AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE Monday, March 12, 2001, Chandigarh, India

SOS call for soil rejuvenation
Suraj Bhan Dahiya
EWARE! Indian soil is about to exhaust. Under the prevailing conditions, in the immediate future it will not be able to feed over one billion human mouths, forget the other species — livestock, birds, etc.

Clonal eucalyptus — a boon for farm forestry
R.K. Sapra
ARMERS in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka planted eucalyptus hybrid (safeda) in a big way on the farmlands under farm forestry during the seventies. During the eighties, its cultivation got a setback due to a glut in the market, poor productivity, planting of more seedlings per acre and limited use of wood. 

  • Why cloning?

  • How cloning?

  • Where cloning?

  • Management of clonal plantations

  • Income from clonal plantations




SOS call for soil rejuvenation
Suraj Bhan Dahiya

BEWARE! Indian soil is about to exhaust. Under the prevailing conditions, in the immediate future it will not be able to feed over one billion human mouths, forget the other species — livestock, birds, etc. The rate of soil exhaustion, which takes place in the normal process of agriculture, is not being replenished through natural and artificial methods.

Land is actually like a living being. It gives nourishment to crop and in return calls for nourishment. The requisite inputs are water, manure, seed and human or cattle labour. Mr Charan Singh in his book, Joint Farming X-Rayed, tried to explain this philosophy more lucidly, "Soil is like a bank. You cannot take from it more than you deposit. Nature permits no overdrafts. Hence not only the fertility of soil is to be conserved but also enriched."

The biggest culprit of our soil degradation is the indiscriminate use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides. The extensive use of chemical fertilisers had led to the depletion of the soil carbon; the organic matter in the soil. This had reduced soil fertility and per hectare yield. In tropical countries like India, the problem is aggravated by the fact that the soil carbon is 0.5 per cent against 4.5 per cent in cold countries. To increase production and obtain higher yields farmers here are compelled to use increased quantity of chemical fertilisers. This further diminishes soil fertility and increases the use of chemical fertilisers. Without realising that they are trapped in a vicious circle, farmers run after short-term gains, while their land experiences permanent and irreparable losses. Therefore, it is high time that India should abandon four to five decades' practice of using chemical fertilisers and revert to age-old use of organic fertilisers.

India has a large animal kingdom and a way out of this desperate situation is to use cow dung and animal wastes as manure. It has been estimated that the cattleshed manure supplies nearly 10 times as much nitrogen and phosphoric acid to the soil as other manures and fertilisers. The amount of cattle dung annually available is 2100 million tonnes, of which 700 million tonnes is used as fuel and 320 million tonnes as manure, the balance is being wasted. Swami Daya Nand is his book Gou Karunanidhi had written, "With one cow beef at the most 80 non-vegetarian people can have meal only once, but the cow in her life span provides a meal for 4,10,440 people." Even human waste is also a manurial resource. Calculated at the rate of 1 kg of nitrogen which night soil expelled from the body of one person on an average produces in a year, one billion people produce 10 million tonnes of nitrogen.

The Chinese regard night soil as a property to be cherished rather than as waste material which is thrown away.

The tiller of the soil was aware of the various virtues of organic fertilisers. But he was forced to switch over to chemical fertilisers and he is now the biggest loser of his land capital. The onus, therefore, is on the government as well as agricultural scientists to reimpose in him the faith for organic farming. It is cheaper and the remedy to all soil problems. Research studies have concluded that dung of a cow may give 1,460 tonnes micro-nutrients annually which is sufficient to enrich soil structure and fertility of 14.6 acres.

We must also wake up to the need of using the indigenous seeds. The quality and characteristics of our seeds have been proved for agricultural crops. They are superior in yielding good crops even in varied climactic conditions. They do not destroy humus and degrade the soil, but always behave to preserve the eco-system. Unlike exotic seeds they are neither prone to diseases nor seeds they are neither prone to diseases nor require pesticide application. Unfortunately our indigenous seeds have been pirated at a mass scale leaving our gene coffer empty.

The Council for Advancement of People's Action and Rural Technology (CAPART) has now launched a movement throughout the country to save the local varieties of seeds. CAPART is taking up various projects for identification of traditional seeds and promotion of farmer-based gene pools. It has also been stressed that simultaneously information should be collected about traditional agriculture practices from the farmers of the old generation.

Chipko Movement coordinator Dhoom Singh, while launching the "save seeds" champaign, says that in Uttaranchal there were over 3,000 varieties of rice and now only 129 are available. Likewise, out of nearly 20,000 rajmah varieties, hardly 110 have been left. Also out of the nine varieties of wheat and eight varieties of peas, just three or four of each are found now.

The most important input — water — is becoming a scare commodity day by day. To preserve water we have again to look to our ancient philosophy. "For trees mean water, water means bread and bread is life. And one tree is equal to 10 sons." And finally the wisdom of our peasantry which shows the way to save the soil. In a tribal area, a farmer explains the importance of mulching the soil by arguing that it is as necessary as the sweater for the body in winter. He further emphasises on the companion plantation. The tribal farmers, for example, grow castor, beans, turmeric and chill over a piece of land simultaneously.

