Organic farming is a agricultural production system that ensures the healthy food production by maintaining proper soil and crop conditions by cultivating the land through the use organic matter such as compost and crop residue, crop rotation and proper management.Organic farming is a production system which avoids the use of synthetically compound,fertilizer,Pesticides and growth regulators. Its primarily aimed in such way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health.
Agriculture has completed one cycle and is turning its phase.Green revolution has proved to be harmful in the 5 decades.The arbitrary use of insecticides and chemicals contaminates soil, water and the entire ecosystem. Off late our farmers are looking back. Now we find organic movement everywhere. But most of the farmers are in confusion about both the systems. They question whether total organic is possible and feasible.This article will discuss the requirements, opportunities and nessearty of organic farming.
Agriculture Start with human civilization . But it was completely dependent on nature. In 1850, chemical fertilizers were used in Western countries. But with the green revolution that started in 1965 in India, chemical cultivation became popular. High yielding hybrids enter our farms. Chemical fertilizers become inevitable to get high yields from this hybrid. These chemical fertilizers tied the way of using arbitrary. government support chemical farming by ignoring harmful effects .It is true that this green revolution has produced enough food for the nation. But in time pest and disease crops started attacking. Toxic insecticides enter the scene for crop protection. The dangerous effects of this poison were very clear soon enough.
Impact of green revolution
Due to the chemical Farming soil above ground is becoming difficult. Ground water is contaminated with nitrates, sulfide and other chemical insufficiency. Nature’s balance lost and pest attack was out of control. Today Cabbage and cauliflower require 8 to 10 spray, cotton requires 13 to 15 spray and 30 to 40 spray in a season. Then u easily imagine the effect of the chemical. This Pesticide becomes the cause of various diseases of the farmer . The farmers is affected by asthma, allergies, cancer and many more health problems.The horrors of this are so much that the name of a train in Punjab is called Cancer Express.This train run full of cancer patients! Become we alert, we lost rich organic diversity and balanced nature. Large amounts of pesticide were used from 1950 to 2018, But the increase in production is only 4 times.Even this growth is not due to the use of chemical farming but rather due to the increase in cultivated area and irrigated area.
The green revolution has become a war against nature. But now we’ve lost the war. Only alternatives with us are surrender of nature again.
Harmful effects of pesticides
For the popularization of hybrid crop the varietal diversity is lost. Monocropping is now common in agriculture .While production is increasing for chemical farming, the quality of the food is decreasing.Hence the humus content of the soil is reduced for organic farming. This affected the soil structure and hence the aeration. It led to decline in the population of useful aerobic microbes in the soil.Soil water retention has been reduced and water conservation has increased. Runoff water eroded fertile top soil. Absorption of nutrient was affected due to imbalanced soil pH. Soil microbial activity is quite essential to make the nutrients available for plants. Destruction of soil micro-flora badly affected the nutrient uptake by plants. In chemical farming Only 20 to 30% nutrition is absorbed . The remaining parts are dissolved in groundwater and causes water pollution.The remaining portion of the chemical fertilizer mixed with soil and making it useless for crop production. Chemical residues like nitrates, sulfides and heavy metals have accumulated in soil, water and crops. Ultimately the produce from chemical farming has lost the food value.Today Chemical adulterated crops are the major causes of all serious health problems of the papulation. The newborn baby is being infected with diabetes today and hair turns grey by 20 years of age itself.Nowadays cancer has become a common disease .Cancer has direct link with pesticide adulteration of the food. Farmer has to purchase hybrid seeds, fertilizers and pesticides from outside. Hence the cost of production has gone up. Profit from farming became illusive. This is the major reason for sudden increase in suicide cases of farmers. Younger generations of farmers are searching opportunity in cities. Government is announcing loan packages instead of attending the real cause for the situation. Even the millionaire has to eat food only and not the money. If the situation continues for long poor people may have to die due to hunger. Sustainable agriculture is the only solution for this complicated situation. Direction is very clear. But reaching the destination is not so easy. However, for the survival of 7.5 billion people on this earth this U turn is inevitable.
