Scientist takes to farming, demonstrates innovative mango cultivation

Molecular plant pathologist P. Chowdappa at his mango farm near Doddaballapur.

Molecular plant pathologist P. Chowdappa at his mango farm near Doddaballapur.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

His experiment with ultra high density mango planting yields rich dividends

At a time when educated persons are scouting for remunerative options in the farm sector, this nationally reputed scientist has shown the way by successfully demonstrating a model of reaping high profits from mango cultivation through ultra high density planting.

Molecular Plant Pathologist P. Chowdappa, who retired as director of Central Plantation Crops Research Institute, Kasaragod, just a few months ago, has not only taken to full-time farming now, but is also experimenting with various horticultural models.

As against the conventional method of planting 40 to 50 mango saplings per acre, he has planted 674 in his farm located nearly 10 km beyond Doddaballapur in Bengaluru Rural district.

“I have planted Alphonso and Kesar varieties at a rate of 674 saplings per acre on 10 acres. I have given a spacing of nine feet between rows and six feet between plants. While the yield per plant will be lower compared with the conventional planting system, the total yield per acre would be higher,” he says. Such a cultivation is said to have been taken up for the first time in the State on a large scale.

A salient feature is that almost all the fruits would be of good quality as against the conventional method in which a sizeable quantum would not be of good quality.

“I allow the plants to reach the height of just six to seven feet and prune the branches thereafter. The idea is to ensure that the branches of one plant do not touch the branches of other plants,” he says, pointing out that maintaining a proper canopy architecture is crucial in ultra high density planting method. “A well planned canopy will allow sufficient sun light to reach the branches of the plant.”

“We are getting 50 fruits from a plant, that amounts to 10 kg. As of now, we are not allowing more than 50 fruits, and also pluck the additional fruits at the early stage itself for easy maintenance,” he says.

This year, which marks the fifth year of planting saplings, he was able to sell his produce to an online commodity firm at a farmgate price of ₹60 a kg. With this, he has earned a profit of over ₹2.5 lakh per acre after deducting expenses of about ₹1 lakh per acre.

But what is important in this kind ofplanting is proper crop management. In addition to drip irrigation for some dry months, he provides nutrients and sprays medicines at three intervals in a year.

“In fact, I hinder the growth of branches to an extent so that the plants yield early. The yearly yield helps in getting good prices for the fruits as the demand for mangoes will be generally high during the early season due to less arrivals in the market,” he says.

For some plants, he has also tried extensive protection strategies including covering the fruits from the early stage to prevent any damage.

The hallmark of his orchard is the good and uniform quality of fruits that have positive feedback from the market. He uses a mini-tractor for cultivation of land as the vehicle can easily pass through between two rows.

“The main advantage in reducing the height of plants is that you can harvest the fruits easily and also maintain the plants including taking up pruning activity or spraying pesticides without much difficulty,” he points out.

Getting such high yields as well as revenues from the mango plants is being seen as a possible game-changer for farmers from dry and semi-dryland areas as mangoes require less water.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 5:04:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/scientist-takes-to-farming-demonstrates-innovative-mango-cultivation/article31937561.ece

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