|AGRICULTURE TRIBUNE||Monday, June 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India|
Economic emancipation of kandi areas
Commercial production of flower seed
Economic emancipation of kandi areas
Due to the pressure of expanding population and economic development, the quality and management of land resources have become important. There is little scope for the expansion of productive land. In some areas there is the need to increase production from either land already in use or from the fragile and less productive areas.
Because of inadequate water supply from rain and irrigating sources in the kandi and undulating plains of the district of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahar, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Patiala, the first phase of the Green Revolution could not be realised. The Punjab Government had made tremendous efforts to augment the water supply. Large dams like Pong Dam, Thein Dam, Nangal and Bhakra Dams were built on the major rivers flowing through this area. With the financial assistance of the World Bank many earthen check dams were also built on the seasonal rivulets passing through this area. At some places deep tubewells were sunk with the heavy subsidy granted by the state government. Levelling and bonding of the fields were also assisted along with providing underground and pucca water channels in many areas. Besides these facilities, providing cheap loans for the development of sprinkler or drip irrigation will further help in maximising the yields through moisture availability at critical stages of crop growth.
Sustainable management of sloppy lands aims at maximising the efficient use of inputs in relation to the amount and quality of inputs, while incorporating long-term environmental and social concerns associated with the outputs. It reflects management not only in terms of production efficiency but also in term of its impact on the environment and its ability to ensure equity down the generations. It rather tries to develop recommendations based on sound scientific principles which promote agricultural productivity, ensure economic and social returns and protect or enhance the quality of environment and the land. Further, it should be able to address the five pillars of productivity, security, protection, viability and acceptability. It should simultaneously maintain or enhance production services, reduce the level of risk, protect the potential of natural resources and prevent degradation of soil and water quality, be economically viable and socially acceptable.
It will be the land management practices of individual farmers that will primarily affect the sustainability of agriculture in future. Organic matter content, cation exchange capacity, moisture content, water dispersible solids, the presence of permanent ground cover, soil depth, gross returns, cost of material inputs, diversity index, farm size, membership in farming organisations and the number of large animals raised are indicators for resource conservation. Land cover is the single most important indicator of sustainable management of sloppy lands. It checks erosion, loss of water and mineral nutrients and maintains good soil health. Land use in kandi and sloppy areas need special attention because these are in the greatest danger of land degradation. To provide a rational basis for the development and utilisation of these areas in terms of their capability and suitability for different uses in needed.
The kandi area is suitable for the production of various crops. A micro analysis of each field is necessary for raising specific crops according to the land use. The kandi areas are on the threshold of economic uplift and following crops can be raised successfully:-
Fruits: Mango is the main crop of the kandi area. Large new plantations of "dushehri" and "kinnow" can be done in this area. Amla and wild pomegranate (dheru) are the other promising fruit plants. Powdery mildew-resistant ber flourishes very well in these conditions. Galgal, jaman, loquat, papaya, guava, sweet orange, peach and plum also flourish well. There is need to develop more nurseries of fruit plants in this area so that farmers’ could receive quality plants at hand.
Forest trees: Timber trees like tun and dhek, hardwood like acacia, shisham, sarihn, paper and pulpwood supplying plants like eucalyptus, bamboo and popular, medicinal plants like bahera, bell, amaltas and katha-producing plant (khair) can be successfully planted. Firewood plants like sesbania, leucaema, palahai and sports goods making plants like mulberry and willow can be successfully planted.
Vegetable: Cultivation of vegetables and condiments can be done in the areas which are well drained. Cultivation of cucurbits like bitter gourd, bottle gourd, luffa, snake gourd, cucumber, pumpkin, petha (squash) and ginger, turmeric, semphali, chillies, etc can be undertaken with the onset of rains. These vegetables can be trained on dhaincha or firewood plants. Carrots, radish, turnip, potato and colocosia are some other vegetables which can be successfully grown in the kandi area.
Oilseeds and pulses: Mash moong, cowpea, soyabean, gram, lentil, field peas, raya, gobhi sarson, safflower, sesame and linseed can be grown in the areas having low moisture content.
Millets and cereals: Among millets, fox-tail millet, swank and finger millet can be successfully cultivated Maize, upland rice and rainfed wheat can also be grown with good returns.
Forage crops: Oats, guinea grass, napier-bajra, pearl millet, maize, sorghum and cowpea can be grown effectively. Berseem on a small scale where irrigation facilities are available can be grown. This will lead to develop the dairy industry in the kandi area.
