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The indiscriminate use of synthetic agrochemicals during the green revolution era has been
giving adverse effects during recent times through deteriorating soil productivity and soil
health, contaminated water, food and air. A sequel of problems, related to the excessive use
of chemicals is being witnessed throughout India and agriculture has become an
unsustainable enterprise. The cost of synthetic agro-inputs is on the rise without significant
increase on yield which has led to farmer suicides and indebtedness.

In the view of above there is a need for sustainability in agriculture with a farming system
approach wherein all the inputs are produced within the farm, diversity in crops and animals,
on-farm seed production, adopting crop rotation, not restricting to field crops alone but
planting fruit and shade trees and perennial herbs. It is also important to have animal
husbandry as an integral component of the farming system. India with varied climates and a
variety of soils has an enormous potential for the production of different agricultural and
horticultural crops organically. The wide product base, high volume of production round the
year, strategic geographic location, abundant sunlight and availability of labour at
comparatively low cost makes it an appropriate region for organic farming.

The training manual has been prepared to facilitate the farmers in converting their farm from
conventional practices to organic farming system. It will also help those farmers who are
practicing organic agriculture to improvise their existing practices and provides many options
for the same. Different chapters provide practical details on the efficient utilization of local
resources which is crucial in order to maximize the use of farm’s internal resources and
reduce the purchase of off-farm inputs to bare minimum. Farming practices like mulching,
green manuring, inter cropping, crop rotation, pest and disease management, animal
husbandry, seed management and no cost inputs are integral component of the system.
Organic matter conservation is an essential component, techniques like production of good
quality compost, animal and green manures are important in the conversion plan for
incorporating organic matter into the soil.

                             2.     Seed and Seed Treatment

Ever since organized crop husbandry came into existence, seed has been the lifeline and
source of sustenance. Quality of the seed is very important to obtain good germination and
optimum plant density. To produce quality seeds, production techniques and appropriate seed
management methods are very important.

2.1 Seed production and management methods

1) Seed Production site
Selection of a suitable site is very important for raising seed crop for better seed setting,
controlling pest and diseases and enhancing seed production. Generally, coastal areas with
high temperature and relative humidity are not suitable for seed production. Site selection is
an important preventive or prophylactic measure in seed production.

2) Selection of the season
Seed production is highly successful in areas of moderate rainfall and humidity. Warm dry
climate is suitable for the production of disease free seed.

3) Presowing Mangement
The heterogeneous seed material has to be made in to homogenous by removing the
dicoloured, shriveled, immature, diseased, insect and fungal damaged and mechanically
damaged seeds. Appropriate sieves can be used to grade the seeds.

4) Nutrient management
Organic nutrient management involves application of good quality compost, bio-fertilizers,
biodynamic preparations, liquid manures as foliar sprays. All measures towards maintaining
the soil fertility and productivity should be undertaken. The details of composting and
methods of nutrient management are mentioned in Chapter 3.

5) Pest management
Appropriate pest management practices have to be adopted to maintain healthy plants.
Besides spray of botanicals, close watch of the crop and removal of the affected plants in
bunds and surroundings can reduce the insect infestation. The details of the pest management
are mentioned in Chapter 4.

2.2 Seed treatment
Seed treatment is an important activity and has many benefits. Seeds are treated,
   -   to prevent the spread of soil borne and storage pathogens which cause plant diseases
   -   for seed hardening against drought and some shocks
   -   to improve germination
   -   to prevent the attack of soil borne insects on the sown seeds

References on seed treatment are found in the ancient Indian almanacs. It is mentioned in
Chanakya’s Arthashastra (2.24.24)

Kand bijanam chhedlepo madhudhruten
Kandanam Asthibijanam shakudalepah

(If the seed is in the form of setts (like sugarcane) plaster it with honey and ghee (clarified
butter). It it is in bulb form or with a hard cover, plaster it with cow dung)

2.2.1 Seed treatment techniques

1) Seed Pelleting
It is a technique of seed treatment with leaf powders of Albizzia, amara, Pongamia pinnata,
Vitex negundo, Prosopis juliflora etc. The seeds are first treated with 200-300 ml rice gruel
or any locally available sticky materials like jaggery solution per kilogram of seed and then

rolled on any of the above leaf powders @ 200-300 gm/kg seed weight. The growth
promoting substances in these leaf powders stimulate the germination of seeds.

