Gardening for wildlife

Integrated Farming System ensures Biodiversity

Integrated Farming System ensures Biodiversity
-K. Amina Bibi

Integrated Farming System (IFS) is a judicious mix of agricultural with enterprises like dairy, poultry, piggery, fishery, sericulture which is suited to the given agro-climatic conditions and socio-economic status of the farmers. It brings prosperity in the life of the farming as the web of life is sustained. As an advantage, the farm wastes are better recycled for productive purposes. It introduces a change in the farming techniques for maximum production in the cropping pattern and takes care of optimal utilization of resources. It turns out to be economical as the family labor is one of the major contributions. It facilitates a personal bondage to each life involved in the IFS. 

Mr. Sasidharan of Ilayankudy, Karaikal has a field and cultivates paddy and vegetables which feed him and his family. When he added cows to his farming system, he gets milk and dairy products from the cow. The field gets a regular supply of cow dung and cow urine which are rich in minerals – used as manure. Cow urine has a lot of minerals and acts as growth promoter, pest repellent and elixir of life. The straw feeds the cows and also sustains the microbial load of the soil which is enriched with cow dung and cow urine. This micro-climate encourages the friends of farmers – earthworms, spiders and beneficial insects to act as bio-guard of the paddy field. 

He rediscovered an ancient rice-growing practice involving the use of ducks. Dozens of these birds, raised on the farm, patrol the paddy fields. They feed on insects and weeds, without touching the plants. Their wading oxygenates the water and stirs up the soil. Their droppings are natural fertilizer.

His field is located in the tail end area of Cauvery River; water scarcity prevails in most of the months in a year but receives more rain in two or three months. So he digs a farm pond in his field to harvest rain water. The water in the farm pond not only provides water for the agricultural fields, it also recharges the water table. Water table recharge provides good quality drinking water to the family and good quality water supply for agriculture throughout the year. 

He also decides to rear fish in the available water. The cow dung and agricultural wastes are the feed for fish and the fish provides extra income for every three months. The fish residues are used to prepare fish emulsion. Fish emulsion supply more nutrients and also supplies much more beneficial bacteria from the brewing process. Fish emulsions are good organic nitrogen sources, but they also supply phosphorus, potassium, amino acids, proteins and trace elements or micro-nutrients that are really needed to provide deep nutrition to your soil community and plants. One of the benefits of fish emulsion is that they provide a slower release of nutrients into the soil without over-feeding all at once. He builds a wooden structure over the farm pond and rears stall-fed goats. Cultivation of fodder crops as inter-cropping and as border cropping results in the availability of adequate nutritious fodder for animals like cows and goat.

(K. Amina Bibi is a Post Graduate in Agriculture with specialization in Plant Breeding and Genetics. She is currently working as Agriculture Officer in Karaikal, Department of Agriculture, Government of Puducherry)

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