Now let us study the non-chemical methods of farming. Again, many new terminologies like organic, natural, zero tillage, sustainable, bio-dynamic, Vedic agriculture etc. have created confusion in the minds of farmers. We have to find alternative ways of nourishing and protecting the crops after avoiding the usage of chemicals. The methods mentioned above follow different ways for this purpose. The basic principles of all these methods are the same. That is using locally available natural inputs, keeping away from chemicals and following the nature. We have compiled all simple ways of non-chemical farming under the title Organic Farming.
Organic farming should improve the health of plant and other living creature. It must enrich and protect bio-diversity. Hence it is a broad based farm management system. The main features of organic farming include optimum use and conservation of locally available natural inputs, increasing soil fertility over a period of time and protecting soil micro-flora etc. Organic farming should produce healthy food to feed and to protect the health of the consumers. Self- dependence for farm inputs will increase the profitability of the farm. If farming becomes a profitable occupation the migration of population to cities will come down. Thus organic farming can give solution for destruction of environment, pollution and social imbalances also.
Many of us still have a doubt whether this organic farming will feed 1.3 billion people of India. To get the answer one has to go through the production statistics of pre green revolution Indian agriculture. District commissioner of Chengalpattu district of Tamil Nadu noted that during 1880-85 the paddy yield was 40 quintals per acre. But now with all chemical fertilizers and pesticides the same farmers are not getting even the half of that yield. It is true that the yield drops while changing from chemical to organic method. But organic farming will increase soil fertility and hence the productivity in long run. Even the pest and disease incidence will come down. It is undoubtedly proved that the systematic organic farming gives sustainable higher yield. Hence the agriculture scientists took U turn in recent years and are supporting organic farming movement
Characteristics of healthy soil
Soil should be soft enough so that it can be opened by hand easily. It must have sufficient organic matter so that rainwater percolates easily. In scientific terms let the soil pH be between 6.5 and 7.5. Plants can absorb the nutrients only with the help of microbial activity. In very high or low pH soil microbes cannot survive or work efficiently. This affects the availability of nutrients, absorption, seed germination and crop health etc. Other characteristics of good soil are more than 0.5 % organic carbon, 100 kilograms of Nitrogen, 10 kilograms of Phosphorus and 50 kilograms of Potash per acre in available form.
Humus of the soil is the food and shelter for soil microbes. High humus content improves the soil structure. It enables better soil aeration. Thus the plant roots and soil microbes get sufficient oxygen. Soil temperature remains under control. Good volume of rainwater percolates and hence the availability of soil moisture to the plant improves. Water holding capacity of this soil is more. It creates healthy soil microclimate which supports microbial activity. This condition is called as living soil. Ultimately the plant growth and yield improves. Produce from this kind of crop will have better nutrient content and taste.
Method of organic farming in india
Let us see the methods of supply of necessary nutrients in organic farming in detail. The nutrient content of various organic manures is like this
|Manure||% Nitrogen||% Phosphorus||% Potash|
|Compost||1.8 3.2||1.2 1.4||1.2 2.2|
|Vermi-Compost||0.8 1.5||0.4 0.9||1.0 1.8|
|Poultry manure||2.0 3.2||1.8 2.0||1.6 1.7|
|Press mud||3.0 3.2||8.0 8.7||0.9 1.0|
|Biogas slurry||1.3 1.4||1.2 1.4||1.0|
Production of organic manures is a big business now. The producers of organic inputs must get organic input certificate. Only certified inputs are allowed in organic farming. These manures should have brown or black colour and 15 to 25 % moisture. It should not have any bad smell. These manures must have minimum of 12 % organic carbon, 0.8 % nitrogen, 0.4 % phosphorus and 0.4 % potash. Carbon to nitrogen ratio should be at least 20:1 and pH must be in between 6.5 and 7.5. The upper limit of heavy metals in the organic manures is like this
Now let us know the methods of production and usage of various organic manures. Most of the traditional farmers use substandard manures. In western ghat regions manure pit of 8 to 10 feet depth is common. Since it is the open place it wets in rain and dries up under hot sun loosing most of the nutrients. Excess heat accumulates in deeper layers due to lack of aeration. Useful aerobic microbes die and manure becomes a heap of pathogens. Manure decays instead of decomposition. This manure of poor quality is heaped on the farm well before its incorporation in to the soil. Manure dries up and loses nutrients here also. This substandard manure cannot give expected result. Let the manure pit be of 3 feet depth. Protect it from rainwater and direct sun. It is better if the materials are heaped on the ground itself. Adding sheep and poultry manures, wood ash and di-cot herbages with the farm wastes will improve the nutrient content of the manure.
