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
Particulars
SRI
Traditional
1
Date of sowing
11 Nov, 2014
11 Nov, 2014
2
Date of harvesting
18 Feb, 2014
18 Feb, 2014
3
Cost of machinery usage (ploughing, sowing, harvesting)#
550
550
4
Area in sqm
300
300
5
Spacing (cm)
50*50
50*0 (line sowing)
6
Seed Rate in gm approx**
100
200
5
Murate of Potash (soil test basis)
5
5
7
Single Super Phosphate (--do--)
15
15
8
FYM in kg treated with Amrit Pani
100
100
9
Amrit Pani application as spray
3
3
10
1st  Weed Management
Weedicide used
Weedicide used
11
2nd  Weeding (time taken in Minutes)
30
80
12
3rd  Weeding (time taken in Minutes)
30
80
13
Variety
Local
Local
14
Average biomass weight of 5 sample 1*1 m plants in kg
1.621
1.534
15
Test weight of 1000 seeds in gm
18.92
16.27
16
Average major tillers in 10 plants (rounded of)
6
4
17
Average Length of 10 plants (rounded of) in cm
36
33
18
Average Yield of 1*1 sqm area of random 5 locations in kg
0.249
0.226
19
Projected* yield of 300sqm
74.7
67.8
20
Projected yield per hectare in kilograms##
2490
2260
21
Returns of seed Yield @ Rs. 75/kg price in market from 300sqm area
5602.5
5085
22
Returns in the form of green coriander from thinning***
700
0
23
Total Returns in 300 Sqm
6302.5
5085
24
Cost of production (ploughing, sowing, weeding labour, Amrit Pani, fertilizers, FYM, seeds included)##
408.75
608.75
25
Projected Profit to farmer in 300 square metre
5893.75
4476.25
26
Projected Profit to farmer per hectare
196458.3
149208.3


* 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




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