Natural farming: The easiest approach for climate change in India by Team Prakriti
Adapting natural farming techniques to curb climate change and to improve the quality of agricultural output.
India is a country wherein the total agricultural land holdings is 60.8% constituting approximately 158 million hectares. The total area under natural farming is estimated to be around 1.08 million hectares in 2010, which is about 0.6% of the total agricultural area. The rest of the land is predominantly under chemical farming, which employs the usage of pesticides and fertilizers. This proposal discusses the importance of natural farming, which is an ideal approach for self sufficiency, healthy living and tackling climate change by avoiding the usage of toxic fertilizers. The techniques used in natural farming are totally eco-friendly and no external input is required to the farm land.
Chemical farming has its own disadvantages. Importantly, abundant usage of fossil fuel based chemical fertilizers lead to high level emission of toxic gases which increase the temperature of atmosphere, spoils the fertility of soil and kills the beneficial microorganisms in the soil. Chemical fertilizers kills earthworms which bring nutrients from deeper soil to top. If they are killed, there will be a huge depletion in micronutrient levels and will also make the soil unporous and rigid. Also, the cost of chemical fertilizers are high.
Hence, an alternative approach can be natural farming which is highly cost effective and eco-friendly. It improves the quality of agricultural output and more importantly, tackles climate change by curbing the amount of toxic gases let into the atmosphere.
The beauty of this technique lies in its transitive nature of dependency. It can be found that even earthworms contribute to climate change by providing nutrients to the soil, which when provided chemically by humans lead to pollution.
Which proposals are included in your plan and how do they fit together?
This proposal discusses the techniques of natural farming, which can be used as an alternative to chemical fertilizers. The importance of this concept is that, no input is required from any source external to the farm land. Cows are generally used for various purposes in a farm, such as ploughing, milk production, etc. The products obtained from cows are taken as an important input to the farm land. Interestingly, another proposal submitted also discusses some techniques of natural farming which are also included here. The concept discussed in the proposal "Resetting nature by natural products itself” is “Jeevamritha" , which can be termed as microbial culture. It is an important process as it contains all the essential nutrients required for plant growth. This proposal discusses the technique of natural farming in four steps, with the application of Jeevamritha as the second step.
- Cow urine is a very rich source of almost all the micronutrients such as Nitrogen, Copper, Potassium, Manganese, Urea, Calcium, Iron, Sodium, vitamins, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal factors required for the plant’s health and growth.
- Cow dung is an insecticide, fungicide, UV rays neutralizer. It also purifies the atmosphere as it has anti-radiation effects.
- It is important to note that a global patent has been filed for cow urine, neem and garlic combination as a pest repellant for crops. (WHO 2004/ 087618A1). The milk of an Indian cow breed named Shahiwall has obtained US patent for its role as a plant growth promoter, phytopathogenic fungi controller and phosphate stabilizer.
The techniques involve (1) Seed treatment. (2) Microbial culture preparation. (3) Mulching. (4) Soil aeration.
SEED TREATMENT ( Bhijamritha): There are many preparations that can be made. An ideal one will require the following:
1. Cow dung- 5 kg
2. Cow urine- 5 litres
3. Water- 20 litres
4. Hand full of soil from field.
5. Lime- 50 grams
The cow dung is to be bundled and kept in water overnight. Next morning, thhillycow dung is to be squeezed in water. Then soil, lime and cow urine are to be added. Seeds can be soaked in this mixture for an hour. The sunk seeds will have the best quality.
MICROBIAL CULTURE PREPERATION (Jeevamritha):
This preparation is briefly dealt in the proposal "Resetting nature by natural products itself". Jeevamritha mixture contains all the beneficial microorganisms for plant growth, nitrogen fixation, anti bacterial and anti fungal properties. This preparation also activates earthworms to a great extent. They bring nutrients to the upper soil and make the soil porous.
- SOIL MULCHING: Jeevamritha activates the local earthworms which cultivates the soil by moving up and down.
- STRAW MULCHING: Straws can be added to the land to increase the quantity of micronutrients and humus formation. Humus is very helpful in storing water absorbed from the atmosphere.
- LIVE MULCHING: The atmosphere contains 76% of Nitrogen. Intercrops like cowpea, pigeon pea ,etc can be planted as they are excellent nitrogen fixing crops. Glyricidia is also known for its high nitrogen fixation capacity. These plants fix nitrogen in the soil free of cost. But, farmers are interested in costly fertilizers which are harmful to the plants, soil and also the humans.
This is taken care by earthworms which move from the bottom to upper soil, as a result of application of Jeevamritha.
Apart from the above mentioned processes, wind breaking walls can be planned with trees like neem, mango, teak, etc., around the farm, which help in controlling pollution by absorbing the pollutants, thus purifying the air.
These techniques can be used as they are totally cost effective and eco-friendly. Chemical fertilizers are mainly composed of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. Nitrogen based fertilizers are poisonous to humans, particularly children and it contaminates water to a great extent. Also, the depletion of fossil fuels will result in increase in price of fossil fuel based fertilizer in future. So, it is the right time for Indian farmers to shift to natural farming.
Explanation of the emissions scenario calculated in the Impact tab
What are the plan’s key benefits?
- Total control of toxic gases emitted due to the usage of fertilizers.
- Quality of natural farming agricultural produce is very high when compared to chemical fertilizer based output.
- Healthy agricultural produce guarantees good health to those who consume it.
- The quality and fertility of agricultural land will improve exponentially.
- Increase in agricultural output provides more food security in the country.
- The lifestyle of farmers will improve greatly.
What are the plan’s costs?
The only investment in natural farming is a cow. A desi breed cow costs around Rs.10,000 (150 USD) . The other inputs to the land are obtained from the products of cow and the farm itself. A farmer from the state of Karnataka in India, earns Rs.22,00,000 (34,000 USD) every year from his 2.1 acres (0.85 hectares) of land using natural farming techniques. This shows that the input cost is almost negligible when compared to the output.
What are the key challenges to enacting this plan?
- To create awareness about this concept to Indian farmers. This can be done by establishing model natural farms in every agricultural district of the country and by providing free demonstrations to farmers.
- The Government providing subsidies on fertilizers, which is a negative endorsement for natural farming.
If natural farming is implemented in an agricultural farm, the time taken for the level of micronutrients content in the soil to reach a certain limit is the timeline of this project. After this time period, the yield will improvise rapidly along with the quality of the product. When natural farming is practiced on a larger scale, climate change can definitely be achieved due to complete avoidance of chemical fertilizers.
Resetting nature by natural products itself- This proposal discusses the same idea of natural farming and its concept.
- Mr. M. Ranganathan- A natural farmer, from Sringeri, Karnataka, India.
The Techniques of Spiritual Farming by Subhash Palekar.