Yes, I am convinced. Natural farming works. It only works if you observe and mimic the way nature works. Have you ever added fertilizer, pesticide or tilling to the forest? As far as I know its a big “No”. Still, forest bears fruits that are of high quality. Much tastier than the ones in your chemical farm. I do not do anything, still, nature works at its best then why don’t you follow it rather than altering.
I know most of you do not believe in the process of “Natural farming”. Let me give you certain facts which are true and you can trust them easily. Have you ever visited the forest? (Even though this is a weird question, I felt to ask. Because the present generation has very few lefts to see.) Go to a forest, observe minutely the trees in the forest. List down what is the difference between the trees in the forest and your farm.
I know most of you do not believe in the process of “Natural farming”.
Let me give you my observations to prove Forest is the live example for Natural farming and it is working at its best. If you do not agree with the below-listed observations, you are happy to leave a comment below.
- Forest is not a monoculture cultivation land. Each tree is of different species. You don’t find trees alone, there are a lot of plants that will help each other a symbiotic relationship can be seen. A typical 5 layered greenery – Top canopy trees, Mid-sized trees, Shrubs, climbers and creepers which are spread in the ground.
- Sunlight hardly reaches the ground – so there is zero chance for the weeds to grow.
- The forest floor is completely covered and there is no vacant space. The cover is either green mulching or dry leaves from the tree.
- You can easily dig the soil using your hands – soil will be loose and moist. Typical chemical farm soil is hard and dry.
- Water retention is higher – Because of natural mulching, the micro-climate is created which results in humus creation. Humus retains water from the atmosphere. This the reason Forest doesn’t require watering.
- There is no tilling, no artificial pesticides or fertilizers. No one works day in day out in the forest.
- It’s a complete ecosystem. There is so much life even in 1 sq meter of land.
Now answer me, have you tasted any fruit that is grown in the wild? How good is it? It may not look fluffy or good shaped. But it tastes definitely better than farm(chemically) grown. Obviously, it is healthier too. So my point is if you haven’t fed anything to the forest or not worked on the forest yet it gives the best results. Why are we not following the natural farming practice?
Mulching improves soil moisture content and helps to grow microorganisms.
Whatever a plant required to produce is already available near the root zone. Our forest is the best example we can follow. Why do we align to add chemical fertilizer? We do a basic soil test and find out any nutrient deficiency. We are advised to add Chemical fertilizers appropriately. But I do not see any nutrient deficiency in the forest. So what are we missing here? Initially, even our farm’s soil is full of nutrients, but we have made it unhealthy gradually.
How did we spoil the soil?
Usually, the soil is rich in nutrients. The top healthy soil is rich in nutrients and made up of humus. But most of our lands are eroded and are nutrient deficient.
How will this happen? One of the reasons is monoculture cultivation. When you grow the same plants(vegetables or trees) season after season. It will pull all the nutrients away. Farming is not only taking(consuming) it is also giving back. When you practice unethical farming practices, you will face this deficiency.
If you never mulch the topsoil is exposed to sunlight. This leads to the growth of weeds and also water evaporation. What will you do when you see weeds on your farm? Do you use the most powerful “Roundup”? Man if you ever used it once, then you are doomed. Do not ever add poison to your food, you are killing people slowly. Try mulching, the growth of weeds will be reduced by 90%. Also, the amount of water to be given will be reduced by 80%. A micro-climate is created when mulching is done. It keeps temperature optimum around the roots, even under high temperatures. This micro-climate brings back a lot of life forms like useful insects which will help in pest control.
The conversion of the atmospheric nitrogen to the usable form of ammonia is called as Nitrogen fixation.
Using chemical fertilizers also depreciates soil health. Why don’t we stop using them? We never know the science behind nature. We will end up adding more fertilizer that a plant is required. By doing so, you mess-up nitrogen and carbon cycle.
Practices to improve soil health
Heavy Tiller machines are not good for farms, These affect the useful insects and worms which are inside the soil. The weight of the machine alone is enough to crush the insects/worms inside the soil and even closing the earthworm burrows. Earthworm burrows are the ones that help majorly in the irrigation process. The pores are small enough to hold water by capillary forces. If tillers or tractors or any kind of heavy machines are introduced into the farm, the weight of the machine will crush the burrows.
The capillary force irrigation is most useful during the drought situation. Capillary force makes the groundwater to come up so that the plants get enough water to survive. While the other problem is bringing up the subsoil to the surface. The subsoil has the whole ecosystem of microorganisms which help in nitrogen fixation and other activities.
The Tilling process will bring up everything and get killed due to harsh sunlight. If you still want to go ahead with tilling then go with a lightweight small tiller.
Ground cover is an important aspect to consider. Even in forest ground cover happens naturally. Let it be naturally grown green ground cover or be it a dried cover due to falls leaves and branches. Mulching improves soil moisture content and helps to grow microorganisms.
Mulching also controls the weeds population. If you won’t allow sunlight to fall on the ground, then you can control the growth of any weed. Mulching also increases organic matter in the soil. If you land always do mulching. Mulching with the combination of straw from a monocot plant and dicot plant will have a balance on nitrogen and carbon components.
3. Nitrogen Fixers
As everyone knows the natural nitrogen fixers are legume plants. Growing a few legume plants all over the land will successfully fix the issue with ammonia deficiency. In the atmosphere, nitrogen is found as N2. N2 is not in a usable format, most plants can’t use it in the form of N2. Every plant needs nitrogen, but it should in the form of NH3 which is ammonia. The conversion of this atmospheric nitrogen to the usable form of ammonia is called Nitrogen fixation.
Legumes have the ability to form a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria (rhizobia). Rhizobia are usually present in the root nodules. So its good practice to have legume plants, legumes fix atmospheric nitrogen gas to ammonia. This will bring down economical cost and have a sustainable impact on nature.
I will conclude with a positive note. I am following Natural farming at my farm for the past 4 years. Natural farming is not a myth, it works. Being a responsible farmer I should follow the principles of not poisoning the food. I do not want to feed others poison. Let us make this world a better place to live.