Tuesday, November 3, 2009



Consumer Benefits

(i) Nutrition The nutritional value of food is largely a function of its vitamin and mineral content. In this regard, organically grown food is dramatically superior in mineral content to that grown by modern conventional methods. Because it fosters the life of the soil organic farming reC!psthe benefits soil life offers in greatly facilitated plant access to soil nutrients. Healthy plants mean healthy people, and such better nourished plants provide better nourishment to people and animals alike.
(Ii) Poison-free and tasty A major benefit to consumers of organic food is that it is free of contamination with health harming chemicals such as pesticides, fungicides and herbi­cides. Organically grown food tastes better than that conven­tionally grown. The tastiness of fruit and vegetables is directly related to its sugar content, which in turn is a function of thequality of nutrition that the plant itself has enjoyed.

This quality of fruit and vegetable can be empirically measured by subjecting its juice to Brix analysis, which is a measure of its specific gravity (density). The Brix score is widely used in testing fruit and vegetables for their quality prior to export.
(iii) Food Keeps Longer Organically grown plants are nourished naturally, rendering the structural and metabolic integriry of their cellular structure superior to those convention­ally grown. As a result, organically grown foods can be stored longer and do not show the latter's susceptibility to rapid mold and rotting.

Growth Benefits
Disease and Pest Resistance A healthy plant grown organically in properly balanced soil resists most diseases and insect pests.

Weed Competitiveness Weeds are nature's band-aids, placed by the wisdom of creation to heal and restore damaged soils. When farmers husband the life of the soil, as they do in organic agriculture, the improved conditions dissuade many weeds and favour their crops. The crops, being healthier, are also better able to compete with those weeds that are present.

Lower Input Costs By definition, organic farming does not incur the use of expensive agrichemicals-they are not per­mitted. The greater resistance of their crops to pests and the diseases save farmers significantly in expensive insecticides, fungicides and other pesticides.

Drought Resistance Organically grown plants are more drought tolerant. Since chemical fertiliser is soluble, plants are forced to imbibe it every time they are thirsty for water. They can and do enjoy good growth as long as water is readily available. As soon as water becomes limited, the soluble nutrient salts in the cells of chemically-fed plants are unable to osmotically draw sufficient water to maintain safe dilution. They soon reach toxic concentrations, and the plant stops growing, hays off and dies earlier than it otherwise would have.

Added Value There is a discerning market of consumers who recognise the greater food value of organic produce and are willing to pay premium prices for it.

Productivity Proponents of industrialised agriculture point to its superior productivity. In the short term, this yield is possible by expending massive inputs of chemicals and ma­chinery, working over bland fields of a single crop (monocul­ture). However, over the longer time frame, productivity advan­tages dwindle.

Industrialised agriculture thrashes the land, and diminishes its soil life to the point where it can no longer function to convert available organic matter into soil fertility. Productivity begins to wane, and attempts to bolster it with increasing chemical inputs (common advice from farm consultants) has a similar effect to flogging a dead horse. Because it relies on living soil to build fertility, the benefits of organic farming for soil life is fundamental to its methods.

Organic farming benefits food production without destroy­ing our environmental resources, ensuring sustainability for not only the current but also future generations.

While their conventional counterparts may sow by direct drilling of seed into herbicide treated soils, organic farmers are usually at least partly dependent on cultivation to remove weeds prior to sowing. In contrast to cultivation, direct drilling does not mechanically disrupt soil structure and removes the risk of exposed soil being lost to wind or water erosion. This is a valid argument where farmers are working marginal quality soils. However, the structure of agrichemically-deadened soils is weakened by the corresponding loss of soil life and thus unable to maintain its integrity under occasional cultivation. So it is a circular argument.

Structurally sound (life-rich) soils may be cultivated regu­larly without significant damage, particularly if protected appro­priately by windbreaks and Keyline soil conservation measures.
Even the need to cultivate may be questioned. After noticing rice thriving wild amongst weeds on roadsides, Japa­nese alternative agriculturalist Masanobu Fukuoka succeeded in establishing crops by broadcasting seed coated in clay onto untilled land.

GM Crops Organic growers do not use genetically modified or engineered food crops, some of which are engi­neered to tolerate herbicides (e.g., "Roundup Ready Canola") or resist pests (e.g., Bollworm resistant cotton).

