Adopting improved practices translated to greater income for Mr Adinarayanappa.
For 52-year-old Mr Adinarayanappa whose major source of livelihood is farming, the year 2011-12 was a kind of watershed! Raking in an additional income of ₹95,000 from his harvest of 2,600 kgs of sorghum grain, 800 kgs of groundnut pods, 9,800 kgs of maize, 3,000 kgs of paddy and 37,500 kgs of tomatoes that translated into a 25% increase in yield, meant his nine-member family would have a comfortable year.
Mr Adinarayanappa attributes this bonanza to Bhoochetana, about which he had heard from officials of the Department of Agriculture (DoA), ICRISAT staff and farm facilitators. He has since adopted the recommended practices of crop spacing, using good quality seed and biofertilizers, treating seeds with pesticides, and applying trichoderma, gypsum, zinc sulphate, borax and the recommended doses of N, P and K.
He availed of the project’s subsidized inputs from DoA as well as a tractor-drawn furrow opener, leveller blade, tiller-operated HDPE sprayer, brush cutter, bio-digester and drip irrigation under subsidy through other projects.
His 10-acre farm has 2 borewells and drip irrigation. He grows maize, sorghum, groundnut and paddy during the rainy season and tomatoes in the postrainy season. Two years ago, he planted a grape orchard irrigated by drip irrigation.
Mr Adinarayanappa planted rainy season crops in June-July and used technologies such as drip irrigation, brush cutter, and multi-crop thresher depending on the type of crop. He planted tomatoes in February and harvested them in May. He spent ₹76,000 towards growing sorghum (₹4,000), groundnut (₹4,000), maize (₹12,000), paddy (₹6,000) and tomato (₹50,000). Paddy was used only for household consumption.
With the profits he made, he recently bought 25 sheep. His two improved breeds of cows bring in a tidy ₹4,500 per month from the sale of milk. His annual domestic expenditure is about ₹70,000 and he continues to invest in developing his farm.
Apart from being a practitioner of the project’s recommended management practices, Mr Adinarayanappa is also a resource person for the DoA. He conducts training sessions and spreads the word about the benefits of the improved technologies to other farmers. “The scientific knowledge and experience I have gained is an asset. I will now intensify the adoption of livestock integration and vermicomposting,” says this enthusiastic farmer.
The lush soyabean vegetation after improved agriculture practices were followed.
Agriculture is the main source of income and livelihood for Mr Basappa, a 52-year-old farmer who owns a small piece of rainfed land in Haveri district. Average rainfall here is about 900 mm and is sufficient to grow crops in the rainy season, with potential for a second crop. But poor land and water management and water scarcity were the norm leading to poor crop yields till improved agricultural practices were introduced to farmers under the Bhoochetana program.
Mr Basappa grew soybean during the 2011 rainy season. Under the program, he received fertilizer inputs and seeds of improved varieties at subsidized rates. Soil tests carried out on his fields revealed widespread micronutrient deficiencies; so gypsum, zinc and borax use were recommended. The crop was planted across the slope to conserve rainwater in the soil. Soybean seeds were treated with trichoderma. The recommended plant population was maintained and intercultural operations were followed for weed control. “The technical guidance I got from my interactions with farm facilitators, ICRISAT staff and department staff and participating in capacity building /training programs helped me understand the technology and the importance of improved agricultural management,” reveals Mr Basappa.
Mr Basappa’s soybean yield increased from 5 quintal/ha to 7 quintal/ha, bringing in an extra income of `5,000. Encouraged by this, his family is keen to continue these interventions in the future.
Micronutrient application helped increase yields in Mr Deekshakumar’s field.
Mr Deekshakumar of Maragodu village in Kodagu district was introduced to the Bhoochetana program in 2012-13. “I got to know about the program through the Raitha Samparka Kendra (RSK) and ICRISAT officials. They provided me valuable information on the importance of testing soils to detect deficiencies and the effectiveness of adding micronutrients to enhance soil health,” says Mr Deekshakumar. “I adopted technologies such as summer plowing, micronutrient application and seed treatment on my land. Based on their guidance, in addition to primary nutrients, I applied secondary nutrients such as dolomite, zinc sulfate, and borax. To my surprise, the plot which used to yield 15.5 quintals/acre last year, yielded 19.5 quintals/acre,” he adds.
