Selects pomegranate amid the water scarcity issues
“As our land has less water and pomegranate strives well in smaller amount of water I selected this crop. Even after plucking the fruits if the tree is not watered it shall survive,” says Mr. Mahadev Lakshman Balekayi. He hails from Chachadi village, Belgaum district, Karnataka. He holds 4.5 acre farm that he has turned into pomegranate orchard in 1.2 acre and rest of the farm has cotton and groundnut cultivation. He speaks with us about pomegranate farming. Excerpts:
Presently there are 500 plants of Kesar variety growing steadily in the orchard. As pomegranate plants grow 4.5-5ft tall, the spacing maintained in 12ft between the rows and 7ft between the plants. My land is on the slope of hill hence rain water does not clog in the farm. The soil is red. Soil health is bad and I am trying to improve it by increasing the microbe population in the soil. To do so I am using minimum chemical based agri inputs while more dependent on neem cake, farm yard manure and vermicompost. There are 2 jawari breed desi cows in the farm. Dung and urine of these cows is used for making bio-solutions. 20 kg cow dung is used to prepare jeevamrutha that is sprayed on the plants. Vermicompost is given once in a year and 15-20kgs of cattle manure is fed to each plant. In addition I buy cattle manure at the rate of Rs. 3-3.5 thousand/ tractor.
Usually cattle manure is given to the plants during monsoon because if cattle manure is fed in the soil during hot climate, then it will affect the tree. So I keep the manure ready and apply on the soil near the trees after rains. 0.5ft pit is dug around the plant to put cattle manure. It is then covered with soil. Next watering is done to increase the moisture level and increase the microbial activity in the soil. However, as the farm has the problem of white ants and green insects some insecticides are sprayed too.
Water source is well and borewells. Rain water gets collected in the open well. Water is given to the plants for one hour every alternate days through drip irrigation. After harvesting, watering is done once in week or fortnight or month. Then the trees are pruned. After pruning, the tree starts flowering.
The pomegranate takes 18-20months to give the first harvest only when water and manure are given at proper dose and time. The yield of pomegranate depends on the age of the plant. We may get 10-12kg per plant. Entire pomegranate produce is sold to traders. They grade the fruits in the farm itself. Grade 1 and 2 will go to the Mysore market whereas grade 3 will go to the local market.
I grew urd dal (pigeon pea) as intercrop with pomegranate for one year. It gave me good income thus planning to repeat the same this year too. Urd dal was sold in Belgaum market.
Along with pomegranate I am also growing cotton and groundnut as well but as the yield is not good for these two crops I am planning to turn entire farm into pomegranate orchard. In the new orchard I am planning to keep the distance as 14ftx10ft so that I can use tractor as we have labour issues. Mostly it would 1000+ saplings. I shall buy the saplings from Billur village, Maharashtra. It is of good quality and price is Rs. 20/sapling. My next plan is to construct krishi pond in the farm.
Pomegranate is most suitable crop for the farmlands having water shortage. Demand of the fruit is quite stable and it is sold easily. I am extremely satisfied with my crop selection.
Mr. Mahadev Lakshman Balekayi
PO Chachadi, Saundatti Taluk, Belgaum District – 591 126, Karnataka