Managing a farm, but naturally

AGRICULTURE


The lush green Raitha Mitra Farm on the outskirts of Yalavatti village. By managing a farm, this Shimoga farmer doesn’t refer to the usual clearing of weeds and administering of fertilisers regularly. Most agriculture scientists may call it ‘mismanagement,’ but that’s how the krishi pundit of Yalavatti village near Shimoga ‘manages’ his farm.|

Raitha Mitra Farm, a six-acre plantation owned by progressive farmer Mallikarjun on the outskirts of Yalavatti village near Shimoga is a place every farmer must visit. The plantation is unique in terms of crop diversity and space utilisation. Natural farming is attempted here with the use of modern technology.

Mallikarjun took to farming after completing his SSLC. Inspired by newspaper articles on chemical-free farming, Mallikarjun decided to take it up on his land. “It was also a necessity for me. Because I was not interested in borrowing loans to purchase chemical fertilisers and pesticides, I decided to take up natural farming. Initially I used cowdung as manure. Later I began preparing jeevamruta (a natural manure) and the concoction has brought positive changes in the farm,” says Mallikarjun.

Mallikarjun’s six-acre plantation is rich in terms of bio-diversity. Along with areca, coconut and banana, he has grown spices like cardamom and pepper. The plantation has more than 50 varieties of medicinal and aromatic plants used in native medicinal practices like ayurveda. Madhunashini which is used to treat diabetes, galanga which has an exotic aroma, lavancha, hippali and other herbs are grown here. 

According to Mallikarjun, cultivating aromatic and medicinal plants as sub crops can augment the income of farmers.

A 14-feet deep tank with dimensions of 13x30 feet has been constructed here to store rain water. This  farmer has no aversion to technology either. “I concretised the drains of the tank with the ash generated at rice mills, and thanks to this, water flows easily,” he said. The pond has recharged ground water and the plantation is lush green all year round.

Converting bio waste into manure

The bio-digester unit installed in the farm ensures that the bio waste and cowdung is converted into manure in 45 days. The manure is supplied to plants by way of venturi and sprinklers.

Even in terms of space utilisation, farmers can take cues from Mallikarjun. Creepers like pepper, vanilla and betel leaf which have commercial value hug the huge trees at the plantation. Lemon grass is grown on the bank of the pond and bunds to give much needed stability and to prevent soil erosion. Bees are the newest guests at the Raitha Mitra Farm, because Mallikarjun has decided to keep bees too. There are as many as five hives and Mallikarjun is optimistic about making profits from bee-keeping too.

It is zero investment natural farming in real terms at Raitha Mitra Farm as every agro input is prepared at the farm itself. Eight pits have been maintained to develop earthworms which will be released to all parts of the farm.

Minimum human intervention is maintained at the farm. Dhananjay, younger brother of Mallikarjun, who is also passionate about natural farming said the weeds cleared once in a while in the plantation are mulched which in turn become manure. Mallikarjun is happy that with minimum investment, he has been able to extract more yield than farmers who use chemical fertilisers. Mallikarjun was awarded the krishi pundit award for the year 2003-04. He is the convenor of Dhanvantari Krishi Parivar promoted by State Organic Farming Mission.

The humble farmer is now the resource person for many workshops on chemical-free farming organised by State Organic Farming Mission.

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