2) Seed fortification
The seeds are soaked in water or placed in between blotters for 6-24 hours and drying under
shade. Such seeds when sown improve the germination, vigour, plant establishment and
yield. Placing the seeds in wet gunny cloth for 24 hours is a simple method of seed

3) Seed Hardening
It is a process of soaking the seeds in water for 2-24 hrs till the commencement of radicle
takes place. During this process the cells gets hydrated and the germination is initiated
thereby enhances the mitochondrial activity leading to the formation of high energy
compounds and vital bio molecules. The imbibed seeds are dried in shade initially and then
sun-dried to original moisture condition to halt the triggered germination. When such seeds
are sown reimbibition begins and the germination event continues from where it stopped
previously. As a consequence, there will be multitude of benefits, which make the plants
prepared to resist the adverse weather, if any. Beneficial effects of seed hardening are,

    -   rapid germination and accelerated growth rate of seedling
    -   hardened plants recover much more quickly from wilting than those of untreated
    -   induces resistance to salinity and drought conditions
    -   seeds withstand higher temperature for prolonged period without loss of viability
    -   flowering is accelerated in treated seeds
    -   early emergence enables seedling to compete more effectively with weeds
    -   hardened seeds perform better and result in more yield

   Steps in seed hardening

                                             Dry Seed

                                      Soaking in water for 2-
                                         24hr at 15-25oC

                                       Shade drying (0-24 hr)

                                       Sun drying (1-2 days) to
                                       bring back to its original
                                           moisture content

                                             Hardened seed

4) Seed treatment techniques popular amongst farmers
a) Treating seeds with cow urine diluted 10 times with water for 15 minutes. It facilitates
   germination and prevent seed borne diseases.

b) Soaking paddy in milk and water in a ratio of 1:5 for half an hour prevents yellowing of
   leaves and leaf spot diseases.

c) Dipping vegetable seeds in a solution of ash (2 spoonfuls) in one litre of water for 15-30
    minutes prevent rot at the seedling stage.

d) Hot water treatment. It is a simple method to control seed borne pathogens in seeds which
    are stored for a long period. Water is boiled to 55oC .The seeds are dipped in hot water
    for 10-15 minutes.

5) Seed treatment with biofertilizers
a) Azospirillum and Azotobacter
        These are nan-symbiotic and free living nitrogen fixing organisms. They fix 20-30 kg
N/ha. They also produce growth promoting substances like indole acetic acid, gibberellins,
cytokines and vitamins. Addition to this they also produce antifungal substances.
Azospirillum and Azotobacter @ 2Kg per 100 kg seed is recommended. They improve the
root system thereby increasing the uptake of nutrients. They can be used in crops like rice,
sugarcane, cotton, sorghum, maize, barley and vegetables like tomato, brinjal, cauliflower,
cabbage etc.

b) Rhizobium
It is used in leguminous crops and they fix atmospheric nitrogen symbiotically. Rhizobium
strains are specific to the crop. It is very important that the inoculants should be used only to
the recommended crop.

c) P-solubilizers

Phosphorus is an important plant nutrient which is not readily available as it is fixed in the

soil. Some heterotrophic bacteria like, Pseudomonas spp. and Bacillus spp. have the ability

to solubilize inorganic phosphorus from insoluble sources by secreting organic acids. These

microorganisms can be used for all crops and can solubilize 20-30% of insoluble phosphate

in the soil.

