Farmers opt for precision farming

By TheHindu on 01 Dec 2016

High returns: Collector T. Soundiah inspecting a field of brinjal, raised under precision farming at Mangalam in Tiruchi district.

Special Correspondent

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TIRUCHI: The precision farming technique promoted under the National Agriculture Development Programme (NADP) is gradually gaining popularity among the farmers in the district.

Over the past two years, precision farming techniques have been promoted in 900 hectares across the district in various crops including sugarcane, maize, brinjal, tomato, onion, tapioca, sunflower and groundnut.

With installation of drip irrigation system and fertigation (for application of soluble fertilizers) units being essential requirements, farmers could avail a 50 per cent subsidy for the equipment. A farmer could avail a maximum subsidy of Rs.65,000 a hectare, including the cent per cent subsidy of Rs.25,000 for soluble fertilizer, said Collector T. Soundiah, after inspecting some of the precision farming fields in the district on Tuesday.

The higher yield achieved through the drip irrigation systems and fertigation, under which the soluble fertilizer was applied through the drip irrigation system, has been an attraction for farmers.

“This is the first time we have taken up cultivation of brinjal and the results has been encouraging so far,” said A. Ramasamy, who along with his brother A. Easwaran, has raised the vegetable in two acres at Mangalam village in the drought-prone Thathaiyengarpet union. Mr. Ramasamy, who has grown two different hybrid varieties, even takes the longer variety to the Salem Uzhavar Sandhai where such brinjals find a better market.

Over the past couple of months, two farmers have been able to harvest an average of 250 kg of brinjal a hectare every day. The crop is expected to yield continuously for a year, with the total yield expected to be around 100 tonnes. The farmers were expected to get a gross income of Rs.3 lakh over the one year period and would be able to achieve a profit of Rs.2 lakh after cultivation and marketing costs, N. Ponnusamy, Joint Director of Agriculture, said.

Cluster-based approach

A cluster-based approach was also being promoted under the scheme, so that small farmers in villages could come together to avail the subsidy given under the NADP in clusters of 20 hectares each. Farmers could achieve up to 50 per cent increase in yield by adopting precision farming techniques, according to S. Robert Vincent, Deputy Director of Horticulture.

Responding to the request of some farmers, Mr. Soundiah said the district administration would take steps to get subsidy for installing solar-powered fences around their fields. Farmers could come forward to avail the subsidy for purchase of refrigerated vehicles, under the National Horticulture Mission, for transporting their produce, he said.