Composting – an overview
The process of decomposing organic wastes by microorganisms under controlled conditions is called composting. Raw organic materials such as crop wastes,animal wastes,crop residues,food garbage, some municipal wastes and industrial wastes.After decomposing it becomes suitable for use to the soil as fertilizer resources
decomposed material is called compost. The compost made from farm waste like wheat straw, sugarcane trash, paddy straw, weeds and other plants and other waste is called farm compost. The average nutrient contents of farm compost are 0.5 per cent N, 0.15 per cent P2O5and 0.5 per cent K2O. The nutrient value of farm compost can be increased by application of rock phosphate or superphosphate at 10 to 15 kg/t of raw material at the initial stage of filling the compost pit. when The compost made from town refuses like night soil, street sweepings and dustbin refuse is called town compost. It contains 1.4 per cent N, 1.00 per cent P2O5 and 1.4 per cent K2O.
Farm compost is made by placing farm wastes in trenches of suitable size, say, 4.5 m to 5.0 m long, 1.5m to 2.0 m wide and 1.0 m to 2.0 m deep. Farm compost are placed in trenches layer by layer.Each layer is well moistened by cow dung slurry or water .
The trenches is filled to a height of 0.5 meters above the ground levels.Compost is ready to apply within five to six months.
Composting is essentially a microbiological decomposition of organic residues collected from rural area (rural compost) or city (urban compost)
Japanese method of composting
It is popular for quick and good quality manure production. Here the bricks are used to build the tank above the ground. Let the height and width be 3 feet each. Length is according to your convenience. The main point is to keep hole on the walls for aeration. Even we can use wood instead of bricks to save cost. Put fibrous materials at the bottom. Then put a layer of cow dung. Then spread dry leaves and farm waste in a layer. Spread cow dung again. Repeat these layers till the tank is full. Put di-cot herbage and green materials in top layer. At the end cover it with fertile top soil layer. Spread straw or dry leaves on the pit to avoid drying. Manure will decompose fully within 2 to 3 months in this method. Nutrient content of the compost from this Japanese method is better than the sunken pit.
Aerobic method of composting
In this method raw materials are heaped on the hard floor. Shade net is spread on the pendal to avoid direct sun. Let the height and width of the heap be 5 to 6 feet each. Length is according to your convenience. Spread dry leaves, organic farm waste, di-cot herbage, wood ash etc. in layers. Wet each layer with cow dung slurry and water. It is better if neem and caster cakes, rock phosphate, sheep and poultry manures etc. are added. It is desirable to use organic matter decomposition (OMD) microbial mixture for fast and better decomposition. This contains nitrogen fixing and phosphorus solubilizing bacteria, mycorrhiza for potash, Pleurotus fungus for fiber degradation, Trichoderma for pathogen control. If this OMD microbial mixture is not available, use the compost which was prepared using such mixture. Or at least put a layer of fertile soil. Keep the heap moist by sprinkling water. Spreading cow dung slurry and Panchagavya will give better result. Insert bamboo or perforated PVC pipe in the heap for better aeration. Compost will be ready for use within 1 month itself in this aerobic method. Even the coconut coir pith becomes good compost if OMD mixture is used. But it takes 3-month time for decomposition. Most of the commercial organic manure producers follow this method. Use of 2 tons of this compost gives better result than 10 tons of conventional manures. We can get still better compost by feeding this to earthworms.
