Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Monday, January 03, 2011

scaling up grains

you may have seen our plans on scaling up vegetables.
it came about as a sidelight to our planning on expanding our grains production.
with a few experiments under our belts with ragi, rice, varagu, tenai...we were ready for more.

a 100 ft by 100 ft plot was cleared up (by hand) and ploughed once in october.
the initial idea was to cover this area up with green manure crops and let them provide cover and nutrition and we would plant grain for the 2011 adi pattam (july-aug).
but while ploughing, we realised that this plot seemed to have some fertility.
topographically, the area we selected was towards the eastern side of pR which was the downward end of the slope. so it could have been at the receiving end of the runoff from the western sides and hence the fertile look.
see this map for a visual depiction of the above paragraph. we are talking here about the parrot green part.

note - we have modified our tree planting to a north-south pattern between the swales as against the blocks mentioned in the map.

so realsing that we could use the inherent fertility for a early shot at scaling up, we went ahead with a combination plan.
1. half of this field was sown with pachai payir/green gram/moong. this was the correct season and with the current market rates, it was a no-brainer.
2. quarter of the field was sown with kambu/horsegram/bajra.
3. the final quarter was with karamani/cowpea/chowli beans.
items 2 and 3, could give us some output, or could just remain as ground cover.
4. to respect the original thought of green manuring this plot, we have planted tuvarai/pigeon pea/toor and velvet beans along the edges, cholam/sorghum/jowar along with the cowpea and sanapai/sunnhemp in 2 rows in the moong plot.

i forgot...this plot will not be irrigated.
we expect the soil to have enough moisture from all the rains to provide the crops with their requirements.
well, lets see :-)


Anonymous said...


what would be your suggestion for fixing soil that has been eroded due to annual plowing? Tried velvet beans but they didn't flourish. Do they require lots of water, or soil with less gravel?

csm said...

daincha/thakka poondu is our best bet green cover crop.
it has shown a resilience over the others.
but as it does not give good cover from sun, i would use it as a mix with cow-pea and sunnhemp.
all these guys need moisture to grow decently. so towards the end of the rains (say dec types in tnadu) would be ideal.
vbeans will struggle with gravelly soil, but if it is a regular tilled soil with some agri done before, it should do ok with above moisture.

Anonymous said...

thanks csm, heard that some types of cow-pea are fairly deep rooted, so will check it out along with sunnhemp.