Methodology of seed treatment

i)     Prepare Jaggery solution 5% and mixed properly (boil 50 gm of jaggery in 1 liter
       of water). Cool the solution
ii)    The solution after cooling is sprinkled over the seeds and mixed properly.
iii)   One kg. of biofertilizer is spread over 1 kg seeds and mixed till a uniform coating
       is formed over the seeds.
iv)    The treated seeds are dried in shade and then used for sowing.

                                   Seed production of vegetables

                              2.     Organic plant Nutrition

Organic farmer should practice appropriate soil management techniques to maintain high
humus content in the soil. Mulching, green manures, cover crops, composting, biodynamic
preparations are some of the tools which can aid in enhancing the organic matter in the soil.

3.1 Role of organic matter in soil
- acts as storehouse of nutrients
- improves soil structure
- enhances the soil exchange capacity
- increases the infiltration of water and prevents hard pan formation
- acts as a buffer during rapid changes in soil alkalinity, acidity and salinity

3.2 Mulching

Mulching is a method of covering the soil with a thin layer of biomass. For mulching, leaves,
bark, nut shells, weeds, grasses, wood chips, silage, paper, pine and conifer needles,
paddy/wheat straw, rice husk, coir dust, saw dust, banana and sugarcane leaf trashes etc.
which are available in the region can be used.

       The benefits of mulching are to prevent the loss of water by evaporation and
transpiration, keep down weeds due to soil solarization, dampen temperature fluctuations,
increase soil moisture storage and facilitate uniform distribution of moisture in the soil
horizon. It reduces the runoff and soil losses, prevents crusting and soil compaction, reduces
blowing and beating action of water and wind. Mulches modify the micro-climate, alter the
environment of soil microbes, enhance soil flora and fauna activity, modify soil moisture
regimes and properties associated with it and soil temperature in the root zone, improves
rooting environment and soil productivity. Water use efficiency can be doubled with
mulching, frequency and intensity of irrigation can be reduced drastically.

       For mulching one hectare area of any agricultural crop about 4-5 tons of the biomass
is required. In most of the agricultural crops, mulches are applied uniformly after the first
weeding which generally occurs after 2-3 weeks of sowing/transplanting.

       Mulching is also very useful in horticultural crops as it reduces the water requirement
by reducing the evapo-transpiration. In most of the perennial crops like cashew, coffee, cocoa
the fallen leaves of the same plant can be used as a mulch.


3.3 Green Manures

Green manuring is a practice of ploughing or turning into soil undecomposed green plant
material for the purpose of improving physical structure as well as the fertility of the soil. It
increases the availability of plant nutrients that contribute to the yield of the crop. The
microbial activities are enhances as the fresh organic material acts as the nutrient source for
the diverse soil flora and fauna. The structure of heavy, light and sandy soil is considerably
improved and unproductive lands can be converted into fertile ones with green manuring. In
hilly areas, green manuring prevents soil erosion on sloppy lands by providing very good soil
cover. Table 1 provides details of green manure crops.

        Green manure crops are quick growing legumes and grasses that are ploughed into
the field, mulched on the top of soil and used as composting material. Amongst the green
manure crops sunhemp and daincha are outstanding in biomass production. It is essential that
there should be sufficient moisture in the soil when the green manure crops are ploughed into
the soil to facilitate the microbial activity.

        Farmers with small holdings and who cannot afford to lose a season for the
cultivation of green manure crops can undertake green leaf manuring. It is a process wherein
the green leaves, tender green twigs collected from shrubs and trees grown on bunds, waste
lands and nearby forest are turned into the soil. The common shrubs and trees used are
glyricidia (Glyricidia maculata), Karanj (Pongamia pinnata) subabool (Leucania
leucocephalla) etc. which are available in the region.

