Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Kerala Precision Farming

Precision farming brings cheer

RICH RETURNS: K. Krishnankutty, leading farmer of Chittur, and agriculture officers engaged in pest control in a brinjal farm at Kampalathara in Plachimada.
PALAKKAD: Plachimada, known world-wide for its fight against the exploitation of groundwater by a soft drink giant, is set to achieve record horticulture production through precision farming that saves water and cost of production by 50 per cent compared to the conventional farming.
The success of this first experiment of precision farming in the State could revolutionise the horticulture sector in the State, say agriculture experts here.
The biggest attraction of this hi-tech farming is that it requires less water and fertilizer and brings 75 per cent more yield than by the conventional farming.
Harvesting in 10 hectares at Kampalathara in Perumatty grama panchayat, where precision farming is being experimented, has started. Brinjal cultivated in a plot of 0.4 hectare (one acre) here is expected to yield 30 tonnes as against 10 tonnes in conventional farms. So is the case of banana and chilli being cultivated here.
The experiment began last year in a demonstration plot of the Agro Processing Society of Perumatty Service Co-operative Bank headed by former MLA K. Krishnankutty. Simultaneously, 23 farmers in the area also started cultivating banana, brinjal and chilli in small plots using the same technique.
Mr. Krishnankutty said the produce was sold to the consumers directly at lower prices. Brinjal was sold at Rs.12 a kg as against the local market price of Rs.16 and chilli was sold at Rs.16 a kg as against the market price of Rs.20.
He said the project was implemented with assistance from the Kerala Horticulture Mission which gave a subsidy of 50 per cent. The cost of cultivation for an acre was Rs.50,000.
He said a project for taking up precision farming in 60 hectares in the neighbouring panchayats of Pattancherry and Vadakarapathy had been submitted by the farmers.
Objectives The objectives of the project are to promote water efficient agricultural practices, ensure remunerative returns to the farmers in a sustainable manner and to increase their competitiveness.
The drip irrigation, fertigation, raising of community nursery, field preparation, planting, post-cultural operations, including plant protection, are done in time so as to ensure 100 per cent productive plants.
In Plachimada, a rain shadow area, the engineering component of the scheme saved 50 per cent water compared to the conventional method. The production and profit had increased by 75 per cent, Mr. Krishnankutty said.