AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE Monday, November 26, 2001, Chandigarh, India
 


Strip tillage boon for wheat farming
Harminder Singh Sidhu and L.N. Shukla
T
ILLAGE is one of the major crop production operations and is an important contributor to the total cost of production. It is estimated that tillage and sowing almost consumes 25 per cent of the total operational energy in wheat production. Tillage operation is mainly physical soil manipulation achieved by harrow, cultivator, plough and other implements to make a fine seed bed for proper germination along with other benefits like better aeration, moisture conservation, friability, biomass incorporation and weed control.

Asia’s useful trees and plants
K.L. Noatay
C
ANNABIS is the English word for a weed named cannabis, locally called as bhang, ganja, sidhi, hashish, vijaya, Indian hemp plant, etc. The scientific name being cannabis sativa, the species belongs to the plant family cannabinaceae. It is a tall herbaceous annual plant. It grows luxuriantly in vacant pieces of land in temperate and tropical regions all over the Indian subcontinent.

FARM OPERATIONS FOR NOVEMBER

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Strip tillage boon for wheat farming
Harminder Singh Sidhu and L.N. Shukla

TILLAGE is one of the major crop production operations and is an important contributor to the total cost of production. It is estimated that tillage and sowing almost consumes 25 per cent of the total operational energy in wheat production. Tillage operation is mainly physical soil manipulation achieved by harrow, cultivator, plough and other implements to make a fine seed bed for proper germination along with other benefits like better aeration, moisture conservation, friability, biomass incorporation and weed control.

Earlier heavy tillage was emphasised by the farmers and farm scientists for successful farming of wheat after paddy. It resulted in speedy mechanisation of tillage and sowing operations in the wheat crop and the number of agricultural tractors equipped with costly implement has already reached about 24 lakh at the all-India level. However, with the implementation of the WTO in India it has become essential that effort should be made to reduce the cost of wheat cultivation so that the Indian farmer can also compete in the international market for exporting wheat.

The rising cost of crop production, depletion of fossil fuels, timeliness of sowing operation, non-availability of longer duration for crop growth and soil health problems have forced the scientists and engineers to optimise the requirement of field preparation by adopting precision farming. It was thought that wheat cultivation expenditure can be reduced by reducing tillage. The possibilities of controlling weed with the help of herbicides and weedicides also encourage the researchers to closely investigate the tillage operation in the light of the minimum tillage research findings all over the word. In view of this fact the work was started on minimum/optimum tillage to establish the effect on crop raising parameters and yield. The engineers and scientists at Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, have successfully demonstrated that wheat can be grown after paddy without any prior field preparation. To adopt precision farming and take advantage of both tillage and no tillage a strip till drill was developed in the department of farm power and machinery of PAU. The successful development of this machine achieved the goal of cost reduction and timely sowing in the wheat crop.

Strip till drill is a nine-row tractor-operated rear mounted machine. Eleven-row model is also available. There is a rotary tiller attached in front of the drill, as shown in the figure, which can be easily detached. It prepares a 3-inch wide soil strip for placing seed and fertiliser from the delivery tube in front of each furrow opener. The depth of tillage is also three inches. The rotary tiller is having nine sets of blades i.e. one set for each row of seed drill. It is operated with the PTO of tractor at a speed of 300 rpm. If the row-to-row spacing of wheat is 8 inches, then a width of 5 inches between the two rows remains untilled i.e. tilled area will be less than 40 per cent. This results in saving energy and time in the range of 60-70 per cent in comparison to traditional sowing where five to seven operations are required, depending upon the soil conditions. A planking operation is performed as usual depending on the judgement of the farmer. The machine can be handled with a tractor of 35 HP or above. At present there are at least four manufacturers of this machine and around 100 machines are working in the field. In the recent model of strip till drills, inverted T type furrow openers are used instead of shovel-type furrow openers. With this farmer can have three machines for the cost of one. He can use it as strip till drill, no-till drill and as a rotavator for puddling operation in the paddy field.

The strip till drill sows wheat after paddy in case of manually harvested paddy and after clearing straw in case of combine harvested paddy. It performs well under different soil and field conditions. It provides an almost ideal soil seed environment for early germination, crop establishment and growth. For large scale adoption of this technology, PAU is engaged in farmers’ field demonstration of this machine and the Punjab Government is giving subsidy to the farmers for its purchase and use. Farmers using it are quite satisfied. The cost of the machine is about Rs 35000. The machine cost can easily be recovered by sowing only 50 to 60 acres of wheat i.e. saving of Rs 600 to Rs 700 per acre through diesel and labour cost. Its use also increases yield due to timely sowing and lower weed population. Punjab Agricultural University has already recommended this machine for the farmers of Punjab.
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Asia’s useful trees and plants
K.L. Noatay

CANNABIS is the English word for a weed named cannabis, locally called as bhang, ganja, sidhi, hashish, vijaya, Indian hemp plant, etc. The scientific name being cannabis sativa, the species belongs to the plant family cannabinaceae. It is a tall herbaceous annual plant. It grows luxuriantly in vacant pieces of land in temperate and tropical regions all over the Indian subcontinent.

BhangIn ordinary wild condition the plant is about 1 to 2 metre high. However, when cultivated on suitable soil and favourable climatic conditions, it attains a height of about 5 metres. The stem is slender and grooved with fine tomentose hair all over. The leaves are alternate and palmately divided, 5 to 20 cm long and 4 to 7 cm wide, each having 6 to 10 leaflets.

