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Frequently asked questions on Natural Farming !!!

Debate Natural Farming, Organic farming and Chemical farming in CWF Whatsapp group.

Promoters: Surendranath, Naveen Bhatti, Sujatha Gullapalli, Sokkalingam, Naresh Rayikanti, Harish Babu
Prosecutors: Ravisankar Tekuru, Appayya Ramarao, Sivakumar Reddy, Bharath Chandra

What is natural farming?

Natural farming: Using locally available resources as inputs and not purchasing inputs from outside for farming is Natural farming ... Masanobu Fukuoka of Japan is famous worldwide for Natural farming with his book " The one straw revolution " .... but there are persons in several countries including our country who have been practising their own methods ... they may not have got noticed ... Zero Budget Natural Farming ( ZBNF) is one of the methods in Natural Farming. ZBNF name is coined and implemented by Sri. Subhash Palekar... ZBNF is designed as per present financial, ecological conditions of our country for sustainable agriculture.

What is organic farming?

Organic farming is a general term ( we can observe worldwide ) to refer a farming procedure which is free from using chemicals .... but there is no restriction on usage of Bio fertilisers, biopesticides, manufactured inputs, heavy types of equipment... any seed like the hybrid, GM seed can be used in farming ... It is organic because there used no chemicals.

Is it easy to manage fertility, pests, weeds in the Natural way? 

Pests control in the Natural way is possible in ZBNF by choosing the good distance between plants, by using indigenous seeds, by using Gobaanam, Neemaastram and other Astras, by intercropping, by maintaining barrier plants and trees... weeds can be controlled by mulching , by manually removing and in some crops weeds can be ignored .Fertility of soil in ZBNF can be maintained by applying Liquid Jevamrutam once in a fortnight, by mulching, by applying Ghana jivamrutam , by intercropping.

Is Natural/Organic food is more expensive to produce?

Not expensive to produce. Farmers may be charging more because of fewer yields in initial years. it is fair if a farmer expects extra income for a good quality produces. but it is not fair to sell products at an abnormal rate. A family can survive with 2 acres of Natural farming provided all family members involves in farming and processing work.

What are the financial factors to be considered? 

Natural farming is a good option to indirect and direct farmers (dependant farmers ) but many have lost faith on earth and its resources ... because of the mindset created on chemical fertilizers for their high yield.... they need to rely on Natural Farming. Dependant farmers practice only if they get good yield and income.Indirect farmers (whose livelihood do not depend on farming income) can also choose Natural farming for its sustainability and for production of best quality food/crops.

Is Natural / Organic food safe for you?

Food produced in Natural farming is safe... But food produced in organic farming with hybrid and GM seeds is inferior to that one produced with Indigenous seeds (in terms of nutritional values, Ecological balance).

How natural farming is different than organic farming? 

In Natural farming, inputs are prepared by the farmer himself/ herself. Organic farming it is not compulsory. Both are chemical free. 
Desi seed is must in Natural Farming. Any seed ok in organic farming. No GM seeds in Natural Farming. No restrictions on GM seeds in organic farming. In natural farming, yield produce is bit low in the beginning but the quality and taste good. Yield depends upon soil condition. As soil quality improves yield will be more. Yield completely depends on involvement by the farmer. Nothing can do for calamities disasters. But in Natural farming, crops can withstand to some extent against calamities and can tolerate drought. 

Recent past people are more into chemical farming. If neighbours use chemicals, same will reach naturally maintained farm via air and water etc. How to tackle this?