               Mulching and green manuring in combination in a tea garden

Table 1. Potentials of green manure crops

Green manure crops        Sowing       Seed rate     Biomass       N
                          time          (kg/ha)    production   (kg/ha)
Berseem                   Oct - Dec    80-100      20-22        67-70
Trifolium alexandrium
Black gram                June-July    20-22       08-10        38-48
Vigna mungo
Cluster bean              April-July   20-22       10-12        40-49
Cyamopsis tetragonaloba
Cowpea                    April-July   45-55       15-18        74-88
Vigna anguiculata
Dhaincha                  April-July   80-100      20-25        84-105
Sesbania aculeata
Green gram                June-July    30-40       20-25        68-85
Vigna radiata
Horse gram                June-July    25-30       26-30        120-135
Dolichos biflorus
Pea                       Oct - Dec    10-12       8-10         26-33
Pisum sativum
Sunhemp                   April-July   80-100      15-25        60-100
Crotolaria juncea

3.4 Biofertilizers
Biofertilizers are the preparation containing efficient strain of nitrogen fixing, phosphate
solubilizing or cellullitic micro-organism used for inoculating seed or soil with the object to
accelerate microbial processes to enhance availability of nutrients in the assimilable form.
They are widely used in organic farming and some of the biofertilizers commonly used are
furnished below.

3.4.1 Bacterial Biofertilizers

i)    Rhizobium
Rhizobium inoculants help in establishing efficient symbiotic association with pulses and
leguminous fodder crops and can fix 50-100 kg N/ha and also leave sizeable amount of
nitrogen to the succeeding crop in rotation. These inoculants are specific for each leguminous
crop which are referred as cross inoculation groups. Therefore the inoculants should be used
only for the recommended crop.

Table 2. Cross inoculation groups of Rhizobium

 Rhizobium species         Crop groups        Legume types

 R.leguminosarum           Pea group          Pisum sp., Vicia sp., Lens sp.
 R.phaseoli                Bean group         Phaseolus sp.
 R.trifoli                 Clover group       Trifolium sp.
 R.meliloti                Alfalfa group      Melilotus sp., Medicago sp,, Trigonella sp.
 R.lupini                  Lupini group       Lupinus sp., Ornithopus sp.,
 R.japonicum               Soyabean group     Glycine sp.,
 Rhizobium sp.             Cowpea group       Vigna sp., Arachis sp.,

These inoculants are available in the form of charcoal based cultures in 200 gms, 500 gms
and 1kg packages. The cost of these inoculants range from Rs.50 to Rs.150/kg.

ii) Azospirillum

Azospirillum a free living nitrogen fixer and occurs in association with roots of almost all
plants of agricultural importance and can fix 20-40 kg N/ha.. The crops which respond well
to Azospirllum cultures are bajra, barley, oats, sorghum, millets like finger millet, Italian
millet, kodo millet, barn yard millet, forage grasses and fodder crops. It is advocated as a
seed treatment.

iii) Azotobacter

Azotobacter inoculants are popular in India because it can be applied to a number of non-
leguminous crops and promotes seed germination and initial vigour of plants due to growth
substances produced by organisms. It also suppresses the growth of some saprophytic and
pathogenic microorganisms near the root system of crop plants and fixes 20-40 kg N/ha.

iv) Phosphate solubilizing bacteria (Phosphobacteria)

Phosphorus is one of the important plant nutrients and is found in an unavailable form in soil.
The introduction of phosphobacteria in the seed or soil increases the availability of
phosphorus from the insoluble sources of phosphate in soil. Several soil bacteria, particularly
those belonging to Bacillus polymyxa, Pseudomonas striata and fungi belonging to the
genus Penicillium sp. and Aspergillus sp possess the ability to transform the insoluble P to
soluble forms by secreting organic acids. Phosphate solubilizing microorganisms are
recommended for all crops and can solubilize 20-30% of insoluble phosphate in the soil.

Table. 3 Method of Application of biofertilizers

                             1 kg of biofertilizer in 1 litre of rice gruel or 5%
 Seed Treatment              jaggery solution and mix the seeds (required for 1 acre)
                             for 30 minutes.

                             1 kg of biofertilizer in 50 litres of water and dip roots
 Seedling dip                for 30 minutes before planting.

