FARMING PRACTICES

Biodynamic techniques enhance the organic process making them work more quickly and effectively. Biodynamic agriculture stresses on the relation of the earth and cosmic forces believing that their interaction yields healthy soil, which in turn supports healthy plants immune to harmful diseases, yielding food with life energies missing in produce obtained by conventional methods. To make maximum use of this advantageous relationship between plants growth and cosmic rhythms we follow the Biodynamic calendar, which provides details as to when exactly different practices (sowing, manuring, pruning, harvesting etc. ) should be carried out to yield optimum results. We use this calendar as our guide while planning our work schedule.

Biodynamic preparations encourage the growth of microbial life. They also provide beneficial bacteria to the soil and compost. When added to compost they help multiply these microbes even more rapidly, which in turn when added to the soil as manure enlivens the soil. These microbes break down the vegetable matter (humus already in the soil due to organic practices) and make available nutrients to the plant in their simplest readily absorbable form, which the plants can easily assimilate giving them an early healthy start and a good foundation which considerably strengthens them. Cosmic influences also come into the soil and as a result the soil is enlivened and enriched beyond compare. Also, over a period of time the water requirement of the crops has reduced by 70%.

SOIL PREPARATION

According to Sir Albert Howard (Former director of the plant industry Indore) at the very foundation of the principles of organic agriculture lies the fact that the soil is the capital, nature the guru and the forest the classroom- where all the principles of organic agriculture are perfectly demonstrated, one small example being how the forest continuously manures itself- humus formation from the decaying vegetation on the forest floor. In the field the compost added as manure does the same job. The wheel of life is made up of 2 process growth and decay- one being the counterpart of the other. Growth of crops in field yields food to animals and humans, and to speed up the growth we need decaying vegetation (compost, green manure, crop waste). As humans we have a right to only the fruit and seed of the crops, the rest should be returned to Mother Earth to maintain the natural balance of nature providing the essential humus content to the soil which is depleted due to crop production. Depleted soil fertility is restored also by adding compost. Applying good quality compost (biodynamically enriched ) , crop rotation, greening manuring are essential organic practices which provide the soil with biomass- humus which is of utmost importance for enlivening the soil and improving its structure. Organic farming believes in giving inherent strength and vitality to plants using nature's gifts. Myraids of microbes and macrobes –fungi, bacteria, earthworms, insects, birds, bees etc. are natures gifts, our untiering, never time bound, army of labourers providing the best foundation for our crops –a rich, live, well aerated, porous soil. Deep rooting of plants are encouraged by this, giving rise to stable healthy crops.

BIODYNAMIC COMPOST

MANURING

Manures used :

- Biodynamic Compost
- Vermi Compost
- Biodynamic Preparations
- Green manuring

Making of good quality compost is essential to soil fertility and this basically requires 2 types of raw materials.
1. Green – proteinaceous, rich in protein (animal manures green grass, leaves, shoots of legumesTrees (eg. Gliricidia ) etc.
2. Dry - carbonaceous, rich in carbon (shredded coconut fronds, straw, wheat husk, dried leaves etc.

 Compost is usually made in pits or in heaps above the ground, the latter being a better option, as it is easy to provide adequate aeration, which is essential for a good compost preparation. The heap should be about 5 mtrs long and 1-2 mtrs broad. The heap is started by layering the dry and green matter alternatively on a loose base framework of dried sticks to enhance aeration and prevent compaction. It is preferable to wet all the dried material before use. Start with a layer of dry matter on which a slurry of animal manure is poured, followed by green layer again topped up with slurry. A high moisture content is required for effective decomposition to take place. The nitrogen from the protein of the green material is essential for the growth of soil bacteria, which in turn works on the carbonaceous matter to provide essential nutrients to the plants. The heap should be turned regularly (once a month) ensuring that dry external layer goes inside the heap. Watering should be done through poles (bamboo sticks) poked into the heap to ensure, penetration of water and this also helps in aeration. It takes around 4 months to yield well decomposed, 'live' fertile compost. These heaps should be made in shaded places eg. under trees. Toppings of hydrated lime (calcium), rock phosphate (phosphorus), biodynamic preparations and cow manure (slurry ) provide trace elements and should be added to enrich the compost with specific essential nutrients and bacteria. Raw organic matter (cellulose) cannot be utilized by plants, it needs to be decomposed, this is what composting does. It is also important that composting should be by fermentation and not putrefaction, thus moisture and adequate aeration are essential. Addition of animal manures is proven to provide disease resistance to the crops being manured.

VERMI COMPOST

Here cow dung freshly collected should be allowed to cool. Heaps 15ft. by 2-3 ft are made by mixing this cow dung with dried vegetable matter.

BIODYNAMIC PREPARATIONS 

CPP (COW PAT PITT) – Cow dung along with crushed egg shells and granite dust is mixed thoroughly and put into 12 inch deep pits lined by bricks, as shown in the picture and fermented with preparations 502/507 to form a specialized, highly concentrated compost CPP When mature only small quantities need to be used, it is mixed with water and stirred well in the Virbella floform for at least ten minutes before use and it enhances bacterial growth. This mixture can be used as a foliar spray, to soak seeds and cuttings before sowing and planting, applied to the bark of trees to stimulate cambium growth.



2. 505 507- These are readily available and easier to buy readymade as all the components are not readily available. The details can be obtained from the publication Biodynamic Agriculture in India by Peter Proctar or by e-mail. Potassium Sulphur trace elements



Calcium, and Nitrogen

Calcium

Iron and Magnesium

Silicon

Phosphorus



3. 500- This is basically fermented cow dung and is of immense use in renewing degraded soils. It is made by filling a cow's horn with cow dung from a lactating cow. These should be buried in a pit about 16 -18 inches deep, the broad end down to prevent water logging and covered with soil enriched with good quality compost. Care should be taken to prevent weeds from growing over and should be kept cool and moist by mulching with straw or coconut fronds. The preparation will be ready in about 4 months. It will be dark in colour and sweet smelling. It should be stored in glass or ceramic jars, kept cool and moist either in coir pith, or surrounded by wet gunny bags. A liquid 25 gms. in 13 litres of water per acre is used. The solution has to be stirred for an hour using the Virbella floform cascade to incorporate cosmic forces to strengthen the solutions potency. It has to be prepared in the winter and should be sprayed late in the evening.

4. 501-Finely ground silica crystals are added to the cow dung and the above procedure is followed only in this case it has to be done in summer and stored in glass or ceramic containers in a sunny location. This preparation should be applied very early in the morning. It enhances photosynthesis and complements 500 which works in the root zone.

GREEN MANURING 

Green manures are quick growing legumes (we use mainly sun hemp) which are grown prior to cultivation and ploughed into the soil by a rotovator. Crop remains, for example, that of cotton and fennel after harvesting are also ploughed into the soil for good humus formation with high biological activity which is essential for a healthy soil.

The wheel of life is made up of 2 processes – growth and decay, one being the counterpart of the other growth of the crops in the soil provide, food to living beings. To speed up the growth of these crops and their good health dead and decaying vegetation (compost) and animal wastes are used as manure. In modern methods of farming and soil is made to pay—we plunder the soil but give nothing back to it. Only the crops are fed with chemicals to get better yields thus Mother Nature goes on strike! The result is poor soil structure and fertility which is evident in conventionally cultivated land. Organic practices redeem this disaster by giving back to the soil what is used and concentrates on soil health, rather than only crop health and yield. Maintenance of soil health is the pivot on which rests any successful permanent system of agriculture.

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