8 Sep 2015

Saguna Rice Technique (SRT) as convergence of CA and SRI in Rice based cropping system: An experience from Saguna Baug

Key Words: Conservation Agriculture, System of Crop Intensification, Saguna Rice Technology, Raised bed, Zero-Tillage

Picture 1: Team AKRSP-I Dangs with Mr. Chandrasekhar
Like any other day, I was reading Revitalizing Rainfed Agriculture (RRA) group mail which is a  frequent habit of mine to remain updated with the news on agriculture and livelihood development happening in different corners of India, for which Mr. Nemani Chandrasekhar and his consistent efforts need to be appreciated. This was when I came across Saguna Baug in Raigadh District of Maharashtra via NABARD Chief General Manager, Mr. Ashok Methil. The curiosity of personally visiting the site and seeing the activities made me decide upon for an exposure with the agriculture team. The curiosity was imminent as the agriculture team of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme-India is being mentored by Dr. Amir Kassam who is currently working as an adviser in sustainable agricultural intensification with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome, and who is Moderator for the FAO-hosted Global Platform for Conservation Agriculture Community of Practice (CA-CoP).  The organization is testing CA with farmers in the three regions Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. Interest in the question of how Conservation Agriculture (CA) with its three principles of zero tillage, mulching/cover cropping, and maintaining crop diversity, can also be extended to the rice-gram rainfed cropping system of the Dangs tribal region of Gujarat, India led me to discover Saguna Baug for its zero-tillage, raised-bed rice cultivation.

Picture 2: Raised bed formation by tractor further
 to be used for sowing crops without tillage
Born and brought up with rice fields all around in my village Basghar (Utarakhand) and learning the Practical Crop Production course at Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, I always had the belief that for paddy cultivation, puddling (preparation of the land before transplanting) and a large quantity of water are inevitable for good economic yield. The System of Rice intensification, which has revolutionized the technique of cultivation of rice across the world, is now a very prominent technique which AKRSP-I has been promoting in its different programmatic regions. Farmers have seen a great change in their production from the technique which has been approved by many papers and research studies. So has the benefits of Conservation Agriculture been shown for reducing the cost of production for farmers and making the soil more sustainable for producing good crops year after year. In my previous account on Conservation Agriculture, Dr. Norman Uphoff in a mail conversation had asked the team ‘to converge CA and SCI’ which can become a win-win situation for farmers as well as for soil health in fast-changing climate.
cultivation of rice in a credited

As in 2014, the rainfed rice crops in Dangs region have faced a challenge with late rainfall turn out after the first shower began in the month of July 2015. Rainfall gaps in the rainfall as seen in previous two seasons led to a problem for managing the transplanting of young seedling of 14 days (an important step in SRI), as without adequate rainfall transplanting becomes difficult. The result is seen in over- mature seedlings for transplanting or the wilting of the seedlings in the nursery itself when rain gets delayed.  This was seen in the villages participating in the AKRSP-India program in the Dangs region. The number of farmers cultivating rice with SRI technique was reduced substantially, and those who did use the practices, used over-mature seedlings. This presents a challenge to farmers for continuing SRI when there are unpredictable changes of course for rainfall and wider gaps are seen.

The challenge is taken up by some farmers. A farmer named Shantilal Bheeka in village Timarthava of Subeer Cluster tried something different, keeping in mind the principles of SRI. This farmer confronted by the erratic rainfall tried sowing his rice directly in his puddled field in the month of July during the first shower of rainfall with spacing of 25*25cm, putting 2-3 seeds per hill. The crop stand of the direct-seeded rice shows good growth and vigor, although it is too early to comment on the results. The point noted here is that there is a felt need among the farmers to adopt direct-seeding with SRI principles. The direct-seeding technique using a drum seeder as being practiced in Vietnam and shared by Dr. Norman is very promising for confronting this emerging challenge for managing the right age of seedlings and in extreme cases preventing the morbidity of seedlings due to unavailability of supportive irrigation. The drum seeder directly places the germinated seeds in a well-prepared puddled field with spacing of 25*25cm and thus avoids the cost of transplanting. The Saguna Rice Technique as experienced in first hand with the help of the innovator farmer Mr. Chandrasekhar Bhadsavale in his Agro-Tourism farm has also lot to promise to meet the challenges mentioned above and for the convergence of SCI and CA techniques both in unison.  

