TODAY -

Organic seed production - Issues and strategies
- Part 3 -

L Meghachandra Singh *



The followings are some of the additional requirements for organic seed production, in general for some important crops in addition to the conventional seed production requirements other than the application of inorganic chemicals/products.

1. Green Manuring: Trees. shrubs, cover crops, grain legumes, grasses, weeds, ferns and algae provide green manure as an inexpensive source of organic fertilizer to build up or maintain soil organic matter and fertility.

The cumulative effect of the continued use of Green manures are important not only in terms of N supply but also with regard to soil organic matter and phosphate and micro-nutrients which are mobilized, concentrated in the topsoil and made available for plant growth.

Criteria for selection of plants for Green Manuring

Mobilization of nutrients from soil into vegetation, suppression of weeds, pumping up of weathered and / or leached nutrients from soil layers not occupied by roots of main crop.

Quick soil cover for effective soil protection, suppression of weeds, Easy decomposition of organic matter and easy in handling, increase of nitrogen availability, Decrease in pest and disease population, Controllable growth and Propagation in farmers' fields.

2. Stale Seed bed technique

Increasing the competitive ability of the cheapest and most stable method of weed control. It is done through stale seed bed technique which involves primary cultivation followed by a period in which seeds are induced to germinate and they are destroyed by further cultivation.

3. Bio-gas plant spent slurry (BSS)

It is rich in N (1.5 to 2.2%), P (0.9-1.2%) and several other micronutrients and is known to improve physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil. The slurry can be applied to the field along with irrigation water and the dry slurry can be broadcasted before sowing.

The results of the field experiments conducted at 12 different locations under the ICAR sponsored AICRP on Renewable Sources Energy clearly shows that substitution of chemical nitrogenous fertilizers in the range of 50 75% of the recommended dose of various cereal, pulse, oilseed and vegetable crops is possible without adversely affecting the crop yield besides improving soil health.

4. Biofertilizer

These are not only cheaper but have the relative advantage of being diversified into small units to meet the demands of the specific problems of location. There are microbes to fix atmospheric nitrogen, to release phosphorus and to mobilize P and other nutrients. Hence the bio fertilizer use contributes much to the N and P nutrition of crops.

5. Plant products (botanicals)

Seed hardening done with Garlic extract, leaf extracts of prosopis, pungam, acacia, calotropis etc., shared the risk under dryland farming as reported by many scientists. It can be done by soaking seeds in 1 % fresh aqueous leaf extracts of Pro sop is and pungam (1g leaf in 100 ml water) for 16 hours using 1:06 WN (Seed solution) ratio. Then the seeds were dried under shade to bring back the original moisture content. Subsequently the hardened seeds were coated with fine leaf powder of Pungam @300 g ha-1 using 5% maida gruel as adhesive.

6. Mulching

It is an important technique for improving soil microclimate, enhancing soil life, structure and fertility, conserving soil moisture and energy, reducing weed growth, preventing damage by impact from solar radiation and rainfall (erosion control), and reducing the need for tillage, Widely used traditional mulches include layers of dry grass, crop residues (straw, leaves etc.) fresh organic material from trees, bushed, grasses and weeds, household refuse and love plants (Cover crops, green manures).

7. Wind breaks

To improve the microclimate or decrease wind erosion, wind damage especially during flowering, anthesis and pollination like flower dropping and fruit fall can be reduced by forming live hedges in narrow bands with closely planted woody species having multi-purpose value, generally planted around fields or farm compounds. To quote a typical example, the "green chain" with Casuarina, Eucalyptus to perform the function as shelter belt and wind breaks.

8. Water harvesting

It is resource-enhancing technique which, due to synergetic effects, reaches its full potential when used in combination with other techniques such as improved seed and application of organic manures etc, water harvesting not only secures and increases crop production in scantly rainfall areas it can also serve to control soil erosion and to recharge aquifers tapped for irrigation.

An additional benefit is the improvement in soil fertility. Silt manure and other organic matter are 'harvested' together with the water. The soil profile stays moist longer, stimulating soil life and improving humus formation, nutrient availability and the soil's capacity to hold water which enables good seed set and seed yield of crops.

Experience Learnt from Organic Farmers

1. Organic farming practices suggested by farmers (Need scientific verification)

Following are some organic farming practices suggested and practiced by the organic growers of Tamil Nadu pray that before adoption firstly fathoms and cognize the different operational parameters of each process outlined here under and then only test verify in a small tray before embarking on full scale on the farm.

2. Panchamukhi

Five factors of agricultural treatments adopted by the natural farmers as seed treatment, soil treatment, water treatment, environmental treatment and crop treatment are cumulatively known as 'Panchamukhi' farming process for boosting agricultural yields. They are as follows

Seed treatment process

o Seed hardening i.e., Pre-soaking of the seeds in cow urine.
o Tiny seeds mixed with coal powder for sowing (1 part of seeds with 4 parts of coal powder).
o Seed mixing with Neem oil @1part of oil for 4 parts of seeds.
o Seed Magnetism against seed borne diseases before sowing using the car magneto.


To be continued ....


* L Meghachandra Singh wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on November 29 2022.



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