Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Forest Garden is an agronomic system where trees, shrubs, herbaceous perennials, annuals and climbers all form part of a carefully designed and interconnected arrangement for growing food and other useful plant products. Forest Gardening is an intensive form of agro-forestry, mixed in such a way as to mimic the structure of a natural forest - the most stable and sustainable type of ecosystem in this climate. 

The  primary aims of the system are –
To be biologically sustainable, i.e. help to cope with disturbances such as climate change
To be productive, i.e. yield a large number of different products
The crops produced in the forest garden will often include fruits, nuts, edible leaves, spices, medicinal plant products,etc.

A forest garden is designed and maintained specifically, not using the normal tenets of gardening, but taking its vision from nature and very much based on a natural ecology of a young forest. It is a food production system based on replicating woodland ecosystems to grow trees, bushes, shrubs, herbs and vegetables that are directly useful to people. The different crops grow on multiple levels in the same area to gain maximum productivity from the available space. Whilst this is a common small scale food production approach in the tropics, models for temperate climates have more recently become popular.

Read More

Monday, 12 August 2013

Soil Science and Plant Nutrition

Soil is one of the most important constituent of Agriculture. Plants derive almost all nutrients from soil and so its purpose serves beyond the fact that it’s the substrate on which the plant grows. The soil types vary from region to region and so do the type of plants that grow on them. All types of soil are made up of two basic components which are biotic and abiotic.  It’s the continuous nutrient cycle that takes place at the biotic-abiotic interface that plays a crucial role in plant growth and sustainable agriculture. There are tremendous amounts of biochemical reactions occurring in what seems like a lifeless soil. Increased use of fertilizer has increased the cost of production and decreased the soil quality. In order to better understand basic needs of the plants, it is important to go to the root cause, literally.

Soil ecosystem is a complex interaction of biochemical process between the soil biota. These biological processes have both direct and indirect impact on plant growth. Soil microorganisms that are present in the rhizosphere of the roots of plants are constantly interacting with the plants for transportation, mobilization and solubilization of nutrients.  These soil bacteria that aid plant growth are referred to as Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria (PGPR). PGPR can further be classified into symbiotic bacteria also referred to as iPGPR (intercellular/internal PGPR) that live inside the plant root cells and free living rhizobacteria also referred to as ePGPR  (extracellular/external PGPR) that live outside the plant root cell.  The most studied and effective iPGPR is the Rhizobia which is symbiotically associated with the leguminous plants and helps in the formation of root nodules and Nitrogen fixation.  Rhizobium species such as Allorhizobium, Mesorhizobium, Azorrhizobium and Sinorhizobium been found to have significant impact on plant growth. On the other hand free living bacteria such as Azatobacter, Azospirillum, Bacillus and Klebsiella species have also proven to enhance plant growth by Nitrogen fixation

The soil health is without doubt vital for good yield of plant. The right balance of biotic and abiotic constituents in the soil can lead a way to sustainable and optimal agriculture. The following conclusions can be drawn from the studies reflected in this article.
  • Presence of good amount of organic and inorganic matter is essential to support nutrient cycle.
  • Soil biota help plant growth by supporting nutrient uptake, providing disease resistance and holding up soil structure
  • The presence of a healthy population of soil biota reduces the need for external inputs for soil growth
Read More

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Benefits of Automation in Drip Irrigation System

Micro-irrigation technology is now widely accepted by most of the farmers in the world. Drip irrigation was named in Israel in 1959. Drip irrigation also called as micro irrigation or trickle irrigation is a remarkable water saving technology developed decades ago. It is commonly used all over the world in nurseries, greenhouses, landscapes, kitchen gardens and variety of industrial applications. The major amount of fresh water is utilized by the agriculture for irrigation purpose. By using a drip irrigation the water will be maintained at a constant level that is the water will reach the roots drop by drop. Because of increasing demand for freshwater, optimal usage of water resources should be practiced with great extent of automation technology such as solar power, microcontroller, sensors, remote control, embedded system etc. There are lots of benefits of automation in drip irrigation- the real time useful controlling system for monitoring and controlling all activities of drip irrigation more efficiently. Drip irrigation by automation helps the farmers to apply the right amount of water at right time, regardless of availability of labour. This reduces the wastage of water and improves the crop performance and help saving time in all aspects.

The developed irrigation automation system can be used in several commercial agricultural productions since it is available in low cost and provide reliable operation. Using sensor-based site-Specific irrigation has some advantages such as preventing moisture stress of trees, diminishing of excessive water usage, ensuring of rapid growing weeds and derogating salinization, save water from wastage. If different kinds of sensors (that is, temperature, humidity, and moisture etc.) are involved in irrigation, it may be possible that an internet based remote control of irrigation automation will be possible. The developed system also transfers fertilizer and the other agricultural chemicals (calcium, sodium, ammonium, zinc) to the field by adding new sensors and valves. Thus it is very essential to have an automated drip system for higher productivity and effective utilization of water for surplus production.

Read More

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Pollination Management

 Pollination is the process of transferring of pollen from the anthers of a flower to the stigma of the same flower or of another flower. Pollination is a prerequisite for fertilization: the fusion of nuclei from the pollen grain with nuclei in the ovule. Fertilization allows the flower to develop seeds.