The companion planting and conservation of soil are no longer at loggerheads. They have to go hand in hand. We must endorse this view and should seek counselling of such farmers to preserve the fertility gradient of soil.

To conclude, agriculture in India lacks in organisation and leadership. It has never offered phenomenal prosperity to anybody like industry. Hence, farming has become short of marginal enterprise, or more correctly a deficit economy. So for our survival the ferment call "save the soil" should come now.Top


Clonal eucalyptus — a boon for farm forestry
R.K. Sapra

FARMERS in Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Karnataka planted eucalyptus hybrid (safeda) in a big way on the farmlands under farm forestry during the seventies. During the eighties, its cultivation got a setback due to a glut in the market, poor productivity, planting of more seedlings per acre and limited use of wood. The shortsighted policy of paper and rayon manufacturers, who wanted to buy cheap raw material, also contributed towards its downfall. But the situation has changed now and its diversified end-uses like construction timber, poles and posts, packing cases, crates, beams, sleepers, furniture, pulp and ply, charcoal, scaffolding, etc. have been found.

Why cloning?

Eucalyptus plants have a lot of variation that results into lower productivity. It has been found that in seedling plantations, 67 per cent inferior trees produce 33 per cent of the total volume, while 33 per cent superior trees contribute 67 per cent of the volume. A population of genetically identical individuals that are obtained through vegetative propagation is known as a clone. The clonal plants have higher productivity due to better genetic quality and uniformity. In Congo, Brazil and Papua New Guinea, clonal plantations of eucalyptus have produced 70-90m3/ha/yr. The productivity of clonal plantations raised under rainfed conditions at Bhadrachalam (AP) has given yields varying from 20 to 44 m3/ha/yr compared to 6-10m3/ha/yr of seed route plantations.

How cloning?

The superior trees are multiplied vegetatively (cloned) and tested for its superiority. The trees, which are found outstanding during trials, are cloned commercially through rooting of its juvenile coppice cuttings in mist chamber at 90 per cent humidity and 35°C to 40°C temperatures. One hundred fifty cuttings are obtained from coppice shoots of a 15-old clonal plant with a minimum girth of 15 cm at breast height and 90 clonal plants are obtained from these cuttings. A clonal plant is used for preparation of cuttings for three years only.

Where cloning?

In Brazil, clonal plantations of eucalyptus started in 1979, and about 12 million rooted cuttings are planted every year. In India, ITC, Bhadrachalam, is producing following clones of eucalyptus for good soils: 3, 6, 7, 8, 10, 27, 52, 99 and 128 and for calcareous/alkaline soils: 1,71, 130, 272, 404, 405 and 406. On the basis of the trial established at Seonthi (Kurukshetra) during 1993, Bhadrachalam clone Nos. 3, 7 and 10 have been recommended for higher productivity. The clonal demonstration plantations have been established at KDB land (Kurukshetra), Bhindawas Lake (Jhajjar) and Malt factory, Ghasola (Gurgaon).

Forty thousand clonal plants were arranged from Bhadrachalam by the Forest Department for the enterprising farmers during 1998-99. The growth of the plants is outstanding at the farmer’s fields in Hema Majra village of Barara block and Bilaspur village of Naraingarh block of Ambala district, while in other cases the results are moderate.

Management of clonal plantations

Generally, it should be planted in well-drained sandy loam soils whose P-should be 6.5 to 8.5 and Ec less than 2 milli-mhos/cm2. The recommended spacing for clonal plantations is 3mx3m (440 plants/acrer). On bunds, it should be planted at a spacing of 1.5m (115 plants/acre) in N-S direction. Under agro-forestry, enterprising farmers may plant two rows of trees at a spacing of 2m x 1.5m (266 plants/acre) followed by a gap of 18m and so on. Each farmer should plant minimum 3 "Bhadrachalam clones" in separate blocks. The vermiculite should neither be too dry not too wet at the time of removal of saplings from the tubets.

Generally, the rainy season is the best period for planting. If assured irrigation facilities are available, it can be carried out any time during the year except from April to June. The pits must not be less than 45cm x 45cm x 45cm. As the clonal plants are surface rooting plants, these should be buried to about 30cm depth to withstand wind pressure. The dug out soil that will be used for refilling pit should be mixed thoroughly with0.2 percentage chloropyrophos solution and 50gm DAP. Initially, irrigation at seven days’ interval except in the rainy season in the first year and fortnightly irrigation during the second year should be applied. Fifty/gm castor cake along with 10gm NPK per plant is recommended at the time of planting. Twenty five gm of urea per plant should be applied in one dose after establishment of plant and five doses are required during first year. If termited damage is still noticed, 2ml heptachlor dissolved in 2 litres water should be applied per plant. Use tractors for ploughing in between the 3m wide rows only to keep weeds under control. In case of any incidence of lodging of young saplings, the minimum necessary earthing up to support the plants should be carried out.

