Farmers' Help (Farmers' True Friend,Indeed)
By Soil Lovers
India is an agriculture dependent country.Our studies showed us that in order to increase crop production land degradation is hugely taking place. The farmers are the ones who are dealing directly with it.Thus we developed a computer program,after experimentation and research, which inputs the tested parameters of the soil of every farmer and gives the required solution along with many other features.To check the effectiveness we designed an experiment.The results confirmed that there is a positive correlation between the use of software and increase in soil's nutrient capacity,microbial health and farmer's economic condition.
In West Bengal, the cultivable land in the Gangetic- plains is sinking due to rapid second wave of industrialization and urbanization. Intensive cropping is increasing day by day. Hence, the productivity of land stands still or declining due to use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and weedicides, rapidly affecting the sustainability of agricultural fields and ecosystem. Hence it is essential to verify the fact how far the intensive agricultural practices have changed the soil health and provide a sustainable solution to the problem.
We developed a computer programme to help with the problem, focusing on the farmers. The programme helps the farmer in every possible way for example solving their marketing problems, providing information on what to add into their soil ,what is the weed that has attacked their crop, how to tackle it etc. We tested the software in Baruipur.
A group of farmers were asked to follow the steps and suggestions as provided by the software and another group of farmers were asked to follow their daily methods. The results were quite impressive as we compared the parameters like pH,NPK,Total organic Carbon, yield etc. We saw a positive correlation between the use of software and the improvement in soil’s quality. The innovativeness was that the steps that the groups of farmers were asked to follow all included majorly the use of organic means and methods, rather than chemical fertililizers,weedicides etc.
Our team, in the shortest of words is a trio of exploring minds, with the zeal to help people around us with our strength i.e Science.
This is me, B Smriti,a high school student in west bengal,India.I believe that success is not what we achieve for ourselves, but that, to what extent what we do proves helpful for others. This is when i got influenced by science and really wanted to do something for our farmers on whom we are dependant. Science fascinates me, makes me realise that anything can be connected to everything! I would dedicate my future to scientific research.
I am Arunatpal Chanda.I guess i am too passionate about science and maths as they help me understand things better .They answer my queries and specially keep me busy.The best part about them is the thrill i get as i solve puzzles and problems,I have experienced that their remains a lot which can be unearthed by dint of science.
I am Sayak.I love mathematics and computer science. Working on various algorithms is real fun.I like mountain climbing too.For me winning is not what matters. For us victory would be when indian farmers no more struggle with the problems of crop production and India grows as an agricultural land catering to the whole world's needs.
In the modern era also agriculture provides with lots of resources necessary to sustain human life.So,increasing the crop production along with soil's sustainability is the need of the hour.
How far have these Intensive Agricultural practices affected the nutrient retention capacity and natural microbial health of the soil ? How can we sustainably improve the condition without compromising with the annual yield ?
Continuous use of chemical fertilizers have adversely affected the soil health.Hence we need to opt for more effective solutions.So series of tests were conducted on soil samples collected and were compared with old ones.We designed a comprehensive algorithm to help farmers with the steps they require to follow while growing there crops in more greener way and an online portal was also to help with every possible problem faced by the farmers.
Right after the inception of the desire (and thus the idea) to make an online platform for all the essential (but often unnoticed) information required for farmers for effective production, we started oue venture for the required and relevant information. From the efforts that we put in to search for all the soil, crop growth related information we got to know that this has been one of the major areas of research over a long spam of time.
Various journals have published the detailed description of their studies of how different substances like vermicompost, vermiwash, their mixtue in different proportions have affected the rate and amount of plant growth. From this concept we got up with our idea of broadening our search to testing the composition of more amd more substances which might have such compositions that it may work as a fertilizer (in an approximately exact range in which it needs to be added so as to prevent it from being added less in amount,which wouldn't yeild good results or in excess which may result in reducing its effectivity over a period of time), keeping in view that it does'nt have major ill-effects on the soil. Thus took shape, our experiment.
Athough recently websites have emerged in this field but most of it is inactive, in the same ground, our software has add-in features as the following:
Online Discussion Portal
Weed,Pest and Disease control.
One of the fundamental facts (out of research work) on which our project is developed is the relative required amount of nutrient uptake (NPK) by various plants. We found out that on an average ,for rice crops the NPK value should be 4:2:1 on weight basis.
so,the doses of the fertilizer in the field would be 22.4 to 44.8 kg N/P2O5/K2O per hectare.
Our approach to the problem of decreasing natural soil health and various problems faced by the farmers was the development of the software Farmers’ Help (F.H) .The whole process of the experiment can be precisely divided into 3 phases.
Analysing the main problems faced by farmers in remote villages like Baruipur,with the help of focus group discussion and survey data collection.
Studying the possible Inputs and Outputs of the Programme.Checking the Effectiveness of each Output separately.
Studying weeds,pests,diseases.Deciding on the perfect mixture of components for the input data by experimentation and study.
Development of the software with the following main features.
Online Discussion Portal
Weed,Pest and Disease control
Executing with Data from Tufanganj Anwesha Welfare Society and verifying effectiveness and accuracy.