Vermi-compost is very popular among organic farmers. There are 2 types of earth worms. One type of worm burrows deep in to the soil and the other one lives in top soil. Top soil earthworms feed 10 % of soil and 90 % of organic matter. It eats equal to its body weight and puts out every day. Earthworms add 30 to 40 kilograms of nitrogen per acre per year. Vermi compost is rich in growth regulators and hormones. Hence it is the complete manure. Vermi compost has egg cases too. If the farm has sufficient moisture content and organic matter earthworms develop from the eggs and produce compost there itself. We need not apply vermi compost again.
We may give vermi compost to all crops. Apply 1 ton of vermi compost for field crops at the time of sowing or in the row later. Adding half ton of vermi compost to seed beds will improve the growth and health of the seedling. Then give half kilogram of vermi compost to each plant at the time of re-planting and half kilogram after 45 days. Apply 5 to 10 kilograms of vermi compost per year to bigger trees. Pour water to the vermi tanks and collect the drained water as vermi wash. This is an excellent mixture of major and micro nutrients, growth regulators and hormones. Even it is a good repellent of pests and diseases. We can get excellent crop by spraying vermi wash.
Let us study the method of production of vermi compost now. Bigger earth worms from Africa are in use for this purpose. Vermi compost production capacity of these worms is much higher than our indigenous worms. It grows up to 5 to 6 inches and lives up to 2 years. It prefers 25 to 30˚ centigrade temperature and 40 to 45 % moisture. We may feed these worms with dry leaves, crop residues, sugar cane waste etc. But avoid flowers and tobacco plant. Spray water and mix cow dung to the raw material and heap under shade for 3 to 4 weeks. Then this partially decomposed material is fed to the earthworms. If the fresh farm waste is given directly, heat generated during decomposition may kill the worms.
It is better to provide roof for vermi compost tanks to avoid rain and direct sun. Normally tanks are built with stone or cement for this purpose. However, many farmers follow heap method under shade. Even portable vermi tanks of thick plastic are also seen. It is advised to limit the width of the tanks to 3 to 4 feet and height to 2 to 3 feet. Length is according to your convenience. Provide a hole at the bottom of the tank to drain excess water. Put a layer of course material like coconut husk at the bottom of the tank. This is necessary to drain excess water and vermi wash. Then put a layer of organic waste for half feet height. Spread fresh cow dung or slurry on it. Put another layer of organic material. Repeat these layers till the tank is full. Then spread earthworms on the top at the rate of 25 worms per square feet. If worms are not available spread fresh -moist vermi compost. The eggs in this compost will hatch to produce tiny worms. But it will take more time to produce compost. Spray water to maintain 40 to 45 % moisture. Compost will be ready within 2 to 3 months depending on the raw material used. The worms go deep in to the tank if water is not given for 3 to 4 days. Then collect the vermi compost from the top. Sieve this compost after drying excess moisture. Continue the production of vermi compost by spreading the raw material again in to the tank.
Birds, ants, rats and mice are the enemies of the earthworms. It is better to put stone slab or cement concrete to the floor of the vermi compost shed. Water channel around the vermi tank or spreading wood ash will avoid ants. But do not use any pesticides for the purpose. Production of vermi compost is a rural commercial subsidiary activity now. This can generate an attractive income for small farmers and landless people. Many big dairies sell vermi .
Panchagavya for agriculture use is also becoming popular now. This is a Vedic concept. We are giving a representative composition of Panchagavya out of many combinations in use. Take a plastic barrel or concrete tank and put These material into pot as mention below:
- Cow milk – 3 liters
- Cow curd – 2 liters
- Tender coconut water – 3 liters
- Jaggery – 3 kg
- Well ripened poovan banana – 12 nos.
. In another barrel mix 5 kilograms of fresh cow dung and 1 liter of cow ghee.
