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Technology and Science

Green House Farming

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Green house technology is not a new concept to Indian farmers and agri-business entrepreneurs. It has been regularly used in nurseries, floriculture industry and vegetable seed producing industries. To develop the commercial and hi-tech horticulture in India, Government has been giving support and subsidy to entrepreneurs who are adopting green house technology.

With the introduction of green house technology, farmers can grow any fruits and vegetable in any season. Green house farms helps controlled and favourable environment for the crops to grow in all seasons.

Low-cost Green House : It is a zero-energy chamber made of polythene sheet of 700 guage supported on bamboos with rope and nails. Its size depends on the purpose of its utilization and availability of space. It has one opening which is kept open for 1-2 hour during the day, especially in the morning to reduce the level of humidity inside. The temperature within polyhouse increases by 6-10o C more than outside. The solar radiations entering the polyhouse is 30-40% lower than that reaching the soil surface outside.

Medium-cost Green House : With a slightly higher cost, an arc-shaped polyhouse (green house) can be framed with GI pipe of 15 mm bore. This polyhouse has a single layer covering Ultra Violet - stabilized polythene of 800 gauge. Thermostatically controlled exhaust fans are used for ventilation. Cooling pad is used for humidifying the air entering the polyhouse. The polyhouse frame and glazing material have a life span of about 20 years and 2 years respectively.

Hi-tech Green House : In such type of green houses, temperature, humidity and light are automatically controlled. These are indicated through sensors or signal receivers. Sensor measures the variables, compare the measurement to a standard value and finally recommends to run the corresponding device. For example, temperature control system consists of temperature sensor, heating/cooling mechanism and thermostat-operated fan. Similarily, relative humidity is sensed through optical tagging devices. Boiler operation, irrigation and misting systems are operated under pressure sensing system. This modern structure is highly expensive and requires qualified operators for maintenance, care and precautions.

Apart from the convenience of growing any crops in any seasons, green house technology reduces the consumption of irrigation water and fertilizer and infestation of pests and diseases. Considering the vast land and availability of cheap labourer, Indian entrepreneurs could set up green house technology based framing to grow export oriented fruits and vegetables.

 


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What is Mixed Farming?

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Mixed farming system can be defined as –

(i).The use of a single farm for multiple purposes, as the growing of cash crops or the raising of livestock is called as mixed farming.

(ii).Farming involving both the growing of crops and the keeping of livestock is called as mixed farming.

(iii). A type of commercial agriculture concerned with the production of both crops and animals on one farm. Stock on a mixed farm used to be grazed on fallow land, but many modern mixed farms produce some, or all, of their fodder crops.

Mixed farming is a  system of farming in which a farmer conducts different types of agricultural practices together, on a single farm in view of increasing his income through different sources, is called as mixed farming.But, what is a farm? & what is Farming? Receiving the radiant energy of sun through crops and cattle is called as farming whereas, the place where these practices are done, is called as a farm. Here is one example: Rearing of cattle and growing fodder for them on a piece of land is called as farming. In other words, Mixed farming is the combining of two independent agricultural enterprises on the same farm.

In mixed farming a farmer can take up different types of practices for income generation while doing his main business of agriculture. Some of these practices that can be done together with the main agricultural practices are – poultry faming, dairy farming, bee keeping,  sericulture, Pisciculture, shrimp farming, goat and sheep rearing, piggery and agro forestry. Thus a farmer can raise his income manifold through carrying out different farming practices together. The greatest benefit from this type of farming is that if any one business does not pay desired benefit, the same can be recovered from the benefit of the other business.

 

B. Factors affecting Mixed Farming

A number of factors are there to affect the system of mixed farming. These are – quality of soil, quality of livestock, location of farm, topography, water facility, technologies used and economic considerations.

 

C. Merits of Mixed Farming System

The mixed farming system is the largest category of livestock system in the world which covers about 2.5 billion hectares of land, of which 1.1 billion hectares are arable rainfed crop land, 0.2 billion hectares are irrigated cropland and 1.2 billion hectares are grassland. This system of farming produces 92% of the world’s milk supply.

 

Some of the important merits of mixed farming are mentioned below.

 

1.This farming system maintains soil fertility by recycling soil nutrients and allowing the introduction and use of rotations between various crops and forage legumes and trees, or for land to remain fallow and grasses and shrubs to become reestablished;

 

2. Mixed farming maintains soil biodiversity, minimize soil erosion, help to conserve water and provide suitable habitats for birds;

 

3. It makes the best use of crop residues. When they are not used as feed, stalks may be incorporated directly into the soil, where, for some time, they act as a nitrogen trap, exacerbating deficiencies. In the tropical semi-arid areas, termite action results in loss of nutrients before the next cropping season. Burning, the other alternative, increases carbon dioxide emissions; and

 

4. Mixed farming allows intensified farming, with less dependence on natural resources and preserving more biodiversity than would be the case if food demands were to be met by crop and livestock activities undertaken in isolation.