Executing with Data from Anwesha org. and verifying effectiveness and accuracy.
To test the effectiveness of the software we carried out our experiment in the small village of Baruipur in West Bengal. We divided the whole village into three parts as Case Studies I,II and III respectively.
In each Case Study we further divided all the agricultural land into three further categories Sali, Adberia and Orchard, the traditional way of dividing the land in Bengal. Adberia i.e.the medium height land are used for two crops, paddy and other vegetable crops during winter.Sali(low lands) are used only for paddy during the monsoon We provided a group of farmers with FH and compared with the ones not having FH.
In the experiment we designed we used the following variables and controls
Later on while continuing the project we introduced some new dependent variables which we concluded were very much relevant in case of rice crop.We grouped these variables under the common name of yield attributes.They include
Dry matter production
Number of grains per pannicle.
Leaf area index
No of panicles
Measuring the Dependent variable
Measuring the Dependent yield attributes variables
To measure the yield attributes we rigoursly followed the instructions and guidelines provided in the book "Techniques for Field Experiments with Rice :Layouts,Sampling,Sources of error ".The book contains detiled descriptions on how to measure thse yield attributes.
Area under study
When we compared the various parameters indicating the soil health and effectiveness of the software among the lands where Farmers’ Help was used and the ones where Farmers’ Help wasn’t used we observed a great variation.Below graphs illustrate the quantitative data recorded during our experiment.
A detailed spreadsheet:
The ability of nutrient uptake by plants is increased when the pH of the soil is slightly below 7. Thus here, from the graph depicting our results it is clear that our experimental group has been successful in acieving that:
From this graph below, the much required increase in nitrogen content by using our experimental group against the contol group in orchard is 400%, in adberia 170%, and in sali 354%:
From this graph below, the evident increase in amount of Phosphorus in soil by using our experimental group against the contol group in in orchard is 500%, in adberia 1000%, and in sali 900%
From this graph below, the increase in Patassium content in soil by using our experimental group against the contol group in orchard is 300%, in adberia 22%, and in sali 9%:
The total amount of organic carbon found in the soil also has seen a phenomenal shoot up. From the graph below it can be seen that it accounts to an increase of 191% in orchard, 56%in adberia, and 41% in sali type rice crops:
The increase in soil's water holding capacity has been an added advantage. It adds up an increase of 16 % in orchard, 8 %in adberia, and 5 % in sali type rice crops, the graph below projects this data:
The graph below illustrates that the final product, the total grain yield amount, has shown a steep increase of 27% with the usage of experimental group:
The two following graphs depict some more parameters those we chose for noting the difference in yield with the usage of experimental group :
All aspects of the hypothesis were proven correct, specifically:
Performance of Rice crop
The use of farmers’ help recorded significant differences against the control group with respect to growth and yield attributes of rice. Increase in grain yield in the present study may be attributed to yield attributes like number of panicles/meter sq., number of grains per panicle,1000-grain weight. This indicates that rice responds to higher levels of NPK, which might be due to favourable climatic and soil condition during the crop growth that made the crop to respond for higher level of fertilizer (NPK) and the addition of all organic inputs further improved the microbial content of the soil.
Effect on soil NPK status
43%increase in N content, 26% increase in the P content and 18%increase in the K content were recorded. Thus, the study revealed that water hyacinth and Parthenium either alone or in combination with other organic sources have a better utility as a bio-nutrient source and had significant beneficial effect on rice grain yield and improved the soil fertility
The use of the software generated an increase in grain yield by 25%, 30%increase in straw yield there was also significant changes recorded in all yield attributes.This results show that the continuous use of the software can help devlop the economic condition of the farmers.
Effect on Microbial health
Addition of vermiwash and vermicompost in the soil reported significant microbial activity.As per our designed experiment we recorded the heighest no of earthworms per square meter in the land that was under the experimental condition.
In the Microbial section we lacked access to the sophisticated instruments required for the detailed study.
Since we are not professionals the number of farmers agreeing to take part in the experiment was less.
There we certain instances when we thought of increasing the variables but economic and time related issues came up.
Our further plans include designing an audio Telecrop system, which would be more accessible and interactive. We are sure the day is not far just if we could we equipped with a deeper knowledge of technology and its application. With due course of time, we plan to expand the implementation area.
Though, initially farmers were unwilling to take up new steps leaving behind their age old traditional practices, they finally agreed .The best part was working with them and definitely observing their surprising satisfaction when the final results showed up.
We believe this satisfactory pleasure would soon be with every Indian Farmer.
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- Mr. S Mandal, our science teacher and Guide who inspired us to many uncountable ways and helped us in every step where we failed.
- Mr. N C Mandal, staff KV Fort William school, accompanied us to the village for our case studies.
- Mr. Dipankar Das ADA, and Mr. Sandip Mitra ADA (Farm), Sub Divisional Adaptive Research Farm, Baruipur Village, helped us in exlporing the village ang interacting with the farmers.
- Finally, our parents, who have supported us throughout this, with inspirational and monetary support.