                             5 kg of biofertilizer mixed with 100 kg farm yard
 Soil application            manure (FYM) and spread in 1 acre.

The above recommendations are of the commercial products of biofertilizers available. The
cost of 1 kg of biofertilizer ranges from Rs.150-250/-

3.4.2 Blue green Algae (BGA)

BGA contribute substantially to the fertility of the soil specially under tropical rice field
conditions. In addition to contributing up to 30kg N/ha/season, these algae benefit the crop
plants through excreting part of biologically fixed nitrogen and secreting growth promoting
substances like vitamins and amino acids, add appreciable amount of organic matter into the
soil, solubilize insoluble phosphate and improve the physical and chemical nature of the soil.
The BGA strains used in India are Anabena spp., Nostoc spp., Aulosira spp and Tolypothrix

Method of preparation
The algal inoculum can be prepared by the farmers at their fields by using rural oriented low
cost production technology without any appreciable investment.

Trough method
i) Prepare a shallow tray (2mt x 1mt x 20 cm) of galvanized iron sheet or cement or
 polythene lined pit on ground. The size can be increased if more material is to be produced.

ii) Spread 5-6 kg of sieved field soil which is free from any organic material. Fill the trays
  with water upto 5-10 cm and mix well with the help of long handle brush so that a uniform
   layer of soil is formed at the bottom. Spread 300-400 gms of rock phosphate

iii) Sprinkle the starter culture of algae on the surface of the standing water, keeping trays in
   the open air and completely exposed to sun.

iv) In hot summer months, the growth of the algae will be rapid and in about 7-10 days a
   thick algal mat will be formed at the surface of water. The water level is maintained at
    5-7 cm by adding water intermittently, when the growth of algae becomes very thick
   watering has to be stopped.

v) Allow the water to evaporate completely in the sun and dry algae cracks into flakes. The
   dry algal flakes can be stored in the polythene bag and used in the fields when required.

vi) Fill the trough with water and add very small amount of the dry algal flakes as inoculum
   without adding fresh soil. After 10-15 days harvest the algal mat and repeat the process
   by adding fresh soil and other required material as stated earlier.

Field application of BGA

Broadcast 10-12 kg of soil based algal biofertilizer per hectare after 3-4 days of transplanting
of rice seedlings in standing water. It should be ensured that the water level should be
maintained for 7-10 days after inoculation. The cost of BGA ranges from Rs.50 to Rs.100/kg
of dry flakes.

3.5 Composting

Composting is an excellent method for improving the fertility and productivity of small
holdings of marginal and small farmers. It converts all kinds of wastes into nutrient rich
humus. Composting is a good option for the farmers to make better use of wastes and refuse
present at the farm as well as improve the fertility of their land with a no cost input.

It is a process where in larger particles are broken down into smaller ones by the action of
soil micro and macro fauna. The end product is friable humus like mass called as compost.
Different methods of composting like aerobic, anaerobic and semi-aerobic and
vermicomposting are followed. Amongst the different approaches for managing wastes,
composting is best suited and can be easily adopted.

3.51 Sources of Organic Biomass for composting

The following biomass is easily available and can be efficiently used for composting:

   1. Crop Residues: Wastes comprising stalks, thrash, leaves of cereals, pulses and

   2. Tree Wastes: Leaf Litter

   3. Aquatic Wastes: Water Hyacinth

   4. Green Manures: Dhaincha, Sunhemp, Cluster Beans, Sesbania etc.

   5. Livestock Wastes: Cattle and shed wastes comprising cow dung and urine.

3.5.2 Different Methods of Composting

              Aerobic composting,
              Vermicomposting
              Biodynamic composting

3.5.3 Aerobic Composting

1. Selection of the Site

The most important criteria for selecting the site of composting are as follows
           (a) The kind of materials to be used.
           (b) Collection and transportation of the material.
           (c) Sources of water supply.
           (d) Transportation of the finished compost to the field.
           (e) Distance of the field from the site of composting.

