Problem Statement: Crop Vandalism by wild animals
We discussed about our first prototype with our mentor, Professor Anil Gupta. He asked us if it will be possible to scare the animals by the sound of their predators. We decided to modify our prototype accordingly. The working of PIR sensor remained same but instead of firing the buzzer, we used a SD card and a speaker to play the sound of a roaring tiger. We also included sounds of fire crackers. We have set the sensitivity of our sensor at its maximum. Once the sensor is fired a delay of 10 sec in introduced before the sensor senses again.
TOWARDS BETTER UNDERSTANDING:
Before prototyping, we heard a lot about attack style, herd size ... Of the Nilgai, Wild boar from a lot of people so, we went to Bharat Bhai’s farm again in the night time to see how they actually behave. There were many watch towers and farmers were guarding their respective field with their heavy torch light (with the help of this torch they were able to see up to quite large distance). Bharat Bhai was already there and guarding his crop field when we went there. He said that a herd of Nilgai has already crossed his crop field area. He was able to chase them away, but they had moved to the next farm. He also told us that they will graze till morning and will go back to Kottar (River basin) via a particular route. So we were waiting for next herd to come. Meanwhile we were talking about which kind of strategy would work against animals. We also observed the sky full of stars, we had a binocular and we were able to spot a binary star system. Then to our surprise we were actually able to spot a couple of Nilgais. Bharat Bhai flashed his torch towards the end point of the crop field and we saw reflecting light coming from Nilgai’s eyes. We moved towards them as fast as possible but they went to thorny forest very quickly. Nilgai is very hyperactive and shy animal that’s why their domestication is not possible. After that, we went back to the watch tower waited for the few more minutes. Bharat Bhai said that with his experience, herd will not come back until morning. Then we came back to the Gram Bharti.
We are using high intensity light bulb and ultrasound speaker as actuators which will turn off/on for varying time interval after PIR Sensor senses any motion. Nilgai and wild boar are scared of human presence. Human surveillance has been effective method to prevent crop vandalism so we are trying to create virtual human presence with the help of flashing of light, predator voice, and the scarecrow. We will try to build prototype in the day time and test it in the night time. Keeping in mind that what farmer can afford, initially we are trying to use less electronic components as much as possible. After testing the first prototype we will see the result and will add components accordingly. Lastly, we will make an integrated circuit.
Day 1: Visit to Amrapur, Mubarakpur and Arjunpur
For our first field visit we decided to visit the nearest farming village Amrapur, 2 km from our place of stay. We left at 10 am in the morning and reached there in 5 minutes. We found the household of the first farmer there and discussed the aspects of crop vandalism with him. Next we were informed that a nearby villager is deeply affected by Nilgai (Blue Bulls) and would like to talk to us. We were more than happy to discuss the problem with him as well.
Name: Praveen Singh
TM: Team Member PS: Praveen Singh
TM: What crops do you grow in your land?
PS: In my distributed 12 highs land - I grow wheat, jowar, bajra, dongar(paddy), kapas(cotton) and arandi(castor).
TM: What do you think can increase the crop yield?
PS: The major loss to farmer here is due to the attack by wild animals in our farms. The loss is merely not due to eating, due to their movement through the field, most crop gets trampled. On average 30% of our production is lost due to animal activities.
TM: Where do these animals come from?
PS: Nilgai and wild boar are primary responsible for our losses. Both these animals stay in Kottar during the day and become active in the night. Kottar is the riverbed for river Sabarmati and during the winter season it does have water - the attack is lesser during those months. During summer the river is dry - they come out more often to seek food and water.
TM: Can you give us some more information about nilgai?
PS: They generally rest in the grassland during the day and around 8 in the evening they can be sighted in some of the farms. they come in herds of size upto 15 and both male and female are present. Their total population would be around 150-200 in the wild.
TM: How does it effect you?
PS: After eating in one field they move to the adjoining field and sometimes if they are chased away they run swiftly and destroy our crops in the process.They do not have a fixed entry point in the field - they can enter from any side - thus surveillance is required on all directions. Apart from eating, due to their movement the plants which are in their primary stage gets effected. If their shoot is broken - it will not grow to its full height and hence the productivity is reduced. The returns are not proportional to our hard work.
TM: What about bund(wild boar)?
PS: They rest in the mud area around the tall during the day and come to field during the night. Wild boar can even chase away pet dogs. It is more difficult to tame bund, 3 people are required to completely chase them away - they defend by changing direction and rolling over. They start eating from one end and can destroy the whole produce till the end of the farm.
TM: Does it also attack stored food?
PS: Yes. Once it carried away a 60 kg sack of wheat. It became completely useless as our own cattle would not eat it after smelling the bund.
TM: Does government provide any compensation?
PS: Not at all. We had gone to the Gandhinagar Sachivalya to file a complaint. Despite submitting the images of the destroyed land we never got any response. Government officials do come to inquire about the amount of produce but not about the amount of destruction.
