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9/1/2015

CreatingahealthylivingsoiltofeedmillionswithsafefoodAgriCulturesNetwork

Creatingahealthylivingsoiltofeedmillions
withsafefood
WrittenbyDeepakSuchde,OmPRupela
ByusinganinnovativecompostcalledAmrutMitti,manyfarmersarebringinglifebacktotheir
soils.Byenrichingtheiragriculturalfieldswithsoilorganicmatterwithoutexternalchemical
inputs,thesefarmersareproducinghighlydiversenutrientrichfoodbyharnessinglocalandnatural
resources.
LEISAIndia|17.1|March2015
Soilisahugestorehouseofalltheplantnutrients(atleast30)neededforbalancedgrowthofa
plant.Butmuchoftheirconcentrationisinboundformandonlyasmallfractionisinavailableor
watersolubleformthatgetstakenawaybytheplants.Humanediblepartsareremovedfor
consumptionandwefurthergiveawayotherplantpartstoanimalsasfodderorburnitafter
harvesting,ifitisnotedible.Butifthesameinedibleplantresiduesarefedbacktothesoil,andthe
soilhumusisbuiltandmaintained,thesoilcanrejuvenateitselftotakecareofhermillionsofmicro
organisms,macrofaunaandotherlifeforms(SoilLifeorJeevTatva).
TheaddedplantbiomassisthefoodfortheJeevTatvawhichworksdayindayoutandconverts
boundformofnutrientstoplantavailableform.Amug(usedwidelyinIndiafortakingbath)of
undisturbedhealthyforestsoilmaycontain2000crorebacteria,20croreprotozoa,1lakhmeter
fungi,1lakhnematodesand50thousandsarthropods(centipedes,milipedes,insectsandspiders).It
isbelievedthatthehumusintheformofmoistureretainedbythehealthysoil,isthesecondbig
reservoirofnaturalwateraftertheoceans.Ifquantityofthishumusisreduced,thesoilthenneeds
alltheexternalinputs,includingwaterforplantgrowthandthus,thesustainabilitycycleoffarming
startsbreakingdown.

Box1:Natuecomethod
TheNatuecoSciencewasconceivedbylateProf.SripadA.DabholkarandthewordNatuecois
bornfromacombinationoftwowords:NaturalandEcological!Natuecomethodoffarmingis
infactacultureoffarmingbasedonobserving,understandingandcollaboratingwithNature
throughcriticalscientificmethods,tostrengthentheproduceandtheecologyofafarm.Itaddresses
typicalissuesinfarminglikehowtoworkinsynergywithNaturewithoutburdeningit,howto
reducedependencyonexternalinputstoafarm,howtoworkscientificallyandwithinthelocal
resourcesavailableinthesurroundingsofafarm,howtofarmwithoutharmingitsecologyand,at
thesametime,gainthehighestbenefitsfromit.ThefeaturesofNatuecoculturedistinguishitfrom
otherformsofOrganicFarming.
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Natuecofarming
Natuecofarmingisamethodofholisticfarmingtomeettheneedsoffarmingandfoodtoday.Its
goalistomaximizecarbonorbiomassandnotnecessarilymaximizeeconomicgaininthenarrow
sense.Itisalsoaboutmaximizingoutputwithminimuminputinenergyterms.
ThefundamentalbeliefsysteminNatuecoconceptisthatitisascienceoflifeandlifeisallabout
energy.Natuecoisnotaboutfarminganddefinitelynotaboutfarmingforproductionand
distribution.Itisalifestyle(SeeBox1).
AmrutMittiisthekeyingredientoftheNatuecofarming.AlsocalledasNurserySoil,Masala
MittiorLivingSoil,AmrutMittiisaformofcompostwhichformsthebasisoftheNatueco
processofbuildingfertilesoil.WhileNaturetakescenturiestoproducefertilesoil,afarmercan
createthissoilinhisownfarmintheformofAmrutMittiinlessthanfivemonths(SeeBox2).Itis
theprocessofacceleratingthecreationoftopsoilinnature,throughpositivehumaninvolvementto
reducenaturestimecycles.AmrutMittihasallthequalitiesofatypicalfertilesoilpresenceof
livingorganisms,adequatemoistureandaeration.

Box2:PreparationofAmrutMitti
PreparationofAMRUTJAL:Mix10litresofwater,1litreofcowurine,1kgoffreshcowdung
and50gramsofjaggery.Keepthissolutionfor3days.Stirthissolutiontwiceorthriceeachday
stir12timeseach,clockwiseandanticlockwise,oneachoccasion.Onthe4thday,the
concentratedsolutionisready.Mixonepartofthisconcentratedsolutionwithtenpartsofwater.

PreparationofAmrutMitti:Collectionofgreenanddryplantbiomass.Botharedriedtillit
reachesastageofbeingeasilycrushedandthewaxycoatingonveinsoftheleavesisbroken.
ImmersethedriedbiomassasmuchaspossibleinAMRUTJALinacontainerlikestructure.Itis
keptfor24hoursinthiscondition.

