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.

The need to institutionalize Agriculture!

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

Happy Farming! 🙂

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An Ideal Farm – Part I

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:

  1. Fragmented Land Holdings

2. Labor oriented

3. Infertile soil due to Excessive/prolonged use of chemical Fertilizers.

4. Inadequate/Poor marketing of the produce.

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!

More about it in next post!

Happy Gardening! Happy Farming!