R. Krishna Kumar
Progressive farmer Kaliash Murthy at his farm near T. Narsipur in Mysuru district.
Contrary to the popular belief that paddy is a water-guzzling crop, this progressive farmer from T. Narsipur in Mysuru district has reaped rich dividends this drought-hit season with just 25 per cent of the normal water usage.
With reduced cost of cultivation, M.K. Kailash Murthy has turned the current agricultural economics upside down at a time when many of his ilk are abandoning the profession because of poor returns and increased expenditure.
For Mr. Murthy, a retired bank official-turned-farmer, experimenting on his 11-acre land at Madarahalli in T. Narsipur has paid rich dividends, and the method adopted by him may perhaps hold the key to reducing water consumption in agriculture without hampering food security.
The normal expenditure on one acre of paddy is ₹15,000, but he spent less than ₹7,000 and got a yield of 24 quintals, while others around him managed less than one quintal. Mr. Murthy said that with the available water resources of the region, farmers can produce four crops, not one.
“I tried natural farming in paddy cultivation, eschewing chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Irrigation was done once a few days, only to keep the land moist, unlike the traditional practice of waterlogging the field for nearly 120 days and thus wasting precious water. Besides, no organic matter was removed from the field and this increased soil fertility,” said Mr. Murthy, who cultivated the Salem Sanna variety of rice in his experiment.
Unlike conventional agricultural practices which entail maximising the use of chemical fertilizers and preparing the land using heavy machinery such as tractor, Mr. Murthy went for manual preparation as he believed that the organic content in the subsoil would get destroyed by chemical inputs.
“In the long run, soil turns alkaline and becomes unfit for agriculture,” he said, adding that he plans to abandon land preparation for the next season. “I will straight away opt for sowing just to see the results.”
There is enough scientific evidence to indicate that waterlogging of paddy fields results in the release of methane and other gases into the atmosphere, intensifying the greenhouse effect. “We can reduce the emission of gases significantly to address climate change issues and also conserve water,” Mr. Murthy said.
He has also taken up natural farming on his 10-acre plot of dry land at Doddinduvadi in Kollegal taluk of Chamarajanagar district, which is a treasure trove of biodiversity. Mr. Murthy may be contacted on 98801 85757.