Mr Deekshakumar adopted the recommended technologies on 2.4 hectares, where he grew paddy, coffee, pepper, coconut and bananas. The improved technologies yielded an annual income of nearly `50,000. With the additional income he bought a power tiller for agricultural operations and spent the rest on his children’s education. Emboldened by the success of these interventions, his plans include planting 200 banana plants next year.
“I faced immense problems in the past due to lack of information and access to technology. Having experienced these benefits, I plan to adopt the same technologies, including micronutrient application, to other high value crops such as coffee and pepper. I would like to educate other farmers on the advantage of using integrated nutrient management to increase crop yields,” says this happy farmer.
Mr Devendrappa demonstrates the benefits of improved management in his green gram field.
Like millions of farmers who are disillusioned with the growing cost of inputs, energy and labour, Mr Devendrappa of Janwada village in Bidar district was alarmed by the declining crop yields from his 7-acre farm. Yields from his green gram, black gram and soybean crop were nothing to write home about.
During the rainy season of 2012, he volunteered to participate in an on-farm research project. He was told to follow soil test-based nutrient management practices on a one acre green gram plot (improved management) while following the traditional practice on another acre. As advised by experts from ICRISAT and the Department of Agriculture, he added deficient secondary and micronutrients like sulphur (through gypsum), boron (through borax) and zinc (through zinc sulfate) in the improved management plot in addition to nitrogen (through urea and DAP), phosphorus (through DAP) and potassium (through MOP) just as in the traditional plot.
Mr Devendrappa obtained additional inputs, trichoderma and VAM from the Department of Agriculture (DoA) at 50% subsidy. These were being promoted under the Bhoochetana program. Seed was treated with trichoderma @ 200 g/acre and VAM (vesicular arbuscular mycorrhizae) @ 200 g/acre in the improved management plot. Trichoderma was recommended to provide resistance against fungal diseases and shocks during early plant growth while VAM is a fungus which inhabits plant roots and protruding fungal hyphae and acts as a nutrient mobilizer/solubilizer that enhances nutrient availability and uptake. All other agronomic practices remained the same in both plots. Crops under both practices were sown on 25 June 2012 and harvested on 24 August 2012.
He incurred an expenditure of ₹2,910/acre on his traditional plot as against ₹3,400/acre in the improved management plot that included inputs, land preparation, sowing, interculture, weeding, harvesting, threshing and transportation. The result of the interventions led to 43% higher yields, from 350 kg/acre under the traditional practice to 500 kg/acre under improved management practices.
Mr Devendrappa sold his produce at a farm gate price of ₹40/kg, bringing in an additional net return of about ₹5,500/acre. He could then afford a better education for his children and health care for his family. “This science-led approach was a revelation of the untapped potential of my remaining 6 acres,” says a grateful Mr Devendrappa.
Farmer-cum-farm facilitator Mr R Nagaraju (left) with his finger millet and maize crops.
Fifty-year-old Mr R Nagaraju is an innovative farmer and farm facilitator under the Bhoochetana project. His five acres of dryland support his six-member family. Being a farm facilitator, he adopted Bhoochetana technology on 2.5 acres of finger millet and 2 acres of maize to demonstrate the results to other farmers in the village. Line planting of finger millet was done on 7 August 2011 and harvested on 5 December 2011.
He planted maize during the last week of June and harvested it in the third week of October 2011. He applied gypsum @ 80 kg/acre, zinc sulfate @10 kg/acre and borax @ 2 kg/acre and obtained good yields compared to 2010. He harvested 10 tons of finger millet/acre and 1.8 tons of maize/acre during 2011. “This was in stark contrast to the 0.8 tons/acre of finger millet and 1.2 tons/acre of maize I harvested during 2010,” says an elated Mr Nagaraju.
Though the difference in cost of cultivation was a mere ₹1,000/acre between 2010 and 2011, he sold finger millet grain @ ₹12,000/ton and maize grain @11,000/ton and hauled in an additional gross profit of ₹19,200 and net profit of ₹14,700 due to the improved practices recommended by the Bhoochetana program.
