Organic Farmers Conference, Ganeshpuri, Sunday November 8th 2009
Keynote Speaker: Bhaskar Save
translated by Bharat Mansata, transcribed by Belinda Mclean, Gill Whitelegg and Bronwen Jameson.
Objective message – How to farm to meet the needs of all living creatures because nature has always provided for all our needs. The Agricultural Scientists should study how this has happened over the years.
Natural Farming methods rely on 6 fundamental factors to enable the efficient working of nature.
These are the Sustainability Factors:
4. Plant Kingdom
5. Insects and Micro-organisms
6. Animal Kingdom of which Man is a part.
The objective is to live happily without the worry about where the next meal is coming from. The interaction of these 6 factors creates a self-sustaining system where fertility, water purification is taken care of by nature (by the Sun). No creature has the right to pollute the water supply or the air or living organisms which are found in nature. When we work in harmony, abundance follows. The fundamental question is, if nature can take care of all creatures, it can also take care of man.
First understand what you must not do to disturb the 6 factors of life. Non-interference takes on the following principles:
1.No creature is an enemy of another.
2.In nature nothing is useless – everything has a part to play including even the weeds! You cannot expect the help of nature if you violate God given nature.
3.The yield of nature is not like manufacturing a product. In that all parts of the yield can be used. For example the bio-mass, once we’ve used the seeds and the fruit of the plant, the bio-mass can be used to regenerate the soil.
4.Man has the right to the seeds and the fruit, but this is only 10-15% of what is grown. The remaining 85-90% can be used to regenerate the fertility of the soil.
5.That which remains from the crop, the living creatures of the soil have a right to this.
6.Farming is a sacred activity, and as it is looking after our very earth, it is very different to other business. Everything you yield is profit.
Soil is living and those who practice the Jain religion are acutely conscious of this and the millions of micro-organisms that live in the soil. Every creature has a right to life, therefore that life should not be killed with pesticides or herbicides.
We advocate minimum tillage as our soil has been developing for our use since time began, and therefore should not be overworked (it was tiring to get here in the first place!).
Think about the forests, they regenerate and create good quality air and are able to defend themselves from manmade disturbances. This is an example of nature protecting itself. In the forest there are tigers and snakes as protectors but think of elephants and their large footpad designed to soften their impression on the soil. Nature defends and nature protects.
Weeds are a blessing. They can protect the soil from erosion by sun, rain and wind. Manage and control weeds, rather than destroy them. Consider weeds as mulch for the ground as the ground does not like being bald and if you eradicate weeds, like a mans bald head, the hair/plants will not grow back! Weeds will not harm, as long as they are not taller than your crops.
5 Areas of Farming Activity:
3.Water – moisture
A farmer may need to provide water but it is likely that nature will take care of all the other areas mentioned above. With organic, natural farming methods you only need 10-15% of the water needed by traditional farming methods.
Earthworms are amazing! They come to the surface 10-15 times a day to take in air and they are constantly working to aerate the soil. Earthworms consume 1.5 times their body weight every day and as they consume the mirco-organisms, they release essential minerals back into the soil such as nitrogen, magnesium etc. Through an earthworms excretions the soil is fertilised and through it’s continuous cycle of coming up to the surface for air, it draws oxygen and moisture into the soil.
Things which decompose are important for soil fertility and moisture (chemical fertiliser is a misnoma). Organic matter is not food for the soil but is food for the animals and soil-dwelling animals, and it is their excretion which nourishes the soil.
The soil needs less water than you may imagine. Moisture is critical, but not flooding or saturation or over watering.
The soil needs rocks and stones to enable aeration and to enable water penetration without blockage. You should not over water as oxygen is lost and plant growth compromised.
A plants roots extend in proportion to it’scanopy above the ground. It is recommended that water is applied where there is shade (within the canopy of the plant). It is also recommended that watering occurs towards the outer edge of this, to encourage root growth.
Of the 1.25 million insect species only 1% attack vegetation. These vegetation eating insects tend to have short life cycles, but reproduce in large numbers providing a food source for the other insects. These vegetation eating insects can cause crop damage, but they are unlikely to devastate the crop because of their short life span. Pesticides are more likely to eradicate the predator species and leave the eggs un-harmed, therefore not doing the job intended. Herbicides and pesticides are not recommended in natural farming.
Inter-planting can be a more successful way to protect crops by planting species that attract insects away from the main crop. Plants to be considered for this include Neem trees (acrid) and marigolds (renders insect infertile).
Another way to protect crops is to consider shade loving crops that will grow well in this environment when weeds will not.
Working in harmony with nature, India can produce the food it needs if it adopts organic methods because it has good conditions to do so.