TODAY -

Integrated farming system with organic agriculture

Indira Sarangthem, A Herojit Singh, Nivedita Oinam *



At present, the farmers concentrate mainly on crop production which is subjected to a high degree of uncertainty in income and employment to the farmers. In this contest, it is imperative to evolve suitable strategy for augmenting the income of a farm.

Integrated farming system refers to agricultural systems that integrate livestock and crop production. Integrated farming system has revolutionized conventional farming of livestock, aquaculture, horticulture, agro-industry and allied activities. It could be crop-fish integration, livestock-fish integration, crop-fish-livestock integration or combi- nations of crop, livestock, fish and other enterprises.

These enterprises not only supplement the income of the farmers but also help in increasing the family labour employment. The salient features of IFS include -innovation in farming for maximising production through optimal use of local resources, effective recycling of farm waste for productive purposes, community-led local systems for water conservation, organic farming, and developing a judicious mix of income -generating activities such as dairy, poultry, fishery, goat-rearing, vermicomposting and others.

Thus, IFS approach has multiple objectives of sustainability, food security, and poverty reduction which can be broadly described as follows:

o Higher food production to equate the demand of the exploding population of our nation
o Increased farm income through proper residue recycling and allied components
o Sustainable soil fertility and productivity through organic waste recycling
o Integration of allied activities will result in the availability of nutritious food enriched with protein, carbohydrate, fat, minerals and vitamins
o Integrated farming will help in environmental protection though effective recycling of waste from animal activities like piggery, poultry and pigeon rearing
o Reduced production cost of components through input recycling from the by-products of allied enterprises
o Regular stable income through the products like egg, milk, mushroom, vegetables, honey and silkworm cocoons from the linked activities in integrated farming
o Inclusion of biogas &agro forestry in integrated farming system will solve the prognosticated energy crisis
o Cultivation of fodder crops as intercropping and as border cropping will result in the availability of adequate nutritious fodder for animal components like milch cow, goat/sheet, pig and rabbit
o Firewood and construction wood requirements could be met from the agro-forestry system without affecting the natural forest
o Avoidance of soil loss through erosion by agro-forestry and proper cultivation of each part of land by integrated farming
o Generation of regular employment for the farm family members of small and marginal farmers.

COMPONENTS OF INTEGRATED FARMING SYSTEM

1. Crops, livestock, birds and trees are the major components of any IFS.
2. Crop may have subsystem like monocrop, mixed/intercrop, multi-tier crops of cereals, legumes (pulses), oilseeds, forage etc.
3. Livestock components may be milch cow, goat, sheep, poultry, bees, pig, duck, rabbit etc.
4. Tree components may include timer, fuel, fodder and fruit trees etc.

FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED

The following factors have to be considered while selecting IFS in rainfed areas. Soil types, rainfall and its distribution and length of growing season are the major factors that decide the selection of suitable annual crops, trees and livestock components. The needs and resource base of the farmers also decides the selection of IFS components in any farm.

1. SUITABLE GRAIN CROPS: ACCORDING TO SOIL TYPE WE CAN SELECT SUITABLE CROPS.

Black soil
Cereals: Maize
Millets: Sorghum, bajra
Pulses: Green gram, black gram, red gram, chickpea, soybean, horse gram
Oilseeds: Sunflower, safflower
Fibre: Cotton
Other crops: Coriander, chillies.
Red soil
Millets: Sorghum
Minor Millets: Ragi, tenai, samai, panivaragu, varagu
Pulses Lab- lab, green gram, red gram, soybean, horse gram, cowpea
Oilseeds: Groundnut, castor, sesame

2. SUITABLE FORAGE CROPS

Black soil
Fodder sorghum, fodder bajra, fodder cowpea, desmanthus, Rhodes grass, Mayilkondaipul, Elusine sp., Thomson grass
Red soil
Fodder cholam, fodder bajra, Neelakolukattai (blue Buffel Grass), fodder ragi, Sankupushpam (Conch flower creeper), fodder cowpea, MuyalMasal (stylo), siratro, marvel grasses, spear grass, vetiver

3. SUITABLE TREE SPECIES

Tamarind, Simarouba, Vagai (Ladies tongue), Arappu, Kodaivel, A. tortilis, MaanKathuvel, A. Mellifera, Neem, Hardwickiabinata, Ber, Indian Gooseberry, Casuarina, Silk cotton etc. are suitable for red gravelly/SAND RED LOAM SOILS. Karuvel, A. Tortilis, A. Albida, Neem, Vagai, Holopteliain-tegri-folia, Manjaneythi, Hibiscus tilifolia, Gmelina arborea, Casuarina, suba-buland Adina cordifolia are suitable for black soils.

4. SUITABLE LIVESTOCK AND BIRDS

Pig, goat, sheep, white cattle, black cattle, pigeon, rabbit, quail and poultry.

AGRONOMIC APPROACHES FOR SUSTAINABILITY OF IFS

o Adoption of improved cropping system according to the rainfall and soil moisture availability
o Selection of suitable grain crop species, tree species that supply pods/leaves for a longer period or throughout the year
o The surplus fodder leaves, crop residues etc. during the rainy season should be preserved as silage/hay for lean season (summer) However, effective recycling of farm waste is helpful to organic farming and increasing farm income with vermi compos-ting. Organic farming system is not new in India and has been practicing since ancient times.

ORGANIC FARMING

Organic farming system is a method of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (biofertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable produc- tion in an eco friendly pollution free environment.