 

D. Methods applied in Mixed Farming System

There are a number of methods that are adopted in the mixed farming system. Some of these methods are being described below-

 

1.Food –Fodder Farming

In this method of mixed farming, the fodder crops are also grown along with other crops. Farmers can grow Sorghum, Pusa Giant Napier; berseem etc. as fodder crops for their cattle alongwith food crops. It is through this system that the availability of high variety of fodder is ensured for milch cattle while growing crops for production of grains, pulses, vegetables, oil and fruits etc.

 

2. Agroforestry System

According to the World Forestry Centre (ICRAF) 1993, - “Agroforestry system is a collective name for the land use systems and practices in which woody perennial plants are deliberately integrated with crops (and some times animals) on the same land management unit. The integration can be either in a spatial mixture or in a temporal sequence. There are normally both ecological and economic interactions between woody and non-woody components in Agroforestry". Again in the year 2003, the ICRAF further defined the agroforestry system as - a dynamic, ecology based, natural resources management system that, through the integration of trees on farms and in the agricultural landscape, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits for land users at all levels (World Agroforestry Centre, 2003).According to another opinion -

Agro-forestry is sustainable land-management system, which increases the overall yield of the land, combines the production of crops (including tree crops) and forest plants or animals simultaneously or sequentially on the same unit of land and applies management practices that are compatible with the cultural patterns of local population (King and Chandler, 1978).

Here is another definition of agroforestry – “Agro-forestry is a land-use that involves deliberate retention, introduction, or mixture of trees or other woody perennials in crop / animal production field to benefit from the resultant ecological and economical interactions (Nair, 1984)”.

 

In most simple terms - Cultivation of fast growing trees of greater importance along with crops- plants is called as agro-forestry. For this system, trees of specific species that have less canopy area and short life cycle are selected. Papaya and banana are two of such plants that occupy less area and provide fruits of good commercial value in a comparatively short time. Hence these two can be selected for the agro-forestry system of farming. Thus by agroforestry, a farmer can make maximum utilization of his land and can earn more money.

Scientists have been doing research on agroforestry systems since last two decades or more. Their researches have confirmed that agroforestry has been persisting with the Indian Culture since Vedic period or even earlier. It has been confirmed that agroforestry has more biological productivity, more commercial profitability, and more Ecological Sustainability than forestry or any of the modern cropping practices.

 

Following are some of the remarkable benefits from agroforestry systems -

  • Agroforestry Systems can control runoff and soil erosion, thereby reducing losses of water, soil material, organic matter and nutrients.
  • They can maintain soil organic matter and biological activity at levels satisfactory for soil fertility. This depends on an adequate proportion of trees in the system - normally at least 20% crown cover of trees to maintain organic matter over systems as a whole.
  • They can check the development of soil toxicities, or reduce existing toxicities - both soil acidification and salinization can be checked, and trees can be employed in the reclamation of polluted soils.
  • They utilize solar energy more efficiently than monocultural systems - different height plants, leaf shapes and alignments all contribute.
  • They can lead to reduced insect pests and associated diseases, and can be employed for the reclamation of eroded and degraded lands.
  • Agroforestry promotes biodiversity, improves wildlife habitats, invites vast varieties of birds to harbor and reproduce, and attracts insects that feed on insects. Besides these, the spreading tree biodiversity adds variety to the landscape and improves aesthetic sense.
  • These practices enhance the soil, water, air, animal and human resources of the farm.
  • The Agroforestry moderates and regulates microclimates.

 

  • Trees can probably increase nutrient inputs to agroforestry systems by retrieval from lower soil horizons and weathering rock. The nitrogen fixing trees and crop plants add nitrogen to the soil and feed nitrogen to plants that remain hungry of nitrogen.

 

  • The tree litter and pruning that are shed on ground can substantially contribute to maintenance of soil fertility after their decomposition in the soil. It leads to large increases in crop yields.
  • Agroforestry provides a more diverse type of farm economy and stimulates the whole rural economic systems, leading to more stable farms and communities. The production of multiple items reduces economic risks.

Agroforestry Combinations

India has been divided in many agro-ecological regions. Different such regions practice different agroforestry combinations. Some common agroforestry combinations are listed below -

1. Agri-silviculture: trees+crops

2. Boundary plantation: tree on boundary + crops

3. Block plantation: block of tree+ block of crops

4. Energy plantation: trees+crops during initial years

5. Alley cropping: hedges+ crops

6. Agri-horticulture: fruit trees+crops

7. Agri-silvi-horticulture: trees+fruit trees+crops

8. Agri-silvipasture: trees+crops+pasture or animals

9. Silvi-olericulture: tree + vegetables

10. Horti-pasture: fruit trees pasture or animals

11. Horti-olericulture: fruit tree + vegetables

12. Silvi-pasture: trees+pasture/animals

13. Forage forestry: forage trees+pasture

14. Shelter-belts: trees+crops

15. Wind-breaks: trees+crops

16. Live fence: shrubs and under- trees on boundary

17. Silvi or Horti-sericulture: trees or fruit trees+sericulture

18. Horti-apiculture: fruit trees + honeybee

19. Aqua-forestry: trees + fishes

20. Homestead: multiple combination of trees, fruit trees, vegetable etc.

Besides these common agro-forestry systems, there are many more component combinations followed in different agroecological regions of India.

