Mr. Renukarya has been able to prove that by changing the planting method, yield can be increased.
Reasons such as the decreasing yields, lack of commercial returns and problems like eriophid mite and black headed caterpillar menace are forcing coconut farmers to grow other crops in place of the trees.
In the last five years in Davangere district in Karnataka alone, nearly 2,000 hectares of coconut area have been converted to cultivation of other crops.
“Not only for coconuts but also for any other crop the ability to maximise the yield is important for a farmer and Mr. Renukarya has been able to prove that by changing the planting method, yield can be increased in coconut,” says Dr. T.N. Devaraja, Programme Coordinator, Taralabalu KVK, Davanagere.
Change the method
Mr. M.K. Renukarya from U. Kallahalli village in Davangere district, who worked as farm manager in University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS), Bengaluru, for three decades, wanted to use his experience to change this situation. He started in his own land which is drought prone and unfertile, to demonstrate cropping pattern in dryland horticulture.
In order to increase the number of coconut palms per unit area and to get maximum income, Mr. Renukarya adopted a new system of planting called pentagonal and paired system of planting which is his own innovation.
Conventionally, coconut seedlings are planted in straight lines in fields. Further, if they are to be planted on field borders single seedlings are planted at closer or wider distances.
In pentagonal type of planting, seedlings are placed in such a way that one plant is planted in centre and four plants at a distance of eight feet in all four directions. A pit for planting is dug and inputs like water, manure etc are placed into it along with the seedlings.
Organic wastes are also dumped into the pits which act as vermicomposting sites. The whole area is covered with fallen coconut fronds and other organic waste.
In paired system, the inter-space between the seedlings is reduced to six feet. Two plants are planted in a three cubic metre pit filled with coconut husk, compost, red earth tank silt etc. The entire pit is covered with fallen coconut fronds and other available organic waste of farm. In between the coconut seedlings arecanuts are also planted. Along with this, fodder grass and legumes are also planted on the field bunds for fodder for cattle.
Two trenches are dug about eight feet away from the pit which act as catchment for rainwater.
“Paired and pentagonal planting of coconut accommodates more number of coconut palms. In normal system 56 seedlings are required for an acre. In this system 70 seedlings may be required. Though initial cost of planting using labour might be a bit more, by this method each tree has been found to yield an average of 80 nuts a year.
“This is significantly high because in the conventional planting trees in the region yield anywhere between 55- 65 nuts a year depending on the region,” says Mr. Renukarya.
The cultivation cost is considerably reduced since once planted and manure applied the trees do not need maintenance except watering. Paired and pentagonal planting of coconut has almost doubled the palm population when compared to conventional method of coconut planting,” he says.
“The innovative system of planting has already been taken for demonstration in our KVK farm. Farmers, officials and others have visited the farm including voluntary agencies and have appreciated the system and are spreading the idea to other farmers,” says J. Raghuraja, specialist at the Institute.
In addition to coconut, the farmer has dug five farm ponds for growing fishes. The ponds also help in groundwater recharge for not only in his farm but also surrounding farmers’ fields.
He has also introduced dairy, sheep and vermicompost units. Regarding rodent and snake infestation in coconut gardens Mr. Renukarya suggests rearing of few cats in the farm where rodents and snake problems persist.
Meticulous farm planning is the basic tool to maximize farm income according to him.
The farmer has received the best farmer award by University of Agricultural Sciences, Bengaluru.
For more information Mr. Renukarya can be contacted mob: 09900110947 and
Dr. T.N. Devaraja,
firstname.lastname@example.org, mob: 08192 263462.