The benefits of virgin soil

The benefits of virgin soil

Miscellany

The benefits of virgin soil

A ‘dream home’ is a lifetime achievement for many of us. We toil hard to build and own it. Well...maybe not all of us. Near Gulbarga is a farmer who dismantled his ‘mud house’ so he could enrich his land with organic soil and nutrients! He strongly feels that when the land is fertile, the quality of the yield improves; with the profits he would be able to build many more houses. But how did it begin?

Mallinath Kollur, an innovative farmer of Melakunda (B) village near Gulbarga, has always believed that a reduction in the cost of production in agriculture will lead to an increase in profit. He also knew that avoiding or minimising the use of fertilisers and pesticides would save him a considerable amount of money. And so, he depended on farm yard manure. He also thought he could bring silt from tanks and streams if it proved easily available.

When he heard that an old mud house was for sale in his own village, he bought the house without hesitation. Right after the purchase, he dismantled it and spread the virgin soil from its remains over his land. The house helped supply his land with 80 tractor-loads of soil.

He then planted banana crop in this new enriched soil. The crop grew lush and healthy bunches, each of which weighed approximately 40 kg. The bunches weighed 30 kg when fertilisers were used. Encouraged by this, Mallinath purchased another house and repeated the procedure. This time, the house supplied him with 40 tractor-loads of soil. After deciding to experiment some more, he bought an acre of uncultivated wasteland on the outskirts of the village and enriched it with 200 tractor-loads of virgin soil. From the start of this experiment in the year 2000, he has managed to cover 10 acres of land with two to three inches of this soil.

The results have been amazing! There has been an improvement of 10 kg in the weight of the banana bunches. He has also been able to harvest 10 quintals of tur,  six quintals more than the earlier yield. He has reaped ten-and-a-half quintals of rabi jowar as well. Sugarcane yield has drastically increased from 30 tons per acre to 65 tons. He invested Rs 20,000 for the purchase of the two houses and the acre of land as well as Rs 10,000 to rent tractors. He used vermicompost and cow urine instead of chemicals and pesticides. If he had used fertilisers or chemicals, he would have needed nearly a 100 bags which would have cost Rs 500 each. According to Mallinath, virgin soil is a treasure house of nutrients and humus. Spreading the soil over the land once is enough to produce high yield for the next five to six years. He says 20 gunny bags of virgin soil is enough for an are of land.

S N Upperi, a senior soil scientist of UAS, Raichur, supports Mallinath’s experience. The black soil used to build mud houses in North Karnataka contains sand, silt and clay in equal proportion to give soil a better drainage. This soil is rich in calcium and other nutrients. The traditional crops of this area – tur, jowar and banana – need calcium to thrive. Virgin soil coupled with farm yard manure fetch a better and sustained yield. However, Upperi adds, such virgin soil is still to be analysed in the laboratory to determine its nutrient content. Inspired by his success, Mallinath plans to cover all of his 35 acres with the lucrative virgin soil.

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