Saguna Rice Technique (SRT), a name which he derived from the name of his farm Saguna Baug, is a technique in which rice is directly sown on a raised bed at equal spacing of 25*25 cm with the help of iron frame dibbler. Year after year, different crops can be taken on the raised bed as it has been practiced and promoted by Mr. Chandrasekhar Bhadsavale. He graduated in agriculture from Dapoli Agriculture University in 1970 and completed his post-graduate in Food Science and Technology from University of California Davis in 1972. After a quick stint in a MNC, he quit to come back to India and start his agro-tourism farm naming it Saguna Baug, in commemoration of his grandmother Saguna Bhadsavale.

As it is well known that human need leads to innovations, he was adversely affected by the washed-down top soil which would come in a river near his farm from upstream paddy fields. The river is one of the centers of attraction for swimming for tourists coming to his farm, so he decided to get something done with the soil washed into the river. He decided to do some trials on direct-seeded rice in his own farm so that an alternative can be given to the farmers cultivating rice by creating soil and water mud. Over the course of time and with knowledge gained from different discussions, he started his trial for raised-bed, zero-tillage rice cultivation. The technique although still is in its 4th year of adoption is doing fairly well, not only in the field trials which he has in his field for demonstration to various visitors but it also has become very popular among farming communities in adjoining districts. Over 600 farmers in 12 districts have adopted the unique technique of cultivating rice and are highly satisfied with the technique as reported by Mr. Chandrasekhar.

The major steps to adopt SRT which promises SRI and CA altogether:

Picture 3: Iron frame which is used for direct sowing
 of seeds of rice and many other crops at equal distance
1. When one has to start to adopt zero-tillage, the land is prepared using a plough to make it loose. This needs to be done only for the first (and last) time. Raised beds can be made with the help of either a tractor-mounted or bullock-driven bed former. In case of small land areas, it can also be done with the help of hand tools. The width of the bed is kept at 100 cm while the length will depend on the size of the plot, and from one furrow to the next furrow, the distance maintained is 136cm. The optimal height of the bed depends on the type of soil. The beds are recommended to be made (contoured) against the slope. This minimizes erosion.

2. A pre-designed iron frame with spacing of 25*25cm is used for making holes for seed placement. The frame can also be used easily for different crops like mung bean, groundnut, wheat, and cowpea as are already being done in the Saguna Baug.

3. To reduce weeds on the bed, a pre-emergence herbicide Oxyfluorfan 23.5% EC is used on the raised bed after the sowing is done in the field in the moist condition.

Picture 4: A SRT plot in its 4th year of incorporation 
under no till rice
4.For fertilizer application, briquettes of mixed fertilizer (urea and DAP) are applied in between the

5.  After the crop is harvested, the beds are then immediately sown with the next crop, saving the time of tillage operations. For management of weeds currently the SRT engages Glyphosate soon after the sowing of seeds, but a non-chemical approach is also being tested in Saguna Baug. Year after year these beds can be used for the cultivation of different crops with the help of the iron frame for sowing seeds

Let’s have a look on the technique and what it promises to the small and marginal farmers in the rice-based cultivation, especially in the rainfed regions. Let’s consider it one by one:

1. The technique promises to reduce the cost of production of the farmer up to 40% as seen by the farmers who have adopted the technique as the costs involved in ploughing, diesel, hiring a bull, transplanting , hand hoeing etc. are totally removed. Year after year the same raised bed is used for raising crops.

2. When compared to traditional techniques, the technique can increase production up to 2.5 times as reported by the farmers when compared to the traditional method of cultivating rice.

Picture 5: Soil with Earthworms
3. The techniques improve soil health in terms of soil organic carbon and the populations of earthworms, flora and fauna which facilitate soil to regain its natural vigor and resilience of the soil against cracking. The first plot used with Saguna Baug has seen its organic carbon rise from 0.3 percent to its current 2.5 per cent. Moreover each and every plot can be seen to be rich in earthworm population, and the soil turned by them surely is a healthy sign of sustainable production.