Income from clonal plantations

The measurement of sample trees should be done in every January. If the percentage increase in value of trees over pervious year is less than the banking rate of interest; it is ideal time for felling the trees. The average income from seven years clonal block plantations is about Rs 1.26 lac/acre-which is more than double of the return received from seedling plantations. The harvesting of coppice crop after seven years will be more profitable. According to a communication received from the Inspector-General of Forests, Govt. Of India, a progressive farmer of Dippakayalpadu of West Godavari dist. (AP) created a record by producing 80 tonnes/acre of eucalyptus over four years harvesting period. Bhadrachalam Paper Boards Ltd. purchased debarked eucalyptus wood at Rs 1450 per tonne. Thus, he got Rs 1,16,000 per acre, while around Rs 20000 per acre was spent on planting, weeding, inter-cultivation operations, fertiliser application and irrigation.

The DFOs, Social Forestry, arrange the clonal plants at the rate of Rs 12.50/plant for the farmers with the help of regional managers, Haryana Forest Development Corporation. Nowadays, the popularity of poplar is declining among farmers due to decline in its prices, while the prices of eucalyptus wood are increasing. The productivity of eucalyptus plantations has been enhanced substantially through cloning and its package of practices has been standardised. For achieving outstanding productivity, best clones must be planted at best sites with excellent management.Top





Chilli and capsicum:
Sow CH-3/CH-1/Punjab Guchhedar/Punjab Surakh/Punjab Lal varieties of chilli and California wonder of capsicum. Mark east to west lines 45 cm apart with a rake or rope. Apply 40kg of CAN, 155kg of superphosphate and 50kg of muriate of potash in bands over these lines and prepare ridges. Dibble (chutki) 3 to 4 seeds per hill on the Southern slope of each ridge, keeping hills 30cm apart. Use 1.5kg of seed per acre of both chilli and capsicum for dibbling. In case nurseries have been sown in November, December and kept under protection against frost during winter, transplant them also on the ridges and give continue irrigation after 10-12 days. Sow 0.5 kg of seed of chilli on raised beds. One marla bed area is enough to raise seedlings for an acre. Before sowing or dibbling, wash the seeds with water to induce better germination.

From March 15, sow nursery of onion variety N-53 or Agri Found Dark Red to produce bulb sets for planting kharif season crop. Sow 5 kg of seed to produce enough bulbs sets for planting in an acre. Sow this seed on beds having an area of 8 marlas.

Onion thrips feed on foliage and produce white spots followed by curling condition known as "silver top". Spray 250 ml of Malathion 50EC in 80 litres of water per acre as soon as the pest appears.

Sow either of the Pusa Sawani or Punjab Padmini or Punjab 7 or Punjab 8 variety for better yields in this season. Apply 60 kg of CAN and 155 kg of superphosphate and 40 kg of muriate of potash per acre in bands and prepare ridges from east to west. Soak 8 to 10 kg of seed in lukewarm water overnight. Dibble 4 to 5 seeds per hill on the southern slope of ridges, keeping hill at 30 cm apart. Apply light irrigation after 10 to 12 days.

Spray one litre Stomp 30 EC.acre as pre-emergence to control weeds.

Apply 155 Kg/acre of superphosphate and 40 kg/acre of muriate of potash. Prepare channels as per recommendation of each cucurbitaceous vegetable. Soak the seeds in water, wrap in a woollen rag for 48 hours for presprouting. Use 2kg of seed for covering an acre. Dibble at least two viable seeds per hill.

After germination of the crop, apply 2.75 kg/acre of Furadan 3 G just near the seedlings to check attack of insects on seeds and seedlings or apply 75-100g/acre of Sevin/Hexavin 50WP to check attack of red pumpkin beetle.

Pea and early season varieties of cauliflower:
Pea leaf minor larvae feed by making tunnels in the leaves and cause serious damage. Spray 125 ml of Dimecron 85SL or 400 ml of Rogor 30 EC in 100 litres of water per acre.

Harvest the seed crop of pea when a few topmost pods are yet slightly green. This will check shattering of seeds in the fields. Harvest the seed crop of cauliflower when the topmost pods in bunches of early season varieties are yellowish green.

Apply the second dose of nitrogen in the first fortnight of this month. Train plants on beds. Irrigate regularly after 10 to 12 days to encourage the maximum fruit setting.

Late blight disease may appear on tomato early in the month. The crop may be sprayed with Indofil M 45 @ 600g/acre to control this disease. In case of severe infestation, spray Ridomil MZ @500 g/acre followed by Indofil M-45 at 7 days interval.

Spray tomato crop with 800 ml of Thiodan 35 EC or 800 g Sevin/Hexavin 50WP 100 ml of Sumicidin 20 EC or 40 ml of Ambush 50 EC or 200 ml of Ripcord 10 EC or 160ml of Decis 2.8 EC per acre in 100 litres of water to check attack of the fruit borer.

Sow selection 263 or Pusa Dophasli keeping lines 45 cm and plants 5-7 cm apart to obtain green pods for table purpose. Apply 155 kg superphosphate per acre. Sow 8-10 kg seed of cowpea varieties.

Progressive Farming, PAUTop