TM: How are you defending against these animals?
PS: None at all. Though we have tried using some methods in the past - We have tried smell and sound based methods but to no effect. We had tied two glass bottles to detect their entry - but nilgai jumps over it and bund comes from beneath. Nilgai can jump over as high as 4 feet. Trenches are also of no use. Finally they have to manually chased away by rods or crackers. Medicines with smell were also tried but it adapts very quickly so they have minimal effect. Sound based system have the disadvantage that wild boar attacks the source of the sound.
TM: What do you think can act as an effective solution?
PS: Fencing of 6 feet height seems to the only possible method to prevent them fro entering. But it very costly. Farmers of near by field must come together to put a bigger fence to make it affordable but all farmers do not come to a agreement due to monetary issues.
TM: Do you think an automatic alarm system can work for you?
PS: Yes it might work. But it must try to constant the animals in the Kottar itself. Otherwise they will destroy one farm or the other.
Praveen Singh informed us that he is not getting the desired rates for the crops grown to make a handsome profit. He needs money during March end for sowing crops for the next financial year. Thus he takes loans and these loans keeps increasing over the year. If productivity of their fields is increased he can meet his financial demands. One way seems to be protection against attacks of wild animals which are responsible for 30% production loss.
Next we proceed to the villager who was seeking to talk to us. His farm was located on the boundary of river basin. It was was large with multiple crops being grown. He initially assumed we are government officials. He was adamant on fence being put around his field. He wanted more subsidy from the govt.(90%) and the process to become easier in terms of paperwork. As his field was very near to the basin recent damage was observed on his field. He showed around his field to us.
Name: Jeetendra Rathore
TM: Team Member JR: Jeetendra Rathore
TM: Can you name the crops currently grown?
JR: Currently we grow jowar and dongar.
TM: Can you tell the extent of damage done to your farm?
JR: My farm is the nearest to the Kottar so maximum damage is done on my fields. It acts as the entry point for the wild animals. You can fathom the extent of the damage from the fact that I put nuts in my filed to optimally produce 50 maan of output however due to the vandalism I am only producing 5 maan. I can survive only due the dairy that I have.
TM: What are the preventive measures that you are currently using?
JR: Currently I have grown a patch of cactus shrubs along the border. It is keeping the boar away mostly but the nilgai can jump over it. I have to constantly watch over the field from my home and on any indication of presence of nilgai, i flash torch light from my roof. It is enough to scare them away, but they come back after a span of 2 hours.
TM: So can we automate this process?
JR: Minimum human intervention should be there so we do not need to come down to the farm. The automated system would work if could chase away back to the Kottar and it should be robust that it does not come back after some time.
In the afternoon we set off to Mubarakpur, a village 4 km from Grambharti. Mubarakpur village was not near kottar area and surrounded by other villages. The lands of most farmers was near the highway. Population is around 2500 and there is no govt. medical dispensary in the village. Sarpanch is very young, 25 years of age. Villagers have unanimously elected the Sarpanch here. Earlier the Sarpanch was corrupt and only worked to fill his pocket. Villagers want to see real changes in their living and working standards.
Name: Hasmukh Bhai
TM: Team Member HB: Hansmukh Bhai
TM: What animals are causing most problems to your farming activities?
HM: We are growing jowar on our farms currently. Most problematic animal is bund(wild boar). Nilgai comes to their farms very seldom because the village is situated quite far from Kottar(river basin). The villagers who have their field situated near the Kottar is troubled by it.
TM: What are the entry points for wild boar?
HM: nearby there is an ONGC setup due to which oily mud is present in the area. Bund, after getting soiled in that oily mud, comes to our farms and makes the crops very dirty. It can dig upto 3-4 feet deep holes in the mud.
TM: What are the solutions you are currently deploying?
HM: We currently use a chemical called phorate mixed with wheat. It is a cheap chemical which costs Rs 40 to 50 per kg. We mix it with wheat flour and keep it near the crops. This creates a sort of honeytrap, and bund very easily eats it. 2-3 hours after eating it, bund gets poisoned and dies.
Name: Chetan Bhai
TM: Team Member CB: Chetan Bhai
TM: What crops are you currently growing?
CB: kapas(cotton), which germinates in 3-4 days after sowing and takes 1 month for full growth. We also grow jowar, brinjal, cauliflower. We used to grow green chilli 2-3 years back but due to some airborne disease, it started getting spoiled in whole of this area.
TM: Can you tell us the process of cotton plantation?
CB: We use tractors for ploughing and flood irrigation. We use standard 4 feet distance in between crops. Seed is sown with bare hands and is 1 angal (around 2 cm) deep.
TM: What are you using currently to kill pests?
CB: We use Oberon(Rs. 400) and insecticide Rimjhim(Rs 380). It is quite effective and there is no problem as such.
TM: What animals do attack your crops?
