Vermicompost is the basic ingredient for successful organic farming. More than 85 per cent of organic crop cultivation depends on it. Usually farmers across the country build a roof either with thatched straw or asbestos sheets as a cover for their vermicompost manufacturing unit.
The bottom of the unit will either have sand or plain cement or sometimes toughened red soil.
A progressive organic farmer, Mr. D. Bharani of Mayiladuthurai taluk in Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam district, has used local tree trunks for the four poles supporting his rudimentary compost unit.
“The tree trunks absorb the moisture from the compost unit and grow as individual trees,” he says. For the roof, he has used the climbing tendrils of vegetable plants growing near the compost unit.
The plants grow well, absorbing the required moisture from the unit and their leaves provide shade to the manufacturing unit.“In addition to making the compost which I sell at Rs 5-8 per kg, I am also able to sell vegetables such as bhendi, brinjal, snake gourd and bitter gourd grown on the roof of the compost shed,” he says.
“Farmers, instead of spending money on constructing thatched sheds and asbestos, can follow simple methods like this. By doing so, they can get double income from the compost unit and the vegetables.” He is also cultivating rasthali banana variety in about four acres. “Commercially, rasthali has a good demand in the market compared to other varieties and if consumers know that it is grown organically, then the farmer need not search for buyers. It will be vice-versa,” he says.
Sturdy against winds
But why did he choose rasthali variety when there are so many other varieties? “Rasthali variety does not grow quite high and is often sturdy against strong winds.” Strong winds often uproot banana trees and farmers have to tie each tree to a wooden pole to prevent the tree from falling or getting uprooted. “Secondly organic practices are found ideal for my banana orchard as banana is often found susceptible to wilt disease which is a major and fatal infestation.
“Chemical control methods have not been found successful in controlling this infestation, compared to organic methods,” he explained.“I had purchased the suckers from known sources and from healthy trees. The suckers, before planting were dipped in a solution of 10 per cent Panchagavya and 50 gm of pseudomonas for 3-5 minutes. For an acre, about 780-800 pits of 8x8 (row to row and plant to plant) were dug and the suckers were planted in them. About 3 kg of farm yard manure (FYM) was also applied in each pit.
The FYM was applied a little distance away from the pit, because if it were applied directly into the pit or near the suckers it would spoil the plant growth due to heat generation. Panchangavya spray was done once every month till the crop was about 5 months old. He was able to harvest his first yield in about 14 months after planting and this variety can be maintained for two years.
“One bunch was sold for Rs. 120-130 and I was able to get a net income of Rs. 80,000.“The expenditure for maintaining one tree comes to about Rs. 35 and after deducting the expenses for all my plants I am still able to get a net profit of Rs. 50,000.” he said.
For more information Mr. D. Bharani can be contacted at Kothangudi village, Komal post, Mayiladuthurai taluk, Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu: 609-805, phone: 04364-228711 and 04364-237415 and mobile: 9486278569.