Notes to broadcasters
Efficient cropping and land use
Wang practises intercropping, crop rotation, and mulching on his farm. He buys only a minimum amount of chemical spray, and all fertilizer is produced on his farm. One of his keys to efficient land use is to grow crops overhead. He grows them above other crops, over paths and walkways, and even over his 40-metre long driveway. A truly efficient family farming operation on 0.8 of a hectare (less than 2 acres) of land.
HOST: When Wang Wun Shi started farming, he was very poor, but after only four years and a lot of hard work, this Chinese farmer, with the help of his wife and family, has become a leader in his community.
Some of Wang’s cropping practices
On his small farm, Wang has 100 loquat and 200 cherry trees that he and his wife planted close to his fish ponds during the first year he established his farm. Since then, they have planted 50 more long-life loquat trees, while removing some of the shorter-life cherry trees to provide more space for the larger loquat trees. They also grow quite a few vegetables both for food for the family, and to sell. Wang practices intercropping, he protects plant nutrients in his soil by crop rotation, and he conserves soil moisture by mulching wherever he can.
Wang buys only a small amount of chemicals each year, no more than he needs for spraying against fungus caused by too much moisture in the air. He uses no chemical fertilizer at all; his hens produce plenty of poultry manure and he has a good supply of excellent fertilizer in his night soil pit. He also uses his own compost and he grows some legume crops that add nitrogen to the soil. Among these crops are climbing legumes like peas and beans.
Why Wang likes vine crops
Wang grows a lot of climbing, viny plants on his farm and for a very good reason. He only has a total of 12 mu (0.8 of a hectare or 1.98 acres) and he does not waste any space where he could be producing some kind of crop.
Let me tell you about three ways that he does this.
Wang has several buildings on his farm. He has found that climbing vine crops grow very well on bamboo trellises placed close to the walls on the sunny sides of the buildings. Then there are places on his land where there are paths that are used a lot. Of course, he cannot grow crops on those paths, but he does use that space above them for growing vine vegetables like squash, gourds, and cucumbers on overhead bamboo trellises. Not only does this system make double use of the space, but it provides a shady place to walk in comfort on a hot sunny day.
Grapes, one of Wang’s main enterprises
One of Wang Wun Shi’s main sources of income is the production of high quality grapes. Altogether, he has 500 vines of an improved grape variety. Naturally, he sells these grapes for a very high price; but where, on his farm, does he grow them? On bamboo trellises over main pathways near his buildings, and over areas where he grows shade-tolerant crops. Finally, the most striking feature of Wang’s entire farming operation is the 40- metre long driveway in from the road that is located along one side of his land. Very few farmers grow crops over the much-travelled driveway into their farms, but Wang does. He produces some of the sweetest and best grapes on bamboo trellises over the full length of the driveway. And why are these grapes so good? Mainly because of careful planning in the beginning. The driveway is located along the sunny south side of his land where the grapes on these vines can get the most possible sunshine, a very important factor in growing high quality grapes.
As I mentioned earlier, Wang was very poor when he started farming. But he is always interested to learn about more efficient ways to increase production on his farm, and thus to increase his income. As a result of careful planning and a lot of hard work on his small piece of land, amounting to less than one hectare (two acres), his farm is a great success. In fact, he farms it so intensively that it is providing a good living for Wang, his 88-year-old mother, his wife, two sons, their wives and children, and three other workers.
In addition, Wang works closely with his neighbours in the local 40-member egg producers’ association. It is easy to guess why it is that his fellow members elected him president of their association.
1. This item is Part 3 of a three-part farmer success story in this package. Each part contains information on different farming methods that may be useful to the farmers you serve.
2. References are made to topics more fully covered in other DCFRN items. Information in them could be presented in connection with this series.
Intercropping – Package 3, Item 6,
Prevent Insect Damage to crops – Package 19, Item 2
Farming Hints – Crop Rotation – Package 7, Item 1/A
Farming Hints – Mulching Crops Grown on Ridges, Package 7, Item 1/D
Making Your Own Compost – Package 15, Item 9 or Package 2, Item 4
Information in this item was obtained from Wang Wun Shi on his family farm in Zu Qiao County, Sichuan Province in the People’s Republic of China by George Atkins, DCFRN’s Founding Director.