Sustainability of home gardens in Masemulla forest area in Matara district

Home-gardens are meant to be sustainable land use systems that provide a variety of products and services to the people. This study was undertaken to evaluate the sustainability of home-gardens in Masemulla forest area in Matara district. Ullala, which is a small village closed to Masemulla forest area, was selected for the study. A survey was conducted using a random sample of 40 home-gardens in the area. Average land area ranged from 0.25 to 0.5 acres with an average family size of 2-8 and almost all the families belonged to the low income group.

Majority of home gardens (90%) consisted of three canopy layers-near the ground surface herbaceous layer, followed by an intermediate layer of shrubs and a tree layer at the upper level. Tree density ranged from low to medium with a combination of mixed species arranged in a random way. Canopy coverage was about 15 to 50% and there were more than 50% of unutilized land areas. Species diversity in the selected home-gardens was low ranging from 20–25 species and the no of woody taxa was about 5-10. Dominant tree species included jak (Artocarpus heterophyllus), coconut (Cocos nucifera), mango (Mangifera indica), areca nut (Areca catechu), mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla) etc. Majority of house holders (90%) considered cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) as an additional income source. All the householders consumed the products of the home-gardens as food.

Less than 10% of house-holders rare animals and although there is a good potential for bee keeping, less than 1% of householders practiced this. Wild-boar and wild-rat attack was one of the main problems in crop production. Soil erosion was also a problem in this area and less than 30% of householders practiced some form of soil conservation methods. Half of the householders fulfilled their energy requirement from their home-gardens. Although there are many advantages in homegardening, householders don’t pay adequate attention as they don’t fully understand the various benefits of proper home-gardening.

M K T K Amarasinghe, I R Palihakkara and M de S Liyanage
Department of Crop Science, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka.

Energy saving scoop type rotary tiller blade for deep tillage

The energy consumption for the land preparation is excessive during the primary and secondary tillage operations; because of the high draft force required. Many researchers were reported that the reverse rotational rotary tiller had an advantage for the deep tilling on the power requirement compared to the conventional rotary tiller. The reverse rotational rotary tiller can be used for deep tillage with less energy requirement. Three types of scoop type rotary tiller blades were fabricated by changing design parameters of the horizontal portion of the scoop surface of the blade for reverse rotational in order to minimize the re-tillage during deep tillage achieving low power consumption. Blades with cutting angles 25°, 35 and 55° were tested with conventional blade (45° cutting angle) at 15.6% soil moisture conditions.

When compared the maximum power and the torque at maximum power, blade with angle 35° showed best performance, while others were in the order of conventional type (45°)>55°>25°. In terms of soil tilth, significantly better performances were shown by the blades with angles 35° and 45° with reducing bulk density and cone penetration resistance values. Blade with angle 35° showed highest backward throwing distance as 660 mm. Blade with angle 55° showed lower backward throwing distance. Blade with angle 35° performed best with lowest power consumption, higher pulverization and backward throwing ability and can be recommended for reverse rotation in deep tillage.

C P Rupasinghe1 and H P W Jayasuriya2
1Department of Agriculture Engineering, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka.
2Asian Institute of Technology, Bangkok, Thailand

Role of plants in traditional livestock production

Plants have been used from ancient time to sustain local livestock production in various aspects. Historically, traditional veterinary practices were mainly based on the “Hela Vedakama” in which plants played a vital role. Phyto-based traditional veterinary practices dated back to beyond the period of King Ravana. This “phyto-based” system sustained the local livestock production over a period of many ceturies to date and same remedies are presently used extensively and effectively in rural livestock production systems. According to the chronicles and traditional knowledge based information, the cattle can suffer from 16400 and the buffalo from 4448 different ailments. In traditional veterinary practices the most important group diseases are known as “Veppu” and “Adappan”. In this category there are more than 4000 different diseases. Majority of these diseases are cured with phyto-based medicinal system. When obtaining plant parts for treatment selection criteria for the plant is very important. Usually “pancha pangu” is used in preparations. Collection of plant aprts are done by auspicious time and by specific persons. According to a extensive study conducted during the last three years, it was revealed, 74% of the surveyed livestock farmers practice “phyto-based” treatments in livestock medicine. Many plant species are used for different cattle ailments. 38 plant species are used to treat wounds, ulcers, cuts and boils. Some of these medicinal recipes are even recommended in local traditional veterinary chronicles which are centuries old. 28 plants species are used to treat ailments of the eye including pathogenic infections to physical damages. 22 plant species have been identified to which has been used to treat respiratory disorders and 18 plant species for the preparation of recipes to treat bone fractures and breakages in cattle and buffalo. 18 plant species were recognized that are used for snake bites and 17 for intestinal worm treatments. In treating throat and mouth diseases, 27 plant species are used and for sprains and swellings 17 species are used. Foot and hoof diseases are one of the major ailments in cattle and buffalo and 16 plant species are used in treating such ailments. For the medical preparations for the ear infections, 15 plant species are used and for treatments for the urinary system, 12 plant species are used. Mastitis is a serious udder problem in lactating cows and 16 plant species are in the medicinal preparations. Reproduction associated problems including dystokia, and abortions, proven treatments are made by using 14 plant species. 15 plant species are used to treat external parasitic diseases. This paper will discuss details of the plant species, their parts used, aspects to consider in obtaining of plant parts and preparation of different recipes.