Mix the content of these barrels after keeping them separately for 3 days. Then keep it for 7 days. Keep on stirring the mixture in morning and evening hours with a wooden stick. Filter this mixture through a net and keep the barrel covered with a cloth to the open top. This Panchagavya will be ready after 30 days.. This is a rich mixture of micronutrients, hormones, plant growth regulators and useful microorganisms. This is a good repellent of pests and diseases also. Panchagavya may be sprayed to the crops or drenched to the base of the plant. It may be spread at the time of compost production. Excellent result is recorded everywhere with the
Use of Panchagavya
panchagavya is a rich mixture of many micro organisms, bacteria, fungi, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, amino acids, vitamins, enzymes, known and unknown growth promoting factors ,micro nutrients trace elements and antioxidant and immunity enhancing factors. 3% panchagavya solution was found to be most effective compared to the higher and lower concentrations investigated. Three liters of Panchagavya to every 100 liters of water is ideal for all plants. The power sprayers of 10 liters capacity may need 300 ml/tank. When sprayed with power sprayer, sediments are to be filtered and when sprayed with hand operated sprayers, the nozzle with higher pore size has to be used. It may be spread at the time of compost production .It can be spread during compost production. Excellent results were recorded everywhere using Panchagavya.
Seed/seedling treatment: 3% solution of Panchagavya can be used to soak the seeds or dip the seedlings before planting. Soaking for 20 minutes is sufficient. Rhizomes of Turmeric, Ginger and sets of Sugarcane can be soaked for 30 minutes before planting.
Seed storage: 3% of Panchagavya solution can be used to dip the seeds before drying and storing them.
Alternate organic farming method to provide nutrients
Let us know one more method of supplying nutrients. Mix 10 kilograms of fresh cow dung, 10 liters of cow urine, 1 kilogram of Jaggary (thick molasses) and 100 liters of water in a tank or barrel. Use this mixture on next day with irrigation water at the rate of 500 liters per acre. For spraying, mix 10 kilograms of cow dung, 10 liters of cow urine, 1 kilogram of Jaggary and
10 liters of water in a tank. Filter this mixture on next day and spray to the crop at the rate of 100 ml per liter of water. Spraying this extract 2 to 3 times for any crop will give good result.
We find bio-digesters in many farms in recent years. Locally available herbages are digested in a tank. Di-cot plants and plants well known for pest and disease control are selected on priority. Some farmers put neem cake, sheep and poultry manure, vermi compost etc. in bags and immerse it in the same tank. Extract collected in the tank or the digester is filtered and given to the crop with irrigation water. Many farmers spray this extract directly to the crop. According to the farmers experience this extract from the bio digester improves crop health and growth.
We find farm houses and cattle shed at a height just next to the garden in western ghat region. Many farmers stopped producing farm yard manure due to labor shortage. Transporting the manure needs lot of manpower and leads to nutrient loss also. Hence these farmers flow biogas slurry directly to the garden through pipe line. Slurry is put to the base of each tree with the help of hose pipe. Slurry is collected in a tank and diluted with additional water. Leaves, straws etc. are cleaned to avoid clogging of pipe line. This mixture flows to the garden by gravity. Farmers without this benefit of slope use slurry pump. Slurry is transported in a tanker to the garden if the distance is more. Organic waste available on the farm is put around the tree base and slurry is poured on it twice a year. This may be called as in situ manure production. Here the wastage of nutrients is very minimal. Earthworms become active and produce vermi compost. This method gives very good result if the moisture is maintained throughout the year in the garden. This method is termed as slurrygation.
Green manuring is one more effective method of supplying nutrients. Leguminous plants are grown on the farm or outside and the herbage is mixed in the soil. This enriches the humus and nutrient content of the soil. It improves the soil structure also. Sun hemp, diancha, Sesbenia etc. are the common green manuring species grown on the farm. These plants are cut and ploughed in to the soil just before flowering. Adding green manures 2 to 3 weeks before planting of the main crop will give good result. Sun hemp is grown between rows of sugarcane, banana, mulberry etc. It is incorporated in to the soil after 4 weeks. Black gram, green gram and cow pea are also in use as green manure crops. Sun hemp, horse gram etc. are grown in open spaces of mango and other plantations. This helps even for weed control. Root knots of these leguminous plants store nitrogen. Subabul, Gliricidia, Sesbenia etc. are grown outside the farm or along the fence. Herbage is cut and used as green manure. Green manuring once in 2 years also brings excellent crop improvement.
