Monday, 10 April 2017

Infosys Software Engineer to a Farmer - Know more

Courtesy: Better India

    Shankar Kotian from Moodu-Konaje village near Moodbidre in Karnataka says “I was heading a team of 10 people in Infosys. After you reach a certain position in IT, there is not much to learn. There are no challenges. You commute for 3-4 hours everyday. You work mechanically and that’s it. I had reached a saturation point where I was not enjoying anything even though I had everything,” 

Shankar left his job in 2012 after working for Infosys for 15 years in India and abroad, and opted to become a farmer. Shankar had no ancestral land and he started by buying 2 acres of land in Moodbidre. He started planning for this day way back in 2006-07 and planted rubber plants in the first 2 acres.

After research of about 6 years, Shankar was determined to begin natural farming, which was based on the findings of PadmShri Subhash Palekar, and a dairy farm with all the modern amenities to supply hygienic milk to his consumers. In 2011, Shankar bought 8 acres of barren land near a water source in Moodu-Konaje village to start his dairy farm.

In 2012, Shankar quit his job and started building a house first in his newly acquired land to stay and start his new venture. A house was much needed as back in 2012, his farm was not connected to the main road. It was a 3 km muddy road, which made it difficult to reach the farm everyday to work. Once the house was built, he bought organic manure from nearby farmers and grew grass in his land.

Once there was enough grass, he bought the cows. He spent almost three years learning as he had no prior agricultural experience.

My knowledge was theoretical till I actually started farming and so initially there were lot of challenges,” Shankar said.

Now, Shankar has 40 cows in his dairy farm and supplies 180 litres of milk everyday to KMF – Nandini (Karnataka Co-operative Milk Producer’s Federation Ltd).

The Dairy farm designed by Shankar

The dairy farm is designed and constructed based on the industry best practices followed in western countries, but also suiting local conditions.

Some of the features are:
  1. Cubicles between animals to ensure living space for each animal
  2. Neck rail and separators in feeding alley so that a given cow eats only the ration that it is supposed to, but not that of the adjacent cow
  3. Separate sheds for cows and heifers/calves
  4. Rubber mats as bedding for cow comfort
  5. Free-stall design with plenty of space outside the shed so that cows can roam around
  6. Milking parlour system for clean and hygienic milking (in-progress)

Bio Gas Plant – Another source of saving and earning

   He has also set up a biogas plant of 25 cubic meter, which runs with the dung produced from these 40 cows. Shankar has made a floating drum design for the biogas, but with a twist: the drum is not immersed in the slurry, instead a layer of water keeps it afloat. This concept is more hygienic. There are separate tanks for thick slurry and washed water. The gas produced from this plant is used for cooking and heating water.

   The slurry produced from the biogas plant is very nutritious for the soil and is odorless. Shankar uses this as a fertilizer for the 25-acre land that he has bought gradually in the past few years. The slurry is also sold to the nearby areca nut farmers using a tanker and pipes. This method is less labour-intensive for buyers and the slurry is more nutrient than handling solid farm yard manure.

He has also done 5 acres Napier grass plantation to feed the cows with fresh grass. The farm landscape has a hilltop, which houses the cow shed, and the sloping land has the Napier Grass plantation. This allows the flow of slurry from cow shed to Napier Grass plantation by gravity without using electrical pumping system.

                                     shankars farm.