The heap should be located with the long side at right angles to the direction of the prevailing
wind and use the existing wind breaks (buildings, trees) as shelter to prevent drying of
composting materials. The shade helps in preserving the moisture. Also there should be
enough space for the turning of the compost heap.

2. Choice of structure
Basically there are two structures in which wastes can be decomposed. Mainly composting is
done in a heap or a pit. Any one of these can be used. However, when the weather is dry, a
pit is preferred to prevent the drying of the composting materials. The pits should not be
deeper than 60 cm, a depth more than this will hamper the aeration.

   In humid regions pit may be filled with water during rainy season, therefore heap should
be preferred. The height of the heap should be 150 cm.

3. Preparation of the material
Although many materials can be used directly, some may need pre-treatment before adding
to heap, as given below

   (a)   Too wet material containing high moisture (eg. Fresh green plants) should be
          allowed to wither a little.
   (b)    Rough and coarse materials such as stalks of maize, cotton, millets etc. must be
         broken or chopped before use. The ideal length is around 5 cm. These materials can
         be broken by spreading them over the cattle shed, it will also help in collecting
         urine and dung properly. Plants like water hyacinth and Ipomea sp. can be used as
         these decompose fast.
   (c)   Woody materials such as sugarcane trash, tree bark and saw dust should be made
          moist before adding to the heap, preferably soak them in water several days.

4. Construction of the heap
The dimensions of the heap are width 2m, height 1m and the length depends on the quantity
of the material. At the base of the heap a lattice of old branches or brush wood should be laid
as this would provide aeration and prevent water logging. On the top of it alternate layers of
different types of plant materials and dung are laid which have high C: N ratio. The layers
should be less than 10 cm for plant material and less than 2 cm for the manures. Also little
soil should also be added in the heap in between. Layers should be watered if material is very
dry. When the heap reaches the desired height ventilation holes are made by pushing pointed
wooden poles vertically intro the heap about 1 m apart. When the heap is finished it can be
covered with soil mud or straw. The ventilation poles can be removed on the second day.
After 4-5 days these holes should be plastered to prevent the loss of heat and moisture.

5. Turning the heap

The heap is turned so that the material from the edges where the temperature is lower is
moved to the centre where it is warm, while centre of heap does not suffer from overheating.
All the materials in the heap should be exposed to the heat in order to kill germs, weed seeds,
insects speed up the decomposition.

   Turning also improves aeration of the heap. The first turning should be done after 2-3
weeks of heaping, when temperature has started to drop after reaching a peak. The heap can
be turned again after three weeks of first turning. If the heap is prepared properly, not made
compactly, holes are made and proper ratio, of residues having different C: N ratio, is
maintained. Only one turning of the heap is enough.

6. Maturing of compost

The time required for the heap to mature and become good compost, depends on the local
climatic conditions and the materials used. If the weather is warm, the heap is moist, well
aerated and good combination of materials is used for building the heap, the compost is ready
in three months time. In colder or dryer conditions and dominance of materials with high C:
N ratio, heap usually takes 6 months to ripe. When the compost is ripe the material is
converted from dark brown to grey colour, gives an earthy smell and is coarse. The volume
of the mature heap is reduced to half of the original.

                                     Aerobic composting
3.5.4 Vermicomposting

       Vermicomposting is the method of converting wastes into compost by use of
earthworms. The compost produced is superior to other composts; the time required is also
less depending upon on the number of earthworms. In other words about 4-5 kg of wastes
can be composted by 1000 worms (approximately 1 kg) in a day. The commonly used
earthworms like Eudrillus sp. Perionyx sp., Eisenia sp. or any locally available surface
feeding (epigeic) earthworms can be collected from the nearby soil and then used in
vermicomposting. The method of composting is as follows,

   1. Basal Sand Layer
       The first layer at the base is of sand as it helps in drainage of excess water and also
       prevents the movement of worms into deeper layers of soil.

   2. Dung Layer
       On the top of the sand a layer of one month old dung is laid. This layer is
       approximately 3-5 cm. thick.