4. In the direct-seeding technique, the dependency on rain for transplanting is reduced, and farmers can reduce their risk of erratic rainfall pattern and nursery losses.

Picture 6: Leaf lamina comparison of
 traditional cultivated and SRT rice
5. After every crop, ploughing and land preparation take away crucial time, and residual moisture gets evaporated in the soil. With reduced duration of time between harvesting and sowing of the next crop, cropping intensity can be increased. In 23 plots which are managed by Saguna Baug have seen to raise three crops which were earlier limited to just two as the water retention capacity increases in the zero-tillage method and time is saved.

6. The erosion of rich top soil with the puddled water or by the action of sheet erosion triggered by rainfall can be avoided with this technique. Mr. Chandrsekhar measured that the puddled soil wash constitutes 20 per cent of rich soil from other fields, which he metaphorically calls as ‘the blood of our land.’

7. More importantly, the technique saves water a lot when practiced in irrigated condition as the integration of drip irrigation with this technique can do wonders in saving water.  

The raised-bed, zero-tillage method of cultivating rice, which is also named as SRT, is one such method which is now becoming popular among farmers to a great extent in the nearby villages. The team of AKRSP-I went to visit the farmers who have adopted the technique. We first visited the village named Mograj, which is not very far from the Saguna Baug. Mr. Prashuram, a marginal farmer from the village, learnt the technique from Mr. Chandrasekhar, trialed the technique and adopted it in his own field. After gaining confidence in it he made the whole village adopt the technique to cultivate rice as everyone could see the promise which it gave in making production rise while reducing the costs of production. He narrated, referring to his 0.75 acres of land, “In traditional method I used to engage 14 persons for a day to finish the transplanting, while in SRT now I now finish the direct-seeding just with 8 labor-days, which is a huge saving of money and time”. Regarding the situation of rainfall he said, “Rain this year is 40 per cent lower than normal. In spite of this fact we have a good crop stand in the field and now we do not have to worry about nursery losses due to unavailability of water. Crop stand can withstand moisture stress in a better way as has seen in previous two years”. While finishing his discussion, he also mentioned, “The women of the village are in a better position as before more number of women were involved in the transplanting of seedlings, and now the drudgery has been reduced for them too”. There were many other farmers who were sharing their experiences on how this technique has benefited them in terms of enhancement of livelihood, but one more case is worth sharing.

A farmer named Mr. Ram Panwar from Katkari tribe owned approximate 1 acre of land in a remote
Picture 7: Field visit of Mr. Ram Panwar, a marginal farmer
location with uneven terrain of the hills passing through forest. Due to this geographical challenge, bullock owners would not come to his field to plough the land or to puddle for the transplanting of rice. He along with his wife cultivated rice with traditional methods using their own plough with hand labor which was a tedious task. He narrated his story that, “I would go to work as a laborer in adjoining villages to earn some money, and after earning some money I would return with my wife to my own field to transplant my own rice which took us a long time. After learning about the new technique, I along with my wife made the beds and started to cultivate rice with SRT. The result was so astonishing. Earlier I would get 4 guni (bags) of rice; now I can have 12 guni of rice as seen in the previous two years. This is a huge difference for me”.

The experience of this farmer made us realize how this technique can revolutionize problems of labor, production and remoteness of land for a small farmer. The team of AKRSP-I decided to visit the farmer’s land based on his narration. It took us a 15-minute walk in uneven topography of ghats through the forest to reach his farm. After reaching his plot, one can see the crop’s superior phenotypic performance as the flag leaves were rising high in uniformity across the whole plot and with broad leaf lamina reflecting a healthy crop. Soil health improvement with no-till and proper maintenance of space. Our team was completely satisfied with the technique as the challenges are common in Dangs as it is seen in hilly terrain of Raigadh District.

