The waste from cowshed (cow dung and urine) becomes input for the Biogas plant.
The Biogas plant in turn produces – electricity, fuel and slurry.
The electricity generated is used for running the cowshed efficiently along with all the dairy machinery & equipment. The fuel is used for cooking. The slurry, which is the finest form of manure, is directed to the fields.
All food and fodder crops receive this excellent manure thus providing organic and clean produce.
The food crops will used for seeds, and fodder for the cattle while the surplus of food crops is sold. Thus, we follow a self-sufficient and sustainable model with zero external inputs.
Sale of milk helps us cover all other dairy costs like maintenance of the cowshed, labour, and veterinary care for the cattle.
To make agriculture project financially sound, we need two things –
Reduction in the cost of Input
More income from sales
Mitigation of losses
Lets discuss reduction in the cost of input –
The major input costs in farm are – seeds, manure & labour. We decided to bring down the cost one by one. As discussed in this post, our cost of manure is almost zero. We will try and use seeds from our own farm starting from year 2. We already discussed bringing down cost of labour in this post.
What does that leave us with?
Input cost for dairy – mainly cattle-feed. We decided to grow fodder crops for the cattle.
So now that we had decided to have cows, we were looking to optimize the yield, and we came across the concept on Biogas plant.
What is a biogas?
Biogas refers to a mixture of different gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas can be produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste or food waste. Biogas is a renewable energy source.
In our case – we have decided to use cattle waste and agricultural waste.
What is Biogas plant?
A biogas plant is the name often given to an anaerobic digester that treats farm wastes or energy crops. It can be produced using anaerobic digesters (air-tight tanks with different configurations). During the process, the micro-organisms transform biomass waste into biogas (mainly methane and carbon dioxide) and digestate.
Why is it useful?
Biogas can be used for electricity production, for cooking, heating, etc
In addition to this, the slurry that is generated, is a very fine manure and can be directly (or after processing) applied to farms.
When I say labour has become expensive, it is from an agricultural point of view. From an individual perspective, I am very happy that finally people are getting paid well for the strenuous physical labour. So for further discussion, labour (being defined as expensive) is discussed as an input cost for agricultural production.
So how do we go about solving this problem? There is just one answer – mechanization. technology has over the years made our life simpler, easier, efficient and productive. There are number of farm machinery and equipment. Its just not the ease of doing strenuous physical job, but also being able to ascertain the quantum of work that would be carried out in a day.
I had my second concept in place – application of maximum farm mechanization.
So here I was, studying everyday bit by bit about agriculture, trying to understand and assimilate all the knowledge.
Now I had to develop an idea, as to how would I contribute to this sector.
There were four problem areas I had identified, I wanted to make sure that my model would address these issues.
The first of the many was land size. We all know that the average size of farmland in India has come down to 1.08 hectares (2.66 Acres). This has a tremendous impact on the productivity. (I know some of you would like to contest that. We will surely bring that up in another post!)
So the first of the many ideas in designing the farm model was the size. The bigger the better. Bigger farms facilitate better application of mechanization, improved efficiency and productivity.
It is not that small farms are inefficient, you need to adopt a different approach when it comes to small farms. (more about this in another post!)
So here’s the first thing we decided when we were building blocks for our agri model, we will have extensive piece of land to cultivate on.
Tim Griffin, director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment program at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, explains the dynamic simply: economy of scale. “As the farms get larger, it’s easier to invest in labor-saving machinery, technology and specialized management, and production cost per unit goes down.”
Here’s one thing I have learnt over past few years. Whenever you study something, especially the current system, its very hard to approach it without bias.
We, as humans, always want to blame something or somebody, especially, whenever we come across a “not so happy current scenario”.
I fought this bias for a long time. I had to teach myself to look at every scenario as is, without blaming anything or anybody.
For example: Many people blame the government for bringing in green revolution which over a period of time deteriorated the soil fertility to a point making it barren/un-cultivable. I don’t agree. The government did what it had to do to feed the population, especially after the famine of 1966.
There is no doubt that Green Revolution brought in environmental damage along with regional disparities and economic downfall for farmers. But it is also important to note that it brought self-sufficiency and self-reliability.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Study thoroughly to come up with your own conclusions about anything. There are many sources (both online and offline) that propagate bias and blame. Take the neutral approach.
This was my learning point. We can’t undo whats done. Neither should we try to. As Socrates said, “THE SECRET OF CHANGE IS TO FOCUS ALL OF YOUR ENERGY NOT ON FIGHTING THE OLD, BUT ON BUILDING THE NEW.”
So before I start diving into what Krushi is all about and what we are doing… I want to share what necessitated the birth of Krushi.
I have been staying in a semi-rural area for almost 4 years now. I have farms all around me. I kept observing them to a point where I now strongly believe, we need to do something about farming in India.
It really pains me to see such small land holdings, poor productivity, inadequate knowledge about agriculture, rampant migration to cities, etc.
It was back in August 2017 when I was just discussing this with my Guruji, and he said, “if you’re so keenly interested in agriculture, why don’t you take up agriculture?”
I was moved by his words. Since then, I have been working on this idea, as to how can we make a difference in agriculture.
Exploring different agricultural models, became my full-time job.
When I started studying about agriculture in India, altogether different observations came up. They were not only surprising but even shocking.
What I found was ….. Wait…. I am not going to reveal it all in one post… 😛 😛