Sugarcane: Where irrigation facilities are available, a good crop of sugarcane can be planted.
Soil conservation practices are essential for sustaining good yield due to sloppy terrain. Napier bajra, gulabasi (hilly ak) can be successfully planted on the bunds for preventing soil erosion. The sloppy land can be covered by growing short duration and disease-resistant crops and grasses. Grazing of animals should be avoided.
In general, these soils are not thirsty but hungry also. Bansal dose of the fertiliser should be applied at sowing for raising a good and healthy crop. With the application of farmyard manure the infiltration rates and moisture conservation can be improved. Mulching practices with farm byproducts or by local material can help in conserving soil water, increasing water use efficiency.
Commercial production of flower seed
The herbaceous ornamental annuals and biennials have varied uses in the garden. Seed often propagates them and a gardener’s success depends upon the quality of the seeds sown. Some 1,500 different varieties of flowers are available to amateur gardeners. The major part of the acreage on which they are grown is devoted to producing about 750 of them and the seed values billions of dollars. The acreage of flower seeds thus comprises small plantings of many flower crops that requires the best level irrigated lands.
The per acre income is two to five times as compared to cereals, but the production costs are correspondingly higher. More than 50 per cent costs are for field labour, which must be of such manual skill that good work approaches a craft status. Every species of flower grown for seed has its own planting time, culture, problems and harvesting techniques, but there is one basic requirement for good seed production — a mild climate with little rain during the growing and harvesting seasons. Less favourable conditions result in uncertain and usually lower yields and germination percentages. Where as cooler climates are more suitable for higher flower seeds production.
For the production of outdoor rowcrop flower seeds, the farmer should have the ability, prime acreage, a team of skilled labour and a suitable climate. Greenhouse production is independent of location, having its own tailor-made climate, but it is an entirely different business.
The structure of the industry is that the farmer sells to wholesalers who then export the seed to wholesalers abroad who then sell it to retailers. The wholesalers themselves, however, are major producers of what they sell. They operate their own farms and also contract for bulk production.
Many of the flower species represent highly hybridised strains, on which foundation seed stock must be planted each year, not crop seed planted earlier. The wholesaler almost invariably produces this stock himself on his own farm which incorporates research, breeding work and trial grounds to keep pace with the rapid changing technology of the industry.
Elite strains require planning and supervision to insure their pedigree and uniform cultural practices to insure the maximum saleable crops. Buyers have specific standards of varietal purity and germination in mind when they buy on an annual contract. The wholesaler has to deliver seeds of such standards as are grown under his supervision.
A few places in the world have the Mediterranean climate needed to grow a variety of flower crops. Rain is beneficial before flowering. Rain later encourages fungi in the seed head and reduces the yield. Rain on the mature seeds lower germination percentage. Nevertheless, most sections of semiarid climate, even in latitudes where frost is not a problem, may not be suitable for seed farms because high summer temperatures also reduce yield of seed of all but a few annuals.
All crops require extensive irrigation during the growth period. A common practice is to withhold the water at the end of the season to encourage rapid and uniform maturation of the seed crop. Flower seed farming has its specific problems and those who can master them tend to be efficient seed farmers year after year.
The plants usually grow so slow that weed control is a major problem. Chemical weedicides can be used but affect plant growth and seed yield. Thus, most fields need complete hand weeding three times or more a season; sometimes it is combined with thinning in drilled crop. Petunias and many others are usually transplanted manually to the field, because mechanical transplanters cannot handle the small, fragile seeds.
Mechanical mixing of harvested plants is prevented by alternating plantings of species to be harvested at different times of the year. Special field-labelling techniques are used to identify lots going through the cutting and thrashing process to avoid seed mixing. Mixed lots are nearly worthless in an industry where high prices are paid only for pedigreed seed.
Many small plots of closely related varieties on the same farm mean that one crop may be unintentionally cross pollinated by another of the same species rendering the resulting seed virtually useless.
Pollination is, however, what makes the wheels go in the seed business. In most species, self and cross-pollination are accompanied by insects which cannot distinguish between several colours so that such plantings must be isolated from one another. In such cases strict isolation by as much as 400 metres is necessary.
The varietal purity is not solely the concern of flower men in the seed industry, but only they set out deliberately to produce mixed varieties. In flower seeds a mixture of colours of one kind is a saleable or even highly desirable product. Many times this mixture is blended with named colours according to the formula.
Many flower seeds are harvested and threshed by machinery that is used for grain. Even the fine seed of Petunia is handled so. Hand picking or cutting saves more seed, but to avoid high labour costs mechanical methods are adopted, whenever possible. Crops are harvested occasionally with a combine, but commonly the plants are cut and winnowed until they can dry to a moisture content suitable for machine threshing.