Picture 8: Sugarcane crop under zero
 tillage practice
Saguna Baug, have also trialed the technique of cultivating Sugarcane with the method and is said to be water saving in nature. Sugarcane saplings were used for transplanting on the bed of size 100 cm in width. Sapling were transplanted on the bed with just one row on each bed with a space of 2.5 feet from plan to plant. This system of sustainable intensification has lot to give in terms of productivity as it was phenotypically evident by the crop stand in his field as well as it is water saving when integrated with drip irrigation system. As planet is going to suffer dearth of water in which irrigation and drinking water is of prominence. As agriculture sector is highest contributor for water extraction. The technique assures to reduce the use of water in rice and sugarcane, which comprises the large chunk of water use for the production, as with zero tillage water holding capacity of soil will increase and frequency of irrigation support can be reduced. I am very much in consent that this is high time for all the development sector organization to promote this technique in their respective working are and also influence the policy maker to push this further for the adoption at national level.

This exposure visit has given us a lot to think about: how one can add to the cause of sustainable intensification for enhancing livelihoods in rainfed agriculture by this convergence of SRI and CA in the form of SRT which Mr. Chandrasekhar has given to world. The team AKRSP-I have decided to take and adopt this technique with the farmers and learn along with them to enhance a finest way of developing this technology by adding missing values like mulching and minimal use of herbicides. We are hopeful to that.

Picture 9: Saguna Baug: An aerial view of SRT Rice field

15 Apr 2015

Conservation Agriculture for sustainable crop production: An experience with Dr. Amir Kassam ( adviser FAO) 


Key Words: Conservation Agriculture, Hardpan, No-till, Mulch, Biodiversity

I heard about Conservation Agriculture for the first time in Aga Khan Rural Support Programme-India, when Mr. Pramod Sahu (Senior Manager Agriculture AKRSP-I) told me about it. He gave me some readings on Conservation Agriculture, but what exactly it means in the field situation and what is its relevance I got to learn from Dr. Amir Kassam who is currently working as an adviser in sustainable agriculture intensification with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Rome, and is the Moderator of the FAO-hosted Global Platform for Conservation Agriculture Community of Practice (CA-CoP). Dr. Amir has been working across the globe for the noble cause of Sustainable Agriculture. He has been an advisor to AKRSP-I for the past 18 months on sustainable crop production intensification, including the restoration of soil health and addressing the causes of soil degradation and erosion.

It has been seen in the past half century that input intensive agriculture has taken its toll on various systems linked to agricultural land use, be it the water cycle or the soil health. When we talk about input intensive agriculture it not only includes water, fertilisers, pesticides and high yielding seeds but also includes heavy machinery for tilling the soil. The technologies imparted with the ‘Green Revolution’ have not only affected human health, water tables and cost of production but has also led to deterioration of soil health and functions. Heavy use of machines and intensively tilling the soil year after year has caused our soils to become degraded and eroded.

To cope with the emerging issue related to soil degradation and static crop production, Conservation Agriculture is offering a win-win situation for the environment and for the farmers in different part of the world. Dr. Amir informed us that globally Conversation Agriculture is practiced in all continents and in 2013 it was applied over an area of 155 million hectares of arable cropland (11% of the total arable cropland). Conservation Agriculture is a method of sustainable farming in which  the soil is not disturbed or disturbed minimally, maintaining soil much cover by leaving as much of the residues of the previous crop in the field, and  managing a diversified cropping system that is socio-economically and environmentally viable. The three broad inter-linked principles of Conservation Agriculture (CA) are (www.fao.org/ag/ca):

1.No or minimum mechanical soil disturbance by  seeding or planting directly into untilled soil;
2.Enhance and maintain organic matter cover on the soil surface  using crop residues and cover crops to protect the soil and feed soil life;
3.Diversification of species both annuals and perennials - in associations, sequences and rotations. 
When the above principles are applied to cropping systems using locally formulated practices and other good agricultural practices, the benefits that can be harnessed include the following:

  1. Improvement of soil health with every consecutive year during the transformation phase by improving soil organic matter, soil density, porosity and structure, soil flora and fauna, reduced soil loss due to erosion and improved productivity and profit.
  2. Reducing costs involved in tillage, weeding, higher number of irrigation, heavy doses of fertilisers, and labour costs, all of which help to increase profit margins.
  3. Cutting green-house gas emissions from the soil, and offering greater climate change adaptability.

