Chandrapal Singh, farmer from Uttar Pradesh (India)
Chandrapal Singh from Devrala village, Khurja Tehsil (Bulandshahar District) in Uttar Pradesh is among one of the progressive farmers, who practiced SSI in last planting season. Last year, he planted around 3400 seedlings raised through bud chip nursery in 4 beeghas (a measure of land in India, varying from a third of an acre to an acre) of land and got a yield of 340 quintals in 4 beeghas with 4 X 2 feet spacing. The same farmer got a yield of 220 quintals in 4 beeghas of land through traditional method with a spacing of 2 feet x ½ feet in his other plot (in the adjacent area).

Excited with the results, now he is raising his own nursery for 17500 seedlings to be planted in 2 Acres (12 beegha) of land. He says “Neighbouring farmers use to comment that I am gone mad and that’s why I am breaking my head on this method. Now the same farmers are approaching me with a request to buy canes raised though SSI method for seed canes.” When asked that why some farmers have failed to get good results with SSI in the same location, he says “It calls for proper adoption and timely implementation of all the suggested practices, early transplantation and above all-confidence in the method”. Chandrapal is now a model farmer for the nearby villagers.
  He is all appreciation for the AgSri team who have conceptualized, designed and brought into practice SSI method and appeals to other farmers to adopt this method if they really want to get “More with Less”.
 
Baljinder Singh, Talada Village, District Muzaffarnagar, State-Uttar Pradesh (India)
Baljinder Singh is 75 years old farmer from Talada Village of Muzaffarnagar district and has been growing sugarcane for the last 40 years. He along with his sons owns 40 acres of land and of this, he is cultivating sugarcane in the traditional method in 20 acres and decided to try the new SSI method in 6 acres of land in 2010.

Baljinder Singh says, “The seedling growth is quite good and the plants are growing very healthily, the tillering is also equally healthy, so much so that some clumps have as much as 25 tillers. I never saw this kind of growth in the traditional method where I would see not more than 3 to 4 tillers”.

He says, “With SSI method, it is a matter of experience and now since I have received some experience,
 

I am very confident of this method, it is really good, easy and beneficial for the farmers. Next season I will extend this method to rest of my sugarcane area.”
 
Jang Singh, Talada Village, District Muzaffarnagar, State-Uttar Pradesh (India)
Jang Singh is a 61 year old progressive farmer, from Khatauli Block of Muzaffarnagar Distict, with about four decades of experience in agriculture. He owns about 16 acres in which he is practicing crops like rice, sugarcane, vegetables etc. His interest in sugarcane developed as Western Uttar Pradesh was and continues to be a very good centre for the sugarcane trade and as it has more private players (especially for jaggery) as well as sugar mills like the Triveni Sugars in Khatuali. He became one of the 80 farmers who were selected as members of the sugar factory. The factory provided him with seed material initially, which later on he developed and grew in his own field.

He is innovative in crop cultivation and is always willing to try new methods in his farm. Hence, when he came to know about SSI from Triveni Sugars, he decided to implement this new technology in his farm. However, his decision was taken not just out of curiosity, but through careful examination and understanding of the benefits of the SSI methodology, which was communicated to him through campaigns and publication materials.

Initially he took up SSI in about 1.3 acres of his area. He prepared his land in March, early enough to ensure good crop growth. The seedlings sufficient for 1.3 acres were received from Triveni Sugars and planted at a distance of 4.5X2 feet spacing. He laid out furrows and channels for proper transplanting and irrigation. Seedlings were planted on the sides of furrows and he followed all the proper fertilizer and other agronomic practices.

He got 15 tillers on an average per clump in his 3 month old crop. There were clumps where the tillers have gone up to 25 in number. He says, “Cultivating sugarcane through the SSI method has been really good in several ways. I would hardly see more than 4-5 tillers in the earlier method I was practicing. Also the average net weight of each cane I used to get was about 750 gms. But looking at the strong and uniform growth of tillers now in the field, I am confident of getting at least 1 kg per cane, though the personnel from the factory have assured up to 2.5 kg per cane”.

Six years back, he found out about the Poly bag method and on an experimental basis he got 50 pouches of tissue culture of the Variety Co J 86 at the rate of Rs. 1 per bag from the University of Ludhiana. The media used in the Poly bags was soil. The results were very good – he got 100 qtl/bigha on an average. For the next season, though he tried very hard, he could not get few pouches as he would have to go for a minimum of 25000 and so had to discontinue the Poly bag method.

Last year, he came to know about the SSI practices from the Triveni mills, Khatauli unit staff. And as he found the method promising he immediately decided to implement the same in 8 beegha of his land. He was confident that when the tissue culture based seed material was able to give him such good yields a few years back, this new practice of sowing bud chip seedlings would surely bring greater yields.

What attracted Jang Singh to this method was that he had to use much less seed (10 kilos per beegha) instead of the 6 quintals he uses for his conventional crop. With less seed, he would be able to get more yields with less cost and less labour. Last year, he spent Rs. 1800 per beegha for seed cane and labour. The total cost on seed this season was only Rs. 1000 per bigha. So there was a saving of Rs. 1000 per beegha which means a saving of as much as Rs. 40,000 from 40 beegha sugarcane field, in case he extends SSI to all of his cane growing area.
  During one of the SSI awareness meetings held at the Khatauli sugar unit, he booked 7200 seedlings immediately for planting in 8 beeghas. Though he received no formal training regarding the method, he was given the information to go for 5x2 ft or 6x2 ft spacing. In reality though, he followed 4.5X2 ft spacing.

Reflecting his involvement and enthusiasm regarding the new method, he explained the process he followed as the first time SSI farmer while transplanting bud chip seedlings in his 8 bigha field:

1. Bud Chip Seedlings: Where earlier the sowing was a highly cumbersome process requiring more seed material and higher number of labourers, under SSI, the process has been much easier and cost effective because it required just the transplantation of seedlings.

He planted the seedlings on a bed of 1 cm height, which covered the saw dust area of the seedling and then covered it with 1 cm of soil. Irrigation was given during transplantation. After one week, he applied DAP and Potash and next day earthing up was done. Next week, he provided irrigation again and applied micro-nutrients (multiplex Karnataka agro) at the rate of 1½ kg per beegha and 5 kg of Urea.

He noticed the seedlings had grown double the size within these 15 days and he observed 2 to 3 tillers by the 40th day and subsequently several tillers started cropping up.

After 55 days of transplantation, he applied NPK at the rate of 50 kg/8 beeghas which he broadcasted, as he wanted to cover the main field as well as the intercrop (chilies) that he had planted 15 days before sugarcane.

2. Wider Spacing: Because of wider spacing, the growth of tillers is uniform and strong. In the earlier conventional method, 25 to 30 percent of tillers used to dry up at the early stage and only few of them grew to become millable canes. 3. Intercrop: He said, “Due to the North-West planting and the larger canopy of leaves of the cane, when the temperatures are very high, my chili crop is protected from the direct sunlight, which would otherwise turn the chilies white. I have already made Rs. 30,000 in just 3 months by selling the chili. This year, I plan to make more than 1 lakh out of my chili intercrop”. He adds that if intercropping were done with sugarcane, the farmer will benefit much more, as the fertilizer and water used for sugarcane crop is more than adequate for the intercrop also. Most importantly, the farmer is able to not only control the growth of weeds – arrested due to the presence of the intercrops – but is actually able to gain profits through the intercrop harvest.

Regarding selection of cane variety he says, “for the first 15 years I had used the 1148 Variety which gave good yields but as it was not resistant to red rot, I had to shift to the Variety 238, 119 and CO J 85”.
 
 
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