Pollination is a keystone process in both human managed and natural terrestrial ecosystems. It is critical for food production and human livelihoods, and directly links wild ecosystems with agricultural production systems. Pollinators are an element of crop associated biodiversity, and provide an essential ecosystem service to both natural and agricultural ecosystems. In the case of agricultural ecosystems, pollinators and pollination can be managed to maximize or improve crop quality and yield. Pollination depends to a large extent on the symbiosis between species, the pollinated and the pollinator, and often is the result of intricate relationships between plant and animal - the reduction or loss of either affecting the survival of both. The vast majority of flowering plant species only produce seeds if animal pollinators move pollen from the anthers to the stigmas of their flowers. Without this service, many interconnected species and processes functioning within an ecosystem would collapse. Many plants are wind pollinated, while animal pollinators include bees, and to a lesser extent butterflies, moths, flies, beetles and vertebrates.

Pollination is a very important process in ecosystem. Current understanding of the pollination process shows that, while interesting specialized relationships exist between plants and their pollinators, healthy pollination services are best ensured by an abundance and diversity of pollinators. Maintaining pollinator biodiversity in agricultural landscapes can ensure the provision of essential pollination, while also serving as a critical form of insurance against the risks of both climate change and the pests and diseases that occur among populations of managed pollinators. The vast majority of flowering plant species only produce seeds if animal pollinators move pollen from the anthers to the stigmas of their flowers. Without this service, many interconnected species and processes functioning within an ecosystem would collapse.

Read More

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Urban Farming

Urban farming simply put is the process of cultivating, processing, distributing and marketing of food crops grown in and around an urban area. An urban farm can also include the raring of livestock and fishery. In the complex web of globalization the idea of urban farming bring in a sense of self sustainability within a community. There can be different form of urban farming each adding value in its own way.

According to the projection by the UN by the year 2030 two-thirds of the world population will be living in cities. It is also estimated the by the year 2020, 85% of the poor in Latin America and about 45% in Asia and Africa will be living in Cities. These projections not only concern food insecurity but also the human right implications that tag along with it. As the percentage of slums in the cities are on the rise, the quality of life of the average city dweller decreases. Urban farms may not only bring in new geography for agriculture but the associated changes that it could bring about in the cities seem highly positive in terms of employment, food security, reducing carbon footprint of the food we eat, community building and the associated health benefits .   The significance of Urban farms in combating the various issues mentioned above has been acknowledged by various private research works and public bodies like the UN and FAO.

Read More

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Foliar Nutrition for Plants

Foliar nutritioning is the process of adding essential growth nutrients to plants thought the stomatal pores of plants leaves.                              Foliar application of nutrients has proven to be a highly effective and an efficient method of supplying plants with their requirements for secondary nutrients such as magnesium, sulfur and calcium. Along with micronutrients such as iron, molybdenum, copper, boron, zinc and manganese while supplementing it regular N-P-K needs for short and critical growth stage periods.

Primarily, foliar feeding is used to delay natural senescence processes shortly after the end of reproductive growth stages. Foliar feeding targets the growth stages where declining rates of photosynthesis and leveling off of root growth and nutrient absorption occur, in attempts to aid translocation of nutrients into seed, fruit, tuber or vegetative production.

Secondly, foliar feeding can be an effective management tool to favorably influence pre-reproductive growth stages by compensating for environmentally induced stresses of adverse growing conditions and poor nutrient availability.

Foliar nutritioning at the right time intervals can influence flowering, fruit set, fruit size, the amount of vegetative growth and other plant characteristics. By carefully choosing the components of a foliar or side-dress fertilizer, the grower can “nudge” a crop toward earlier, heavier fruit set, or discourage fruiting an advantage when producing greens or forage crop. This is well recognized in conventional agricultural communities.

Many citrus growers are known to foliar feed with fertilizer blends of dominated by potassium and nitrate – vegetative growth enhancing nutrients in order to increase fruit size after the crop is well set.
More information on:

Friday, 19 April 2013

Soil Remediation

Soil is a vital natural resource whose importance is often not realized. Like water and air, soil too is subject to contamination, largely by various human activities. With human population increasing exponentially we are increasingly encroaching into agriculture land for residential and commercial real estate and forest area is encroached for agriculture purpose.  It is therefore important for us to understand the importance of reusing contaminated land by soil remediation and thereby ensuring that there is no pressure on the environment on the whole. The various options available for the remediation of soil and its feasibility will be discussed in this article.

Soil Contamination

Soil contamination refers to the presence of un-natural (human-made) chemicals or other substances in the soil. The pollutant can be a solid or liquid. These chemicals include hydrocarbons such as gasoline and petroleum leaks seeping into the soil, derivatives of petroleum, heavy metals, dumping of solid and liquid waste, excessive use of pesticide and herbicides.  In case of contamination by petroleum the challenges of removing contamination becomes harder as they are not soluble in water and can adhere to the soil particles. Heavy metals and oils are also known to seep into the ground water which spread the contamination to a larger area.
Cleaning of contaminated soil can involve removal of soil from the contaminated area or on-site treatment. They are called Ex-situ remediation and In-situ remediation respectively.