|Organic Farming :: Organic Farming Practices|
Organic cultivation of Ginger
Ginger is cultivated in many states in India. Dry ginger has good demand abroad especially in the Middle East markets. India is the largest exporter of dry ginger.
Sources of planting material
Carefully preserved seed rhizomes free from pests and diseases, which are collected from organically cultivated farms can be used for planting. However, to begin with seed material from high yielding local varieties may be used in the absence of organically produced seed. Seed rhizomes should not be treated with any chemicals.
Preparation of land and planting
While preparing the land, minimum tillage operations may be adopted. Beds of 15 cm height, 1 m width and of convenient length may be prepared giving at least 50 cm spacing between beds. Solarisation of the beds is beneficial in checking the multiplication of pest and disease causing organisms. The polythene sheets used for soil solarisation should be kept away safely after the work is completed.
Mulching the ginger beds with green leaves is an essential operation to enhance germination of seed rhizomes and to prevent washing off soil due to heavy rain. This also helps to add organic matter to the soil and conserve moisture during the later part of the cropping season. The first mulching is to be done with green leaves @ 10 - 12 t/ha at the time of planting. It is to be repeated @ 5 t/ha at 40th and 90th day after planting. Use of Lantana camara and Vitex negundo as mulch may reduce the infestation of shoot borer. Cow dung slurry or liquid manure may be poured on the bed after each mulching to enhance microbial activity and nutrient availability. Weeding may be carried out depending on the intensity of weed growth. Such materials may be used for mulching. Proper drainage channels are to be provided in the inter rows to drain off stagnant water.
Application of well rotten cow dung or compost @ 5-6 t/ha may be made as a basal dose while planting the rhizomes in the pits. Enriched compost giving a start to phosphorus and potassium requirements may be highly useful. In addition, application of neem cake @ 2 t/ha is also desirable.
Soft rot or rhizome rot caused by Pythium aphanidermatum is a major disease of ginger. While selecting the area for ginger cultivation care should be taken to see that the area is well drained as water stagnation pre-disposes the plants to infection. Hence provide adequate drainage. Select seed rhizomes from disease free areas since this disease is also seed borne. Solarisation of soil done at the time of bed preparation can reduce the fungus inoculum. However, if the disease is noticed, the affected clumps are to be removed carefully along with the soil surrounding the rhizome to reduce the spread. Trichoderma may be applied at the time of planting and subsequently if necessary. Restricted use of Bordeaux mixture (1 %) in disease prone areas may be made to control it.
Harvesting and post harvest operations
The crop is ready to harvest in about eight to ten months depending upon the maturity of the variety. When fully mature leaves turn yellow and start drying up gradually. Clumps are lifted carefully with a spade or digging fork and rhizomes are separated from dried leaves, roots and adhering soil. The average yield of fresh ginger per hectare varies with varieties ranging from 15 to 25 tonnes.
Preservation of seed rhizomes
The rhizomes to be used as seed material should be preserved carefully. The indigenous practices like spreading layers of leaves of Glycosmis pentaphylla called in Malayalam 'panal' being followed by farmers can very well be adopted for this purpose. In order to get good germination, the seed rhizomes are to be stored properly in pits under shade. For seed materials, big and healthy rhizomes from disease-free plants are selected immediately after harvest. For this purpose, healthy and disease-free clumps are marked in the field when the crop is 6-8 months old and still green. Seed rhizomes are stored in pits of convenient size made inside the shed to protect from the sun and rain. Walls of the pits may be coated with cow dung paste. Seed rhizomes are stored in these pits in layers along with well dried sand or saw dust (i.e. put one layer of seed rhizomes, then put 2 cm thick layer of sand or saw dust). Sufficient gap is to be left at the top of the pits for adequate aeration. The pits can be covered with wooden plank with one or two small holes for aeration. Seed rhizomes in pits need inspection once in twenty days to remove shriveled and disease affected rhizomes. Seed rhizomes can also be stored in pits dug in the ground under the shade of a tree provided there is no chance for water to enter the pits. In some areas, the rhizomes are loosely heaped over a layer of sand or paddy husk and covered with dry leaves in a thatched shed.
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