Guide to Multilayer Farming: How and Why?
Multilayer farming is a sort of integrated agricultural system in which we grow (4-5) different types of crops on the same piece of ground at the same time, each of which develops at a different height and period. Multilayer is formed by combining the phrases multi and layer. Multi denotes a large number, and layer denotes a series of strata of varying heights. Multilayer farming is based on the principle of High Density Planting, which makes the most of manure, water, soil, and vertical space.
Other Principles Includes:
- Maximum utilization of land, labor, and capital resources.
- Minimizing the cost of production and the amount of input used.
- Development of organic and sustainable agriculture as a means of reducing the use of chemicals in agriculture.
- Ensure the household’s food and nutritional security.
Model of multilayer farming
Crop selection is the most significant decision, and crops with varying heights, maturation stages, sunlight requirements, water requirements, root systems, and crop length are chosen and planted together. Let’s look into ginger, green vegetables, ivy gourd, and papaya multilayer farming. Tuber crops such as ginger are sown at a depth of 15-20 cm in the first layer. Leafy vegetables are seeded at a depth of 5 cm and can be harvested until the ginger germinates and the roots of the leafy vegetables reach the ginger. Leafy vegetables act as a ground cover, preventing weed growth, and uprooting plants allows for soil aeration and sunlight exposure. Climbers such as ivy gourd, bitter gourd, and cucumber, which bear fruit on the structure’s roof, are planted at the right spacing. The uppermost layer in a multitier system is planted with papaya at a spacing of 18 ft 12 ft. Currently, all four strata are occupied with crops with varying germination and maturation times. As a result, a multilayer system is created.
Different crop combination which can be grown in multilayer farming system are shown in following table :-
Ginger + spinach + banana
Yam + chilli+ cucumber +papaya
Onion+ potato +sugarcane+ banana
Ginger+ okra+ bottle gourd
Potato+ bitter gourd + papaya
|Layers||Name Of Crops|
|1st Layer||Ginger, Turmeric, Onion, Garlic, Yam, Sweet Potato, Potato|
|2nd Layer||Leafy Veggies, Fenugreek, Spinach, Coriander|
|3rd Layer||Chilli, Okra, Tomato, Brinjal|
|4th Layer||Cucumber, Bitter gourd, Ridge Gourd, Ash gourd, Pumpkin|
|5th Layer||Papaya, Banana, Coconut|
Steps in making multilayer structure
First and foremost, land should be chosen. Land with a rectangle or square shape and an area of at least 0.5 acre is ideal for management. Following the selection of land, reclamation should be carried out in accordance with the pH of the soil. Tillage is done on the primary and secondary levels, and plots of the requisite size are created. Drainage canals should be constructed along the plot’s perimeter. The use of fungicides like tricoderma in the soil is advantageous since it increases the amount of moisture in the root zone, which may aid fungal growth. Then a house-like structure should be constructed using locally accessible materials such as bamboo or wooden pegs for the house’s framework. Metal wire or rope strung in a crossing pattern along the length and breadth of the structure can be used to create a roof. The roof is sprinkled with agricultural stubble or grass, which blocks direct sunlight. To keep weed seeds and insects out, cover the building on all four sides with an insect net.
Management practices to be followed in multilayer farming
- Climbers should be able to stake themselves properly.
- Surface-grown leafy crops should be collected on a regular basis.
- Training and pruning of various crops should also be done on a regular basis to ensure adequate space management.
- Irrigation should be done correctly. Because irrigation is a water-efficient technology, too much irrigation can destroy crops.
- Light traps, pheromone traps, and botanicals are used to control pests.
Benefits of multilayer farming over conventional methods
Nepal is in the process of transitioning from traditional to modern agriculture, while industrialized countries are turning to ecological and sustainable agricultural methods in response to health risks and pollution caused by chemical farming. As a result, we have the option of choosing an environmentally beneficial farming strategy. Multi-layer farming is based entirely on natural processes or is a replica of the forest ecosystem. In Nepal, the majority of farmers (56 percent) own less than 0.5 hectares of land. In this situation, where traditional monocropping fails to meet the farmer’s economic and household demands, multilayer farming is meant to allow farmers to sell their crops throughout the year while also meeting the nutritional needs of their families. Multilayer farming uses a combination of attracting and repelling crops to manage insect population through an ecological process while also ensuring that soil nutrients from different levels are used responsibly. As a result of the ground cover and roof preventing excessive evaporation and blocking sunlight, water is considerably conserved (about 80 percent of conventional farming). Government agencies should integrate multilayer farming in policy design and execution to enhance the current state of production and productivity. Rain-fed areas and uplands can be made lush green with little investment and effort.