PreparationofBeds.(Dimension10ftinlength,3ftinbreadth,1ftinheight)Formfirstlayer
ofthesoakedbiomassbyspreadingitontheselectedarea.Sprinkleathinlayeroftopsoiloverit.
Repeattheaboveprocedurebyalternatingthelayers,pressingthemdownwardstightlybygently
walkingordancingovertheheapuntilaheightofOne(1)ft.isreached.Aftertheheapisready,
keepitmulchedwithplantbiomassandallowittocompost.

Firstcompostingforthirtydays.Oneveryseventhdaymixtheheap.Ensuremulchingafter
everymixing.SprinklewithAmrutJalfromtimetotimetomaintainthemoistureandthe
microbialactivity.Afteraboutthirtydayswhichdependsonleaftypeandweatherconditions,it
getscomposted.

Assembledifferentvarietiesofseedsonthebasisofdifferenttastesthattheplantsoffersuchas
sweetsaunf,carrot,sourtamarind,tomato,ambadi,pungentchilli,astringentgowar,salty
spinach,rajgara,bitterkarela,methi,etc.(Note:Soakthecollectedseedsofdifferentplantspecies
inAmrutJalfor8hoursbeforesowing.Mulchwithplantbiomass.SprinkleAmrutjaloccasionally
formaintainingthemoistureintheheapandenhancingthemicrobialactivity.Continuefor21
daysaftersproutingoftheseeds).

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Firstpruningafter21daysupto25%oftheseedlingtoensurecollectionoftendershoots.

Secondpruningonthe42nddayPrunethesaplingsupto25%toensurecollectionofmatured
plants.

Thirdpruningonthe63rddayatthefloweringstage.Prunetheentireplantleavingapprox.half
inch(1/2)ofthestemabovegroundwithoutdisturbingtheroots.Keepthecuttingsfordryingfor
34days.Afterfullydriedcrush/break/twistforbetterabsorptionandimmerseitinAmrutJalfor8
hours.Mixintotheheap.Keeptheheapmulchedwithplantbiomassandallowtocompost.

Secondcomposting.TheheapresultingfromGreeninghastobekeptfor30daysforcomposting.
Everyseventhdaytill(mix)theheap.Ensuremulchingaftermixing.SprinklewithAmrutJalfrom
timetotimetomaintainthemoistureoftheheapandmicrobialactivity.After30days,nutrient
richlivingsoil,AmrutMittiisfinallyready.KeeptheAmrutmittimulchedwithplantbiomass.

Addmagictouch.[YourMagicTouch(PositiveAttitude&Gratitude)=PositiveEnergyinAmrut
Mitti].
AMRUTMITTIisnowreadyforuse
ThekeycharacteristicsofthisNatuecoFarmingtechnologyofgrowingcropsare(a)plantsare
grownonsmallheapsofAmrutMitticoveredwithmulch,hencenoploughing,(b)theheapsare
alwayskeptmoist(wateringwithrosecansattherateof1000Lwaterperdayper10Gunta),(c)
needbasedsowingandharvestingofcropsoverallitlookslikeaconstructedforest,(d)doesnot
needanyexternalinputintermsoftheagrochemicalslikefertilisers,insecticides,pesticidesetc.(e)
weedsareallowedtogrowuntilfloweringandareseenasaresource,(f)highdiversityonasmall
pieceoflandover125cropspecieswithamixofannualsandperennialson10Gunta,(g)trenches
aroundthefarmforrainwaterharvestingand(h)livefencingaroundeachfarmcreatedformultiple
purposes.

Box3:SomenotableexamplesofNatuecofarming
Farmer/Farm

Cropyields
Rice(40q/acre,withoutfloodingthefield!)
Arunachalam,Coimbatore,Tamilnadu
Banana(45kg/plant)
Wheat(30q/acre),
DeepakSuchde,Bajwada,MP
Tomato(120tons/acre)
Potatoes(40tons/acre)
Dr.Katariya,Jamnagar,Gujarat
Groundnut(24q/acre)
SureshDesai,Bedkihal,Karnataka
Sugarcane(100tons/acre)
BhaskarbhaiSave,Umbergaon,Gujarat
Coconut(400fruits/tree/yronmaturity)
VasudevKathe,Nasik,Maharashtra
Grape(16tons/acre)
JitubhaiKutmutiya,Malegaon,Maharashtra Papaya(180kg/tree/annum)

Thetrialandthespread
In2005,thetenGuntha(oneacreis40Guntha)experimentwascarriedoutontwofarmsYusuf
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MeherallyCentre(YMC)inPanveldistrictofMaharashtra,andinKrushiTeerthfarminvillage
Bajwada,DewasdistrictinMadhyaPradeshfrom2006onwards.Itwasstronglybelievedthatby
usingNatuecofarmingmethods,10Gunthalandisenoughfornotonlyfeedingafamilyoffour,but
alsoprovidingotheritemsoflivelihoodthroughsellingtheexcessproduce.
Thehighproductivityofcropsonthesefarms,thoughonasmallpieceoflandinspiredmany
farmersacrossthecountrytoadoptNatuecomethods.Natuecofarmingisbeingfollowedbymany
farmerswithdiversebackgroundsinvariouspartsofIndia(SeeBox3).Interestedfarmerslearnthe
NatuecoMethodbyparticipatingintrainingsandworkshops,whichareregularlyconductedat
KrushiTeerthinBajwada,fromtimetotime.
Itmaybenotedthatthismethoddoesnotrequireanycultivation(notractor,nobullockdrawn
implementsandthereforeismostrelevanttosmallholderfarmers.Also,applicationofAmrutMitti
isaonceinlifetimeoperationforagivenfield,providedgoodagriculturalpracticessuchassurface
mulch,recyclingofcropresidues,multitierfarminginvolvingtreesarefollowed.Productivityover
timehasbeennotedtoimproveandnotreduce.

