Sustainable Farming – 3

Now lets come down to the financial part.

To make agriculture project financially sound, we need two things –

  1. Reduction in the cost of Input
  2. More income from sales
  3. 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 all we had to do was strategize.

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Sustainable Farming – 2

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.

Sustainable Farming – 1

Till now, it was about increasing the productivity and efficiency. But the main question was – how do i make it sustainable?

Sustainable – ecologically

Sustainable – financially

So let us discuss ecological sustainability in this post. The first one begins with soil. In order to farming being sustainable we need to opt for organic farming.

However buying organic compost/manure, preparing vermi-compost, was not a very viable option for the kind of scale we were planning. So how do we do it?

There was only one answer – Cows. A single cow on an average gives 10kg of dung everyday. That is 300-350 kg per month.

Cow-dung is an excellent manure and cow-urine an very potent insecticide. All in all we decided that we will have cows at the farm.

Labour

Labour is the most expensive and scarce resource.

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.

Land

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.”

This brings us to our next problem – The Labour!

The Neutral Approach

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.”

Happy Gardening! Happy Farming!

Why Krushi?

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… 😛 😛

Stay with me!! More posts coming up soon!

Happy Gardening, Happy Farming!

KRUSHI FOUNDATION

So here’s why I wasn’t around for a longtime……

I am very happy to announce that we are setting up an NGO called

KRUSHI FOUNDATION

KRUSHI in Sanskrit means Agriculture.

But before you jump on any conclusions about what and how we are doing it, there is more coming up…..

Happy Gardening! Happy Farming!

Things to know when you buy plants!

Hi friends, I did guide you about when and where to buy your plants in the previous post. To read, you can click here.

This post is about things you need to know while buying plants:

Take time out to buy plants: I have seen many people who go to the nursery just like they did visit some shop, tell the manager/staff what plant they want, pay for it and get going. Don’t do that. Every single time to visit the nursery explore the plants there. Notice what kind of plants they have and what not. How have they aligned the plants. There are some which are kept out while others inside the poly-house. Just by observing this, you’ll come to know which are shade plants, which require full sunlight and which require partial.

Talk to the manager/staff: The Nursery staff/manager are highly skilled and knowledgeable when it comes to plants. Talk to them. Tell them your requirements. Tell them you’re looking for “indoor plants” or “flowering plants” or “medicinal plants” and acknowledge what they suggest. Ask them how to maintain these plants – how to prune and fertilize-  see what they suggest.

Be Flexible: I know you must have planned your garden before visiting the nursery. But be flexible. You’re not always going to find all the plants you require. So keep an optional list ready. Also incorporate the manager/staff’s suggestion on what you should buy. They generally guide very well.

Enjoy the process: Let it be a play and not a work! Do it because you enjoy doing it. Let it not be one of those things on your to-do list. 😉

Happy Gardening 🙂