What Does Successful Farming Mean?
A successful farmer needs to have an affinity for the land, field experience, and a lot of courage and determination. It also involves having command over the science of his calling.
Since every plant is a complex living organism, being thoroughly acquainted with the character of plants, its life cycle including germination and growth, the diseases and blights it could be prone to, and the measures that could control them is also a crucial aspect of successful farming.
Irrigating the farm effectively with minimum water and minimizing the use of pesticides and fertilizers should be considered too. Pre-planning and strategizing to strike the optimum combination of all the inputs is essential for successful farming.
The overall output should be profitable, and the yield should be healthy naturally and rather than being degraded by employing chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
In addition to knowing things like these for successful farming, a farmer should have a sense of business and knowledge of the market, be able to sell his product where and when it is most profitable, maintain adequate records (to know his financial stand), and, above all plan his production for striking the rod. At the same time, the iron is still hot, i.e., exploiting the market when it is most conducive.
Here in this article, I bring you some stories of successful farming from around the world.
1. Trendsetter of Cattle-Based Organic Farming in Andhra Pradesh (India)
Mr. Gadde Satish (47) is from Seethampeta village in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh, India. Owner of 16 acres of coconut plantation, paddy cultivation in 19 acres and corn in 20 acres, continues farming in the present day scenario of the shortage of labor and high cost of cultivation because he has developed a particular affinity for his land.
He also owns 37 buffaloes, including calves, heifers, and adults. He learned about cattle-based farming from his forefather and sought after it because he firmly believes that this is the best farming system as it also promoted sustainable development.
Though this type of farming is disregarded with contempt in this contemporary era, given the uncertainty and high degree of risks associated with it, Mr. Gadde went after it because he had that observed was a successful farming system for his family since the 1990s.
He feels that dairy animals are a part of organic farming systems because of the causality relationship shared by both enterprises. One primary benefit of cattle-based organic farming is that it is independent of expensive chemical fertilizers. This significantly reduces the cost of production and, in turn, saves energy and protects the environment in the long run.
He follows open grazing during the day time, and the night-time; he ties the animals in rows across the farm using a long rope. Now and then, the place of the string is changed to alter the resting position of the animals. This is done to allow the absorption of the dung and urine of the animals into the land. Mr. Satish says that natural grazing prevents animals from being prone to fertility and reproductive problems.
The calves also consume whole milk, helping them to grow healthy. His experience says that proper management practices lead to animals attaining maturity and conceiving at the age of 24 months, whereas in other cases, it may take a more extended period.
He minimizes the problem of shortage of labor by using the basin method of irrigation for coconut plantations. He also uses flood irrigation through a field canal, which allows for deep rooting of coconut trees, and the trees become stress-tolerant.
He grows 19 acres of paddy organically, without the use of any fertilizer and pesticides. Paddy residues are added in the soil to enhance the organic matter content, which helps build up soil microorganisms and increases soil fertility.
The organically grown paddy is left in the field drying for a week and later left for three months for curing.
Following the processes of threshing and winnowing, the paddy is stored for about a year, milled, and sold as organic rice at a premium price. The organic method of rice cultivation retains additional nutritional values and tastes as compared to those grown by the inorganic way. He also has an extensive network with extension officers in agriculture and animal husbandry departments.
He has been awarded the Best Cattle-Based Organic Farming Practice award by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR)-Indian Institute of Rice Research (IIRR), Hyderabad. Recognized as a progressive farmer, he is also renowned for his rich knowledge of organic farming.
He sees organic farming as a culture and a tradition. In the coming years, he wants to increase the number of buffaloes he owns from 37 to 60 for better income and sustainability. Mr. Satish aims at working in collaboration with the tourism department to start agro-tourism and dairy tourism to educate and disseminate better farming practices.
He advises farmers, “Do not consider farming in terms of economic terms and monetary benefits alone but accept it as a sustainable way for the future generation.” He believes every farmer should pursue an integrated way of farming since it results in complementary and supplementary methods that enhance the productivity of crops.
2. An Enthusiast in ‘Commercial Aquaponics’ Farming from Half Moon Bay, California
Before getting started, let me explain what aquaponics refers to. Aquaponics is a combination of aquaculture, i.e., growing fish and other aquatic animals, and hydroponics, i.e., a technique of growing plants without soil. It is using these two techniques in a mutually beneficial arrangement where plants are fed the discharge of aquatic animals. In return, the vegetables clean the water that goes back to the fish. Read more about aquaponics.
Armstrong founded the Ouroboros farm in 2012 after being inspired by a video about Will Allen, a MacArthur Grant-winning urban farmer in Milwaukee. He uses minimal land of only about 1/3rd of an acre. Fish tanks’ nutrient-rich water flows through “raft beds” (holding floating frames with greens whose roots are suspended in water) and through “medium beds” (they use clay pebbles to filter and disperse water for the vegetables).
The suspended roots utilize nitrogen from fish, and clean water flows back into fish tanks.
This system generates more mature lettuce in a relatively shorter period and uses less water too. The output is also constant, allowing his fraction of an acre to match the annual production of five acres of soil. He sure proves that successful farming need not always have to be about a lot of lands; minimal land can be used for optimum produce!
He launched aquaponics to prove that this method could be viable commercially. He presently supplies fruits and vegetables to the locals and also conducts training programs and farm tours. He is worthy of mentioning in the successful farming stories around the world.
3. Farmer Enjoys Honey from ‘Stingless’ Bees in Kakamega, Kenya
Stanley Imbusi’s ancestors had discovered tricks for curing numerous ailments. These tricks often revolved around honey from stingless bees found in Kakamega tropical rain forest. Imbusi’s grandfather would take him along with himself to the woods, owing to which he has embossed a successful farming story.
Imbusi made his first catcher box that he set in the forest in 1994 and carried the stingless bees home. This is precisely how he started the meliponiculture venture. He says that he resolved to keep them at his home where he planted flowers for their nectar because the ever-increasing population around the forest has adversely affected the vegetation cover and distribution of the stingless bees causing them to disappear deeper into the woods.
Ranging from Meliponula, Bocandei, Ferruginia to Hyporiconna, Imbusi has over 60 hives in which he rears bees at home trapped from the Kakamega forest. He cautions one to use a dry timer for the making of packs otherwise, hives warp under severe weather conditions and attract predators. He has also made smaller hives then those commonly used o inhabit bees.
His beehives measure 24 by ten by 10 inches and 18 by six by 6 inches. An average of 3 kilograms of honey is produced from each hive in 3 months; he later makes it available commercially. He also keeps aside some honey for using it at home, since honey provides a steady supply of calories (fun fact!). Speaking more about bees, he says that the stingless kind only bites from their mouths without releasing any venom.
One can visit the hives without any protective gear and extract honey easily. Imbusi has been facilitated by various agencies such as the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (Icipe), the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS) for his exemplary works.
Impressed by Stanley Imbusi’s successful farming story, the KFS Kakamega branch encourages beekeeping by allowing farmers to trap bees from the forest to recover native bee populations and restore biodiversity. Farmers in Kenya are unaware of the untapped potential of meliponiculture, which could produce honey with medicinal qualities. This practice could open vast avenues for them.
So that’s it for this article. Do let us know in the comment section below which successful farming story did you find to be the most amusing one!