Solution to stagnant costs, rising prices: Intercropping

Like all farmers, Prakash Vir Sharma has been hit by excessive diesel costs — which have risen from lower than Rs 63 to nearly Rs 87 per litre since March 2020. This rabi cropping season he has additionally paid Rs 1,490 for a 50-kg bag of ‘12:32:16’ advanced fertiliser, which earlier retailed at Rs 1,185. But the Uttar Pradesh authorities’s worth mounted for sugarcane provided to mills has risen simply over 11% — from Rs 315 to Rs 350 per quintal — within the final 5 years.

As produce realisations fail to maintain tempo with rising enter prices — resulting in the clamour for minimal assist costs as a assured “right” — one resolution is to lift farm incomes per acre by way of intercropping, that’s, rising a couple of crop concurrently on the identical piece of land. That’s what Sharma is in search of to do.

The 45-year-old from Parmawala village in western UP’s Bijnor district has planted sugarcane on eight bigha of his 17-bigha (3.Four acres; one acre = 5 bigha) holding. On 7.5 of this eight bigha, he transplanted cane saplings on October 14, adopted by sowing of mustard three days later. On the remaining 0.5 bigha, he has undertaken an experiment: rising sugarcane (transplanted on September 26) together with chana (chickpea), palak (spinach), baingan (brinjal), mooli (radish), dhaniya (coriander), and shalgam (turnip), all sown on September 27.

“My sugarcane will be ready only next November-December. The other crops I can harvest by March,” he stated. More revenue per acre can be what Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd (M&M) is aiming to ship by way of Krish-e, its new ‘Farming as a Service (FaaS)’ enterprise vertical. Farmers usually plant sugarcane on flat beds in rows 2.5 toes to three toes aside. This is now being changed by making raised beds and planting the cane on the furrows with a wider 4.5-5-foot spacing. The short-cycle crops are planted on the raised beds.

“At 2.5-foot row-spacing, my average cane yields were 70 quintals/bigha. With 5-foot planting, it is 100 quintals. The crop has space to grow and the canes come out thicker and longer,” stated Sundar Singh Malik (62).

For firms like M&M, growing the plant-row distance to allow intercropping can be a way to advertise farm mechanisation. “Our idea is to move beyond tractorisation to engaging with farmers, while leveraging our 1,600-strong dealer network. This has to be hyper-local and crop-specific. So, in Bijnor, it is the cane grower whose income per acre is to be increased,” Ramesh Ramachandran, Senior Vice President-FaaS at M&M, stated.

Until final yr, Sharma was immediately sowing the seeds. This time, he has switched to elevating them in nursery and transplanting the seedlings with 3-Four leaves in the primary subject. Malik has gone a step additional. Not solely has he switched from conventional sowing to transplanting, he has transplanted the saplings mechanically. If the trial demonstrates benefits, it could spur demand for Mahindra’s semi-automatic seedling transplanter. That can be a win-win for each.

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