Farmers in rain-fed areas of the district have cultivated pulses as intercrop in orchards not only for good revenue but also to benefit from pulses’ ability to nourish the soil to ensure better yield in the main crop also.
Pulses are cultivated as intercrop in most of the orchards so as to enrich the soil indirectly for enhanced microbial activity as well as crop productivity, thanks to the recent good rainfall. The district has experienced 1,186 mm of rainfall so far against the normal 814.80 mm.
Consequently, farmers have brought 27,744 hectares under horticultural crops , of which fruits account for 17,390 hectares, vegetables 3,690 hectares, spices and condiments 1,470 hectares, plantation crops 4,344 hectares, medicinal and aromatic crops 22 hectares and flowers 1,350 hectares.
Farmers of rain-fed areas in Manur, Melaneelithanallur, Kuruvikulam, Sankarankoil and Alangulam have brought sizable area under pulses, like green gram, black gram, cow pea and horse gram.
As per the revenue statement for November 2014, black gram has been cultivated in 17,919 hectares, green gram in 6,786 hectares, horse gram in 25 hectares and avarai in 1,192 hectares.
“Pulses have a unique built-in mechanism of directly using the inexhaustible stock of nitrogen in the atmosphere. Legumes, especially pulses, are short-duration crops of about 60 to 70 days. The entire crop, after picking the pods, can be turned under as green manure to benefit the succeeding crop,” said S. Raja Mohamed, Deputy Director of Horticulture.
Besides cultivating plants of the legume family, farmers are encouraged to follow organic farming practices such as use of farm yard manures, bio-fertilizers, vermicompost, etc. to enhance microbial activity in the the soil already enriched by pulses cultivation. An orchard grower, S. Sudalai of Melaneelithanallur block, has raised mango and amla in about two acres with drip irrigation. “I expect increased pulses yield this year as we’re being blessed with good rainfall. More importantly, pulses will nourish my soil further to get excellent yield in amla and mango in the years to come,” Mr. Sudalai hoped.