Many farmers in South India have benefited from M S Raju’s innovative technique. The Hyderabad-based farmer helps turn alkaline farm into cultivable land.
M S Raju (full name: M S Subrahmanyam Raju) is a 60 years old Science graduate. He is maybe best defined as a dedicated agriculturist who is always on the lookout for newer methods of farming. Despite his decades of farming experience, he just decided to transition to organic farming six years ago.
Raju claims he is frequently asked to share his knowledge of converting pH (potential of hydrogen) 8 or above (alkaline soil) into cultivable land.
Over the last five years, he has helped transform hundreds of acres of chowdu bhoomi (alkaline soil). He has converted almost 400 acres of alkaline cropland into cultivable land to date.
Chowdu Bhoomi is a type of land that does not absorb water. Because there is no water penetration, the soil stiffens and compacts, becoming hard. The plants that thrive here lack nourishment and are frequently prone to illness. As a result, yields may be minimal and plants may die. Alkaline soil also prevents seedlings from germinating properly. In our country particularly in the state of Telangana, such lands cover lakhs of acres.
According to Raju, as topsoil hardens, its infiltration ability decreases significantly. This, in turn, causes rainwater to easily stagnate on the soil, making agriculture difficult during dry days without enough irrigated water and efficient drainage. Because such soil is less soluble, the soil’s ability to absorb nutrients, which are required for plant growth, is greatly diminished. Many farmers, despite having enormous fields, are unable to cultivate anything because their soils are alkaline.
He continues, saying, a pH (potential of hydrogen) value of 7 is required for the land to be regarded viable for agriculture. Anything below or above (pH below 6 and above 8) renders the soil unsuitable for most crop production. For example, a pH level of less than 6 is appropriate for certain crops such as tea, etc. Raju claims he was able to successfully convert land with a pH of 4 to a pH of 10 and neutralise the soil, while he was experimenting.
The pH of calcareous soils (calcium carbonate and calcium bicarbonate) is higher and causes more root penetration problems than regular alkaline soil. As a result, plants cannot develop in a healthy state. I can also use organic ways to remediate such soils.
Raju has four years of on-the-ground experience implementing these tactics, following six years of experimentation with converting alkaline terrain into cultivable land. He claims that if all of his instructions are followed to the letter, the conversion process can be completed in just one month. Raju uses microbes, bacteria, and organic compost to neutralise the soil and make it cultivable.
When it comes to the investment required, Raju says that the process itself is not expensive. What is required is a reliable source of water as well as preliminary information on the pH level of the soil. It will cost between Rs 2,000 and 6,000 per acre per season on average, depending on the pH value that the soil needs to be converted to. If this alteration is intended to last for two seasons, the cost will be lower
M S Raju gives the following tips to farmers to turn alkaline land into cultivable land:
1. Concentrate on water-harvesting techniques:
Given that the soil has been allowed to erode for a long time, the most critical step is to implement water gathering techniques.Raju emphasises the need of resolving this issue before working with the soil in any way.
2. Encourage animal activity for soil regeneration.
It is critical to recognise the function that animals play in soil regeneration. Cows, chickens, and other farm animals provide the land with rich manure and compost material.
3. Select the crop:
Once the water harvesting mechanism has been established, it is critical to select the crop that will be grown on the land. The crop you choose will dictate the pH level for which the soil must be prepared. Planting a variety of species will also help to revitalise the soil’s vitality.