As per the definition of the United States Dept of Agriculture (USDA) study team on organic farming “organic farming is a system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc.) and to the maximum extent feasible rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection”.

NEED OF ORGANIC FARMING

With the increase in population our compulsion would be not only to stabilize agricultural production but to increase it further in sustainable manner. The scientists have realized that the ‘Green Revolution’ with high input use has reached a plateau and is now sustained with diminishing return of falling dividends. Thus, a natural balance needs to be maintained at all cost for existence of life and property.

The obvious choice for that would be more relevant in the present era, when these agrochemicals which are produced from fossil fuel and are not renewable and are diminishing in availability. It may also cost heavily on our foreign exchange in future.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS OF ORGANIC FARMING

o Protecting the long term fertility of soils by maintaining organic matter levels, encouraging soil biological activity, and careful mechanical intervention
o Providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by the action of soil micro-organisms
o Nitrogen self-sufficiency through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, as well as effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures
o Weed, disease and pest control relying primarily on crop rotations, natural predators, diversity, organic manuring, resistant varieties and limited (preferably minimal) thermal, biological and chemical intervention
o The extensive management of livestock, paying full regard to their evolutionary adaptations, behavioural needs and animal welfare issues with respect to nutrition, housing, health, breeding and rearing
o Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats

VERMICULTURE TECHNOLOGY WAY FOR ORGANIC FARMING

Vermiculture is a very potential input for sustainable agriculture. Organic Farming I the only way to make country self-sufficient in food production and earthworms are essential components of vermicomposting. Unlike chemical fertilizers, vermicompost is economic increases productivity, water holding capacity and nutritional value of soil. Vermicompost needs lesser water, energy and inputs, unlike pesticides, to raise crops.

The environment also protected. The soil, air and water that are so highly polluted because of chemical farming need our attention to go for organic farming, through earthworms.

Conversion of garbage by earthworm into compost and compost derived from recycling of organic wastes using specialized techniques of earthworm culture on a bio-organic farming concept. Vermicompost is rich in both macro and micro nutrients, microorganisms (Gavilov, 1962; Bano et al., 1987), besides acting as bio concentrator of heavy metals and toxic substances (Edward and Thompson, 1973).

METHOD OF VERMICOMPOSTING

First of all a 5 ft wide and 20 ft long shed made of bamboo, wire and straw is erected. It should be high enough to allow human entrance to enter for watering. Now litters of dried grass of 4" thickness are spread over it. These layers need through watering. Then it is kept as such for about 48 hours. Now some 10,000 earthworms Eisenia foetida (100worms/ft.2) are put into it.

About 8" thick layer of garbage, cow dung, farm waste or city waste except pieces of glasses, metals and plastics are provided watering above it and covered with gunny cloth. It needs watering every day to remain sufficiently moist (50-60%). During summer, two watering per day are required.After 30 days, the garbage is turned up and down and again covered with gunny cloth and kept on watering for another month or so.

After that a sheet of plastic is spread on the open ground and the decomposed garbage is transferred on it. It is kept open on sunny days for about 5-6 hours without watering. The earthworms are sensitive to heat, light and dry conditions, hence they will settle down inside for protection. Now the upper layer is removed. This is Vermicompost. One may use a sieve to separate earthworms from the compost.

It is observed that 40% of the garbage that are fed to earthworm converted into compost and the population of earthworms is doubled. One can erect another shed and thus repeat the process further for more amount of compost.

In an area of 100ft.2 where the earthworms numbering about 1000 are fed 300 kg FYM, 350 kg of garbage, there will be a recovery of at least 400 kg compost and nearly 25 to 30 thousand earthworms. The profits in terms of rupees can be calculated.

Table 1 Nutrient Content of Different Types of Compost (%)
OC pH N P K
1. VERMICOMPOST 2. JAPANESE METHOD 3. EM TECHNOLOGY 35.3025.8123.19 7.77.37.3 1.400.830.81 0.170.190.21 1.431.281.62
Table 2 Chemical properties of vermicompost and FYM
Particulars Vermicompost (Eisenia foetida) FYM
pHOC (%)Free CaCO3(%)C:N ratio Total N (%)Total P (%)Total K (%)Fe (mg kg-1)Zn (mg kg-1)Mn (mg kg-1)Cu (mg kg-1)
7.735.310.525.21.400.171.4317.819.224.67.6 7.212.012.214.40.500.750.6024.740.012.02.8

CONCLUSION

Integration of various agricultural enterprises viz., cropping, animal husbandry, fishery, forestry etc. have great potentialities in the agricultural economy. These enterprises not only supplement the income of the farmers but also help in increasing the family labour employment. Crop residue in conjunction with chemical fertilizers gives highest yield and high nutrient uptake and good residual effect which not only improves productivity but also improves the status of the soil.

Use of organic source increase crop yield, replace chemical N, P and K, stimulate plant growth and activate soil biologically and restore natural fertility and provides protection against drought and some soil borne diseases.

Vermicompost needs lesser water, energy and inputs, unlike pesticides, to raise crops. The environment also protected. The soil, air and water that are so highly polluted because of chemical farming need our attention to go for organic farming, through earthworms.


For further details contact: -
Public Relations & Media Management Cell,
CAU, Imphal.
Email: prmmcell@gmail.com


* Indira Sarangthem, A Herojit Singh, Nivedita Oinam wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writers are from College of Agriculture, CAU, Imphal, Manipur.
This article was webcasted on July 05 2022 .



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