It is being practised in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu too
A special technique of planting red gram, developed by farm scientists here, is gaining popularity beyond the State.
The ‘Bidar red gram technique’ (BRT), developed by the Agriculture Research Station (ARS) and popularised by the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (KVK), is being practised by growers in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
The method involves raising seedlings in polythene bags and transplanting them in the field after a month. This has increased the yield by three or four times, while also reducing the cost of inputs.
Farmers who harvested around five quintals an acre now get yield of 15 quintals an acre using this method, claims C.R. Konda, head of research at ARS in Bidar.
According to him, a seedling raised this way is like a potted plant. It gets focussed attention and does not have to compete for food, water or sunlight. As the rate of mortality is low, there is no need for extra seeds. This brings down the cost of cultivation.
Besides, he explains, transplantation increases the pod bearing strength of the plant. In the traditional method, a plant that can bear between 50 and 100 pods. But, a transplanted seedling can bear up to 2,000 pods, thus increasing the yield. The technique is also used for cotton crop in Gadag, Dharwad and Bagalkot districts, he adds.
“However, the system has some limitations,” admits Ravi Deshmukh, programme coordinator, KVK, Bidar. First, it is labour intensive, as people have to fill the polythene bags with mud and fertilizer and dibble seeds in them. Seedlings require care for the first 35 days before they are transplanted. Besides, transplantation should be done by hand, thus calling for more manual labour.
Second, the crop needs protective irrigation twice in its 90-day lifecycle. If farmers can ensure these two conditions, they can hope for significantly higher yields with lower costs, Mr. Deshmukh claims.