“Farming is not a job, it’s a way of living”
Introduction of Natural Farming
If you have ever been to the forest, you must have seen wild mango, tamarind, gooseberry, Jamun, jackfruit, and other trees bearing unordinary fruits in summers. These trees never miss the blooming and fruiting season, and they create a huge amount of fruits year after year. These are summer delights for all the wild creatures, feathered creatures, creepy crawlies and there’s ample left for everyone. Ever pondered who looks after these trees? Who gives the dosage of fertilizers? Who keeps them secure from bothers and infections? Who irrigates the lands? And who keeps up these plants? The only answer to all these questions is Natural Farming.
What is Natural Farming?
Natural farming is a biological cultivating approach set up by Masanobu Fukuoka (1913–2008), a Japanese agriculturist and logician, presented in his 1975 book The One-Straw Revolution.
Natural farming is a framework where the laws of nature are applied to agricultural practices. This method works along with the natural biodiversity of each cultivated zone, encouraging the complexity of living life forms, both plants, and creatures that shape each particular ecosystem to flourish along with nourishment plants.
Advantages of Natural Farming
- Physical work and labor can be reduced when compared to other agricultural systems.
- The yield of natural farming is similar to chemical agriculture.
- Soil fertility increases year after year.
- Minimization of water requirements.
Disadvantages of Natural Farming
- Harvesting has become more much difficult.
- The production cost is comparatively higher.
Similarities between natural farming and organic farming
- Natural and organic both are chemical-free and more or less poison-free cultivating methods.
- Both systems discourage ranchers from utilizing any chemical fertilizers, pesticides on plants, and in all agricultural practices.
- Both farming strategies empower ranchers to utilize local breeds of seeds, and local varieties of vegetables, grains, pulses, and other crops.
- Organic and natural farming strategies promote nonchemical and homemade pest control strategies.
Key Differences between Natural and Organic Farming
- Inorganic cultivating, organic fertilizers, and excrements like compost, vermicompost, cow waste manure, etc. are utilized and added to farmlands from outside sources. In natural farming, neither chemical nor natural fertilizers are included in the soil. In truth, no external fertilizers are added to soil or give to plants.
- In natural farming, the decomposition of natural matter by organisms and worms is empowered right on the soil surface itself, which slowly adds nourishment within the soil, over the period.
- Organic farming still requires basic agro practices like plowing, tilting, blending of excrements, weeding, etc. to be performed. In natural farming there no plowing, no tilting of soil and no fertilizers, and no weeding is done just the way it would be in natural environments.
- Organic farming is still costly due to the requirement of bulk fertilizers, and it has a biological effect on surrounding environments; whereas, natural farming is an extremely low-cost cultivating strategy, totally molding with local biodiversity.
Features of Zero Budget Natural Farming
There are numerous working models of natural cultivating all over the world, the Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is the foremost prevalent model in India. This comprehensive, normal, and spiritual cultivating system is created by Padma Shri Subhash Palekar.
- Commercial level farming
Commercial level farming can be done in nearly zero budget only by utilizing locally accessible and farm-based resources. According to ZBNF standards, plants get 98% of their supply of supplements from the air, water, and daylight. And the remaining 2% can be fulfilled by great quality soil with plenty of friendly microorganisms. (Just like in timberlands and natural systems).
- Soil Microclimate
The soil is always supposed to be covered with organic mulch which will create humus and empowers the growth of friendly micro-organisms.
- Desi cow
The system requires cow fertilizer and cow pee obtained from Indian breed cow only. Desi cow is clearly the purest as far as the microbial substance of cow waste, and pee goes.
A cultivate made bio-culture named ‘Jeevamrutha’ is added to the soil rather than any fertilizers to improve the microflora of soil. Jeevamrutha is inferred from exceptionally little cow waste and cow pee of desi cow breed.
- Natural, farm-made pesticides like Dashparni ark and Neem Astra are utilized to control bugs and diseases.
- Weeds are considered essential and utilized as living or dead mulch layer.
- In ZBNF, multi-cropping is empowered over a single crop method.
The Indian States step-up towards Natural Farming Adoption
A push from the Centre
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been talking about the need to diminish chemical fertilizers and the promotion of organic and natural cultivating at different gatherings, including the United Nations convention. Union finance as well as agriculture minister have also been talking about the advancement of natural cultivating at various events. NITI Aayog has been suggesting states to adopt Natural Farming.
States coming Forward
States such as Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, and Kerala are advancing natural cultivating. Andhra Pradesh is the frontrunner among all states in implementing the natural farming program at a mass scale. According to the Andhra Pradesh government, as of March 2020, 0.62 million ranchers (10.5 percent of all agriculturists) were selected within the program. Of the enlisted ranchers, 0.44 million agriculturists (7.5 percent), we’re actually practicing natural cultivating on an area of 0.45 million acres, which works out to 2.9 percent of the net sown area spread over 3,011-gram panchayats.
Karnataka recently started the implementation of zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) on a pilot basis in 2,000 hectares in each of the 10 agro-climatic zones of the state. Only a few agriculturists have been doing it at an individual scale in other states.