   3. Waste Layer
       On the top of this dung layer all the biodegradable wastes are put and the tank is filled
       upto the brim with the same waste.

   4. Soil Layer
       The wastes are covered with a thin layer of soil. This is approximately 1 cm thick.

   5. Dung Layer
       Above the soil layer mature dung is uniformly spread which forms the top layer in the

        In simple words, the wastes are sandwiched by two layers of mature dung. The
contents are moistened with water (at 40-50% moisture level) for 7 days to pre-decompose
the contents. After pre-decomposition worms are introduced (1000 worms approximately 1
kg for 100-150 kg of wastes) and watered regularly to maintain 30-40 % moisture level for
better activity of worms. Watering is done in such a way the contents in the tank are not too
soggy or too moist as it results in anaerobiosis of earthworms causing mortality. The tank is
covered by a gunny sack in summer months to avoid evaporation of moisture.

        Large quantities of waste can be composted by this method. The base of the tank
should have a slight slope directing towards two drainage holes. The dimensions of the tank
are 2-3 m in length, 1 m in width, and 0.5 to 0.75 in height. In places where the predators like
rats, lizards, pigs are a major problem the tanks can be covered with wire mesh to prevent the


Collection of Vermicompost

Vermicompost appears on the top of the tank in the form of pellets. When this layer of
vermicompost becomes a few centimeters thick watering should be avoided for 3-4 days. The
reduced moisture at the top layer will force the worms to move towards the lower layers. The
compost formed is heaped in the corners of the tank by gently scrapping with a shovel or a
wooden raft and left for a day or two. By this method of collection of worms the young
worms and the adult worms are not damaged while handling. In this manner the compost can
be collected every 10-15 days till 80% of the material is collected and a 10-15 cm layer is left
at the base. From here again the same method of making compost is initiated by pacing
mature dung first and then filling with all the wastes. Over the wastes then again soil layer is
spread on the top of it again dung is spread. The worms come on the top and start feeding on
the waste.

3.5.5 Biodynamic Composting

Biodynamic composting is a very unique method of converting the wastes into humus like
mass. This method comprises the use of special herbal preparation in homeopathic doses.
These preparations enhance the composting process and in turn enrich the compost. The time
of composting may vary from 3 to 4 months.

Materials required

Two main types of wastes are utilized in this method of composting
   (a) Nitrogenous: The materials with high nitrogen content e.g. Green plant materials,
       kitchen wastes, dung and animal manures etc.

   (b) Carbonaceous: These are the more stable materials having high carbon content e.g.
       Straw, dried leaves and crop residues after harvest, dried seaweed etc.


The following criteria are to be taken care of while selecting the site for composting.

   1. Composting site should be protected from water logging, direct sunlight and wind.
   2. Ideal place would be under the shade of trees but heavy feeding trees should be
       avoided near the composting yard.
   3. Site selected for composting should be demarked permanently as it would build up
       desirable organisms in the soil beneath and hastens the ongoing composting process.

Size of the heap

The size of the heap should be 5 m length, 2 m width, and 1 m height. The length can be
extended based on the availability of materials. Such extended heaps are called windrows.

Procedure for Biodynamic Composting

   (a) Clean the area by removal of grass and other weeds with a spade
   (b) Mark the area 5 m lengthwise and 2 m width.
   (c) An inverted V channel is made with the help of dried stacks at the centre of the
       marked area running lengthwise. This tunnel will facilitate aeration.
   (d) Spread all the carbonaceous materials above the inverted V shaped tunnel within the
       demarked area (5 m length x 2 m width) to a height of 6 inches.
   (e) Cow dung slurry or biogas slurry is spread over the carbonaceous layer in a very thin
   (f) Over the slurry, the nitrogenous materials are evenly spread to a height of 6 inches
       (plants of Ipomea, Erythina, Sesbania, Pongamia etc.)
   (g) Again a layer of cow dung slurry or biogas slurry is spread over the nitrogenous layer.
   (h) Likewise a homogenous blend of carbonaceous and nitrogenous layers with dung
       slurry in between is made up to a height of 1.5 meters. On an average 40%
       carbonaceous and 60 % nitrogenous material are ideal.

