Is Organic Farming / Natural Farming practical?

organic-farming

#241

A report that supports Phaedrus’s & Chandra’s views:
“By planting flowers around their rice paddies, women farmers in Vietnam are saving 42% on insect control costs.”
dated 7-Mar-13 http://www.irri.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=12492:women-restore-balance-in-rice-fields-with-flowers&lang=en
Related eenadu article (telugu) is attached.
Irri.pdf (87.9 KB)


#242

In just the past century, our global urban populations have expanded from 15 to 50% of it’s total. From 1.5 billion to nearly 6 billion. This is an astonishing feat of growth for only being 100 years of evaluation. We are turning ourselves into an urban species. In 1800, there was one city with a million people, London. By 1990, the world’s 100 largest cities accommodated 540 million people. With Urban agglomerations and the resources they use dominantly being apart of the earth, we are changing humanity’s relationship to its host planet and its ecosystems. The challenge we will face is whether cities can change their livelihoods into self-regulating, sustainable systems. Today I will be talking to you about how using urban agriculture, we can change the outlook of the world, and it all starts with…

With the increasing population and the decreasing space for land, the fear of not being able to feed 9 billion people by 2050 is slowly becoming a reality, but it’s not too late. Many people in the cities can become just like the farmers in rural areas. By doing the work I have just described to you, we are one step closer to fixing this hunger problem. We can not give up and we need to work together because as the world grows bigger, so do our appetites.


#243

this is a brain storm post. lot of inputs and exhaustive reading. In short let me reply

I am a organic farmer, farming in 3.5 acres of land in a semi arid place. Water source is rain 2 - 3 in a year (big rains) and a bore well with 1.5" water. I have installed drip irrigation system and some times sprinkler. I have a 1500 trees population, 1800 banana plants and 1 acre on vegetables. we do a lot of inter cropping. We did grow small onions against odds last year

more than the money earned, it is the satisfaction of doing good to mother nature and feeding a few people without chemicals

  • the main manure is cow dung, jeevamrutha - a preparation we make ourselves, mulching plants back to soil. cost of the total manure used is much lower than a normal farmer
  • the yield levels in organic farms is better as you will keep mulching and giving better food to the worms inside. This is perfectly opposite to the normal process where they kill the microorganisms and worms inside
  • do smaller volumes of produce ( many types ) rather than a big crop., you will see money

you can ask for help from me
thx


#244

Classical replies sir.
Anbu


#245

Dear Sir,

To keep cost of production it is advisable to to blend both organic & inorganic practice judiciously.Below is comparative study on soil vs hydroponic cultivation.

chennaihydroponics.blogspot.in/
facebook.com/pages/Chennai- … 972?ref=hl


#246

soundcloud.com/krishna-visvanat … nic-farmer


#247

I agree with dak45, there should be a mix of Organic & Inorganic methods to get the best results. In my opinion the damage done by chemical fertilizers is less compared to chemical pesticides. Numerous studies have shown that excess usage of chemical fertilizers has not had any perceivable effects in the quality of end produce, but on the other hand Pesticides have led to unacceptable level of harmful elements in the end produce.
I have seen first hand that moderate usage of chemical fertilizers has not effected the growth of microorganisms, earthworms, etc. It is the usage of 3G/ 4G or 10G granules (gulikalu in the local lingo) or pesticide sprays that are killing the earthworms along with other benificial microorganisms. This is effecting the fertility of the soil that is in turn effecting the quality & quantity of the produce.
Infact the recent introduction of neem coated urea has been quite benificial and has decreased the incidence of pests in paddy and led to a reduction in usage of chemical pesticides. The need of the hour is to use an optimum combination of Organic & Inorganic fertilizers and pesticides to increase the output considerably without effecting the quality of the produce.

thanks,
Madhav


#248

In response to ragaaorganics above,

In an academic article I read it seems organic millet is better from a nutritional point of view. There are low quality and high quality proteins. When millet is given commercial fertilizer high in nitrogen it develops a high amount of low quality protein called I think prolamin. So the millets protein quality degrades.

So its not how much protein we eat but what is the quality of that protein that matters. Does it give a good range of essential amino acids we must have? Is it easily digestible by the body?  So if one were to eat millet produced by fertilizing it with high nitrogen fertilizers, they could go into protein deficiency.

So high nitrogen fertilizers yes can be problematic they are altering the nutritional value of the food.
Often, food produced today appears like food but does not nutritionally function as food within the body.


#249

Dear Jasmine,

I was trying to put forward the point that chemical Fertilizers are not poisoning us even if they are used in excess, but usage of chemical Pesticides is the cause for most of the ailments today. Yes there could be some changes due to excess Fertilizers but are they going to cause perceivable effects on our health?
I read a research article couple of months back, where they studied the effects of using industry & human drainage polluted Musi river water near Hyderabad for Paddy cultivation. This was done by an international institute to study how the rice is being effected by using this water that has heavy elements like arsenic, etc.
In fact the farmers working for long periods in this water get skin problems like rash etc. regularly. Everyone would assume that the rice would also be very badly effected and unsuitable for human consumption. But the tests conducted found out that the levels of these poisonous elements were well within limits.
I am citing the above example to tell you that every plant has its own mechanism to absorb nutrients with certain moderation, yes excessive nitrogen will give more growth but only to a certain extent, anything above will stunt or even kill a plant.
But some chemical pesticides on the other hand are designed to enter every part of the plant, these will definitely enter our food stream.

My point is that if we can reduce or totally stop using chemical pesticides we will be able to have safer food. Nature has provided us with quite a few plants that can fight against specific pest or fungus or bacteria. The extracts from these plants can be used to fight against these pests and get produce that is not poisoned,this will be the way to go forward.

Thanks,
Madhav


#250

Ragaaorganics,

You asked: Yes there could be some changes due to excess Fertilizers but are they going to cause perceivable effects on our health?

the effects of protein deficiency are perceivable. A full and complete protein is needed to produce skin and hair pigment. Why is it so many Indians I see have gray hair and dark spots on the skin, especially on the face, even in young age? This is due to protein deficiency. They might be eating a lot of protein, but low quality protein  (like gluten or prolamin which has some connection to gluten), which is not providing all the amino acids needed to create a full and complete protein needed to produce black hair and even colored skin. The is pigment protects us from the intense sunlight and heat, keeping the body cool. This can also help prevent wrinkles, dry skin and inflammation. When the head is kept cool this prevents hair loss. Why is it I see so many young Indian males going bald in early age? This could also be a reason, the head, hair is overheating causing it to fall out. That is why in south India we use special hair oils the enhance pigment production and keep the head cool to ensure thick head of hair. Coconut rich in protein makes good hair oil.

We get protein or amino acids from many sources, like spices, dal, keerai (greens) and maybe even gourds too. So if the nutritional value of millet is getting altered with high nitrogen fertilizers, I would think this would effect the nutritional value of these foods as well, and would manifest as a nutritional deficiency easily perceivable on the skin or hair.


#251

Ragaaorganics,

Did you read all the comments by cowherd?
He explained in depth why he thinks fertilizers are not even needed. He says spend at least few years remediating the soil, plant biodiverse crops not grow one single cash crop (this is more of my words), use dung that encourages microbes and earthworms, select strong quality indigenous seed, you probably don’t need fertilizer which is costing you to spend more money on it than saving you money.

He says plants get their energy mainly from sun, air, water and some from soil. He says plants can thrive in very little soil which means people often forget that sunlight, air and water are perhaps more important. The key is microbial activity. It might not be the rice that is filtering out the poisons, it’s the microbes doing it for the rice. Rice is a very water intensive crop. So microbes will thrive more in water than I think dried out parched land. So the poison filtering is better because water is still providing a habitat for the microbes due to moisture whereas dry parched land due to excessive chemical use doesn’t. So create soil that provides a habitat for microbes, don’t use chemical fertilizers that are destroying the microbes.

The key is building up good quality fertile soil, but this takes time which many farmers don’t want to do because it might mean the first few years of farming without income. So in that case they should have a second occupation that earns them money  or have a family member to live with to financially support them during the soil remediation process or be financially supported by generous people from the public who trust them or be willing to put down some of their own personal savings to remediate the soil before taking the plunge into farming. I think many people who desire to farm based on idealism are not ready to farm. There are many things they need to be realistic about before taking the plunge.

To be honest many youth have a subconscious (kind of ego) thinking that they’re doctors, engineers, IT tech savy, so they have proven to others they’re smart, so farming is a piece of cake, just throw down some seed, fertilizer or dung and you’re done. If it took twenty years of education to become an engineer or IT professional, imagine it took an experienced talented farmer twenty years to do farming too. So what makes them think within one year they can become just like him?

Even in this forum someone started a post on the A to Z of natural farming, which means if you want to do natural farming, you have to start from the beginning , becoming a pre schooler again, learning your alphabets, A to Z, how to spell and create sentences and thus to speak and think in a new language of communication, the one of Mother Nature speaks. Not computer programming language, you use to talk to a computer, now you need to learn a new language in order to converse with nature. 
Talking to her is not like talking to a computer and she doesn’t take orders the way a computer does.

Moreover, the talented farmers of the past had centuries worth of knowledge because they learned directly from their ancestors who learned each and every nuance to farming. Whereas today’s youth grab books, read what they can, attend lectures, but is that centuries worth of family tradition passed down to them? Now that families are breaking a part so is the system of knowledge transfer as well. So we become dependent on chemicals and quick fixes to our problems.

We need to rebuild the soil and rebuild our connections to the ancestors who knew how to live without chemical fertilizers for thousands of years successfully. 


#252

Dear Jasmine,

On your post about the effects of protein deficiency - I will not agree that the change in nutritional values of our pulses etc. is the only factor that is contributing. Our lifestyle has changed, our food habits have changed, pollution has increased in everything around us. We are not taking a balanced diet as our ancestors were taking. But you go to villages that are untouched by the pollution where people have lifestyle that has not changed much and you can see very less greying at younger age. These people are eating the same produce that they are selling to us.

Tell me how many people do you see nowadays who are applying coconut or castor oil to their hair?
If you want good health you need to have a balanced diet, do you think all the processed or fast food that we have helps?
There are probably thousand things that are contributing to the degeneration of our health from one generation to the next, but I would say using chemical Fertilizers does not have such a big effect as it is shown to be or said to be.

And mind you I am a proponent of Organic Farming and I am in the business of promoting Organic products.

Thanks,
Madhav


#253

Ragaaorganics,

I agree with everything you are saying. We have a lifestyle problem. Yet, why when cowherd spent so much effort to explain why fertilizers are not needed, why you keep saying they are needed and are wanting to spend more money on them? What is it about cowherds views that you are not in agreement with? Have you tried his methods in your unique ecosystem and they did not work for you?

Did you know that Jayant Barve a well known organic farmer use to sell chemical fertilizers and pesticides for a living then closed down his business and turned to organic farming without using them? There are many interviews online with him which explain his reasons.

Did you listen to this interview?
He says many villagers in Kerala are not eating the same produce they are selling to us. He says he observed villagers growing naturally on a small piece of land reserved for their own family use. Then they will grow commercially sold food using chemical fertilizers and pesticides to meet unreasonable consumer demands that are not in sync with how nature naturally produces food. I also know a Punjabi farmer I casually met who also told me his family and village did the same thing. He even told me they grew unique varieties of rice they never sold openly to the public, they just ate it themselves.

soundcloud.com/krishna-visvanat … nic-farmer

Here is an organic family farm in Kerala as an example, who took a lot of time time to remediate their soil and how they did it so they don’t need fertilizers. This is an example of forest gardening, growing under a natural tree canopy, utilizing it for your mulch and soil nutrition, without buying outside inputs like fertilizers.

aaranyamfarms.com/videos.html

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forest_gardening

Have you tried cover crops to nourish your soil?
RED Karamani or Red cowpea is good for soil remediation.

groworganic.com/seeds/cover-crop.html

groworganic.com/media/pdfs/Cover … eb2013.pdf


#254

Here are other cover crops that can help remediate soil.
Fenugreek, sesame, and ginger can help loosen soil.
Chickpeas and black eyed peas can help add organic matter.

My ancestors I think used peanut shells for organic matter. I would ask others to confirm that.

groworganic.com/red-cowpeas-raw-lb.html

groworganic.com/black-eye-peas-raw-lb.html

groworganic.com/sesame-lb.html

groworganic.com/foenugreek-raw.html

But I think
RED Karamani or Red cowpea is best for soil remediation.

i1193.photobucket.com/albums/aa3 … G_0739.jpg

groworganic.com/seeds/cover-crop.html

groworganic.com/media/pdfs/Cover … eb2013.pdf


#255

Looks like just what I was looking for on cover crops. Any ideas on this topic?:
farmnest.com/forum/natural-farmi … or-kharif/


#256

Chandra,

I would think rice would be the most common crop to plant.
Usually millets are dry land crops and hate the rain. They get fungal issues. They like it hot and dry, unless there are some varieties that are okay to do. I’m not an expert.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kharif_crop

This video talks briefly about the interplanting system of the olden days. It was filmed by the Deccan Development Society in Hyderabad where you are located. Please contact them and they can advise you on what is suitable for your ecosystem.

youtube.com/watch?app=deskto … vHLPzb2e6A

ddsindia.com/www/default.asp

You can also ask Dinesh Kumar.

indiaorganic.net/individuals/dinesh.html

Earth360 Eco Ventures § Limited 
3-196 APIIC Industrial Park
KADIRI - 515591
Andhra Pradesh
INDIA
Ph: 8494- 221265
Cell: 9440870875
Email: millets.dinesh@gmail.com
Web: millets.wordpress.com

For rice and millet I would ask Sahaja Samrudha. I think rice would be better a choice.

sahajasamrudha.org/Desi%20Rice.htm

sahajasamrudha.org/Millet%20Magic.htm

I hope this helps you.


#257

Welcome Chandra. I want to note, I personally do not like inoculants. I think they are unsafe to inhale. I would be very cautious with anything that comes powdered, it’s not safe to breath in.
The video at this link suggests using inoculants, but I wouldn’t buy them. So be careful with some of the suggestions at this site, I don’t agree with them all.

Cowherds point is to avoid buying outside products as much as possible and use whatever you have within your own farm to build up your soil.

groworganic.com/seeds/cover-crop.html


#258

Before you try inter planting and cover crops please learn from an advanced person who had done it for many years with success.

Sriram writes a good blog on his farming mistakes and successes. Its wonderful he documented his mistakes for everyone to learn from. This is about ragi.

Here he writes about doing intercropping the wrong way.
csm-fanaa.blogspot.com/2010/07/o … amani.html

Here he writes about his improvements
csm-fanaa.blogspot.com/search?q=Ragi


#259

I agree to what u say but a person like me, born and brought up in Mumbai, and at the age of 35 when I have shut my business u think I wont be able to do farming? I am looking ahead to it more as a life than profession. Though I have other incomes to support me I would surely want to earn in what I would be actually doing (natural farming). What I mean to say here is that if you think it is difficult to go ahead with then how one should take an approach to it. I have no knowledge, no idea and hence lot of confusion to what land to buy, where to buy, what size to buy, what to grow, after buying the land how to grow, etc.

Please suggest me

Thanks
Prashant
Mumbai


#260

Dear Jasmine,

Wow! You are fast, you need to give me time to post a reply for your earlier post.

I want to make one thing clear I am not promoting the use of Fertilizers, all I am saying is LET US FIGHT THE GREATER EVIL FIRST. In my opinion chemical pesticides are a lot worse than Fertilizers. Let us try to decrease these first and then we can act upon Fertilizers and I say this keeping in mind the regular farmer out there who does not know or knows very less about organic farming. I am saying this with first hand experience, I have seen earthworms in almost all farms that have been using chemical Fertilizers, but all these we’re killed as soon as they start pesticide sprays, etc. Yes, excess usgae of Fertilizers do lead to chemical imbalance in the soil and may be stunting the growth of earthworms or microbes, but they are not being totally eradicated.

Let me give you a little background. I hail from an agricultural family, My grandfather was totally dependent on agricultural and my father worked in the fields throughout his student life. Other than enjoying visits to our farms along with my grandfather to have some water melons or mangoes, I have never been involved in active agriculture. But I am a person who enjoys looking at lush green trees or crops and enjoys growing veggies and ornamental plants in my garden and also at my office. I have a passion for agriculture and also have a plan to get into it in the near future.

I am a Mechanical engineer and I am running my own Business in the same field. By god’s grace I happened to get a chance to promote Organic products in Dec 2012, I grabbed the opportunity provided. From that day onwards I have been trying to acquire as much knowledge as possible about agri practices, methods, etc. From June 2013 I have been travelling throughout Telangana interacting with farmers, Agricultural Officers, agri societies, etc. promoting my products and also creating awareness about Organic Farming and its benefits. I have travelled about 70000kms and met thousands of farmers and seen all kinds of crops. I have put in a lot of effort, time and money in the past one year, although some amount of passion to change the world is there, I would say my personal gain in terms of profit was the main drive here.

Initially I was trying to educate the farmers on how 100% Organic farming is beneficial to everybody, etc. Very soon the discussion lead to outputs and 99.999% farmers were not interested, few wanted to try it out so that they could at least grow some for their own consumption. Few wanted a demo of our products which I agreed to hoping they would at least get on to the bandwagon. When the time came to harvest almost everyone who had used our product got lower returns compared to what they were getting earlier in the regular scheme of things. There were farmers who even added chemical Fertilizers midway after seeing that the growth was a lost less than what it was supposed to be, and there was no way we could stop them as this was their livelihood. I failed to sell the organic way of farming to them. I needed to do something differently to get them to use more organic products.

Some of the farmers who added Fertilizers along with our Organic soil conditioners got excellent results, infact more than the adjacent farmers. I discussed this results with my principals and also with several agri scientists and decided to change my strategy to combine both organic & inorganic products for getting good results. From then on we have been promoting the use of organic soil conditioners along with chemical fertilizers. For example a farmer who has been using 100kgs of DAP was told to use only 50kgs along with another 50 kgs of Organic Soil conditioners, thus we have been reducing the excessive usage of Fertilizers. We are taking a very slow approach, we are asking them to use our product in only one or two acres of their field and we have been showing them the differences, like increase in root zone growth, increase in earthworms, softer soil, increase in flowering, reduction in flower dropping, increase in produce, etc.

Coming to results:

Paddy - Most of the farmers have been able to get anywhere from zero - 10 bags more than what he has got in the adjacent plots.
In Telangana lot of farmers faced a serious outbreak of stem borer in Paddy and any amount of chemical pesticides did not control it. They were using 2 or 3 times more powerful pesticides as compared to earlier seasons without much luck. Most of the farmers lost about 10-30% of their produce because of this pest. But there were two farmers who used organic pesticides that controlled the stem borer, their loss was less than 5%.

Corn - Farmers got about 2 - 8 quintals more than what they were getting with the conventional farming.

Cotton - We had tabulated the result from only one farmer although quite a few had used organic soil conditioners as per our suggestion. This particular farmer usually gets around 75-80 quintals of cotton every year, but this time he got 130 quintals of cotton from 10 acres with an extra investment of Rs. 5000 over the 10 acres. I will not say that just the use of soil conditioners has increased the output but a combination of various factors like weather etc. had helped. But the farmer is extremely happy and is all in for the use of Organic products.

Vegetables - A lot of farmers are using organic soil conditioners and are getting excellent results. Among these I need to mention a group of farmers near Sangareddy, Medak dist. who are registered under the Mana Kuragayalu (our vegetables) program who have been using organic soil conditioners, pesticides, etc. for tomato, brinjal, onion, bhendi, radish, etc. As an example of how it is benefiting them - a farmer had sown tomato & radish in 1/4th acre bit and used 10 kgs of DAP & 24 kgs of Organic Soil Conditioners and sprayed a growth promoter after about 25 days. He did not use any chemical pesticides and the quality of his produce was so good that he could retain the ripe tomatoes for 2 days after plucking so as to get better rate from the market.

Turmeric - A farmer who was usually getting about 3 tractor loads of raw turmeric from 1/2 acre has got 4.5 tractor loads by using a combination of organic & Inorganic Fertilizers

Chilli - A farmer who lost his entire crop to rains in Nov-Dec 2013 due to cyclone was going to remove the entire crop and sow some green gram. He had already used quite a bit of Fertilizers and was looking at a total loss. He happened to use organic soil conditioners on the advise of PACS official and the chilli crop was revived and he could get 60 quintals of chilli from about 1.75 acres. The entire village where this has happened has been converted and they are going to be using a combination of chemical & organic Fertilizers. Infact the son of this particular farmer is working wit me now.

There are probably hundreds of farmers who have followed our suggestions and are a happy lot. So what did I learn for this entire exercise in the past year or so - Don’t try to bring changes at once, Make it slow & permanent rather than fast & temporary.

We have been able to decrease the usage of Fertilizers, increase the profits for farmers and were able to make a small or I should say tiny change in this world. This year we are sure to increase the number of farmers using organic products to thousands.

Thanks,
Madhav