3. Hortipastoral System

Growing grasses for cattle in the gardens of fruit trees; or growing fruit trees while rearing cattle- is called as Hortipastoral system of farming. It is an old and traditional farming system mainly adopted in dry areas. This system of farming is also adopted as an alternative land use system in certain northern regions of India. Farmers in these areas grow fruit trees like guava, mango, citrus, pomegranate, ber, aonla etc. They rear small cattle that graze on pastures. In modern times hybrid varieties of fruit trees are being grown in these areas and people inhabiting these areas earn money from selling fruits, milk, and other different products.

 


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Know Your Soil

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What is soil? It is difficult to explain in a single sentence. It depends on what you use for. For an earth mining engineer soil is a useless thing and removes it. A highway engineer looks for gravel and rocks. For a farmer soil is everything for his life and precious. At first sight it may be sold substance. But soil contains water, air and organic matter in a certain ratio. There may be slight variations in cultivable soil. But major variations will affect the growth of plants seriously. Plants growing in water logged land may become yellowish. That is because lack of proper air circulation in the soil and it becomes difficult for the plant to breath and will die slowly. Flushing out water will help the plant to grow well.

There are different types of soil. Soil contains more sand, clay, sticky soil etc. Presence of organic matter in soil is very important. That is by the activities of microorganisms like bacteria. Earthworms also plays big role. The life of soil is the microorganisms which digests garbages, wastes, excretions etc. The base of existence of farming is the ability of soil to avail required nutrients. All the required nutrient elements should be there in soil for the plants to grow well. The ability to absorb nutrient elements and providing them to roots of plants is another important factor. Quality of soil increases when ability of absorbing elements presented in the form of ion increases. Fore more details please contact 'Krishy Bhavan' Agricultural offices near to you.


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Drip irrigation with mineral water bottle

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What would you do when you finish drinking water from the mineral water bottle? Crush it and throw out? Or Put it in the dust bin near to you? Then wait! Think before you throw it. Nowadays, people are finding innovative ways to utilize waste items especially in the farming field.

Drip irrigation with mineral water bottle is an easy way of watering plants. No cost involved in making this. No power or piping required for supplying water. It is very easy to make. Take an empty mineral water bottle. Then make 4 or 5 small holes at the bottom of the bottle with a nail. Now fill the bottle with water and screw the cap back on to keep bugs and debris out of the water reservoir. After that insert and fix the it into the soil (approximately 2 inches) in the pot or sack in which your vegetable plants are growing. That’s it. Your drip irrigation with mineral water bottle is ready. Keep the bottle close to a side of the pot. This is to keep a distance from the plant. Water will slowly flow into the soil in the pot and plant will absorb it as and when required. Water does not overflow from the pot by doing this. Useless plastic becomes useful sometimes.


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Bio-gas Power Plant

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There are many ways to utilize wastes formed in kitchens in houses, hotels, apartments and other wastes like animal dung etc. These wastes can be used to produce bio-fertilizers, bio-gas etc. Now these wastes can be used to generate electricity power too. Electricity can be generated for houses to large industries, apartments, hotels etc. depending on the amount of wastes.

The waste is loaded to a shredder which will chop and crush. From there it goes to the anaerobic reaction tank. Then it pumped to a biogas digester by using a motor. The gas generated in the digester is filtered and purified by using a purifier. The purified gas is then collected in another balloon chamber which is made of strong and flexible materials. Then it passed to power plant to produce electricity and also for cooking purpose. The sludge, which accumulated at the bottom of the digester, will come out through the outlet provided. After drying, this can be used as fertilizer for gardens and plantations.

Bio gas technology is based on a decomposition of organic materials by putrefactive bacteria at suitable temperature. To ensure continuous production of the bio gas digester must feed daily with organic material in chopped and crushed from with sufficient water. This bio-gas power plant does not require a large area unlike our conventional bio-gas plant. It can be accommodated in a small area of your available space.

The biogas digester plant in portable form made of special grade flexible materials. The plant can be operated under various environmental conditions and climate conditions. Starting with a range of 50 Kg to 30,000 Kg waste/day can be used to produce electricity with 100% output.

Modular, Portable And Flexible Bio Gas Plant The following types of waste material can be used to generate electricity as well as Bio-gas for cooking. The details of easily available waste from your local area :

  • Animal dung
  • Food waste from hotels
  • Kitchen waste from hotels and apartments
  • Agricultural waste and other energy crop
  • Potato processing industries
  • Slaughter waste, fish waste
  • Waste water from milk industries
  • Poultry farm and diary farm waste
  • Distilary waste water
  • Municipal solid waste (Only bio-waste)

Quantity of gas generation depends on the type of waste we use. The output of gas generation is different from each waste. The segregated waste should be free from plastic, metal, glass and other non-biodegradable materials. Advantages of Biogas plant

  • compact and aesthetic looks
  • No flies and mosquitoes nuisance
  • Little maintenance and electricity consumption
  • Complete solution for waste disposal
  • Simple and easy to operate

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