Integrated farming system with organic agriculture

Indira Sarangthem, A Herojit Singh and Nivedita Oinam
Contd from previous issue
With the increase in population our compulsion would be not only to stabilize agricultural production but to increase it further in sustainable manner. The scientists have realized that the ‘Green Revolution’ with high input use has reached a plateau and is now sustained with diminishing return of falling dividends. Thus, a natural balance needs to be maintained at all cost for existence of life and property. The obvious choice for that would be more relevant in the present era, when these agrochemicals which are produced from fossil fuel and are not renewable and are diminishing in availability. It may also cost heavily on our foreign exchange in future.
· Protecting the long term fertility of soils by maintaining organic matter levels, encouraging soil biological activity, and careful mechanical intervention
· Providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by the action of soil micro-organisms
· Nitrogen self-sufficiency through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, as well as effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures
· Weed, disease and pest control relying primarily on crop rotations, natural predators, diversity, organic manuring, resistant varieties and limited (preferably minimal) thermal, biological and chemical intervention
· The extensive management of livestock, paying full regard to their evolutionary adaptations, behavioural needs and animal welfare issues with respect to nutrition, housing, health, breeding and rearing
· Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats
Vermiculture is a very potential input for sustainable agriculture. Organic Farming I the only way to make country self-sufficient in food production and earthworms are essential components of vermicomposting. Unlike chemical fertilizers, vermicompost is economic increases productivity, water holding capacity and nutritional value of soil. Vermicompost needs lesser water, energy and inputs, unlike pesticides, to raise crops. The environment also protected. The soil, air and water that are so highly polluted because of chemical farming need our attention to go for organic farming, through earthworms.
Conversion of garbage by earthworm into compost and compost derived from recycling of organic wastes using specialized techniques of earthworm culture on a bio-organic farming concept. Vermicompost is rich in both macro and micro nutrients, microorganisms (Gavilov, 1962; Bano et al., 1987), besides acting as bio concentrator of heavy metals and toxic substances (Edward and Thompson, 1973).
First of all a 5 ft wide and 20 ft long shed made of bamboo, wire and straw is erected. It should be high enough to allow human entrance to enter for watering. Now litters of dried grass of 4" thickness are spread over it. These layers need through watering. Then it is kept as such for about 48 hours. Now some 10,000 earthworms Eisenia foetida (100worms/ft.2) are put into it. About 8" thick layer of garbage, cow dung, farm waste or city waste except pieces of glasses, metals and plastics are provided watering above it and covered with gunny cloth. It needs watering every day to remain sufficiently moist (50-60%). During summer, two watering per day are required.After 30 days, the garbage is turned up and down and again covered with gunny cloth and kept on watering for another month or so. After that a sheet of plastic is spread on the open ground and the decomposed garbage is transferred on it. It is kept open on sunny days for about 5-6 hours without watering. The earthworms are sensitive to heat, light and dry conditions, hence they will settle down inside for protection. Now the upper layer is removed. This is Vermicompost. One may use a sieve to separate earthworms from the compost. It is observed that 40% of the garbage that are fed to earthworm converted into compost and the population of earthworms is doubled. One can erect another shed and thus repeat the process further for more amount of compost. In an area of 100ft.2 where the earthworms numbering about 1000 are fed 300 kg FYM, 350 kg of garbage, there will be a recovery of at least 400 kg compost and nearly 25 to 30 thousand earthworms. The profits in terms of rupees can be calculated.
Table 1 Nutrient Content of Different Types of Compost (%)
1. VERMICOMPOST2. JAPANESE METHOD3. EM TECHNOLOGY 35.3025.8123.19 1.400.830.81 1.431.281.62
Table 2 Chemical properties of vermicompost and FYM
Particulars Vermicompost (Eisenia foetida) FYM
pHOC (%)Free CaCO3(%)C:N ratioTotal N (%)Total P (%)Total K (%)Fe (mg kg-1)Zn (mg kg-1)Mn (mg kg-1)Cu (mg kg-1) 7.735.310.525.21.400.171.4317.819.224.67.6
Integration of various agricultural enterprises viz., cropping, animal husbandry, fishery, forestry etc. have great potentialities in the agricultural economy. These enterprises not only supplement the income of the farmers but also help in increasing the family labour employment. Crop residue in conjunction with chemical fertilizers gives highest yield and high nutrient uptake and good residual effect which not only improves productivity but also improves the status of the soil. Use of organic source increase crop yield, replace chemical N, P and K, stimulate plant growth and activate soil biologically and restore natural fertility and provides protection against drought and some soil borne diseases. Vermicompost needs lesser water, energy and inputs, unlike pesticides, to raise crops. The environment also protected. The soil, air and water that are so highly polluted because of chemical farming need our attention to go for organic farming, through earthworms.
The writers are from  College of Agriculture, CAU, Imphal, Manipur.
For further details contact: - Public Relations & Media Management Cell, CAU, Imphal. Email: [email protected]