Dr. Amir visited Saurashtra, Gujarat in the month of September 2014 which includes the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, Gadu SHT in Junagadh District. We had a short training and orientation on Conservation Agriculture under his guidance. Dr. Amir demonstrated some important aspects of the soil in a groundnut crop. A small pit was dug in the groundnut field and the hardpan layer was shown to be present. The hardpan is a compressed soil layer which is formed below 20 to 25 cm depth or within the root zone, due to continuous use of mechanical field implements striking again and again at a particular point in the soil. The effect of the hardpan is visible in terms of decreased rainwater infiltration, poor soil water percolation and hindrance to root growth and proliferation, all of which affect nutrient and water retention, plant growth and yields. Conservation Agriculture with its basic principle of no or minimum soil disturbance and maintenance of soil mulch cover reduces soil compaction and enhance water infiltration and percolation and root growth as well as promotes soil microorganisms and fauna such as earthworms that help in incorporating organic matter into the soil and in building a network of soil bio-pores which improves the soil moisture regime.  Conservation Agriculture is a remarkably different way of looking at agriculture production and land management, as it is totally opposite to conventional tillage agriculture involving ploughing and fine bed preparation for the cultivation of crops.

We were requested to establish on-farm trial or test plots of at least 100 square meters each for one year in partnership with lead farmers, and growing local crops following the CA principles for the purpose of self-learning and group training. Such a CA trial plot was identified in Gadu SHT of Aga Khan Rural Support Programme-India in village Kalej. The farmer, named Bhayabhai, took the lead to establish the CA trial plot of an area of 200 square meters for cultivating wheat as part of his cropping system. After the harvesting of the groundnut crop from the field, the sowing of wheat seeds was done without tilling the soil. This operation he carried out with a small hand hoe by making a narrow cut in the soil for the seed, and sowing was done by hand immediately following the opening of the thin furrow. When the plant grew to an age of 25 days, he applied dry mulch which was available with him, in between the rows which were 9 inches apart. He had been growing some 17 different crops in his field of one hectare which was a clear example of cropping system diversity. The wheat was sown in the month of December, based on the agro-climatic conditions in the region.

The calculations of the cost of production with the innovative farmer clearly reflected how CA can benefit farmers right from the beginning, although the differences of production are substantial, they are nonetheless encouraging.  Weed infestation in the CA crop was comparatively less, as the farmer did not apply any herbicide in the CA crop, his cost of production was reduced to some extent. The farmers also had to give one less surface irrigation in the CA test plot as compared to conventional tilled plot. The yield was 6.52% higher in CA over traditional plot, and the profit was 15.7% greater, which is a very encouraging result for the first year of the CA trial in the region; and the fact that this productivity and cost of production will show their positive trend with every consecutive year as the soil health improves over time. The initial apparent challenges will be related to farmer acceptance of the new understanding of no-till/Conservation Agriculture, adding and maintaining crop residue cover, and the availability of appropriate implements in the local region in order to carry out no-till sowing over a large area. However, it is contemplated that once the participating farmers start actualizing the benefits of CA, such challenges will be accepted with optimism of change. Bhayabhai is now very elated about the CA testing in the groundnut crop next season, which will complete the establishment of one year of CA cropping cycle with the farmer.

Under the guidance of Dr. Amir, a second round of orientation training was organized in the month of January 2015 for the farmers who had adopted the CA trial in the 2014 Rabi season. Along with the field visit to different farms, some field demonstrations were also done by Dr. Amir regarding soil health characteristics and the importance of enhancing and conserving them.

Demonstration 1- Water infiltration: 

A PVC pipe was partially inserted into the soil in a place
Dr. Amir demonstrating soil
 water infiltration & percolation in
traditional soil of field
where farmers till the soil and practice conventional agriculture. Water was poured in the PVC pipe to the brim. The rate of infiltration was observed by the farmers and field staff. The infiltration rate was exceptionally slow, almost negligible. It seems as if the soil surface was closed. Soon after, the same PVC pipe was inserted into a place near some bushes which had been untilled and was left naturally undisturbed. The same amount of water was poured into the pipe and the infiltration rate was observed. The water disappeared very quickly into the soil. When comparing the two observations, farmers could realize that the PVC pipe inserted in the second case had a comparatively much higher water infiltration and percolation rate. The reason, which Dr. Amir explained, was that the micro and macro-pores of undisturbed soil were much more extensive due to higher organic matter and action of microorganisms including earthworms, the density was less because of the greater porosity and better structure which enabled water to infiltrate and seep to the lower soil profile more readily. In conventional tilled field, increased soil density, dilapidated soil organic matter, declining soil life and formation of the hard pan in the root zone, all have a direct negative effect on the soil water infiltration and percolation rate.

