The basis of Natural farming is limiting human intervention and leaving nature to work. An environmentally sustainable way of growing food. Natural farming was first coined by “Masanobu Fukuoka” in his book “The One-Straw Revolution”. He describes it as ” the natural way of farming” or “do-nothing farming”. He summarizes it as avoidance of equipment usage or reducing human intervention in farming. By using agricultural machinery it will affect the soil and crops in spite of helping them.
Me being from India, I follow Sri Subhash Palekar Ji. He is the main crusader for Zero budget Natural farming throughout India. He is awarded India’s fourth-highest civilian award the Padma Shri in 2016. I have followed most of his principles in my farm and few I have customized to suit my farm. Will be addressing Sri Subhash Palekar Ji as Guruji going forward.
What is Natural farming according to Guruji?
Natural farming is the farming of the spiritual soul. This farming is the continuous process of changing yourself inside and outside simultaneously towards unity with God. Natural farming doesn’t involve any man-made inputs like machinery, fertilizers or pesticides. All the essentials for the plants to grow are supplied by only nature.
Natural farming is more of self-sustained farming, nothing should be brought into the farm. Guruji asks all the farmers not to bring anything from outside the farm, everything should be available or prepared inside the farm. If the present agricultural methods respect the soil and enhance its power, then our food will always be rich in energy and it will be good for health. Human beings can thrive only by living in harmony with Nature.
We can’t reap the benefits from the land continuously without giving anything back.
India has suffered a lot during the Green revolution. The Green Revolution in India refers to the period when agriculture in India changed to an industrial system due to the adoption of modern methods like tractors, fertilizers, pesticides, and high yielding seeds. Excessive and inappropriate use of fertilizers and pesticides has polluted waterways, killed beneficial insects. Rapid depletion of go nutrients in the soil. Loss of biodiversity as heavy dependence on mono-crops.
India is mostly made of small-scale farmers. Most of the farmers own 1 to 2 acres of land. Their major income will come from a farm. Farmers who have followed chemical farming are affected most. They have lost both the soil quality and in debt of huge loans. A lot of farmer suicides are due to chemical farming in India. Not only the farmers are dying, even the people who consume the chemically treated food are also affected by a lot of diseases like cancer, diabetes.
Guruji principles on farming
Most of the conventional(Green revolution in India) farming practices are done to improve the farm production by tilling, weeding, pesticide and fertilizers. Basically, you need to avoid all of the above, just allow Nature to work on your farm. There is a symbiotic relation to all insects and plants. Guruji explains:
- The cost of the production of the main crop should be compensated by the income of inter-crops. The main crop income will be a bonus.
- Nothing should be purchased from the market(outside of the farm).
- Inputs to your farm should be produced inside the farm.
- Inputs that we use for the crop should be Eco-friendly. Should not affect/ destroy the environment.
- No need to till the field
- Farm biodiversity – Bugs and weeds are not enemies
- Symbiotic farm
The above principles can be implemented on any farm and in part of the world. There is no set of rules to be followed. All we have to do is observe nature and mimic it. There are certain questions like does Natural farming work? , how to control pests and how to get a good yield. Yes, there are natural ways to cure and increase the yield. When I recommend Natural farming, I am not forcing you to follow the above principles.
Any farm will take its own time to get used to Natural Farming. Nothing works immediately, farming requires time. I will update in the later posts “How I converted a barren land to Natural farm?” and also ” How I made my farm Chemical-free by following Natural farming?”.
Whatever agricultural practice you follow, it should sustainable. The farming which will sustain the natural resource will only bring back hope for the survival of our future generations. What are the natural resources that we should be sensitive about? The soil, water, air, and microorganisms. Whatever farming practices you are following, if it’s affecting any of the above natural resources then you are going against nature.
Let me share with you a story, which we take for granted most of the time. One day a young girl goes to a farm in search of Mango. When the shell pulls one of the green mangoes, she felt its quite hard. But she wanted to taste it at any cost. She beaks the green mango in half and tastes it. She experiences the sour taste and she doesn’t like it. She will be disappointed and heads back home. She will narrate this story to her father. Father being a wise man, tells her you should leave these mangoes for other few days and taste it once its ripen.
After 20 days she will go to the same tree, now the Mangoes color is changed. The Mangoes are a yellowish red color, she pulls one down. Now she tastes the mango it is sweet. She feels so happy and returns home. Next father will ask about her experience. The young girl tells me when she tasted the green mango it was sour, but the ripen mango is sweet, I am not getting this.
Father tells in a whispering voice “ My dear girl it is called Nature and whatever existing around us is the truth.” The story gives us a beautiful message that “Whatever around us is nature and that is the truth”. We should use whatever available in Nature to do farming, whatever human-made or artificially created things are against Nature and it’s not the truth. We should avoid the unethical process of farming practices.
A Relationship with the Land
First, we need to understand, we can’t reap the benefits from the land continuously without giving anything back. In chemical farming we are providing the nutrients in the form of Fertilizers but is it really helping a plant to grow and improve the soil? Not always. We never know what quantity of fertilizer is consumed by the plant.
Too much chemical deposits on the soil will change the soil composition, which will result in less yield. In order to increase the yield again, fertilizers are added. This type of chemical farming is not good for the soil nor for health. Agricultural scientists think they know everything about soil and crops, which is not true.
The science behind farming is far more complicated. The true researchers like Masanobu Fukuoka and Sri Subhash Palekar have left to Nature to take its course. They were initially chemical farmers and faced the same problems as the present farmers. Low yield, depreciation of soil quality and huge investment. That is the reason they started to mimic nature.
Actual physical work and labor have actually been seen to reduce by up to 80% compared to other agricultural systems.
Natural farming is being practiced around the world thousands of years ago in human history. Sustainable Natural farming was successful, yet we chose chemical farming for our greed to increase the yield and income. Yes initially it worked, but we kept on exploiting the land which resulted in the opposite.
What are the advantages of Natural Farming?
Natural farming has lots of advantages:
- Actual physical work and labor have been reduced by up to 80% compared to other agricultural systems.
- Improves soil quality
- Humus is created
- Water retention is improved. So it saves 60 to 80 percent of water
- Micro-climate around the plants
- Beneficial insects are attracted
Natural Farming is also called as spiritual farming. Only farmers who have practiced Natural farming will have an idea why its called spiritual. It is the way of life. One will not just think about the yield of the crop. His thoughts are beyond that as his farm is an invitation to bio-diversity and also a symbiotic relationship created between plants and animals. He will be connected to nature and thinks inclusive to all creatures. Eventually, he will have good health, will provide good health for society and finally growing his relationship with Nature