a long way in avoiding wastage of fertilizer and water. The sugar factory had started its special crushing season on July 31.

M. Vairamuthu, deputy manager, EID Parry (India), explained the steps taken to expose farmers to the advantages of precision farming.

Mr. Sivakumar said two clusters had been formed for  successive seasons. The Maramadakki Cluster for 2009-10 season had started on cultivation in Maramadakki, Tirunalur and Paravakottai villages.


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Precision Farming

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Imagine you are a farmer riding along in your 50,000-acre wheat field early in the growing season. You push a button on your tractor to turn on its Global Positioning System (GPS) monitor, which pinpoints your exact location to within one meter. Touching another button, you display a series of Geographical Information System (GIS) maps that show where the soil in your field is moist, where the soil eroded over the winter, and where there are factors within the soil that limit crop growth. Next, you upload remote sensing data, collected just yesterday, that shows where your budding new crop is already thriving and areas where it isn’t. You hit SEND to upload these data into an onboard machine that automatically regulates the application of fertilizer and pesticides—just the right amount and exactly where the chemicals are needed. You sit back and enjoy the ride, saving money as the machines do most of the work. Congratulations, you are among a new generation of growers called "precision farmers."

Does this sound like a science fiction scenario? It’s not. Even as you read this, there are already dozens of farmers around the United States and Canada who use satellite and aircraft remote sensing data to more effectively and efficiently manage their croplands.

"Precision crop management is still in the experimental phase," states Susan Moran, a research hydrologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and member of the NASA Landsat 7 Science Team, based in Tucson, Arizona. "But there is a significant number of farmers who use high technology and remote sensing data for precision crop management."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, NASA, and NOAA are among key agencies contributing to this revolution in large-scale agriculture. The goal is to improve farmers’ profits and harvest yields while reducing the negative impacts of farming on the environment that come from over-application of chemicals.


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Organic farming

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Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests, excluding or strictly limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock feed additives, and genetically modified organisms.[1] Since 1990, the market for organic products has grown at a rapid pace. This demand has driven a similar increase in organically managed farmland.

Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based on large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic organizations established in 1972. IFOAM defines the overarching goal of organic farming as follows:

Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved

 


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Mult-crop Farming

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Multi-crop Farming is a practice followed by farmers by cultivating more than one crops. There are many advantages for this type of farming. It helps the farmers to avail more money from different types of crops. Each crop has got different span of growth and harvesting time. So after harvesting one, next crop will be ready to harvest. This is almost like continuous income. Multi-crop farming helps to enhance the fertility of soil.


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Vertical Farming

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By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices. What can be done to avoid this impending disaster?


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