1. Success Story

Farmer Earns Rs. 4 Lakh per acre by Growing Different Fruits & Vegetables Using RO Water on Waste Land

Progressive farmer Rahul Rasal from Maharashtra used a blend of organic and scientific farming methods to grow residue-free grapes, pomegranate and vegetables; Know His Success Story

Ayushi Raina
Rahul Rasal of Nighoj village in Maharashtra has a deep connection with the soil.
Rahul Rasal of Nighoj village in Maharashtra has a deep connection with the soil.

Rahul Rasal of Nighoj village in Maharashtra has a deep connection with the soil. He is well-versed in the chemical composition and production capability of his farm soil. He is fully aware of the interventions that are required to improve and sustain its fertility.

However, he got this expertise via tough experiences and an immense passion for farming.

The 30-year-old claims that a few years ago, his 65-acre plot of land was nowhere close to growing crops. However, his knowledge gained by graduating in the Science field helped him succeed.

A combination of organic and scientific methods

"When I first started farming in 2006, my land had saline soil with Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) [inorganic salts and minor quantities of organic materials] ranging from 2,000 to 3,000. The calcium content was 21, and the pH level was 8.6. Furthermore, the organic carbon content was 0.4. The soil quality was so poor that its water-retaining capacity was only 35%. The high alkaline levels and excessive salinity rendered it difficult and unfeasible to grow," he explained.

Rahul said the soil composition was naturally saline in the region, and years of using chemical fertilizers worsened it. Moreover, the groundwater he used for irrigation was also of poor quality with high amounts of minerals and salts.

But today, Rahul has transformed the situation entirely and grows residue-free crops for exports, earning him lakhs of rupees.

He found success by installing a reverse osmosis (RO) plant on his farm to treat the water and implementing a combination of scientific and organic techniques to increase yield.

"I discovered that any pesticide or insecticide should be blended with distilled water before use for the best results. And, considering the significance of soil health, I needed to reduce the usage of heavy chemicals in my soil," Rahul stated.

Rahul stated that RO water lacks salinity and hence eliminates the possibility of it. "I need about 6,000 liters of water every day, and setting up the water treatment plant costs me Rs.20 paise per liter,” he said.

In addition, he employed organic matter and fertilizers to improve soil quality. "I purchased 10 cows so that I could use their dung on the farm.  I improved the soil health by mixing cow urine with organic farm residue," he stated.

Rahul also sprayed fermented buttermilk to prevent pests and boost microbial activity. In addition, the farmer installed a biogas system to create aerobic slurry. "I injected biogas slurry into an aerated tank.  The process helped oxygenate the slurry with 5 percent more oxygen, which was fed to the fields every week. The interventions helped increase the organic carbon to 1.8,” he said.

TDS levels dropped to 20 and pH levels dropped between 6.5 and 6.8, resulting in optimal farming conditions.

Rahul later developed a new irrigation technology for his farms. "I chose a smaller nozzle for drip irrigation and pesticide spraying to guarantee uniform distribution of liquid molecules on crops.  I watered the farm around 8 p.m. to decrease evaporation losses, ensuring the soil retained moisture for long hours, and keep the farm humidity at 35%," he explained.

At present, Rahul grows grapes of the crimson seedless variety on 15 acres, while he cultivates pomegranates and onions on another 15 acres each.

“I have also planted cucumber, brinjal, and papaya on the remaining 13 acres,” he said.

He makes a profit of Rs.4 lakh per acre from the overall yield. “I export all the products as they are residue-free and meet the quality standards of European countries and the United Kingdom,” he added.

However, Rahul has not completely abandoned pesticides and insecticides. “I have a private weather station installed on the farm.  If there is a chance of unseasonal rain or harsh weather, such as hailstorms, I spray pesticides on the crops as a precaution.

However, instead of the usual three sprays for a crop, the application is done only once. So, my farm produce has no chemical residue by the time it reaches harvest,” he noted.

He said that by combining scientific and organic techniques, he has been able to cut his manufacturing costs by 40%. "The number of farmers pursuing progressive farming in India is minimal, and I want more of my community members to invest in and adopt such practices," he added.

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