Soil rejuvenation through plants-Cultivator’s Perspective
Dr Kreni Lokho and Lohrii Adai
Contd from previous issue
According to the author observation, the fertility of the soil might be attributed to its fruits. The ripen fruits falls off and degraded, resulting in the soil fertility.
Polygonum molle and P. runcinatum: The Genus of Polygonum is considered as invasive by the community. These plants are tapped by the community for enriching top soil.
According to Adaso, Asakho, Besii and Daikho (Kaibi) plant sheds its leaves and also degraded easily. Some species grown in the terrace fields are allow to undergo retting during ploughing and helps in easy tilling during the next season. Many of the Polygonum species can be also propagated through stems. Thereby, the plants can be introduced in the barren lands or along the sides of newly constructed roads for soil enrichment.
The leaves of the plant are introduced in the wet terrace fields for retting. According to Kreni, Pfokrehrii, (Punanamei), Ashuli (Shajouba), Besii and Kaikho (Kaibi) told that the after the first ploughing the leaves are stomped down on the mud and allow retting.
After 3-5 days depending on the weather conditions, the leaves are completely degraded leaving a black sludge. It is said that the crops yield and growth of the crops is faster in such fields. They also observed that the leaves of paddy exude dark green leaves compared to the paddy without leave retting.
The common plants which are introduced in the paddy fields are Melia azedarach [CN: Chinaberry tree; LN: otu shiilashii or Chiithosii], Butea buteiformis [CN: Shrub butea; LN: Chiikho vii], Zea mays [CN: Maize; LN: Pithotho]. According to the respondents, care should be taken not to plant the paddy right before the leaves started retting because rotting of the leaves infects the roots of the paddy, leading to death. Albizia chinensis [CN: Chinese albizia; LN: Movu sii]: The leaves of the plant are also added in the wet terrace fields. Kreni and Neli said that the fresh leaves are kept near the sapling of Capsicum chinensis (King chilly) for the growth of sapling and results in more yield.
The Mao-Naga community has extensive knowledge of plants and its uses because of its agrarian occupation. According to research paper by Agrawal et. al, 2018, on the ‘Importance of biofertilizers in agriculture biotechnology’, due to ever increasing population, the demand of food supply has to be increased to 70 percent by 2050. The use of chemical fertilizers not only depletes the minerals and essential microbes but may results in lesser yield in the following years.
The respondents share similar opinion that the use of chemical fertilizers is said to harden the soil and difficult to tilled. Its hardening to see that many of these age-old traditions pass down by our forefathers are dying out and people nowadays look for alternatives which can reduce labour and energy. For example, the use of chemical weedicides and fertilizers are use extensively in many villages. The state should adopt the policy of Sikkim as a role model that phase-out the use of chemicals and certified all farmland as organic.
The implementation of bio-fertilizers will sky rocketed the demand and supply for biofertilizers. It is a known fact that organic crops have great health benefits, eco-friendly, economic benefits, increase productivity and cost effective.
The writers are from the Dept of Botany, Asufii Christian Institute, Punanamei, Mao