Non edible oil cakes are the rich source of plant nutrients. Neem cake is not only useful for nutrient supply but also for pest and disease control. Caster and Pongamia cakes are the other cakes in use. Water fern Azolla is becoming popular in recent years as a green manure and cattle feed. Blue-green algae called Anabaena present in the folds of leaves fixes atmospheric nitrogen. Azolla provides 25 kilograms of nitrogen per acre in a season. It can grow and cover the whole water surface of paddy field in 15 days. It is puddled in to the soil as green manure one week before transplanting the paddy seedlings. Tank silt is lifted after the water dries up in summer and spread in the field. This is a popular practice in plains. Adding tank silt can give good crop for 2 to 3 years. Wood ash is also a good source of plant nutrients.
Bio fertilizer is another important source of nutrients. This is a mixture of microorganisms supplying plant nutrients by fixation or solublisation. Rhizobium is the most popular bio-fertilizer. This bacterium lives in the root knots of leguminous plant and fixes atmospheric nitrogen. Rhizobium plays an important role in di-cot grams like red gram, black gram, green gram, Bengal gram etc. and in oil seeds like ground nut and soya bean.In every season Rhizobium fix 20 to 40 kilograms of nitrogen per acre .So naturally, 80 to 90% of the crop meets the nitrogen requirement. The yeild of leguminous crop will increase 15 to 30% by Rhizobium treatment.Large amounts of Nitrogen are kept in the Soil and used by the next crop. However, the effectiveness of bio-fertilizer largely depends on soil type, climatic condition, method of pest and disease management, fertilizer use, sub-species of the microorganism used and method of application etc.
Cost of bio-fertilizer is very low.For treatment of seeds it will be 25 rupees per acre. Rhizobium is raised in laboratories, mixed with charcoal powder and supplies to the farmers. Prepare Jaggary solution. Smear this sticky solution on the seed. Spread the bio-fertilizer on it and mix thoroughly. It sticks well on the seeds due to Jaggary solution. Dry the seeds under shade and use it for sowing as early as possible.The simplest and effective method is the seed treatment by the bio fertilizer
Cost and availability of Biofertilizers
Name of Biofertilizers
Cost of Biofertilizers
Professor and Head
Azospirillum is another bacteria which is also use as bio-fertilizer. This is also a free living nitrogen fixing microorganism. Application is similar to Azotobacter. Azospirillum gives good result in sorghum, minor millets, maize, sugarcane and wheat. Apart from this nitrogen fixing bacteria VA mycorrhiza is used to improve the availability of phosphorus, zinc, copper and sulfur. Its also work on growth promoting substance production (IAA), disease resistance and drought tolerance are some of the additional benefits due to Azospirillum inoculation.
This is a hair like primitive plant which lives in association with plant roots. It gets food from the plant and helps the plant to absorb water and nutrients. The main constraint of VAM is that it cannot be cultured separately. It needs to be maintained with host plant itself. Roots of these host plant is applied to add mycorrhiza to the field.
Azolla is a free-floating aquatic fern that floats in water and fixes atmospheric nitrogen and stroe in leaves.It association with nitrogen fixing blue green alga Anabaena azollae. Azolla fronds consist of sporophyte with a floating rhizome and small overlapping bi-lobed leaves and roots. Recently Azolla farming has increased in Rice growing areas in South East Asia and other third World countries.It is used an alternate nitrogen sources or as a supplement to commercial nitrogen fertilizers. Azolla has a lot of protein, amino acids, vitamins (Vitamin A, vitamin B12, beta carotene) and minerals, so it’s a great nutritious diet for animals. Azolla is used as biofertilizer for wetland rice and it is known to contribute 40-60 kg N/ha per rice crop.It has been observed, and well appreciated by rice farmers they cultivate Azolla in rice farm there is increase rice production by 20%.
The phosphorus corrects and is unavailable to the plant at very low pH levels of singers. It is used to provide phosphorus solvent bacteria or PSBs. It can free 12 kilograms of phosphorus per acre in a season. Useful for PSB rice, small bowl, oil seeds, de-coat greens and vegetables. These bacteria can be used for seed treatment, roots dive or directly spreading the soil. PSB requires 200 grams of seeds for medium sized seeds such as ground nut or wheat. PSB is 100 grams enough for small seeds. For root dipping method, add 1 kg of organic fertilizer to the PSB in 10 to 15 liters of water. Root the roots of chicken roots for 5 minutes and sink the plants as soon as possible. This dipping method is suitable for substituting crops like vegetables and rice. Mix 3 to 5 kg PSB and apply 50 kgs of farm yard fertilizer to spread directly on the field.
Keep any organic fertilizer in a cool place without direct sunlight. Avoid contact with fertilizers or any chemicals. Do not use any organic fertilizer after expiration. There are separate strains for different crops in rhizobium. Use only specific strain to give good results.
Cover crops and mulching cultural practice are becoming popular in India. Some farmers spread green herbages to cover the soil surface. In banana cultivation banana leaves wastage are spreads on the soil surface. Rooted cover crops in rubber is a popular practice. It is useful for weeding control, soil and moisture conservation. Mulching increase the soil microbial activity and hence the soil becomes living soils.Decomposition of mulch adds organic matter to the soil. Percolation of rainwater improves. The Selecting leguminous species for the purpose of cover crop is still better .
Agro forestry play important role in organic farming.Growing useful plants and trees as live fence and in available free spaces provide organic matter for manuring, firewood and wood for agriculture use .Green manure and fodder species are a good choice for agricultural forestry. agro forestry provides food and shelter for honey bees and birds. So it rich in organic diversity of the farm.Live fence is useful as wind breaker in banana cultivation.Thus agro forestry is the integral part of organic farming.
Inter cropping and mixed cropping are one of the important features of organic farming. Generally leguminous crops are intercropped with mono-cot crops. Sorghum-red gram-cow pea, sugarcane soyabean, maize red gram, banana, cowpea etc. is the popular combinations. Planning these combinations depends on crop duration, growth nature, height, spreading of roots etc. Di-cot crops improve the soil fertility apart from crop yield. This improves the growth and yield of mono-cot crops. Mono-cropping leads to deficiency of micro nutrients. Multiple cropping systems are helpful even for weed, pest and disease management. Likewise crop rotation is useful in organic farming. Paddy crop in Kharif season and ground nut, black gram, green gram, cowpea etc. in Raby season is a popular practice in traditional paddy area. Leguminous crop in the crop cycle improves the soil fertility and the next mono-cot crop gets the benefit. Crop rotation helps to break pest and disease build up also. Deep rooted crops in the crop cycle bring soil nutrients from lower soil to the top soil.
Deep and excess ploughing is not advisable in organic farming. Unnecessary ploughing disturbs the soil structure and leads to soil erosion. Tilling is inevitable in annual crops. But in plantations avoid inter cultivation and cut off the weed and use it for mulching. This helps for weed control and conservation of moisture. It creates micro climate and adds humus to the soil. Excess irrigation is not good. It leads to the depletion of nutrients apart from the wastage of water. Salts in the deeper layer of alkaline soil come to upper layer due to over irrigation and makes the soil saline. Micro or sprinkler irrigation is better in organic farming to maintain humid micro climate and for better decomposition of organic matter.
Weed is not the enemy of crops. Some weeds bring nutrients from deeper layer of soil to the upper layer. Cutting the weed before flowering is the better practice. We may use small rotary tiller for inter-cultivation. Some weeds like touch me not and cassia tora belong to legume group which have nitrogen storage in root knots to enrich soil fertility.
Dear readers, till now we have studied the necessity of organic farming, principles, national policy, alternative methods of nutrient supply etc. in detail. The second part of this article will cover pest and disease management in organic farming, organic certification, animal husbandry and bee keeping in organic method etc. Let us meet again in the next part of this article