Sheeshram is a progressive farmer from Sareli, Nangal Chaudhary block, Mahendergarh, who grows pearl millet, guar, and mustard in 9 acres of his rain-fed land. In July 2020, he attended a farmers’ training program conducted by S M Sehgal Foundation, on the importance of testing soil nutrients and soil-test-based crop cultivation. There he learned that crops need seventeen nutrients to complete their life cycle and produce good yields. Sheeshram was most interested because he sold 5–6 feet of top fertile soil to a local brick kiln last year and the field was not performing well in terms of productivity.
A few days after the training, Sheeshram decided to try out the modern Package of Practices (PoP) for a pearl millet crop. He then cultivated 0.5 acres of his millet crop using the PoP, having both micro‑ and macro nutrients. In a neighboring 0.5-acre control plot, he conducted his traditional farming practice.
Ten days after sowing, he began noticing a difference in the two plots; the extent of germination was almost 100 percent in the demonstration plot, while it was only 80–85 percent in the control plot. Forty-five days after sowing, he observed that the number of tillers was higher and the leaf blades were bigger in the demonstration plot. When the crop flowered, he noted that the length of the ears was longer, compact, and split in two (twin ears) in the demonstration plot. Twins ears were indicative of higher yields in the demonstration plot. Sheeshram harvested his crop on 25th September 2020 and obtained 6.60 quintals and 5.20 quintals in the demonstration and control plots respectively. His 1.40 quintals higher produce, which was valued at INR 3,000 had a net profit of INR 1,300 after deducting the cost of the PoP (INR 1,700).
Due to such field demonstrations farmers practically understand that the continuous, unexamined, and non‑judicious exploitation of agricultural land for many decades had resulted in the depletion of essential soil nutrients, due to which they must now supply these nutrients externally in the form of supplementary fertilizers, with the help of scientific soil testing. Greater productivity is good news for farmers!
(N P Singh is program lead, Agriculture Development and Ellora Mubashir is communications specialist, Partnerships at S M Sehgal Foundation)