By Ajeet Kumar and Barsha Das
Hasin, a farmer from Nuh, Haryana, has four acres of agricultural land, and farming is his main livelihood. He generally cultivates pearl millet, wheat, and mustard but, despite being a hardworking farmer, his yields and income remained low. The key reason for this was the continuous traditional farming and lack of knowledge on crop diversification.
In April 2021, a CSR-supported project implemented by S M Sehgal Foundation was initiated in his village with the aim to provide capacity building training to farmers on sustainable agriculture practices. Training included demonstrations on a modern package of practices (PoP) consisting of crop-specific balanced nutrients to increase crop productivity and thereby increase income. With this in mind, soil testing was conducted, and it was found that the soil was deprived of many micronutrients that are necessary for soil health and fertility. On the basis of the status of the soil, the kit for the PoP was prepared.
In October 2022, sessions were conducted with farmers on micronutrients, and PoP kits were distributed for the cultivation of mustard. Hasin, being a dedicated and hardworking farmer, also received a PoP kit. One acre of land was demarcated for the demonstration. On half an acre, the control was set up, and the other half was the demonstration (demo) plot. In both the control and the demo plots, the same mustard seeds were sown. In the soil of the demo plot micronutrients such as calcium, sulphate of potash, zinc, sulphur bentonite, calcium nitrate, and others were included along with the mixture of urea and DAP. In the control plot, the cultivation was done in the usual traditional way using only DAP and urea.
Upon harvesting, Hasin found a significant difference in the quantity and quality of the mustard from the demo plot compared to the control. He found less infestation of pests in the demo plot compared to the control. In the control plot, termites damaged the roots, and the upper parts of the plants were wilting.
Hasin says, “The yield of mustard in the demo plot was 680 kg, whereas in the control plot, it was 520 kg, which was a difference of 160 kg. Income-wise, the cost of mustard being INR 50/kg, I received a gross profit of INR 8000 from half an acre.”
(Ajeet is field assistant and Barsha is assistant program lead with S M Sehgal Foundation)