Demonstration 2:

Soil Aggregate Stability: A soil clod was taken from the cultivated tilled field and a soil clod was taken from the untilled naturally undisturbed soil. The two clods were each put in a transparent plastic cup filled with water. It was observed that the 
No dispersion of a soil clod from no-till soil 
soil clod from the cultivated tilled field broke up and was dispersed quickly into the water and settled at the bottom of the cup, making the water opaque as compared to the clod from the no tilled land which did not disperse at all and the water stayed clear. This difference was due to much greater aggregate stability of the soil which is not disturbed. Another thing which we could observe was that the clod from naturally undisturbed soil had many large bubbles coming out of it as compared to few tiny bubbles from the cultivated tilled soil clod. The no tilled soil has much greater amount of air space and air within the soil structure and continuous tillage cultivation also decreases soil aeration. It is a well-known fact that a well-aerated soil is better for root growth and soil biological functions whose effect is seen in the better production and performance of the crop and the soil. Soil from the cultivated tilled field got dispersed and dissolved in the water leaving the water muddy, while the undisturbed soil did not dissolve in the water and water remained clear. This observation tells us that the tilled soil is not stable and is more prone to water erosion which can wash it away easily when wet, and when the top soil is splashed with rainwater, while the naturally undisturbed soil remains bounded to its different organic material and glues and gums produced by natural flora and fauna.

As vividly said and demonstrated, farmers accepted the benefits of Conservation Agriculture which can improve soil density, porosity, structure, its water and nutrient retention capacity and overall soil health. The farmers understood the reasons why conventional tillage agricultural practices lead to soil degradation and soil erosion losses with every consecutive year. This year we are enthusiastic to add 4 more lead farmers to adopt an on-farm trial plot each for understanding and experimenting, under the hand holding guidance of AKRSP-I and Dr. Amir Kassam, as he has suggested that it is important to move slowly, winning the confidence of the farmers, as it is the farmers who will drive the transformation and make his improved earnings from the CA-based cropping systems.
Some of the photographs are attached below from the field:

Bhayabhai with his father in CA trial plot of wheat

Mulch between the wheat crop rows and a tensiometer
installed to schedule irrigation

Dr. Amir explaining the importance of CA to farmers

Group photographs with AKRSP-I team, farmers, Dr Amir Kassam and Dr. Ram A Jat

30 Mar 2015

Making lemonades from thinning: An experience from the System of Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) intensification

Aga Khan Rural Support Programme-India did its first experiment on SRI Coriander in Gadu SHT, Junagadh Gujarat. The System of Crop intensification is a new vogue among small and marginal farmers in many parts of India, and why should it not be the new song for them when it can increase their production of crops while decreasing their costs of production, thus reducing pressure on their pockets. The agronomic practices which were tailored for rice are turning out to fit for all types of crops as it is being experimented with by a number of organization and farmers in different part of India. Although the acceptance of this idea took some time to get mainstreamed with present scientific paradigm, there are people around the world who are working hard to mainstream this farmer-friendly technique

The practice as known by me till now has the basic principles of: raising or sowing healthy treated seeds or seedlings (which can be done by treating them by soaking in Amrit Pani, an ITK); using single seeds or seedlings; maintaining a square geometry, i.e., giving plants equal spacing in all directions to grow; checking weed growth between rows and columns; and giving balanced nutrition to the plants. Based on these principles, coriander (Coriandrum sativum) was cultivated in SRI manner by a farmer named Multani Alibhai Habibbhai from village Kalej in Mangrol Block of Junagadh District in Gujarat.

It was rabi season when we looked into the possibility of doing a SRI trial in a number of crops among which were cumin and coriander, two crops which were never tested withr SRI. The pessimist half of me was questioning whether the SRI will work with irrigation water salinity. The distance from the sea to from the village is hardly 4 kilometers, and we are working to ameliorate salinity ingress of water into the water wells. Total dissolved solids (TDS) in the village range from 600 to 800, depending on rainfall and month; soil carbon was tested to be 0.5% by our soil testing lab. I was a little diffident whether to do the trial with the farmer. It becomes difficult when you yourself are not confident to carry out a task, and you fear that a naïve person will consent to doing something in which you are not fully confident.