According to a report from the Directorate-General for Agriculture of the European Commission, productivity gains attributed to GM crops are usually negligible when growing conditions, farmer experience and soil types are factored in, and are often in fact negative. The main advantage farmers using such crops gain is convenience only.
There are worrying indications that GM crops may be associated with harm to both human health and the environ­ment. The main concern is that once they are released it is nigh impossible to "un-release" them.

Indeed, organic farming requires greater interaction between a farmer and his crop for observation, timely inter­vention and weed control for instance. It Is inherently more labour intensive than chemical/mechanical agriculture so that, naturally a single farmer can produce more crop using industrial methods than he or she could by solely organic methods.

Skill It requires considerably more skill to farm organically. However, because professional farming of any sort naturally imparts a close and observant relationship to living things. the best organic farmers are converted agrichemical farmers.
Organic farmers do not have some convenient chemical fix on the shelf for every problem they encounter. They have to engage careful observation and greater understanding in order to know how to tweak their farming system to correct the cause of the problem rather than simply putting a plaster over its effect.



Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests, excluding or strictly limiting the use of synthetic fertilisers and synthetic pesticides, plant growth regulators, livestock feed additives, and genetically modified organisms. Since 1990s the market for organic products has been growing at a rapid pace. This demand has driven a similar increase in organically managed farmland. Approximately 306,000 square kilometres (30.6 million hectares) worldwide are now farmed organically, representing approximately 2 per cent of total world farmland,The term holistic is often used to describe organic farming. Enhancing soil health is the cornerstone of organic farming. A variety of methods are employed, including crop rotation, green manure, cover cropping, application of compost, and mulching. Organic farmers also use certain processed fertilisers such as seed meal, and various mineral powders such as rock phos­phate and greensand, a naturally occurring form of potash. These methods help to control erosion, promote biodiversity, and enhance the health of the soil.

Pest control targets animal pests (including insects), fungi, weeds and disease. Organic pest control involves the cumu­lative effect of many techniques, including, allowing for an acceptable level of pest damage, encouraging or even intro­ducing beneficial organisms, careful crop selection and crop rotation, and mechanical controls such as row covers and traps. These techniques generally provide benefits in addition to pest control-soil protection and improvement, fertilisation, pollination, water conservation, season extension, etc.,-and these benefits are both complementary and cumulative in overall effect on farm health. Effective organic pest control requires a thorough understanding of pest life cycles and interactions. Weeds are controlled mechanically, thermically and through the use of covercrops and mulches.

Prospects and Limitations Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements, an international umbrella organisation for organic organisations established in 1972.

In recent times, organic farming has come under attack from many quarters, even as awareness spreads that it is a more sustainable and healthier way' to live.

Critics question its capacity to feed the world while bogies are being raised about people having to return to the 'dark ages' of food shortage and starvation unless recourse is taken forthwith to intensive chemical farming.
It is believed that organic farming can feed the world and still have enough food left over. An extensive' study carried out in nearly 50 countries, both developed and developing, by a group of eight eminent scientists from the University of Michigan and Michigan State University concluded that the available food production was more than sufficient for humankind.

They estimated the calorific value of all food supply to be 2,786 kCals per capita per day, for the total volume of food supply available in 2001. They also went on to prove that, had the same land been farmed organically, the calorific value available in 2001 would have, in fact, been much higher, i.e., 4,380 kCals per capita per day.

Organic farming yields more and uses less land for the same output level. For example, the study showed that organic farms yield 1.312 times more grain products than non-organic farms.
It is also significant that yields from organic farms in developing countries are higher compared to non-organic farms.

In developing countries, many of which are land-starved, the fact that organic farms have higher yields signals that they should forthwith switch to organic farming.
A project was started in 1996 under the supervision of the Bureau of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BoANR) of Tigray, in Ethiopia, in partnership with the Mekele University, the local communities and their local administration. Project Tigray, demonstrated that the introduction of ecologically sound organic principles had very quick positive impacts on the productivity and well-being of farmers with small land holdin.gs.

The project also demonstrated that, for farmers, particularly those in marginal areas, who were not able to afford external inputs, "an organic production management system offered a real and affordable means to break out of poverty and obtain food security."
And the oft-cited argument that organic farming requires more land holds good only for cash crops.

This is the conclusion reached by the FAO at a conference in 2007, where it observed that higher yields through 0.00.­organic farming were seen mainly in cash crops grown in ideal conditions.