A N F Perera1, A N K Perera2 and E R K Perera3
1Uva Welassa University, Badulla, Sri Lanka
2University of Wayamba, Sri Lanka
3University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka

Drought analysis in relation to crop production: Anuradhapura district

In order to identify the risk on drought for crop production in Anuradhapura district, daily rainfall data over 35 years in seven rain gauge stations were analyzed. The selected stations were Anuradhapura, Mahailluppallama, Nochchiyagama, Kalawewa, Elayapaththuwa, Padaviya and Vavuniya.

Among all the stations, both highest mean annual rainfall of 1488.5 mm and annual dependable rainfall of 1276.6 mm were recorded in Padaviya. The minimum rainfall values of 1087.6 mm and 903.1 mm were noted in Nochchiyagama respectively. 31% and 69% of total annual rainfall was received in yala and maha seasons respectively. Number of dry weeks in the district was assessed by Hargreaves’ Moisture Availability Index (MAI) method and 10 mm and 20 mm weekly rainfall at 75% probability level for upland and wetland crops respectively.

According to MAI, average number of dry weeks in the district was 25 (out of 26) for yala season and 19 (out of 26) for maha season. The maximum dry period of 100% was recorded in Nochchiyagama, Elyapaththuwa and Padaviya in yala season. It was 85% for maha season in Nochchiyagama and Elayapaththuwa. The highest dry run of 42 weeks was recorded in Nochchiyagama, Elayapaththuwa and Padaviya throughout the year. Based on the monthly dependable rainfall 74.5% of total rainfall is concentrated into last 3 months in the region.

Based on 20 mm weekly rainfall at 75% probability, the whole district was completely dry during yala season. Total 100% dryness was observed in Elayapathtuwa based on 10 mm and 20 mm weekly rainfall at 75% probability for maha season. Average 96% of dryness was recorded in the district under 10 mm weekly rainfall at 75% probability in yala season. The analysis depicts the risk on drought in the area for crop production. It indicates the irrigation need for the crop production in the district both in yala and maha seasons.

M K N Kumari and C M Navaratne
Department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka.

Multi-use two wheel tractor operated fertilizer applicator for Coconut cultivation

Unfortunately, it is observed that application of comical fertilizers is low in the coconut sector partly due to high wages and scarcity of labour.

The purpose of mechanization in coconut cultivation is to produce more from existing land. Machinery is a complimentary input required to achieve higher land productivity. Additional benefits to the user may be associated with a reduction in drudgery of farm work greater leisure, or reduction of risk.

Use of manpower for the application of fertilizer is uneconomical due to high labor cost. Therefore power tiller operated fertilizer applicator for coconut cultivation was designed and constructed. This machine is not only useful to broadcast fertilizer on the soil but also to mix it with the soil close to the palm on the weeded surface.

The designed machine consists of fertilizer distribution unit and rotary unit. The Maximum spreading width in meter, Machine discharge rate in gr/min and Uniformity coefficient of spray distribution, were considered as criteria for comparison of merits and demerits. The results showed that the Maximum spreading width and Machine discharges rate were 0.7m, and 150 – 230 gr/min, respectively. The cost of production of the designed power tiller operated fertilizer applicator was Rs.10,000.00

P L A G Alwis, L W S Pemasiri and K P W Lakmal
Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna , Mapalana, Kaburupitiya, Sri Lanka.