Mr Nagaraju used a hired tractor for land preparation and bullock-drawn implements to sow and for inter-cultivation operations. He harvested the crop manually and used machines for threshing. As a facilitator, he serves as a contact person for technical information on improved technologies. And both roles, he plays to perfection.
Using Bhoochetana interventions has meant greater rice yields.
“I have been planting paddy for the last 40 years, right from the time I used to help my parents do so. Having studied up to class X, I was not aware of scientific and more effective ways of rice cultivation, be it land preparation or postharvest methods,” says Mr Somanath Bangera of Navoor village in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka.
His participation in the Bhoochetana Farmer Field School and cultivating a demonstration plot have given him insights into improved methods of rice cultivation. Learning about soil testing and the importance of nutrients, land preparation, transplanting and harvesting through training has proved very beneficial. The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) training program taught him about rice transplantation and how salt water could be used to treat seed.
“The program taught us about fertilizer application, compost making, how to maintain soils, and control pests and diseases through integrated pest management practices. But what was happy is that at the end of the season, I got a yield of 22 quintal/acre from my rice field. The average yield of the previous years was 17 quintal/acre,” says Mr Somanath.
“We realized that applying a mixture of compost, DAP, zinc sulphate, lime, boron and gypsum is most effective. The program taught us how to improve our rice yields through simple and inexpensive technologies,” he adds with a tinge of pride.
Improved practices helped boost his green gram yields.
Mr Ganapatha Rao is a small farmer who used to cultivate green gram and other crops the traditional way. During the 2011-12 rainy season, he learnt about the Bhoochetana program through farm facilitators, who advised him to test new technologies and evaluate the performance of green gram.
Mr Ganapatha Rao received inputs such as green gram seeds (5 kg per acre), DAP (30 kg per acre), gypsum (80 kg/acre), zinc sulfate (10 kg/acre), borax (2 kg/acre), trichoderma (200 g/acre) and neem oil (1 litre) from the Department of Agriculture. The improved technologies he used included the application of micronutrients as basal dose and mixed in soil a week before sowing, planting across the slope, treating seeds with trichoderma, maintaining plant population, weeding twice, following suitable plant protection measures, and rainfed farming with a check plot. More importantly, regular visits by farm facilitators and technical guidance from DoA and ICRISAT staff helped in the timely monitoring of the crop.
Post harvest, Mr Ganapatha Rao noticed a significant improvement in the green gram yields where he had followed improved practices compared to where traditional practices had been followed. He obtained a 37% increase in yield (5.20 q/acre using improved technologies compared to 3.80 q/acre from his traditional plot). He obtained an additional income of `4,900/acre by selling his green gram crop at the rate of `3,500/quintal.
His field has been used by the Department of Agriculture to conduct field days and field visits to demonstrate the results of Bhoochetana technologies to other farmers.
Effect of micronutrient application on rainfed pearl millet.
Forty four-year-old Mr Venkateshagowda has been practicing subsistence farming for many years. He was troubled by the recurring low crop yields from his land. Convinced that it had to do with the poor fertility of his soil, he jumped at the idea of trying out new ways of enhancing productivity of his rainfed crop when he heard about Bhoochetana project.
Mr Venkateshagowda chose pearl millet to try out the initiative. He bought inputs such as gypsum (200 kg/ha), zinc sulfate (10 kg/ha) and borax (5 kg/ha), along with major nutrient fertilizers from Raitha Samparka Kendra, Mudgal. He applied the nutrients as suggested by the program staff before sowing, except for urea, which he applied as top dressing twice at 30 and 50 days after sowing. A week before sowing, he applied the micronutrients as recommended. Planting was done across the slope with seed treated with Ridomil M.Z @ 2 g/kg, maintaining the recommended plant population. He carried out weeding twice. Guidance came in the form of trainings and regular visits by farm facilitators and staff of DoA and ICRISAT.
Mr Venkateshagowda found a remarkable improvement in crop growth compared to his previous practice of nutrient application. He obtained a yield of 4.8 quintals/acre as against the average of 3.5-3.6 quintals/acre in the last five years. “Using balanced nutrition and including the micronutrients that my soil was deficient in proved to be a beneficial practice,” he concedes, contented with the 33% hike in crop yield that brought in `3,360/acre.