Someresults,someimpacts
AmrutMitticontainsnumberofmicroandmacrofauna.Itsuseforhighproductivitywithout
agrochemicalsshouldbeviewedasuseofstarterformakingcurdfrommilk.Itsusealongwith
surfacemulchcreatesconduciveenvironmentforregenerationofsoillifeindicatedabove.And
together,functioningasasoilfoodwebresultsinaslowreleasesystemofallthedifferent
nutrientsneededforplantgrowth.AmrutMittihasbeenanalysedinmanylaboratoriesandthe
resultsweresurprising.Forexample,thetestsdoneatICRISAT(O.P.Rupelaunpublished)revealed
thattheOrganicCarbon(OC)inthesoilbelowtheplantedheapsofthisfarmwas2.61%,atleast3
timesmorethanthereferencesoil(fromuncultivatedneighbouringplot).
Forthepresenceofmicronutrientsintheavailableform,inNatuecosoilthefollowingwasnoticed:
Boron8times,Sulphur2.64times,Iron1.5timesandZn7.3timesmorethanthereferencesoil.In
additiontotheseelements,MicrobialbiomassC,MicrobialbiomassNandDehydrogenasewere
presentinmuchmorequantitiesindicatingthepresenceoflotofmicroorganismsintheNatueco
soil.Somesamplesofthiscomposthadupto100million(10crore)plantgrowthpromoting
bacteria(siderophoreproducers)ineverygramofthecomposthighestevermeasuredinthe
ICRISATlab,inanycompost.ThestudyalsoindicatedthatbyusingAmrutMittiinheapmethod,
boundformofnutrientswereconvertedintosolubleformplausiblyduetothesoillife.
TheproductivityofcropsperunitareaisalsohighwhereAmrutMittiisbeingused.(SeeBox3).
Highyieldsaregenerallynotedfromtheveryfirstyearofoperation,unlikeinotherformsof
organicfarmingwherepeoplegenerallyreportyieldreductioninyear1andthenincreaseafter3
years.IthasbeensuccessfullyshownforseveralyearsthatproductivityusingAmrutMittiishigh.
ThevegetablesgrownonAmrutMittihavehighnutritionalvalue.Whenanalysed,itwasfoundthat
bottlegourdfromaNatuecofarmhad5timesmoreproteinand20%morecalciumascomparedto
marketsample,besidesthepresenceofMagnesiumandIron.Surprisinglytheanalysisrevealedthe
presenceofVitaminB12,whichisnormallymanufacturedbyanimalsandmicroorganismsinsoil
andnotbyvegetables/trees.Presenceofthisvitamininbottlegourdisperhapsduetoitsabsorption
fromahealthysoil.Thisisinstarkcontrastwiththereducingnutritionlevelsinconventionally
grownvegetables.Accordingtoareport,TheHealingPowerofMineralsbyPaulBergner,the
amountofIronpresentinspinachin1914was64mg/100gmwhichreduceddrasticallyto
2.70mg/100gmin1992.
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Conclusion
Toaddresstheissuesoffoodsecurity,
nutritionandpoverty,thereisaneedto
increasefoodproductionwithoutcausing
harmtohealthofconsumersandthatofthe
environment.Designingagroecosystems
mimickingthestructureandfunctioningof
naturalecosystemsisnecessarytohave
sustainablehighyields.AmrutMittiisoneof
thewaystoachievethisgoalwhileprovidinga
dignifiedlifetothefarmer.
Plantsafter21daysofgermination
AmrutMittiandNatuecofarminghavean
untappedpotentialtoelevatethepresent
economicandsocialstatusofourfarmers,particularlyofthesmallholderfarmers.Italsohasan
immenseanduntappedpotentialforthescientificcommunitytostudy,assimilateandevaluatethe
agroecosystembasedfarmingsystemssuchasNatuecosystem.Policiesthatsupportfarmerswho
shiftfromconventionalfarmingtoecologicalfarmingwillgoalongwayinfoodsecurityof
millionsandimprovingthehealthofthenation.
DeepakSuchdeandOmP.Rupela
DeepakSuchde
Natuecolifestylefarmer
MalpaniTrust,VillageBajwada,Post.Nemawar455339Khategaon,DistrictDewas,Madhya
Pradesh
Email:deepaksuchde@gmail.com
OmPRupela
FormerScientist,ICRISAT
120,PhaseI,Saket,Kapra,PO:ECILHyderabad,500062,India
Email:oprupela@gmail.com

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