Like many farmers in his village, Indian farmer Jamuna Lal mixed corn seed with fertilizer and spread it over his field. He also used a traditional planting method of a bullock-drawn plough based system.Using this method results in the random spacing of seeds and direct contact with fertilizer—both factors which decrease yield.
After seeing farmers experiment with mechanization, Lal decided to join a project that introduced him to a new sowing and fertilizing drill that would revolutionize his farming practice. The seed and fertilizer drill was developed as part of Project SHARE (Sustainable Harvest: Agriculture, Resources and Environment), a partnership between Monsanto India and the Indian Society of Agribusiness Professionals (ISAP), to empower cotton and corn small and marginal land holders across three states and 1,100 villages.
Project SHARE also has a farm advisory and extension service that works to communicate the importance of modern cultivation practices to farmers in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara and Bundi districts. The project’s goal is to enable farmers to augment yields and thereby incomes.
After one growing season, Lal doubled his yield and saved 30 percent on seed costs. He and other Indian farmers enjoyed higher yields because of one change in their farming techniques: mechanization.
Monsanto India and ISAP realized improper sowing, which results in poor plant geometry in the field and affects optimum plant population, was preventing farmers from receiving the maximum benefit of Monsanto’s seed.
To address the issue, Monsanto India, ISAP and Project SHARE ’s participating farmers contributed to the cost of developing the seed and fertilizer drill, demonstrating the farmers’ willingness to not only learn but also adopt modern practices that they now believe can help them achieve higher yields.
A seed and fertilizer drill is a device that controls seed and fertilizer quantities to conform to ideal spacing recommendations. The drill contains a double-box seed drill with sub sections divided for seed and fertilizer. This makes it possible to adjust seed and fertilizer rates individually. It can also be used for other crops.
The development and adoption of the seed drill has enabled farmers to produce more and conserve more. Farmers have seen yield increases anywhere from two to six tons per hectare in one growing season. They’ve also seen better seeding rates, meaning more seeds per hectare, which saves on inputs like fertilizer.
The team anticipates expanding the geography covered by the drill. To encourage farmer interest, the drill is showcased at many farmer events, including buyer-seller meetings, demonstration plots, farm shows and government events.
Project SHARE envisages developing farmers as the agents of sustainable change for farming—to become a lucrative enterprise for generations to come. This change is already manifesting itself in farming practices and the lives of farmers.
This article is excerpted from Monsanto’s 2011 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report. The full report can be found at Monsanto’s web site.