Organic farming generally uses natural or naturally avail­able means for farming.
The farm is tilled by oxen, legumes are grown for nitrogen­fixing, and inter-cropping, crop rotation, composting, vermiculture, and so on, are practised to help retain moisture, fertilise the soil and protect the crop against pests. Energy use is minimal with organic farming.

Effective watershed management techniques practised on organic farms have been shown to reduce water use and raise the water table, all without poisoning the soil with chemical residues.
If organic farming were to be practised exclusively, some of the land being used for agriculture can actually be set aside for other uses, without any material impact on food supply.

Organic methods often require more labour, providing rural jobs but increasing costs to urban consumers. Most organic farm products use reduced pesticide claim but very few manage to eliminate the use of pesticide entirely.

While organic farming can, with extra cost, easily substitute chemical fertiliser with organic one, finding an alternative method for eliminating weeds as well as insects which feast on crops is difficult. Pest resistant GM crops are an alternative to pesticide use, but one which is unacceptable to many in the organic farming movement.

For weed elimination, the traditional method is to remove weeds by hand, which is still practiced in developing countries by small scale farmers. However, this has proven too costly in developed countries where labour is more expensive. One recent innovation in rice farming is to introduce ducks and fish to wet paddy fields, which eat both weeds and insects.
The main limiting macronutrient for agricultural production is biologically available nitrogen (N) in most areas.

The earlier mentioned Michigan University study showed that 140 million tonnes of additional nitrogen could have been fixed by the additional use of leguminous crops-58 million tonnes more than the amount of synthetic nitrogen in use.

Food production and distribution today are heavily subsidised, as is well known. Organic food, since it does not receive any of these subsidies, in comparison, comes across as being expensive. Such produce can be cost-competitive if it receives the same subsidies given to non-organically grown foods, and is perhaps likely to be cheaper in view of its inherently superior yield.

Thus, organic agriculture is a holistic production manage­ment system that promotes the health of the agro-ecosystem related to biodiversity, nutrient biological cycles, soil microbial and biochemical activity. The widespread adoption of organic farming in India is unlikely to materially impact the availability of food.

Given India's relative scarcity of land, large farmer popu­lation and fragmented land-holdings, the benefits of organic farming appear uniquely suited to Indian conditions.

In Madhya Pradesh, organic farming is being implemented under the guidance of a team of experts comprising scientists, environmentalists and food management personnel in 1565 villages.



DISEASE CONTROL Measures should be taken in time to help control the onset and spread of diseases in plants.

Rotation of Crops
Pathogens (organisms causing dis­ease) are specific to particular plants. Replacement of one crop by another crop reduces the chance of disease.

Rogueing Infected plants should be uprooted or burnt and removed.

Seed Treatment The seeds should be treated with dilute solution of fungicides and pesticides before sowing. This would eradicate the disease germs which stick on the seed surface.

Biological Control Predator insects may be released to kill the insects in a natural way.
Proper Manuring In cases such as rust, the excess or deficiency of nitrogen fertilisers increases the susceptibility of the plants. Hence, it is necessary to maintain the balance of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilisers.

Using Chemicals Crop losses can be reduced by the use of pesticides, fungicides, and insecticides. But they must be used with care. They should be biodegradable.

Systemic Insecticides These compounds when applied to the leaves, stems and sometimes the roots of plants, are absorbed and translocated in the plants in the course of normal nutrition. Their concentrations are safe for the plant but fatal for the insects feeding on the plants.

Weed killers Herbicides used to control selectively unwanted vegetation on agricultural land may act either selectively, or they may be applied before the crop emerges.


The diseases in plants are caused by several agents and affect different parts. Some of the important diseases and their agents are given below.
1. Rust of wheat-black, brown, yellow; carried by air. 2. Sesame leaf spot or Brown leaf spot of rice; seed­
3. Red rot of sugarcane; seed-borne.
4. Ergot of bajra (pearl millet); seed-borne.
5. Green ear disease of bajra; soil-borne.
6. Smut of bajra; soil-borne.
7. Tikka disease of groundnut; soil-borne.
8. Blast of rice; air-borne.
9. Coffee rust; air-borne.
10. Late blight of potato; soil-borne.
11. Downy mildew affecting grapes, bajra, crucifers
like radish, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, mustard.
12. White rust affects radish, turnip, cabbage, cauli­
flower, etc.
13. Powdery mildew affects wheat.
14. Kamal bunt of wheat.
15. Wilt of pigeon pea.
16. Wilt of cotton.
17. Footrot of paddy.
18. Footrot of papaya.
19. Bean rust-affecting black gram, rajmah, etc. 20. Loose smut of barley.
1. Potato mosaic.
2. Tobacco mosaic.
3. Bunchy top of banana.
4. Leaf curl of tobacco, tomato, papaya.
5. Carrot red leaf.
6. Potato leaf roll.
1. Blight of rice; seed-borne.
2. Black arm or angular leaf spot of cotton; seed-borne. 3. Tundu disease of wheat.
4. Crown gall of plUID, cherry, peach, apple, almond,
pear, etc.
5. Brown rot of potato.
6. Ring rot of potato.
1. Root knot of tomato (also potato, chilli, brinjal,
radish, etc.)
2. Citrus die back.
3. Ear-cockle of wheat.
1. Stem borer of rice.
2. Brown plant hopper of rice.
3. Spotted bollworm of cotton.
4. Pink bollworm of cotton.
5. Coconut caterpillar.
6. Gundhy bug or paddy bug.


