The project aims to popularise mechanical transplantation of paddy, sugarcane in the State

The Integrated Farming System (IFS), introduced on an experimental basis in three villages of the district, will be expanded to popularise mechanical transplantation of paddy and sugarcane.

The IFS aims to increase productivity while reducing the cost of production.

H.L. Vasanth Kumar, Farm Management Specialist at the Agricultural Research and Extension Centre, Naganahalli, told The Hindu that the response to the IFS, when it was launched last year, was lukewarm. “But having seen the results and the perceived benefits, there is a demand for it and, hence, mechanical paddy transplantation will be expanded by incorporating another 20 acres to the existing 30 acres of demonstration plots”, he added.

The IFS demonstration is being conducted at Lakshmipura, Kalasthawadi and Naganahalli in the district. The authorities are popularising the use of herbal weedicide for paddy, which has to be applied within three days after transplantation.

Mr. Kumar said the popularisation of mechanical transplantation would reduce human labour, which would impact landless agricultural labourers. Hence, the IFS proposed to encourage them to take up allied occupations, for which goats and lambs were distributed to the persons affected in the IFS project area. So far, 700 lambs and 70 goats had been distributed. The landless labourers could earn a steady income once the animals began reproducing, he added.

“The distribution of improved variety of sheep, goats, fish and poultry birds is part of the IFS, which aims to address the problem of redundancy created by mechanical transplantation. Poultry activities will generate income for landless labourers”, according to Mr. Chikkapapanna, a scientist involved in the IFS.

“Mechanical transplantation has been given emphasis in view of the growing labour problem in the agricultural sector, and non-availability of workers at the time of transplantation. This used to affect crop productivity”, according to agricultural scientists involved in promoting the IFS.

Since the IFS was introduced in the Cauvery command area where paddy and sugarcane were the major crops, the scientists were encouraging farmers to take up mulching of sugarcane trash. “Farmers tend to burn the sugarcane trash after harvesting, and in the process the organic components of soil, including the humus, get destroyed.

“However, we have introduced mulching of sugarcane trash in the demonstration villages, which helps produce organic manure, enriches the soil and conserves the humus”, said Mr. Kumar.

The IFS is a State government project introduced by the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore, through its research and extension centres across Karnataka. The integrated farming system hopes to cover about 20,000 farm families and 5,000 landless labourers during the project's trial period expected to run through for at least three years.

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