MAYILADUTHURAI: Step into this terrace and you will find vertical rows of green beds! You're not entirely mistaken. They are but paddy nursery beds raised to over an inch height. While seedlings are raised in nurseries commonly in soil before transplanting, it is rare to raise it in terrace, claim agriculture experts.
"Growing nursery in terrace minimises the usage of water and reduces pest attack," says V Balamurugan, a farmer from Perambur, who has cultivated paddy nursery on his terrace using trays. He uses paddy varieties such as Thooyamalli, Kichadi Samba, Seeragasamba and Karuppukavani.
Interestingly, his methods of growing are organic. He uses a mixture of coconut coil compost, chaffy panicle leftovers of paddy, and wooden powder, instead of soil as a bed for a height of an inch. "I use Panchagavyam (a mixture of five bovine products like cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd and ghee), fish oil and a mixture of ginger, garlic and green chillies to nourish my seedlings. Each batch of nurseries takes about 17 days to grow," he says.
He fills the trays with the mixture, sows seeds and after it has reached certain stage transplants to his field. He has already tranplanted his first batch of nursery on his five acre land in Setthur village and is currently nuturing his second batch of nursery.
Former lecturer at a private polytechnic college that he was, has now taken up farming full-time. He owns about 10 acres of land and grows nurseries to be transplanted in five acres.
V Kannan, an agronomist from ICAR-Krishi Vigyan Kendra, said, "Such form of cultivation is easy to monitor. The farmers do not have to wait for river water for irrigation. They can reduce the water requirement from 20 per cent to less than 5 per cent. They can also reduce pests during cultivation. Seedlings can be grown in a controlled environment."
S Panneerselvam, Joint director of Agriculture Department, said, "Terrace farming or tray nursery farming is not novel but rare. They, along with polybag farming, are good alternatives to traditional methods of farming during times of calamities."