Thursday, February 17, 2005

The 1-2-3 of organic soil rejuvenation

Before going any further, I should explain the process of recovering agricultural land rendered saline, as communicated by Revathi. One reason she is so confident of the organic methods is that they have been used in farms that had become saline through overuse of pesticides and fertilizers. The steps are as follows:

  1. Trenches about a foot long are dug in the affected fields about 5 ft apart (more or less depending on salinity). Coarse materials such as wood and straw are buried in the trenches. These act to absorb salt. A number of solutions such as EM (Effective Micro-organisms) solution have to be applied to the soil at this point and throughout the process to replenish the soil.
  2. Suspana canabina (Danja) and similar seeds which thrive in saline conditions are planted. These take about 45 days to grow and are ploughed back into the soil before they begin to generate seeds.
  3. Fodder trees are planted on the periphery of fields to provide shade, thus minimizing the evaporation rate, fodder and mulching material.
  4. After Danja, oilseeds, millets etc. can be sown. Different seeds are mixed together and planted. These plants provide for soil nitrogenation and another degree of improvement. They take about 3 months to grow.
  5. Finally, saline-resistant strains of paddy such as Uvarmundan, Kalarsamba and Kuzhiyattichan, which are available in Tamilnadu, can be planted and harvested in 6 months.

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