Melon Plots on Sandy Soil

Marginal lands in Indonesia can be found on wet or dry lands. According to Suprapto (2003), wetlands in the forms of peat, acid sulfate soil, and tidal marsh are about 24 million ha, whereas drylands are in the forms of 47.5 million ha Ultisol and 18 million ha Oxisol. Indonesia’s coastline reaches 106,000 km with 1.06 million ha potential arable lands on sandy soil. Overall area of marginal lands is up to 90 million ha including the wetlands, drylands and coastal lands. These marginal lands are located in many islands and have not been managed properly. According to Nasih Widya Yuwono (2009), marginal land can be defined as a land with low quality because of the many limiting factors for specific uses. Marginal land usually faces the problems of low fertility and drought. Coupled with an ever increasing population, which would require an increased supply of food,  Ir. Sumarno, the founder of Indmira, saw the utilization of marginal land became more and more important.

Since 1999, Indmira, which is a research and technology company in agriculture and environment, found a challenge in the utilization of sandy soil at Kuwaru beach for agriculture. Kuwaru beach is located in hamlet of Kuwaru, Poncosari village, Srandakan sub-district of Bantul Regency and approximately 29 km from Yogyakarta city.

Farming on sandy soil was considered very odd at that time, and the villagers considered iron mining as the more appropriate use of the land because of the the high iron content. This farming practice on the sandy soil still raises eyebrows even today, especially on the technique that Indmira uses without using adding topsoil on to the field. The more common method for sandy soil utilization usually involves adding soil and manure up to 20 ton/ha.

This method poses big problems not only in the prohibitive costs but also in the large manpower requirement. And for a sizable area of marginal land, it would need a massive amount of topsoil. In 2007, Indmira discovered an organic fertilizer/soil ameliorant that could significantly increase the fertility of marginal lands, including sandy soil, in a long drawn journey that required large time and capital investments. Our fertilizer can improve the biological, chemical and physical structures of sandy soil and prepare it for farming in two weeks. This method eliminates the need for adding topsoil.

Our soil ameliorant mix consists of F4, SNN, SAN Tanaman, and the soil ameliorant. The amount of each ingredient applied to the field is relatively small, less than 250 kg/ha/ingredient. SNN and SAN are only needed in the amount of 20 kg/ha, a much smaller number than the 20 tonnes/ha for the traditional topsoil addition.

There are so many kinds of crops that can be farmed at the Kuwaru sandy fields. Perennials and annual plants, such as vegetables, have been harvested with satisfactory results. Some crops, like peanuts, have even shown higher yields from this marginal land than from conventional plots.

This technology is the first in the world, where topsoil is not used to improve marginal lands. The same method can certainly be used in similar situations, such as the desert. When this is materialized, greening the whole planet is not merely a dream. (Le)