The “Crazy” idea that became reality

This saying captures precisely Indmira’s journey in farming on sandy soil. Starting in 1999, Indmira’s founder, Ir. Sumarno, felt the challenge to utilize the sandy soil of Pandansimo beach for farming. Pandansimobeach is located in Kuwaru hamlet of Poncosari, Srandakan, Bantul, about 29 km from the city of Yogyakarta. The desire to conquer the south coast of Yogyakarta encouraged Ir. Sumarno to research and develop farming on marginal land. It was also related to the concern on population explosion that would require more land for agriculture, and marginal land was utterly ignored.

“At that time people called us crazy, (saying) how could you farm on sand. Especially with sand containing iron ore, it was more appropriate to start a mine instead.” describes Bintari Rochmi, R&D Director. “But if it were not crazy, it would not be him.” she reminisces fondly of the late Ir. Sumarno.

Farming on sand is still considered odd these days; it has not changed much since then. We are still puzzled by this practice. Moreover, Indmira’s technology does not require the addition of topsoil (loam and/or composted animal manure). The more common practice to make sandy soil arable is by adding loamy soil and humus/compost up to 20 tons/ha. “Adding materials like composted manure on to sand up to 20 tons/ha is not an easy task. Where can we find manure that large amount? And of course it requires financing and labor that are not small.” explains D. Andry Aryanto S, Indmira’s researcher at Kuwaru.

Having crazy ideas and spirit certainly was not enough. Indmira was tested to be dilligent and persevere to try various technologies and product formulation to improve the sand to be ready for planting. Indmira’s focused efforts were supported by experts in diverse fields such as agronomy, microbiology, plant pathology, chemistry, animal husbandry, environmental engineering and mining.

The final and current formulation was defined in 2007 in the form of an organic fertilizer and functions as a soil ameliorant for marginal land, including sand. Eight years of development was not a small amount of time and did require lots of efforts. However, the result is capable of improving sand chemically and physically to be ready for planting in two weeks. Moreover, this product eliminates the necessity for the addition of loam and compost. “Mr. Sumarno had a rule that if (we are) planting on sand, it has to be treated for planting, and should not be added with extra materials like loam or composted manure.” adds Bintari Rochim.

The soil ameliorant consists of  F4, SNN, SAN Tanaman, and Pembenah Tanah. The amount of each ingredient is relatively small, 250kg/ha for F4 and Pembenah Tanah and 20kg/ha for SNN and SAN. These amounts are significantly smaller than the common practice of 20 tons/ha.

Many kinds of crops have been grown our Kuwaru fields. Perrenial, annual and horticultural plants have shown promising results. Moreover, some commodities, like peanuts, have shown greater yields on this land than those on conventional lands.

This technology is considered the first in the world, in which the utilization of a marginal land does not require the addition of topsoil. The same technology should surely be applicable on other types of marginal land, such as the desert. If this idea materializes, our effort to make Earth green will not only be a dream.(Le)