It may spread through air or water. May not be possible to control completely. The quantity of chemicals that accumulates in crops varies with the source of generation. May spread less through the air. And will be more by direct spraying. There are limits in terms of PPM for to asses. In nature, most of the chemicals do neutralize after mixing with soil but it takes time. Can be controlled to some extent by growing barrier crops or trees. Can be controlled completely by converting neighbour farmer into Natural farming, For example, my paddy field I will pass my neighbour field water to outside through a small channel parallel to the boundary...Border crops like sorghum will plant to minimize. Growing tall crops on the border are one good way. However, even if we build concrete walls, rainwater percolating into the earth (mixed with chemicals) and reaching the aquifers. Later the same water pulled hack through bore well into your farm. Cannot be stopped! May happen, but quantity is less than direct spraying. Here farmer not doing deliberately anything but have to take preventive measures. So we can't attest it as 100% natural. Available methods as of now are testing pesticide residues and chemical residues. Spreading through the air may be a trace when compared with direct spraying or drowning.  But there are no testing procedures in Natural Farming. Considering the labour scarcity, diminishing interest in farming, it is tough to convert everyone into natural until/ demand reaches 58% & more Almost nil are following. Many following hybrids, wherein they use most of the natural techniques, only a few people are following in practice. please consider the period 2010 to 2020 as awareness years for Natural Farming. Indigenous seeds are almost extinct. it may take 2 to 3 years to multiply seeds in number. 

Please name Crops that used for border crops, live fencing, perennial crops, and plants prevent soil erosion? 

Agave is good for the fence in arid area and bamboos for the temperate climate. There are short variety bamboos too; in case neighbours oppose planting trees one can use it as border crop.

How do you control grubs & termites naturally?
They're one big headache in sugarcane farm. They affect severe and
For Sugarcane, Maintain a distance of 9 feet in columns and sow intercrops like turmeric.

How can we sustain when we switch to natural farming? 

Plan for 3 to 4 crops does not sow the single crop. Decrease cost of inputs. Make arrangements to save rainwater. Do not go for more than 5 acres as a beginner. You need to plan rainwater harvesting first. Depending on water availability plan to sow crops. Some plants require more some less water. 25% land should be covered by Orchards. For paddy, Azolla can be used as intercrop. If not possible plan for border crops. Ex: For 3 acres, Plan.Grains like rice, millets in 2 acres, pulses in 0.5 acres, vegetables in 0.5 acres. Plan crops as per seasons. Once we gain experience can go for commercial crops. 

What are the machines, to purchase in initial time entering into natural farming? 

No investment in the purchase of equipment. Use local manpower; provide them facilities like food and transportation charges. Work with them.

We have already mango orchards on my land, How to convert into natural farming with multiple crops in that land? 

In mango orchard, one can grow shade-loving plants like ginger, turmeric, and asparagus. You can grow millets and vegetables. 

How we can reduce labour? 

Consider agriculture as an employment to labour. Productivity can be increased by involving in labour work. initially, do not go for big area cultivation.

How can we do farming with minimum water? Especially in dry areas. 

Saving rainwater and mulching with naturally available resources and choosing crops which demands less water like sesame, Natural cotton, millets etc. Direct sunlight should not touch the soil. If you cover with dry mulch or live mulch...Water evaporation also minimal no need to give water frequently to plants. As per natural farming experts, 1kg of dry mulch will absorb 61tr of water molecules from the air.

What are the early harvest crops list and high demand in the market? 

Rice, millets, Natural cotton, pulses, vegetables, fruits are always in demand. Fruits and vegetables are perishable.. grains have shelf period. 

For mulching, what are the main materials to use? 

Any biodegradable substance can be used. Dry grass, bagasse, dry leaves. maintaining creepers, leafy vegetables, etc. 

Which crops are grown under the shadow? And which crops are growing in high sunlight?

Rice, millets, sugarcane, cotton flax seed can tolerate sunlight.... flowers; aromatic plants like basil can be grown in shade 

After how many years farm will he fertile in natural farming? If it’s 3 or more years how a poor farmer can sustain these days? 

A farmer who involves in labour work and planning of farming will not be in the loss in Natural Farming. But after 3 years the extent of labour work for liquid manures(microbes) application, watering of land will decrease. Through ethical farming with a strong consumer network, he can sell for better prices.The poor farmer should grow foods for his family. Rather than producing for the market and bringing money and in turn buy other stuff. First, his inputs are reduced. So his load his reduced. 