Formulation of a fertilizer package for hybrid varieties of pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima)

Pumpkin (Cucurbita maxima) is a popular low country vegetable in Sri Lanka and it has become a fundamental crop species in the farming systems of dry and intermediate zones. Introduced hybrid pumpkin varieties are becoming popular in Sri Lanka because of the higher yield. However, there is no fertilizer recommendation for hybrid pumpkin. Local farmers apply high dosages of Nitrogen(N), Phosphorus(P) and Potassium(K) levels which causes increased cost of production and reduced profit. Therefore, a field experiment was conducted to identify the effects of higher N, P and K levels on yield of hybrid pumpkin. The hybrid variety Arjuna was tested under eight different fertilizer levels where the Department of Agriculture (DOA) recommendation was taken as the control and one and half times of that was used as the higher levels of N, P and K. The experiment was arranged in a confounding design with three replicates with two blocks per each. Reproductive parameters and yield parameters viz. yield, number of fruits per vine, fruit width and diameter were recorded. The tested fertilizer levels did not show any significant effect on reproductive parameters and yield parameters of hybrid pumpkin, thus, indicating that the application of higher dosages of N, P and K is not economical. Hence, the DOA fertilizer recommendation is adequate for hybrid pumpkins though the yield is higher when compared to local pumpkin varieties.

 O P G Pushpakumari1, K P D Siriwardhane2 and R H M K Ratnayake1
1Department of Horticulture and Landscape Gardening, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka
2Regional Agricultural Research and Development Center, Sri Lanka.

Design and development of power tiller operated multipurpose whole stick harvester especially for sugarcane

In Sri Lanka cane harvesting is done manually using various types of hand knives. This method of harvesting not only consumes much time but also requires much skilled labourers. But nowadays labourers are becoming scarce and costly, particularly in sugarcane cultivation areas. This is due to diversion of labour to other more remunerative work in industry, construction, business and diversion of labour to other crops.

It is difficult to employ heavy machines in Sri Lanka due to various reasons such as, fragmented and small holdings with small and irregular fields, diverse cropping patterns followed, the cultivation practices which have been developed for manual harvest and poor farmers who cannot afford costly machines. Therefore Power tiller operated whole stick harvester prototype was designed and constructed. The designed machine consists of reversible cutting device, power transmission unit with clutch mechanism and Cane shifting device. The Maximum cutting width, Machine capacity and Traveling speed were considered as criteria for comparison of merits and demerits with existing manual method. The results showed that maximum cutting width, Machine capacity and Traveling speed were 1.2m, 0.8 ha/day and 0.75 km/hr respectively. The cost of production of the designed Sugarcane harvester was Rs.20,000.00

P L A G Alwis , L W S Pemasiri and W S K Rathnayake
Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ruhuna, Mapalana, Kamburupitiya ,Sri Lanka.

Behaviour of cattle in an agro-forestry system

Objective of the present study was to understand the behavior of dairy cattle tethered under agro-forestry systems. Three genetically uncharacterized, indigenous, non-lactating cows and two bulls (mean live weight 199±29) were tethered close to a water stream in an agro-forestry system. The vegetation of the agro-forestry system comprised of teak, coconut, mahogany and shrubs. Animals had enough foraging materials around the place they were tethered. One observer was assigned to each animal. The behaviour of the animals was observed for five hours from 1000 1500 hrs. The mean temperature and the relative humidity of day of the study were 28 0C and 79% respectively. Frequency and the duration of the time spent on nine behaviours were recorded. The behavioural activities studied were drinking, feeding (ground level and upper level), lying, standing, walking, urination, defecation, vocalization and interactions (cattle-cattle and cattle-other animals). Feeding was the most prominent behaviour of the animals. The time spent on feeding and the frequency of feeding during the 300 minutes study period were 252 min and 23, respectively and thus the feeding behaviour accounted for 84% of the total time budget. The frequency (15) and the time spent on ground level grazing (234 min) were significantly higher (p<0.001) than the frequencies and the time spent on upper level feeding. Though not statistically significant, animals spent more time on standing (18.9 min or 6.3% of the total time) than on Laying (14.6 min or 5% of the total time). The frequency of standing (5) was also significantly (p<0.001) higher than that of lying (1). May be due to tethering, cattle spent less time (8.3 minutes or 2.7% of the total time) on walking. The frequency of drinking (2) and the time spent on drinking were (3 min or 1% of the total time) unexpectedly low. Cattle defecated and urinated twice during the five- hour study period. Vocalization was the least prominent behavioural activity. It is concluded that cattle highly engage with feeding particularly, on ground level when they are tethered under agro-forestry systems. Further researches are needed to determine as to why the drinking behaviour is suppressed when tethered in agro-forestry systems.

D Senaratna, N S B M Atapattu, W G D, Lakmini, W I R Palihakkara, B Piyadigama and C C Senaratne
Department of Animal Science, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka

Agro- forestry system to protect both the Sinharaja forest and the peripheral villages (a case study of the southern part of Sinharaja)

Sinharaja, a ‘Tropical Wet Ever Green Rain Forest’ situated between latitude 6º 21´ -6º 26´ N and longitude 80º 31´ – 80º 34´ E in Sri Lanka is surrounded by more than 27 peripheral villages. The villagers have interacted with the forest for many years .The objective of this study is to verify the aptness of introducing the Agro-forestry System into these peripheral villages to protect both the forest and the villages. The villages situated in the southern part of Sinharaja namely, Kosmulla, Thabalagama, Madugeta, Warukandeniyaa and Kollonthotuwa were selected for primary-data collection. Participatory observation approach is basically used while adhering to the secondary and tertiary data as well. According to study there is a traditional yet unorganized agro-farming system among these villagers. So, many cultivated creepers varieties and tree species can be seen in the yards. Also, for years the villagers have used the forest for many purposes. Thus, when the villagers encroach forest the forest tends to decline. Also, due to mono- crop cultivation, especially tea, quality of soil diminishes and tea cultivation has caused many environmental problems. Thus, stabilization of a systematic Agro- forestry system in these areas would minimize the environmental problems and would conserve both ‘Sinharaja’ and its peripheral villagers. Further, this kind of stabilization process should go parallel with the prevalent lifestyles and culture of the villagers. Additionally, that process should provide villagers with economical advantages. Moreover, plantation of crop verities in the tea lands should be encouraged as well as animal husbandry, apiculture and plantation of medicinal plant etc. Yet, the contribution and the sponsorship of the government and non-government organizations, plan and policy making of scientists and the active participation of the peripheral villagers are essential to bring these activities into success.

H I G C Kumara

Department of Geography, University of Ruhuna, Sri Lanka

Problems and improvement potentials of Kandyan homegardens at Yatinuwara area

Kandyan homegardens are the most predominant upland cropping system which supposed to be highly adapted, diversified, economically and environmental viable land use system. Objectives of this study were to identify problems and improvement potentials to this important system of land management. Data were collected from randomly selected (n=65) homegardens in Yatinuwara District Secretariat division during 2006. A vegetation survey was conducted to evaluate the structure and composition of homegardens. A household survey was conducted by interviewing the members to identify tree use practices by family members, constraints and improvement potentials. Secondary data were also collected from Agrarian Service Centres, maps and reports.

Homegardens in the study area have maintained diverse on farm trees. They cultivating and using at least 138 species of which 36, 34, 24 and 6% comprised timber, medicinal plant, fruit tree and export agricultural crop species. There are 73, 193, 300 and 147, individuals of timber, fruit, medicinal and export agricultural crops plants/ha indicating high plant density per unit area. These species grown on homegardens have substantially contributed to meet the daily need of household, supplying mainly fruit, green vegetable, timber and fuelwood. Some of these species have medicinal value and also play an important role in soil conservation. This suggests that homegardens are important as a source of conserving agro-biodiversity, species, habitat and landscape protection. However, more than half of the homegardens of Yatinuwara area are 20-80 perches category which indicate land fragmentation. Thus, each land unit has to play a vital role with limited land availability. Therefore, sustainable management practices are very important to increase production to reach increasing demand due to increasing human population while maintaining the resource base. In satisfying necessary changes to homegardens, availability of quality planting material (only 22% had access to recommended planting material), height of fruit trees, poor soil management and labour scarcity were identified as major problems in Yatinuwara area. There are improvement potentials to homegardens by increasing the productivity of the existing system. It is possible even to increase the number of trees per homegardens by introducing new varieties. It is also possible to replace existing less productive individuals by certified planting material. In addition, management of soil can also be improved by introducing new techniques such as compost preparations with garbages and fallen leaves which require attitudinal changes of households. Implications of these are discussed with respect to food, nutritional and health security and income generation.

K I A Kothalawala, D K N G Pushpakumara and T Sivananthwerl

Department of Crop Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka