What got me into ‘organic farming’ and embracing the natural farming philosophy? As a new entrant to farming in 1998 I was thrilled with the immediate results of growing exotic veggies using the chemical processes. Great productivity and profitability. Two years later my good friend Prithwi (himself a believer in natural farming and an environmentalist) advised me to read ‘The One Straw Revolution’ by Masanobu Fukuoka.
The One-Straw Revolution
The extract of Masanobu’s interview given below is an eye-opener:
…if modern agriculture continues to follow the path it’s on now, it’s finished. The food-growing situation may seem to be in good shape today, but that’s just an illusion based on the current availability of petroleum fuels. All the wheat, corn, and other crops that are produced on big American farms may be alive and growing, but they’re not products of real nature or real agriculture. They’re manufactured rather than grown. The earth isn’t producing those things… petroleum is!
—Masanobu Fukuoka, Mother Earth News interview, 1982
The essence of Fukuoka’s method is to reproduce natural conditions as closely as possible. His four principles of natural farming are:
(1) “No Cultivation” or no plowing or turning the soil. The earth cultivates itself naturally by means of the penetration of plant roots and the activities of microorganisms, small animals and earthworms.
(2) “No Chemical Fertilizers” or prepared compost. people interfere with nature and try as they may, they cannot heal the wounds. If left to itself the soil maintains its fertility naturally in accordance with the orderly cycle of plant and animal life.
(3) “No Weeding By Tillage or Herbicides”. Weeds play a part in balancing the biological community. Weeds should be controlled, not eliminated. Straw mulch, a ground cover of white clover inter-planted with the crops and temporary flooding provide effective weed control in fields.
(4) “No Dependence On Chemicals”. From the time that weak plants developed as a result of such unnatural practices as plowing and fertilizing, disease and insect balance became a great problem in agriculture. Nature left alone is in perfect balance.
Masanobu Fukuoka’s inspiring quotes:
“Natural farming is not just for growing crops, it is for the cultivation and perfection of human
“Giving up your ego is the shortest way to unification with nature.”
The above quotes reveal the import of his own experience and conviction in natural farming as also in spirituality. The book can easily transform our attitudes and make us believe in the laws of nature.
I do believe Masanobu’s wisdom made me give up chemicals and move into organic farming one small step towards natural farming. I use natural fertilizers and an try to remain as close to natural farming as possible. In my case I gave up growing the lucrative colored bell-peppers and try growing herbs and and some local weather friendly veggies like Rucola, Leaf mustard etc. The transition period the entire business approach also needed a change. Revenues dropped drastically. New customers had to be developed. Happily today the we are back in business doing well not only in revenue and profits but also a deep sense of well being. My team is happy and healthy with no harmful toxic chemicals to handle.
A few pictures of using sheep manure in-situ in soil. There is a practice I observed local farmers use of inviting the gypsies (Dhangar community) who move from place to place with their sheep. Always on the move like gypsies all over the world do. Dhangar literary means wealthy. The way they move about in the uninhabited terrain we can never know where and how they riches safe? They are fearless but strike a hard bargain for their sheep manure and sale of sheep.
Dhangar sheep in Jugnoo Farms
The practice is to allow them to camp with their sheep on your farm where they rest their sheep for the night. They all also sleep along side in the open.
The picture shows evening time in Jugnoo Farms. The Dhangars have returned with their sheep from the days grazing.
The Dhangars prepare their meals in the morning
and soon move off for the day for grazing in the
Dhangars preparing meals for the day
close by Sahadari Hill ranges.
Sheep manure contains valuable nutrients, like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). In addition to the three major elements, manure also contains essential micro-nutrients (boron, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, sulfur and zinc. You need to either keep the sheep for one night or for two nights depending upon the intensity of manuring you decide to do. The soil is then
Sheep manure is nutrient rich
deep plowed with cattle plow to mix well and deep. My discussions with local farmers who have years of practical experience reveals that the nutrients in the sheep droppings get break and are absorbed in the soil after almost six months. Thereafter the soil need not be fertilized again for the next two years. The crops are healthy and much less prone to disease. Please read a fellow bloggers experience with Dhangars –
This process is quite cost effective too.
I hope to share more of my experience in organic farming and would welcome more suggestions from friends and visitors.