   (i) The compost can be enriched with lime, rock phosphate or any such natural materials
         depending on the soil status.
   (j) The compost heap (5 m x 2 m x 1.5 m) is plastered with the slurry made out of cow
         dung and soil (1:1).
   (k) On the compost heap 6 holes (each 30 cm depth) are made diagonally opposite
         directions and one set each of Biodynamic preparations 502-506 are placed into each
         hole in the compost heap with help of straw or any biomass and are plugged into the
         heap. While one set of BD preparation 507 (10 ml of 4% solution) is stirred
         (clockwise and anticlockwise) in 5 litres of clean water for 15 minutes, 2 litres of the
         preparation is poured in the hole and rest is sprinkled over the entire heap. These
         preparations bring in order and balance in the decomposition of the compost
   (l) After 2 months turning the compost heap would enhance the composting process. The
         compost would be ready in three months.

Important Points in Biodynamic composting

1. Moisture
Moisture content varies greatly with different wastes. Much water is required during the
initial decomposition stage. Lesser the moisture, slower will be microbial activity and
composting process is delayed. About 50-60% moisture is required for proper composting as
excess moisture will create anaerobic conditions and will not be congenial for the
composting process. A simple method for farmers to test moisture is to squeeze a handful of
material; it should be like a sponge, where water can just be squeezed out.

2. Air
Adequate air supply is essential to encourage a right kind of microbial population (aerobes).

The compost heap should neither be too loose nor too firm. A loose heap would lead to the
loss of humus and fast mineralization. A firm heap would bring in anaerobic conditions. To
facilitate optimum aeration an inverted V shaped tunnel made of dried sticks or stubbles can
be placed at the base running the length of the heap.

3. Temperature
The optimum temperature results from the right balance of water, air and composting
materials. The heat is produced primarily from the breakdown of the nitrogenous materials.
Too much of the nitrogenous materials will create an overhot condition causing volatilization
(nutrient loss to atmosphere). The temperature of the compost heap should go up to 60-700C
for 3-4 days and then gradually cool. The high temperature kills all the pest pathogens and
weed seeds.

                                  Biodynamic composting

3.5.6 Cow Pat Pit Manure (CPP)

The manure obtained from Cow Pat Pit is a very useful medium or vehicle for spreading the
influence of the compost preparations 502-507 over a large area of farmland, orchard or

Method of Preparation

Materials required

1.   Cow dung – 65 kg of fresh dung is collected from lactating cow which is fed with
     a good quality fodder.
2.   Egg Shells – Egg shells are added into the CPP as a calcium source. About 300
     gm of crushed egg shells powder is required for one pit.
3.   Borewell soil/Basalt rock/ Blur granite dust – Borewell soil is added as a silicon
     source. About 300 gm. of borewell soil is required for one pit.
4.   Biodynamic Preparation – 2 sets each of biodynamic preparations 502-506 and 20
     ml solution of preparation 507 is required.


1.        Dig a pit and line the 4 sides of the pit with bake bricks. The size of the pit with
          baked bricks linning should be 3 feet x 2 feet x 1 feet (0.9 m x 0.6 m x 0.3 m)
          dimension. The bottom of the pit should not be lined.
2.        A site with good drainage and not prone to dry out should be chosen. A vegetable
          garden is ideal.
3.        Sprinkle water to turn the cow dung into dough like consistency.
4.        The above mentioned minerals and crushed egg shells are sprinkled over the cow
5.        The bricks lining is moistened with water before placing the dung mixture.
6.        Mix the dung for 10-15 minutes and place it in the pit to a height of about 15 mt. The
          dung should not be tightly packed.
7.        Insert two sets of preparations 502-506 by making holes over the dung layer. