Picture and video essay of Mapletree farms March and April 2020

Shankar Venkataraman
8 min readMay 3, 2020
Our big red onion bunch

I want to summarize the year in pictures with blog posts that serve as reminders of our success and failures in the adventure called no-till organic farming. This year we finally made Mapletree into a collection of small farms to better manage the teams and be more effective at what we do.

Also, the year 2020 marks the implementation of my dream. No-till (no-plow) agriculture for the entire farm. I have been dreaming about no-till for a very long time and since we broke up Mapletree into small independent farms ranging from 3–5 acres, no-till became finally possible.

The picture essay this month contains a lot of pictures and serves as a picture record of the farm activities. It also has some pictures from March. At Mapletree we have seen all kinds of difficulties of running a farm and we believe its time to help other farms struggling to make ends meet while doing organic farming.

Using chemicals in agriculture is death to the health of the environment, death to the diversity of species, destruction of nature’s intelligent mechanisms by human intrusion(there will be another blog to demonstrate this), death to farmers who work in the farm and disease to consumers of this chemically grown food. There are a bunch of people who do not have a clue about organic farming and have decided to push chemicals as a profitable industry. They believe that Organic farming is not sustainable and publish false propaganda. There can be nothing further from the truth. Organic No-till farming is the only sustainable way to farm. We have documented records to prove this. The worldwide organic Industry is more than 100 billion dollars and is sustaining very well. Mapletree farm stands as the answer to all of those critics who are part of the chemical farming community and water and cocopeat based hydroponic farming industry. They have decided to forget the basic fact. Soil is the basis of all life. Because of no-till, we have started using one-sixth the water of regular organic farms and other farms because the soil retains much more water. We need not irrigate for more than 15 days after a decent rain. Most of our plantings have no disease and have started giving record yields. Come to our farm to find out more. We have plans to build the ecosystem with native hedgerows as well.

To plow soil is death to soil (there will be another blog to demonstrate this). Mapletree farm is a 100% no-till farm. No-till is not new to India. Narayana Reddy, Baskar Save, AP Chandrasekar, and many such smart farmers did not do much tillage at all. Masanobu Fukuoka grew record yields of rice paddy and legumes with no disease in his no-till soil. No-till farming does carbon sequestration much better that tillage based organic farming. Soils improve in terms of soil biology in a very big way and fungal networks in soil increase to high levels. Plants are much more healthy as shown by their pigmentation because they have high nutrient content. If you eat from this soil, you can fight disease just like the plants do at Mapletree Farm. They do not need organic pesticides as the soils keep improving and the ecosystem builds up. They can fight insect attacks and diseases because of their high immunity from the rich soil biology feeding it. Your immunity will increase by eating from these plants.

This writing is applicable to farmers and farming because they need a lot of courage to continue farming
From L to R: People is what Makes a farm. Here are some photos of some members of our team. Sridhar and Kanakaraj, Kaali Maharajan, Maarimuthu, Bagavathy, Sridhar and Maharajan on the carrot field, Kaali Inventory and purchase manager with ladies team. Ladies team. Packing room at the farm
From Left to Right: Our Peanut chikki, Amazing cucumbers, Leaf footed bug, Our fields, Sweet corn on no-till, Watermelon on No-till, Coriander
From left to right: Lettuce, Dhantu greens, Carrot bunch in Summer, Cornfield, Actinomycetes in crowding, Our soil becoming rich and black
From Left to Right: What we think about Soil Carbon in pictures 1,2,3 and picture 4 shows a test you can use to find how good your farm soil is ??
From Left to right: A small part of our big team, Chellappa, Sridhar, Shankar, Poolpandi, Sankar, Ilango
From L to R: Our warehouse cook Kishan and his family, part of Our packing floor team Suresh Marimuthu Murthy ArunKali Ulagan pattamuthu and Kaliraj, Our staff team Karthik, Vikram, Harish Junior, Chiranjeev, Anil and Ranjith, Our Delivery Manager Muthu and Karthik floor supervisor, Perumalraj and Mahendran, Kaali Junior
Kaliraj Senior, Our harvest and inventory manager
From L to R: Mariappan, Suresh jr, Sankar, Kaliraj Senior
Sweetpotato seedlings
Our value-added products team — Birender and Tikkaram
Sreenivasan, Manikantan, Green bell pepper plant in GH2.
From L to R: Aravind with Our watermelon harvest, Our no-till Sweet corn field, Watermelon, Onions all showing bright pigmentation.
From L to R: A very healthy sweetcorn plant, corn field, our soil, babycorn planting, Sambar cucumber harvest, a healthy snack cucumber plant
From L to R: Summer Radish in Farm2, Onion harvest Farm2, Snack cucumber in Greenhouse 4 (GH4), pak choi and Lettuce GH4, No-plow mulched soil, plowed soil, shallot harvest farm2, sweet corn neem field, cherry tomato GH4, ladies finger farm2, sweet potato farm2, Dhantu greens GH3, bitter gourd farm2, yellow pumpkin farm2, cucumber farm2, small pumpkin farm2
From L to R: watermelon with carrot adjacent farm2, shallot farm2, Ripe tomatoes GH4, Zucchini compound field, Watermelon Compound field, green tomato @ old papaya field, cucumber trellis farm2, Corn flowering on 41st day after planting, a beautiful evening at farm2, beetroot in trays (summer method), ladies finger germination in Big mango field, Rain damaged soil when not mulched (avoid this), sweet corn germination, cucumber germination, Mature beetroot plants farm2, Super healthy zucchini plants in big mango field.
Our team Rajubhai, Tinku, Dheena Ramesh harvesting carrots, Our farm Head of Farm operations and technology, Sridhar Venkataraman
Our Chief of operations Baranidharan Sivaprakasam trying his hand with BCS740 tractor with help from Maharaja Pandian @ farm2
Sridhar with Maharajan discussing carrot harvest timing and a cabbage plant in tilled soil devastated by flea bugs. Flea bugs come to end in untilled soil.
Carrot field in farm2. Maturing pupa of Ladybugs on a ladies finger plant

Thank you for reading this picture and video blog — Shankar Venkataraman, CEO and Lead Farmer at Mapletree Farm.

--

--

Shankar Venkataraman

Farmer, author, farming teacher, public speaker. Areas of Agriculture and technology in Agriculture.