CONSERVING WATER Irrigation need not be wasteful. Water may be saved by using the following methods of irrigation.
Drip Irrigation Drip irrigation involves the slow ap­plication of water, drop by drop, to the root-zone of a crop. It is also called 'trickle irrigation'. This method of irrigation was initiated in Israel and is now being tried in other countries, including India.
In this method, water is used very economically, since losses due to deep percolation and surface evaporation are reduced to the minimum. This method is, therefore, very much suited to the arid regions of India and is being followed for irrigating orchard crops at present. The successful growing of orchards even on saline soils has been made possible by the drip system of irrigation. Drip irrigation can also be used for applying fertilisers in solution.
Work is in progress in India to design, and to adapt drip irrigation to conditions in this country. The initial high cost of equipment and its maintenance are the major limitations of this system. It may still prove to be cheaper than the sprinkler system, especially for orchards and other widely spaced crops.

Sprinkler Irrigation Sprinkler irrigation is a system whereby water pressure is applied to the surface of any crop or soil in the form of a thin spray from above. This method is advantageous, as water can be applied at a desired rate and a uniform distribution of water and high efficiency can be ensured. The sprinkler system can be adopted in case of almost all crops, especially cash and orchard crops. The system is especially suited to shallow sandy soils of uneven topography, where levelling is not practicable. It is useful in effective leaching of salt in saline soils, cooling the crops during high temperature, and controlling frost during freezing temperatures.

The sprinkler system is classified on. the basis of the portability of its equipment as (i) portable, (ii) semi­portable, and (iii) stationary or permanent. The stationary system is more expensive than the portable one. The portable and semi-port~ble systems are again divided into manual (hand-moved) system and power-moved system. There are self-propelled sprinkler systems which move laterally or radially around a central pivot feeding line. The portable systems can be a useful mode of irrigation in an area ranging from 3-4 hectare to 50-60 hectare or more.
There are boom type sprinkler systems which employ one boom sprinkler head on each lateral. These systems irrigate an area of 75 to 100 ID radius.


DRAINAGE AND LAND RECLAMATION Drainage is necessary to remove excess water from the soil as well as to improve soil porosity and aeration. Soil acidity is reduced by drainage.
Drainage may be carried out by a network of pipes, open drains and ditches. Low-lying areas bordering the sea have been reclaimed by employing drainage techniques in the Netherlands and the fens of Britain. Dykes and sea-walls are constructed to keep out the water, and water remaining in the enclosed land is pumped out by pumps (windmills were used in the past). The polders of the Netherlands are reclaimed farmland.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Multipurpose Projects

Multipurpose Projects A multipurpose project is a river valley project which serves a number of purposes all at once such as:

(i) Storage of water for future use
(ii) Supply of water for irrigation
(ill) Generation of hydroelectricity
(iv) Control of floods
(v) Checking of soil erosion (through afforestation and control of water flow)
(vi) Development of inl~nd navigation (vii) Reclamation of water-logged lands, and thereby
control of malaria
(viii) Fish culture
(ix) Development of riversides as recreation spots and health resorts.

Several irrigation and multipurpose projects have been undertaken in independent India.

Nagarjunasagar Located on the Krishna river in Andhra Pradesh; conceived for the unified development of irriga­tion, flood control and power generation.
Tllngabhadra On Tungabhadra river-a tributary of the Krishna. Joint project of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka for irrigation and electricity.

Poochampad On River Godavari, a masonry dam in Andhra Pradesh for irrigation.
Gandak Project On River Gandak; Bihar and Uttar IPradesh are the participating states. Nepal has also been getting power and irrigation benefits after 1959.

Kosi Project On Kosi river in Bihar; for irrigation, flood control and electricity. In 1965, a barrage was constructed near Hanumannagar in Nepal.
Kakrapara Project On Tapi river in Gujarat. Conceived for irrigation and power purposes.
Ukai Multipurpose Project Located on Tapi river in Gujarat.

Mahi Project On Mahi river in Gujarat. It has two stages; stage I consists of a masonry pick-up weir at Wanakbori village. Stage II envisages construction of a 1,430 m long and 58 m high dam near Kadma. It has high irrigation potentialities.
Ghataprabha Valley Development Conceived for harness­ing water of River Ghataprabha for irrigation in Belgaum and Bijapur districts of Karnataka.

Malaprabha Project Located on Malaprabha river in Belgaum district of Karnataka.
Upper Krishna Project In Karnataka across the Krishna river. A dam is being constructed at Almatti.

Tawa Project Construction of reservoir across Tawa river, a tributary of the Narmada in Hoshangabad district (Madhya Pradesh).

Chambal Project On River Chambal. Jointly executed by Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In the first stage the Gandhi Sagar Dam and Kota barrage were completed. In the second stage, Rana Pratap Sagar Dam (112 MW capacity) was constructed. Third stage comprises of Jawahar Sagar Dam (99 MW power station).

Rajghat Dam Project On Betwa river. An inter-state project of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
Bhima Project On Bhima river in Maharashtra. Envisages construction of two dams--one on Pawana river and another across Krishna river. The work has been com­pleted.

Jayakwadi Project On River Godavari 'in Maharashtra. First stage includes construction of an earthen dam; second stage envisages construction of canal across Sindphana river.
Narmada Project (Indira Sagar Dam) On Narmada river; if completed, world's largest river valley project. Joint­venture of Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat. The project has been under controversy.

Sardar Sarovar Project On Narmada river in Gujarat. Inter-state project benefiting Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan. It is embroiled in controversy.
Hirakud Project On Mahanadi river in Orissa. A mul­tipurpose project; world's longest mainstream dam.

Bhakra Nanga/ A joint venture of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. This is a straight gravity dam on the Satluj river at Bhakra. Multipurpose project.

Beas Project Joint venture of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. It consists of the Beas-Satluj link, earth-rockfill Pong Dam on Beas river; Beas transmission system.

Thein Dam Earthen dam on River Ravi in Punjab. Rajasthan Canal Project (Indira Gandhi Canal) Provides irrigation facility to north-western region of Rajasthan.

Parambikulam Aliyar Joint venture of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. It envisages harnessing the water of six rivers located in Annamalai Hills and two in the plains.

Sarda Sahayak Project Located in Uttar Pradesh across the River Ganga.

RamgangaProject Located in Chuisot stream in Uttar Pradesh. The project is for irrigation and power. The project will supply 200 cusecs of water for Delhi water supply scheme.
Banasagar Project On Son river, in pursuance of an inter­state agreement among Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Farakka Project In West Bengal, taken up for the twin objectives of preservation and maintenance of Kolkata port and for improving the navigability of the Hooghly. The project consists of a barrage across the Ganga at Farakka; a barrage at Jangipur across the Bhagirathi; a feeder canal (39 km long) taking off from the right bank of Ganga at Farakka and falling into Bhagirathi below the Jangipur barrage. Rail-cum-road bridge over the Farakka provides a communication link for Assam, West Bengal and rest of India.

Knngasabati Project On Kangasabati and Kumari rivers in West Bengal. It envisages the construction of earth dams.
Mayurakshi Project It is in West Bengal, comprising Canada dam and meant for power and irrigation purposes.

Damodar Valley Project On Damodar river. Inter-state project of Bihar and West Bengal. The project provides irrigation facility, flood control, power generation and soil conservation measures. Important multipurpose dams are Tilaiya, Konar, Maithon and Panchet. Three thermal power stations at Bokaro (I and II units also working), Chandrapura and Durgapur. Main supplier of power in Bihar and West Bengal.

Dul Hasti The project is part of the programme of cascade development of estimated 6,000 MW of hydro­power potential on the River Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir. Chukka Project A joint venture of India and Bhutan. It is a turnkey project initiated by Indian government.

Salal Project Commenced in Jammu and Kashmir on River Chenab for irrigation and power generation, after agreement with Pakistan was reached.