This manual (third edition) in Hindi developed by Rajinder Chaudhary on natural farming, also known as organic, zero budget or alternative farming, is an attempt to spread awareness among Indian farmers about the above sustainable agriculture methods.
Conventional agricultural practices with an undue emphasis on the intensive use of water, chemical fertilisers and high investments have led many farmers into a debt trap.
Natural farming is presented as the solution to the burning problems of farmers in the context of the crisis facing Indian agriculture because of rising input costs, uncertain yields and output prices, spurious seeds/ fertilizers/ pesticides/ herbicides and damage to the environment due to unsustainable farming practices.
The thrust of the manual is on discussing the inputs from natural materials and on how to heal the soil slashed by chemicals, herbicides and machines. It presents how an ecology that recovered the natural balance will drop in the pests and disease occurrence. The report highlights cases with yields similar to those of chemical agriculture. The techniques for preventing soil erosion, holding moisture, propagating micro-organisms, producing organic fertilizer, improving soil ventilation and suppressing the pests are discussed.
Experiences of some farmers who have adopted natural farming methods particularly in Punjab are also chronicled. The author has visited these farms and held discussions with experts on the subject to arrive at the following -
- An essential aspect of natural farming is to let nature play a dominant role to the maximum extent possible.
- Unlike other agricultural practices, this method of farming does away with the use of pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, agricultural machinery and other external inputs.
- No tilling is practised along with the use of natural fertilizers, soil improvers, pest controllers and disease cure methods - all made by the farmers themselves using only natural materials such as earthworms, microorganisms and small animals.
- Natural farming inputs substitute Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, Calcium and all other elements that would be commonly given in the form of chemical fertilizer.
The report takes into account the recent developments in science to fine-tune its methods particularly related to seed treatment. The initial drawback of the natural farming method being labour intensive also diminishes with time.
Download the third edition of the manual here: