Neer Setu Farming : An innovation
Due to surface water evaporation, the farmers panic in anticipation of crop failure which leads them to commit suicides. Farmers decide the need of water based upon the ground surface dehydration. Since, this problem leads to loss of life the gravity of the problem is huge.
The model presents an innovative method of farming by using Jute fibers to help the farmers and in turn reduce the menace of farmer suicides not only in Maharashtra and Karnataka but pan India. Using Jute reinforcement will help in water retention in the soil, lower the evaporation rate, cool the upper surface of the soil layer, prevent soil erosion and above all increase the productivity of the crop with less water consumption.
Jute fibers have been selected because Jute fibers show good absorption capacity due to the presence of numerous polar-OH groups. Their moisture regain value is upto 36% at 100% relative humidity. The water holding capacity of jute is about 500% whereas its ignition temperature is about 193 degrees. The high specific heat value (1360 J/kg/K) results in good thermal insulation.
Jute fibers are not only eco-friendly, bio-degradable, cost effective but also soil friendly as they nurture the soil and help in enhancing the fertility of the soil.
The model was tested at the Raman Science Centre Innovation Hub and was found to increase the productivity of wheat crop by 300% and reduce the water consumption by 400%. The test was conducted by taking a bamboo mesh tray filled with soil in which wheat grains were sown and watered. The jute mesh was placed at the boundary inside the tray whereas the centre portion of the tray was not covered with jute mesh. It was seen that on the 3rd day the portion covered with jute mesh showed small shoots of 6 cm length whereas the portion not covered with jute did not show any sign of the crop. This model was presented at CSIR-NEERI
The proposed innovative method of farming will solve the problem of surface dehydration in a very cost effective, reliable, sustainable and environmental friendly manner. Even if the surface is dry, farmers would be confident of the safety of their crops which will prevent loss of life.