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.
Agriculture, in India, is still majorly carried out by individual farmers and their families. In the absence or lack of farming (for the reasons mentioned below), a farmer only suffers a financial setback whereas, we as a nation, suffer from a deficit in food production. We need to understand this.
There is an urgent & crucial need to institutionalize agriculture for the following reasons:
Personal Problems: Individuals are prone to many personal problems like sickness, death, family problems or family functions. In such events a farmer ceases to farm for a particular season.
Income: Farming is majorly carried out for income. So, if there are farmers who have sufficient income from other sources, they cease to carry out agriculture or just farm in one cycle instead of two or three.
Migration: The next generation farmers are well educated and are moving to cities for better employment opportunities. In such cases, the farms are often neglected or are not used to their optimum capacity.
Farming of non-food crops: If certain non-food crops fetch better prices, the farmers carry out farming for those non-food crops rather than food crops.
Agricultural Problems: On an individual level it is difficult to fight natural problems like shortage of rainfall, lack of labor, etc. On the other hand, institutions, being well financed, can easily tackle these problems by implementing solutions like rain water harvesting, mechanization, etc.
For all the above mentioned reasons and more, we suffer from lack of production. While many believe that institutionalizing agriculture may be detrimental for farmers, I believe it will be very beneficial for them as they can earn – rent for their land, salary for their work and a share in production.
I believe we can turn any situation into a win-win one!
All the posts in the featured series talk particularly about Indian Agriculture Scenario.
We all dream about an ideal farm.. Ideal way of doing agriculture.. and then we just shun the thought thinking its just a dream.. Well.. I just decided to give it more thought and pursue it through..
An ideal farm is a farm that at first addresses all the drawbacks/concerns of current farms/system and secondly, adds value to the whole system, thereby making it an all together new system.
So when I wanted to conceptualize my new farm there were four major concerns that I wanted to address. The Photos to your left talk about the concerns and the photos to the right talk about the solutions. Click on the images for description:
Fragmented Land Holdings
Fragmented Land Holdings
Huge Land in one stretch
2. Labor oriented
Depends hugely on Human and Animal Labour
3. Infertile soil due to Excessive/prolonged use of chemical Fertilizers.
4. Inadequate/Poor marketing of the produce.
Farmers fetch very poor price for their produce
Farmer-Consumer Direct Channel
Yes, you got it right. So we are talking about a fully mechanized farm which is huge in size (runs right till the horizon.. or at least I imagine it that way) carrying on organic/natural farming and supplying organic produce directly to consumers!
Let’s discuss different types of crops here. How do you start studying about crops?
I found out the best and the easiest way – Have a look at your food plate!
Lets say for example you’re having a rice bowl (Pulav/Biryani/Fried Rice)
So now you know the main ingredient is rice. Then we make a list of all other ingredients that may have been used.
So each day we study one of the above ingredient. Let us first start with Rice. While a generalistic search on google or YouTube asking “how is paddy/rice grown” helps, its always better to know certain parameters within which such activities take place. The following is a suggestive list of questions that will help you study the crop.
What category does the crop belong to – Cereals (Grains) or Pulses (Legumes) or Vegetables or Fruits or Herbs?
In which season does the crop best grow?
How much Rainfall or Irrigation is required by the crop?
What is the best suitable region for growing this crop?
What is the kind of soil required for growing this crop?
What is the most suitable climate for growing this crop? (PS: Climate and Season are two different things; hence two different questions.)
What kind of nutrients are required for growing this crop?
What is best way to provide these nutrients to the crops?
Does the crop require pollination?
Is the crop prone to any disease or pest attack? If yes, what are the ways to fight them?
How long is the crop cycle (period from sowing the seed to harvesting)?
How is the crop harvested?
What is the post-harvest processing technique?
Lastly, how is it delivered to your place/super-market?
Its a great idea to google up the images or have a look at the video showing how the farming of actual crops is done. Perhaps it is also a great idea to visit a farm in the particular season if it is feasible.
The more crops you study on these lines, the more you realize that all the grains are, more or less, grown in a similar way. Also, you’ll know that all the legumes exhibit similar properties and growing methods. So is the case with Vegetables, fruits and herbs.
So here I was with a decision to do farming. But let me tell you, it was not an overnight decision.
As a Gardner I knew a lot about the current agricultural practices, especially the chemical farming side effects. So I went ahead educating people, conducting workshops, explaining them about organic and inorganic farming, etc
Till one day, where I started to blame the problem on somebody else – especially the Government, Farmer and Consumer. What was I doing? I knew the problems, I knew the solutions and here I was doing nothing but telling people about the problems. That was a wake up call.
It is our duty to get up and do something about the problems we think we can fight. In that split second, this became my cause. This became the purpose of my life. To fight the farming woes!
I am often asked, what are the best vegetables to grow at home/balcony/terrace? Well, all!!
So how do you go about deciding which vegetables do you want to grow?
Firstly, always factor in your interest and preference!
Secondly, the season. There are many veges that grow throughout the year but there are also equal number of them who prefer a particular season!
Thirdly, consider the available space in your balcony/terrace.
Now comes the biggest challenge – You’ve a list of 10-15 veges which grow well in a particular season, you’ve enough space for them and you like them as well. So now how do you choose?
Always remember, if it is your first time, things may not workout exactly the way you want them to. So always go the conservative way. Imagine you can harvest a very little quantity everyday. So what would you do with it? I’ll illustrate.
What if you harvest just one cucumber? Nothing wrong with it as you can eat it right away or you can use it in a salad with few other veges.
Now, what if you harvest only 5-6 okra in a day and next ones would be ready for harvest only after a week. What would you do? All my south Indian readers are going – we will use in Sambar or in morkutaan!! 😉 😛 Well so if you can use a very little quantity of okra efficiently, go for it or else just reject it!
Similarly with beans – What if you harvested just 5-6 pods of french beans? You can probably use it in fried rice/vegetable pulav/Biryani.
But what if you harvest just 5-6 pods of broad beans or cluster beans? How would you use them? Well I don’t have an idea so I would reject such veges. But if you know how to use them, go for it!!
Now, before you decide to plant any particular vegetable, ask yourself, What would you do with an small harvest? Save yourself the pain of growing the veges and then not able to use them properly!! 🙂
I know its not the right season to sow potatoes but this post aims to make you ready well before the season arrives! 🙂
Growing potatoes is pretty different from growing an eggplant or a tomato! So here’s how we do it!
Step 1: Select the potatoes with shoots!
Step 2: You can use the whole of a potato or just cut the portion of the potato with shoot and use it.
Step 3: Fill the soil(mixed with compost) in a bag. There are many Planting Bags or Grow Bags available. If you don’t wish to purchase one, use a gunny sack or a big cloth/plastic bag! There are many advantages of using a bag instead of a container to grow potatoes. The most important one being ease of harvesting. However if you’re not comfortable you can choose to grow your potatoes in a container. Just ensure that the container or pot is big enough.
Step 4: Plant the potato with shoots in the bag.
Step 5: Now just regularly water the plant and enjoy them growing
Step 6: Potatoes have very beautiful leaves and act as a great decor
Step 7: Have a look at the flowers!
Step 8: Potatoes take from 8 weeks to 14 weeks to grow. You can dig in slightly to find out how well they are growing!
Step 9: Harvest it! Just pick up the bag and empty it! Take out all your potatoes! Many people like small potatoes so they harvest them a bit early. For those of you who like big potatoes harvest them only when they have fully grown!
Note: For all my friends in India: Start around mid-November! You’ll know it instinctively as all the potatoes in basket will start developing shoots! 🙂