With such questions banging my head and but with support given by our mentor Dr. Satish Subhedar, I approached Alibhai for the trial in his plot . He too was skeptical and raised many questions which were but natural and obvious to me. Alibhai is a farmer who never hesitates to try something new, and after a little discussion we came to an agreement that we will try the technique in a small area. Seeing the availability in his field, he agreed to be try SCI in Coriander in a 300 sq metre area with a similar area under his traditional practice.

The field was prepared with a blade harrow, followed by a cultivator, and sowing was done on 11th of November, 2014. He added 15 kg single super phosphate (SSP) and 5 kg murate of potash (MOP) mixed with 100 kg of Amrit Khad which was recommended by us. 200 gm of seed was used by him in an area of 300 square meters. The seed had been soaked for 3 hours in Amrit Pani for quick germination. We had asked him to sow a lower amount of seed by point placement. But he suggested instead that we achieve the desired plant spacing of 50 x 50 cm by sowing the seed more densely, but then, after allowing the plants to grow for some time, they would be thinned out as desired, selling the thinned plants in the market as green coriander, which is used for top dressing and flavoring in food. We were happy with his suggestion which would add to the profit from his crop since he could later sell the thinned green leaves of coriander in the market, fetching him 700 rupees from the 300 sq metres.

A pre-emergence weedicide was used for weed management while mechanical weeding was done twice further in the crop to keep the field free from weeds. 7 irrigations were given by the farmer for the crop, and every time irrigation was done, Amrit Pani was applied along with an indigenously-made product from Azadiractia indica, Calotropis gigantean leaves, gram flour, jaggery, cattle dung and urine, and water fermented in an air-tight earthen pot. 3 foliar sprays of Amrit Pani were also done by the farmer as recommended by us. The field was harvested on 18th February, and sample data was collected for the analysis while the rest of the crop was left in field for sun drying to make it marketable. 

The field results are easy to comprehend and give a good indication that SRI can also be done with coriander.

Name of Farmer: Mulatani Alibhai Habibbhai
Village : Kalej
Block : Mangrol
District : Junagadh

S. No
Date of sowing
11 Nov, 2014
11 Nov, 2014
Date of harvesting
18 Feb, 2014
18 Feb, 2014
Cost of machinery usage (ploughing, sowing, harvesting)#
Area in sqm
Spacing (cm)
50*0 (line sowing)
Seed Rate in gm approx**
Murate of Potash (soil test basis)
Single Super Phosphate (--do--)
FYM in kg treated with Amrit Pani
Amrit Pani application as spray
1st  Weed Management
Weedicide used
Weedicide used
2nd  Weeding (time taken in Minutes)
3rd  Weeding (time taken in Minutes)
Average biomass weight of 5 sample 1*1 m plants in kg
Test weight of 1000 seeds in gm
Average major tillers in 10 plants (rounded of)
Average Length of 10 plants (rounded of) in cm
Average Yield of 1*1 sqm area of random 5 locations in kg
Projected* yield of 300sqm
Projected yield per hectare in kilograms##
Returns of seed Yield @ Rs. 75/kg price in market from 300sqm area
Returns in the form of green coriander from thinning***
Total Returns in 300 Sqm
Cost of production (ploughing, sowing, weeding labour, Amrit Pani, fertilizers, FYM, seeds included)##
Projected Profit to farmer in 300 square metre
Projected Profit to farmer per hectare

* Due to loss caused by rain of harvested  plants in field total yield of the plot could not be taken
** Seeds are light in weight so no exact measurement done of seed rate
***No thinning done to maintain spacing
# Based on approximation of farmers knowledge
##All the costs taken are current costs of interventions including land preparations, seeds, fertilizers, and other interventions

Some of the Photographs can be seen below:

Fruiting Comparison between SRI and Traditional

SRI Coriander Plant

Traditional and SRI Coriander; tillering had covered the distance which astonished the farmer