The diversity of crops lead to several cutting methods e.g. nasturtium may be winnowed on the ground while the species with seed pods that shatter at a touch must go in to large canvas sheets. The stem and leaves of Petunia are so sticky that even though the seed shatters out of the capsule a significant amount of it adheres to the stem and leaves and can be saved if the whole plant is put on sheets to dry. The cutting operation is carried out early in the morning when the morning dew is on the plants to avoid loss of the dry seeds. The drying period varies from 10 to 15 days. Rains at this time are catastrophic.
Regardless of the trend toward mechanisation, a major part of the harvesting is still manual because the plants have a long flowering period and seed production is continuous. Re-cleaning is basically the same operation as in the rest of the seed industry. Fanning mills, specific gravity separators, disk and roller separators, etc are used.
The difference with flower seed lies in the multiplicity of small lots which necessitate short machine runs and thorough cleaning of the machinery between each run. The high wholesale value necessitates extreme care and elaborate record keeping. Screens, sieves, disks, etc should be chosen judiciously to handle all shapes and sizes of various flower seeds.
Relative humidity has an important bearing on the curing of flower seed in the field. The lower it is the better. A large part of production is processed to the optimum moisture content for long-term storage and sealed in moisture vapour proof containers so that retailers in wet climate can have the vigour, vitality and keeping quality of the seeds as originally harvested.
Farm operations for JUNE
— Start sowing okra and use varieties Punjab-8, Punjab-7 resistant to yellow vein mosaic virus. Apply 40 kg of CAN, 100 kg of superphosphate and 25 kg of muriate of potash per acre. To the crop sown for seed production purpose, apply 4 kg of Thimet 10 G at sowing. For controlling weeds in bhindi, use Stomp 30 EC @ 1 litre as pre-emergence or Basalin 750 ml per acre as pre-plant (before sowing) application. Dissolve either of herbicide in 200 litres of water.
— Irrigate the standing vegetable crops once a week. However, in light soils, the interval may be reduced to 4 to 5 days.
— Spray 75 to 150 g Sevin/Hexavin 50 WP in 50-100 litres of water against red pumpkin beetle on cucurbits or apply once, just after germination 2.75 kg of Furadan 3 g/acre 3 to 4 cm deep in soil near bases of the plants and apply irrigation.
— Jassid and mite attack on the bhindi crop can be checked by spraying 250 ml of Metasystox 25 EC or Rogor 30 EC in 100-125 litres of water per acre.
— The damage of jassid/hadda beetle to the brinjal crop can be prevented by spraying 250 ml of Malathion 50 EC in 100 litres of water per acre at 10 days’ interval as soon as the pests appears.
— Apply 20 to 25 baskets of well-rotten farmyard manure per marla and mix it thoroughly in the soil, irrigate the plot. When it comes in proper moisture conditions, sow 400 g seed of early variety of cauliflower and 300 g seed of BH-1, BH-2, Punjab Barsati, Sada Bahar, Punjab Moti, Punjab Neelam and Jamuni Gola of brinjal on one marla bed area to obtain seedlings for transplanting in one acre.
— Sow the Pusa Chetki or Punjab Ageti varieties of radish on 45 cm apart ridges and irrigate once a week.
Plant terminal cuttings 7 to 10 cm size in sand bed under shade for rooting of cuttings in the second or third week. Treat the cut end with seradix powder and remove lower 2 to 3 leaves before planting in the sand bed. Keep the bed moist and transplant the rooted cuttings in the pots after 2 to 3 weeks.
The summer season flowering annuals should be watered 2 to 3 times a week. Rainy season flowering annuals seeds like balsam, gailardia, cosmos, cockscomb, etc. may be sown in the raised beds. The seeds of balsam may be sown directly in the pots bed.
Irrigate the lawn twice a week and expose the area of lawn with weed seeds to direct sun light to kill weeds and roots.
The newly planted saplings should be protected from direct heat by using sarkanda. Late flowering types of bougainvilla can be pruned after flowering. Irrigate the plants twice a week in this month.
Water the pot plants 2 to 3 times a week and keep the plants changing from indoor to outer shady place once or twice a week.
The old canna beds should be uprooted and canna rhizomes should be taken out from soil. Store them in cool dry place until they are ready for planting in the next month.
Keep on removing the dried diseased shoots and root suckers. water the beds twice a week for proper health of the plants.