A Genius, Risk-taker, Highly Intellectual Mind, Brilliant with Management Skills, Evaluation Analyst, Agile, and Collaborative. These are not keywords for a corporate resume. These are some of the default essential traits every "common marginal farmer of India" possesses. It is the flaw of our evaluation as society and education that we do not recognize these. We termed "educated" by particular confined merits resulting in a back foot development of the pure genius - 'Farmers'
The blog consists of some host of decisions a Farmer makes each season risking all his life savings each time (It is a riskier, less rewarding profession which contains more mental and physical pressure then what a Startup Founder goes through)
Crop Timings: Should he consider planting annual crops, those producing seeds and dying within the season (c.g. rice, maize, wheat), Or should he consider branching out to perennial crops like sugarcane, living for three to four years, and occupying Fallow land for more than thirty months. Does he want shorter timelines pulses that only need seventy-five days to grow? However, mustard and cotton can occupy nearly 150 days of the year. When should he time his initial tillage (the ideal timing for tillage is usually 60 percent of the field capacity)
Crop Usability: Restorative crops such as legumes could be utilized to restore crop fertility to fix nitrogen in root nodules helping to enliven the soil conditions. Other crops can help prevent soil surface erosion through root mats and foliage (e.g., groundnut, sweet potato). However, other crops could help guard his primary produce against trespassing or wind damage (gram surrounded by safflower, cotton surrounded by sorghum). Others could help suppress weed growth through extensive foliages that suffocate or obscures any weeds (mustard, cowpea).
Market Pricing: Seed Pricing, Export subsidies, and Commodity market pricing. The government decided that the minimum market price plays a critical role.
Soil Type: Edaphic factors such as soil moisture, soil air, soil temperature, mineral matter, organic matter content, existing organisms, and reaction can impact productivity.
The size, topology, and geography of the farmer's plot of land: Suppose he has leveled his elevated land with drains all around. In that case, he could consider crops that cannot withstand waterlogging like cotton, sorghum, groundnut, etc. The current condition of his land also matters. Weeds would require deep plowing, which would raise costs. Primary tillage, cutting and inverting over 10-30 cm of soil with plows or tractors, would help control weeds and restore soil structure. Conducting secondary tillage, by incorporating fertilizers and manure, and stirring the soil and conditioning it to break down the crust through leveling and pulverizing operations, would require additional effort. Should he wish to avoid preparatory tillage, para grass would be useful.
Intensive Cropping can also be considered, subject to water availability and local weather conditions. Multi Cropping, where two or more crops are grown in a sequence on the same field in a year, can be considered (e.g., rice-rice-cotton). Overlapping Cropping, where the crop is harvested in phases, while the vacated area is sown with new crops, is another option (e.g., forage crops with berseem). Intercropping (two or more crops being grown simultaneously), with the associated crop being complementary to the main crop, can offer a significant yield boost. Crops with different growth habits and limited competition can yield a bountiful harvest (e.g., soybean with cotton). At the same time, other combinations can offer synergistic benefits (e.g., potato with sugar cane). Crop rotation can help maintain soil productivity while allowing exhaustive crops to be followed by less exhaustive ones. Such practices offer insurance against drought while enabling better utilization of laborers.
However, limited water availability could put paid to all plans. If there is no irrigation, cultivation will depend on the quantity and timing of rainfall received, constricting his cropping pattern and the length of his crop season, and eventually impacting crop selection. Rainfall averaging 10-20 cm per month for three months is suitable only for bajra and small millets; more torrential rainfall (>20 cm) encourages maize and rice. Irrigation too concerns significant uncertainty the water release in a canal can be early, allowing for a double crop or late allowing for just a single crop. A twenty to thirty-week crop season would enable him to plant a solo and an intercrop, while thirty weeks would allow for a two-crop sequence. He would also have to make choices about which season to plant. Water-associated uncertainties can be equally significant.
Surface temperature variations can play a crucial role in cropping decisions and the subsequent yield on a regular and annual basis. Extreme weather conditions like with high-speed winds and showers can leave standing crops flattened.
The availability and affordability of other agricultural inputs also affect cropping decisions. Inputs like pesticides and fertilizers, when utilized in time, can help improve agricultural yield. Having the right know-how through education, best practice dissemination, and government support are also essential factors.
Once crop selection is made, the timing of sowing is critical.
The depth of sowing would matter as well; with optimum depths typically at 2.5 to 3 cm, the deeper a seed is sowed, the longer the crop takes for maturation while ensuring crop survival under bad weather conditions.
Seed selection is essential as well. With so many dynamic variables working favorably and with plant growth occurring, nutrient management becomes critical. Essential elements such as phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, zinc, cobalt, manganese, calcium, and so on are required to conduct photosynthesis, stimulate root and stem growth, fix nitrogen and help in protein synthesis, among other uses.
Having planted the crops and harvesting can require time or investments. Timeline is again critical-harvesting. Carly would lead to crops containing significant moisture and a more substantial proportion of immature and constricted grains or fruits.
Harvesting methods, ranging from manual to mechanical (combine harvester, threshers, rollers, etc.) require yield planning and equipment leasing while harvesting and processing, yield losses can be significant: 1-3 percent during harvesting, 2-6 percent during threshing, 1-5 percent during drying, 2-7 percent during handling and 2-10 percent during milling. Inadequate transport facilities to store and market areas can lead to further losses (typically 2-3 percent).
Post-harvest storage/warehousing is critical, particularly for preventing losses (typically 10 25 percent for cereals, 20-30 percent for perishables). The moisture content of the product can encourage pests and pre-germination. They were ensuring that the optimum storage moisture content assumes criticality (rice requires 14 percent, wheat 12 percent, groundnut 6 percent). Storage options (mud bins, Bukhari bins, metal bins), offering varying levels of moisture and pest protection, can become critical economic choices.
Along this value chain, the farmer would also need to determine when and where to employ mechanization. From seedbed preparation (tractors, levelers, plows, dozers), to sowing and planting (seeder, planter, dibbler), plant protection (harrow, tiller, sprayer, duster), harvesting harvester, thresher, digger, reaper) and post-harvest agro-processing extractor, dehusker, huller, grader), employing mechanization can lead to economies of scale.
Final two words:
All these decisions and uncertainties leave just a narrow window of economic benefit for the marginal farmers, particularly those living in dryland areas, For farmers tracking, agricultural input prices is a monthly activity, impacting choices, affecting yields and making the difference between penury and robust harvest.
Of course, managing these dynamic variables in a challenging environment requires an educated mind. Even when such farmers make all the right decisions, their wages can still lag for a variety of systemic reasons, which as a system is a black spot that needs to be cleared/solved.
All feedback and suggestions are welcome with an open heart
Like, Share, Tweet, Post...