My discussions over a cellphone name with Rahul Rasal from Nighoj village in Maharashtra about his farming successes made me realise how shut a relationship a farmer shares with the soil. He is aware of the precise chemical composition of his farm soil and its output capability. He is effectively conscious of the interventions wanted to enhance and preserve its fertility.

But he has gained this data via tough experiences and an immense ardour for farming.

The 30-year-old says that a number of years in the past, his 65-acre land was nowhere near rising crops. But his learnings from graduating within the Science area helped him succeed.

A mix of natural and scientific strategies

Rahul’s farm.

“In 2006, when I started farming, my land had saline soil with Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) [inorganic salts and small amounts of organic matter] present between 2,000 and 3,000. The calcium percentage was 21, and the pH value was 8.6. Also, the organic carbon content was low at 0.4. The soil quality was poor to the extent that its water-retaining capacity was 35 per cent. The high alkaline levels and extreme salinity made it difficult and made farming unfeasible,” he tells The Better India.

Rahul says the soil composition was naturally saline within the area, and years of utilizing chemical fertilisers worsened it. Moreover, the groundwater he used for irrigation was additionally of poor high quality with excessive quantities of minerals and salts.

But at present, Rahul has remodeled the scenario completely and grows residue-free crops for exports, incomes him lakhs of rupees.

He has succeeded by organising a Reverse Osmosis (RO) plant on his farm to deal with the water and carried out a mix of scientific and natural strategies to enhance the yield.

“I learned that for best results, any pesticide or insecticide should be mixed with distilled water before use. And considering the soil health, I needed to reduce the use of heavy chemicals in my soil,” Rahul says.

Rahul explains that RO water doesn’t have salinity and thereby prevents its risk. “I require about 6,000 litres of water a day, and setting up the water treatment plant costs me Rs 20 paise per litre,” he says.

Moreover, he used natural matter and fertilisers to enhance the soil high quality. “I purchased 10 cows to use their cow dung on the farm. I used cow urine mixed with organic farm residue to improve the soil health,” he says.

Rahul additionally sprayed fermented buttermilk to stop pest infestation and enhance microbial exercise. Further, the farmer arrange a biogas system to generate cardio slurry. “I pumped the slurry from biogas in an aerated tank. The process helped oxygenate the slurry with 5 per cent more oxygen, which was fed to the fields every week. The interventions helped increase the organic carbon to 1.8,” he says.

The TDS ranges dropped to twenty, and pH ranges lowered between 6.5 and 6.8, making the circumstances excellent for farming.

Rahul later devised a brand new technique to irrigate his farms. “I chose a smaller nozzle for drip irrigation and spraying pesticides that ensured well spreading of the liquid molecules on crops. I irrigated the farm at 8 pm to reduce evaporation losses, ensure the soil retained moisture for long hours and maintain the farm humidity at 35 per cent,” he says.

 

progressive farming export
Bitter Gourd at Rahul’s farm.

At current, Rahul grows grapes of the crimson seedless selection on 15 acres, whereas he cultivates pomegranates and onions on one other 15 acres every. “I have also planted cucumber, brinjal and papaya on the remaining 13 acres,” he says.

The complete harvest earns him a revenue of Rs 4 lakh per acre. “I export all the products as they are residue-free and meet the quality standards of European countries and the United Kingdom,” he provides.

But Rahul has not completely given up on pesticides and pesticides. “I have a private weather station installed on the farm. If it predicts unseasonal rain or extreme weather such as hailstorms, I spray chemicals on the crops as a preventive measure. But the application is done only once instead of the conventional three sprays for a crop. So, my farm produce has no chemical residue by the time it reaches harvest,” he notes.

He says that utilizing a mix of scientific and natural strategies has helped him scale back his manufacturing price by 40 per cent. “In India, the percentage of farmers pursuing progressive farming is low, and I want more of my community members to invest and adopt such techniques,” he says.

Edited by Yoshita Rao

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