CB: The village is very far from the Kottar so Attack from Nilgai is not too frequent but sometimes they do attack and huge losses are incurred. Attack to crop from wild boar is very often and they generally eat crop like cotton (cotton carry), timber, trunk, and roots of grasses which generally germinate in the porous and fertile soil with the crop. Wild boar has good sense organ and in the search of food, they can dig up to 3-4 feet deep in the soil. Their body odour is very unpleasant so when their body makes contact with field crop the crop becomes very stinky and domestic animal (cow and buffalo) don’t eat that crop.
TM: How do you prevent these attacks?
CB: I use a mixture of pesticide (forate) and wheat flour and spread it over the crop. When bund eats this they die after some time. In order to prevent herd attack, this method doesn’t seem very effective.
Little experiment by Satish Gaurav, our team member
There was papaya plantation in adjacent field, which was contact based and grown by one of his family member. They were small plants and about 1 year old. It was observed that some plants were not bearing fruits. Satish had some knowledge and a solution about this problem that if a small wooden stick is hammered through the stem at its base, then within 2-3 days, plant starts to bear fruits!
Most of the farmers don't seem comfortable when we ask about their income from farming but Chetan Bhai was very charming and comfortable. He said that he makes good money and is happy with his farming. He generally grows two (sometimes three) crops in a year i.e. (cotton in the summer, wheat in the winter, jowar and bajara in b/w the winter and the summer). They don’t do farming of pulses because of monkey attacks.
After concluding our visit at Mubarakpur we decided to visit Arjunpur. Mentors from SRISTI provided a point of contact in the village. We talked to him over phone to inquire if we can visit his village. When we reached his home, he was milking his cows. He showed us what fodder he fed to his cows. They were special fodder that induced more fat in the milk. After getting to know us, he took us to his farm. His farm was located very near to the highway, behind bungalows. On the way he told us that he owned 15 bigha land, and it appeared that he was well-off. He was growing beans(chauli) and gourd(lauki). We tasted the raw beans and it was quite tasty. Later he informed us that pesticide had not been sprayed till then.
Name: Mukeshbhai Gandabhai Patel
TM: Team Member MGB: Mukeshbhai Gandabhai Patel
TM: Which animals are causing harm to your farming activities?
MGB: Nilgai is less of a concern as farm is located far from the river basin. But monkeys & wild boar are creating havoc in the field if field if its left unwatched for a day. Today monkeys attacked the field in the noon as I had to go somewhere & no one was on the watch.
TM: What kind of destruction is being caused?
MGB: Monkey eats while sitting on the field, it weighs around 7-8kg. Therefore it damages the field too much. Monkey tastes the vegetable & leaves it around. Nilgai is not causing unnecessary destruction, it just eats & leaves the field.
TM: How’s the market for fruits & vegetables?
MGB: Atleast 30% is destroyed by the vermin & also market is not good enough for them. Kapas is more popularly grown in the area due to its great demand & less handling efforts. Kapas is less attacked therefore it is profitable. Vegetables are left little
raw as market demand is not good.
TM: Can you comment about Panchayat & govt.?
MGB: Govt. is not helping or providing subsidies for the damage. During floods when damage was around 80% of produce only Rs.2000 was offered as subsidy. Our sarpanch is 55 years old and vermin attacks are not much of a concern for Panchayat. We wish we have a young sarpanch in future.
TM: Have you adopted any measures?
MGB: If fire is kept burning near the farm for 2 hours it prevents vermin to enter the field. But bund & Nilgai adapts in sometime. Monkeys do not attack in the night. I am planning to put fence around the field once I manage the funds. I have not sprayed the field as there is no disease for now & its costly.
Damage in the field also depends on the penetration of the vermin. If the field is far away Nilgai does not damage much, but bund still enters the field. Fire cannot be solution as it causes pollution & there is a risk of farm fire. So a singular solution for every field is not viable & even not desirable.
Day 2: Visit to Kottar, Delvad and NIF Farm
KOTTAR (area of Sabarmati river which has been swept off by water, which consists of riverbed)
In all our field visits on 29 may, we were told by farmers and locals that wild animals like nilgai(blue bull) and bund(wild boar) came to their farms after sunset, ate their crops in darkness when they could not be seen, and then before sunrise receded to the area called kottar. The animals rested there in the daytime. We were anxious and excited to see and know the reason why animals came from there. Was food and water not available there? Were they doing it just to trouble the farmers? that couldn’t be! So our group decided to embark for this journey.
We left grambharti at 10’ o clock in the morning, but before leaving, a local gave us an advice that we should go to Amarnath dham, a temple on top of a mountain which would give us a bird’s eye view of the area. So we reached the temple but unfortunately from there we could not have a proper view of Kottar. Then we decided to go there by ourselves using google maps because there was no actual road leading there. In the way we encountered this:
All the body parts were scattered here & there. It looked like a week old. So naturally, we were scared to death! But anyway, we decided to continue. From the horns we identified it as a male nilgai. Soon were were inside an area which looked like: