Sustainable Farming Practices, India


The Global Farmer Network recently queried some of its members with some questions about their views on sustainability in their countries, regions and local areas.  This week we’ll start off with responses provided by R. Madhavan from India who also authored a recent column,  Learning by Doing Helps Indian Agriculture Thrive (May 10, 2018).


Global Farmer Network member – R Madhavan, Ulundhai Village, Vandavasi Taluq, Tamil Nadu, India

Question: What is your definition of sustainable farming?

Answer: Crop Productivity along with cost per unit of the produce determines sustainability. Crop productivity improvement can be achieved through the adoption of modern tools & Technology. Crop productivity or yield per acre of most crops in India in only a fraction of what is achieved in industrialized countries. The low crop productivity is responsible for the high cost of food in India. The high cost makes it not affordable to the economically deprived sections of the populations thus large people suffer from Malnutrition and undernutrition, This during formative stages of childhood, resulting in irreversible damage to physical and mental capabilities of a person through his lifetime.


Question: What farming practices are you using on your farm today that helps the sustainability of your farming operation and the soil that you are farming on?

Answer:  I took the first step in improving productivity by applying the following tools and technology:

  1. Complete soil analysis and balance the fertility level for crop specific
  2. Placement of fertilizer in the root zone due to immobility of certain nutrients for efficient uptake of nutrients by plants
  3. Proper land preparation to take care physical and chemical characteristics of the field including chisel, as shallow plow layer would prevent the plant from exploiting larger volumes of soil mass by its root system, both nutrient, and water. Besides, its ability to store rain or irrigated water in the soil profile for plant use has reduced significantly increased water use efficiency.
  4. Adopting judicious mechanization by simple bullock drawn as well tractor drawn tools for various operations
  5. Judicious pest management including weeds by appropriate tools and technology available including bt strains, proper use of weedicide etc…

Question: Where do you get information about sustainable farming practices that are appropriate for your farm?

Answer:  At my farm, discussing with fellow farmers and with reputed Agri scientist’s national and international levels. The opportunity provided by GFN cannot be ignored as that was an eye-opener more specifically field trips and discussion on the symposium.


Question: How do you determine what practices work best on your farm?

Answer: Many factors for example:

  1. Productivity
  2. Profitability
  3. Consumer demand
  4. Environment and ecosystem


Question: Are there specific technologies that will support the sustainability of your farming operation?

Answer: We need to create awareness among farmers on the tools available and how to use these properly. Like I always mention in my workshops which are conducted for farmers, that tractor driver cannot drive Ferrari car prior to proper awareness and learning. Otherwise, he will be killing himself and half dozen on the way. We cannot blame Ferrari for it.


Question: Do you share sustainable farming practices that you use with other farmers?  If yes, how?

Answer: Yes very much that’s part of my learning, to share and demonstrate knowledge with my fellow farmers, educated youth etc… by conducting workshops with the main theme as LEARN BY DOING. Also, make pictorial pamphlets in the local language and distribute it to the farmers.



Rajaram Madhavan

Rajaram Madhavan

Rajaram Madhavan grows three different crops a year on his farm near Ulundhai Village, Tamil Nadu, India. Madhavan has several patents for farmer-friendly farm tools, conducts workshops that encourage entrepreneurs to take up agriculture as a profession.

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