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A promising capsule to get over drought

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(Rep Image)

 If necessity is the mother of invention, S Venkateswaran will vouch for it. The businessman-turned-innovative farmer who devised the technique of capsule-seeded cultivation has opened an alternative way of sowing seeds to thousands of his ilk who had been going through tough times battling crop loss and unpaid loans.

Hailing from Sirugamani village of Andhanallur block in Trichy, Venkateswaran picked up ideas from three methods — rice intensification, single seeding and direct sowing — to develop the cultivation technology. “Each capsule contains two paddy seeds and neem seed powder, humic acid and micronutrients. Thus, we can directly plant the seed on the field after encasing them in a capsule”, says he. “In this method, seeds can be planted even before the water release. Whenever water is released or it rains, the seeds will start germinating once the capsule dissolves,” says he.
Acknowledging his efforts to take the traditional system of agriculture to the next level, the engineering graduate recently received the “Innovative Farmer Award” of Indian Agriculture Research Institute at the Krishi Unnati Mela held in Delhi. The innovative seed capsule method was touted as a step to overcome drought in paddy cultivation.

Since each capsule had two seeds, it also brought down the requirement of seeds for an acre from 30 kilograms to just 2.40 kg. “There is no need to delay the cultivation for want of water and the soil can also be protected by reducing the quality of fertilizer”, he said.

Explaining how he went about developing the technique, Venkateswaran says water scarcity was at the root of it. When he approached Krishi Vigyan Kendra at Sirugamani in Trichy, the scientists also encouraged him and gave their expertise to develop the technique. “Though direct sowing method was already being employed, birds and heavy rain may cause a threat to the seeds. So, I decided to use capsule usually used in the medical field made of gelatine and sterilized fat,”he added.
The capsule method would cut the cropping period from 120 to 100 days. Usually, the nursery required 25 to 30 days to mature, he said adding that the yield would also go up from 45 to 60 bags per acre. Sesame, tomato and brinjal seeds could also be sown using capsule technique, he added.
“I have been adopting this method since 2015 on my eight-acre agricultural land. Initially, my fellow farmers were confused and raised doubts about the technique. However, after I succeeded, they have also started showing interest in the method”, Venkareswaran said. The only constraint in this technique is the cost of the capsule as each costs 65 paise. A total of 60,000 capsules are required per acre to sow. He felt that if the state government helped the farmers to produce the capsules in an alternative way cheaply, a number of farmers would come forward to adopt the technique.

“Sowing 60,000 capsules manually is a laborious process. The nursery transplanting machine can be utilised for this purpose, if it could be modified in a certain way to suit capsule seeding. For this too, the government should come forward to do the needful”, he added.

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