Ulundu cultivation with seed balls technique


noun | Tamil

1. Black gram

2. Urad Dal

*Sad story alert*

After we cultivated rice (Read: my blog Nellu a.k.a Paddy), we decided to go for urad dal in a small part of the land dedicated to rice. To close the nutrient cycle in the soil, I wanted a nitrogen fixing crop. And because it was summer, a less water intensive crop. Ulundu fitted the criteria perfectly. Also, since we already had rice, with the addition of Urad dal, Noushy would have had the ability to make completely farm sourced organic Dosais and Idlis. 😀

Natural Farming philosophy suggests that minimum tillage will pay dividends in the long term in the form of better soil health. So, no field preparation was required (or at least, I thought so). We didn’t even remove the rice stubble. As a part of sowing preparation, Amma, Noushy, Sesaiyya and I prepared seed balls with clay found nearby and manure, the day before Day 1: the day of seed broadcasting. The objective of seed balls is to protect the seed from insects and birds, to provide nutrition and to let them germinate when the timing is right for them.

Appa joined the party and we all broadcasted the seed balls in 0.3 acres (~12000 sq ft). We watered the field the next day. To protect the irrigated water from evaporating, we spread the hay from the rice crop as mulch all around the plot.

The idea was to only provide nutrition (improved microbial growth) to the soil via Jeevamrutham and mulch. But that never occurred because either the germination was poor or the peacocks ate all the sprouts.

One advice that I didn’t pay heed to was to break all the varapus (bunds) along the rice fields which help in water stagnation. Very few crops tolerate flooding. And urad dal is definitely not among those. Also, Noushy and I didn’t dedicate any time guarding the plot from peacocks.

After 3 weekly irrigations, we have seen very scanty growth in the plot. And we have decided to stop irrigating the plot as of yesterday. Next time, we will experiment with a much smaller plot.

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