Cannabis is a dioecious plant, in that the male and female are borne on separate and distinct plants. The flowers appear during February-March. These are yellowish green. The male ones are clustered in short drooping panicles, while the female ones, coloured similarly, are sessile and erect, nearly 3 to 5 mm in diameter. The fruiting takes place during April-May. The seeds appear during May-June and ripen around June-July.

Bhang is openly cultivated mainly for its floss which makes very good fibre. The plant is rich in narcotics too. Three kinds of intoxicants are obtained from it. The resinous substance appearing on the surface of leaves and flowers on female plant yields charas. When only flowering tops are collected and dried the substance obtained is called ganja.

Cannabis is used by pharmaceutical units for extracting resin, volatile oil called cannabinol, pseudo-cannabinol, cannabinin, etc. also. These derivatives are rich in potassium nitrate called brown sugar in the underground narcotic trade.

The above derivatives are anodyne, antispasmodic, anesthetic, aphrodisiac, appetiser, astringent, digestive, exciting, hypnotic, etc. These act as sedative when consumed in small controlled dozes. The seeds called Bhangolu are fed to milch cattle for better milk yield. The oil is luminicent and is, therefore, used in the manufacture of paints and varnishes. In manufacture of soap, it is used as a fat. A paste of its fresh leaves heals tumors. Their juice is used for relief from lice and or curing dandruff. It is also useful for dressing wounds and sores. The hill people roast and eat the seed as a delicacy. Green leaves make a sweet refreshening drink and are used as such during summer months.

Cannabis can grow on a variety of soils. It, however, does better on fertile loamy soil in mildly humid climate. The serious cultivators, therefore, prepare the fields very well, put a lot of manure and then sow the seed in drills or by broadcasting immediately on commencement of monsoons. The harvesting for fibre is done during September-October when the plant is about to flower. But for obtaining medicinal elements and or intoxicants the harvesting is done soon after setting of flower.

Bhang is an interesting plant for two reasons. One, it grows easily and is not much demanding in matter of quality of soil and or care by the cultivator. Two, the narcotics yielded by the plant fetch very high dividends in underground trade circuits.

Addicts use the plant and its various parts for hard intoxication. That perhaps is the reason that the Government of Himachal Pradesh appears to be loudly thinking of licensing some outlets for controlled dispensation of the connected intoxicants like the liquor vends.

Further, growing of bhang and extracting, handling, consumption and or carrying of the narcotics yielded by it are governed under legislation, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. As per the provisions of this enactment growing the cannabis plant for purposes other than domestic/industrial use for fibre or seed for horticulture purposes or medicinal ingredients, is illegal. That can be done only under specific licence from a competent authority under Section 14 of the Act.
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FARM OPERATIONS FOR NOVEMBER

DAIRYING:

— Watch the animals in the early and late hours of the day, especially at the time of milking, for mucous discharge from vagina. If the mucous discharge is clear, get the animals inseminated/mated in late midheat.

— The animals should be got examined from quality veterinary doctor for pregnancy status after three months of insemination/mating.

— HS and FMD vaccination should be done for prevention of gal ghotu and foot and mouth disease.

— Regularly deworm the calves with piperazine liquid (4 ml/kg body weight) first at 10 days of age, then 15 days later and then monthly up to three months of age and then three monthly up to 1 year of age.

—Disbudding should be done within 21 days of age.

—Because of scarcity of green fodder during this month give silage to the animals along with mineral mixture @ 50 g per animal per day and common salt @ 20 g per animal per day.

POULTRY:

— Cull out unproductive birds if your birds are of 18 months of age or above.

— Prepare curtains, if needed, for coming winter for poultry sheds to avoid sudden downfall in temperature in the shed.

— Vaccinate the birds against Ranikhet disease and fowlpox, if not already done.

— If paddy straw is available, the same can be put on the roof to protect the birds from cold during winter.

— Keep poultry sheds clean, dry and warm.

— Do not store the feed beyond 15 days period.

BEE-KEEPING:

Queen bee rearing can be undertaken on the toria crop for colonies’ multiplication or for old queen bees’ replacement during start of this month. The colonies should otherwise be maintained strong for exploiting toria honey flow to its maximum. Sulphur dusting should be done on top bars of the frames as per PAU recommendations in case mite infestation is noticed. Ripe(sealed) honey from toria flow should be extracted. In areas where toria crop is not grown/available and eucalyptus is not in bloom yet, sugar feeding can be given to the colonies if food reserves are either scanty or not available in the colonies.

MASHROOM GROWING:

— Remove newspaper sheets after two weeks of spawning and cover the spawn-run compost with disinfected casing soil as recommended.

— Continue spray of water directly on the casing soil.

— Provide cross ventilation a week after casing.

— Small pins start appearing two weeks after casing which mature into fruiting bodies in a week time.

— Cultivation of dhingri also to be continued.

FISH FARMING:

— If the colour of the water is brownish green, reduce the dose of organic manure to half i.e. 60 kg/acre/week of cowdung or 30 kg/acre/week of poultry dropping or 60 kg/acre/week of biogas slurry.

—Reduce the supplementary feed to half i.e. @ 1 per cent of fish biomass present in the pond.

— Apply quick line (in cool liquid form) @ 25 kg/acre as pro-phylactic measure to prevent incidence of disease during winter.

Start harvesting common carp (more than half kg of weight) to sell in the market.

— Progressive Farming PAU

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