Many ladies are serving slow poison to their family in the form of food. What went wrong in chemical farming? 

The ladies may be unaware or ignore or may be out of reach with best one. Chemical farming went wrong, Firstly Investment by a farmer in chemical farming is big while productivity is going down.  Secondly, pollution of soil, water and air due to high usage of chemicals and pesticides. Thirdly, effects on the health of farmers and consumers. None of the manufacturer, farmer or scientists knew about the consequences of chemicals. Only after research, it came to know and now the situation is dangerous and out of control.

Green revolution tried to increase the crop yields with GMO seeds...With minimum pesticides, fertilizers at starting but today how the situation we know.

I claim that Diabetes came due to polished rice not with chemically grown rice; does anyone die by eating chemically grown produce in this group? Scientists claim that the problem is with the usage of pesticides only not with fertilizers.

The primary reason for diabetes is the imbalance between food intake and work done by the body. the second reason is having food after sunset. Studies say pesticide residues are causing cancer, not diabetes. 

Will natural farmers sell their produce or is it destined for self-consumption? What exactly natural methods saying? Its sounds confusing whether designed for self-consumption or marketing 

They are free to sell for income generation. Natural farmers consume their produce and sell.One has to grow for consumption only then he can plan for income otherwise they are in trouble 

1. Rural income must remain in rural areas 

2. Urban income should reach rural areas 

3. Must be able to gain foreign income by exporting good quality food and grains or crops. 

Wi11 you guarantee that all natural products is 'pesticide free?' 

No, it's not we can call and promote it saying ethical farm produce else farmer has left with no choice in the transition phase. It’s up to our neighbours depending on what kind of farming they do. 

Organic farming has certification, what about natural/arming? Farmers saying no need for any certificate, Consumers asking to show certificate. How to solve this problem? 
There is no system of certification in Natural Farming. Some people go for certification for market opportunities. Natural farming primarily is a lifestyle (to generate food for livelihood, to contribute to biodiversity, to get the satisfaction of being a producer of the good crop). Still whoever giving certificates they exactly don't know what us natural farming and it's important. No option for natural farming in certificate application. Is certified organic farmer doing only with organic inputs? Some of the consultants providing certifications without proper checks. It comes when selling a product. It is right for the consumer to query on the product. and its responsibility of farmer to show evidence. the best way is to invite the consumer to the field. It’s all govt. Play again with farmers. I saw the paperwork for certification, of course, we well educated can understand the terms and conditions of certification. Ordinary farmers can't maintain that. He involves in his farm work full time. How can these people expect all those formalities of registration in English? Bridge the gap by asking more questions about their practices and taking them to farm tour. It is consumer responsibility also. It motivates the farmer to do best practices. 

Green revolution concentrated on large production, natural/organic farming concentrated on ecological conservation leaving large production. Is it possible to achieve both? 

There won’t arise such a scarcity of food. A person needs 200g rice/millets, 40 g pulses, 200g vegetables, 100g fruits and 100g other crops a day. Now multiply it by 120 cores. Can’t we produce? Such a qty. The green revolution is primarily for investments and business in the mechanical industry.

Organic farming causes global warming. Explain, please.

Relatively applying more cattle dung, vermicompost, Bio fertilisers. Chemical fertilizer companies have entered the market in the name of bio fertilisers. 

Mulching is important in natural farming. How to get materials for mulching? 

Through growing fodder and green manure crops, initially grass or bagasse or fodder after crop harvest. Till our trees stabilize. We can use previous crop residue. There's stone mulching also in the arid region.Go for legume plantation which acts as the live mulch. We can grow mulching material also on our farms like velvet beans, gliricidia. If you plant trees and creepers around your field like gliricidia can cut them and use. The first year they may face difficulty.

How to withstand' financial & up to that tune? 

That is why start with less area after getting some experience from his mistakes we will be perfect. Grow multiple crops, seasonal crops. 

Don't creepers(live mulch) creep on the main crop and reduce its growth by preventing sunlight for photosynthesis? 

In such a case they can be trimmed. Or Suppose if we make to climb velvet bean on trees like palm etc. We can cut and use it as mulch.

But, doesn't/ t become laborious to sow legumes and isn't it difficult to harvest? 

All he has to do is plough them back if you go for green mulch with legume nitrogen fixation too 

Why compost is not a good thing to follow in natural methods?
Because Humus is created outside, not in the farm. Compost preparation is cumbersome. Instead of that put those as dry mulch.

Can plants survive without humus? Can't they give best yields without humus? Can humus survive without water? 

The plant may survive without humus. humus retards water demand and gives good yield ... plants can tolerate drought.Yes. We are thinking that plant drinks water. But it's not like that. If humus is created even during dry season we can get nonstop yield. Moisture needs to be maintained thoroughly else the bacterial will go down drastically. Humus in the soil itself increases the water holding capacity, the excess will be filtered to aquifers depending on the soil and land. Humus is a broken down plant material as found in pristine forest floors. It forms continuously due to leaf litter decomposing naturally over hundreds of years. To introduce humus in agricultural lands one has to mix agricultural and horticultural practices. Humus will survive as long as there is covering on it ( mulching). Humus in 1 cubic feet can absorb 6 litres of water in a day.

if humus is present, can waphasa (water vapour) possible? 

it takes longer to get humus created. Waphasa is water evaporation in dry cracks. Both are beneficial to crop. What to follow from both? 
Humus in the soil itself increases the water holding capacity, the excess will be filtered to aquifers depending on the soil and land. Wapsa is not water evaporation. It's water entering the ground outside the plant shadow. Thereby the roots stretch to reach for water. Also, the air in the underground is intact. Thereby Wapsa correct ratio of water and air underground. Absorption of water is the property of humus and it is available to plant roots in humid form (vapour and air).Humus in the soil itself increases the water holding capacity, the excess will be filtered to aquifers depending on the soil and land. Cracking and waphasa are not same. Cracking is nature of black, wet sticky soil when becoming dry. A soil rich in humus will not crack even in summer. Humus created because of Waphasa. Humus layer will make the top layer of the field soft and spongy Where ever mulch in good quantity is formed, humus will be a gift. Continuous maintenance of humus is the key point in Natural Farming. 

3 types of mulching are 

Dry mulching, 

Live mulching, 

Soil mulching. 

But does soil mulching means to till the topmost layer of soil up to the depth of 2 to 3 inches? Or to get red soil from outside and cover land up to the height of one to two feet? 

For orchards l feet is also works great, edible crops 6 inches is ideal. Soil from the farm itself. we can make trenches for saving rainwater. the removed soil from trench / or soil from border can be used as 1-inch thick mulch. Silt from water tanks/ponds. 

I heard microbes will regenerate continuously in their lifetime unless touched by chemical or any other harmful organic pesticide. jeevamrith is to regenerate crores and crores of helpful microbes naturally. But after 2 weeks, why and how a population of microbes in Jeevamrut reduce? 
The soil is a place which they can make habitat & multiply when teamed with others. Due to depletion of nutrients in Jivamrut tank, and accumulation microbial excreta or dissolved Carbon dioxide. 

May I know which plants absorb more moisture and which absorb least? 

Those plants which grow in a desert will retain more water like the cactus... aloe vera saves water in the form of a gel. 

What if a farmer can’t afford to maintain cow? What are the solutions for him from zero budget farming? 

Barter dung for some labour in other farm or invite a farmer to leave cows for grazing on your land. Need not maintain a cow. but can collect it from others in a village, can exchange or give a part of his crop for cow dung and urine ( if not like to purchase anything). They need just 10 kg of cow dung and 10L of cow urine per acre for every 15 days. Can be borrowed from anyone in a village. farmers have become smart and they have started selling cow urine! Let them do until cow’s number increase. There need 4 cows for every person for sustainable life. Need to buy or exchange a product or rear a cow. 

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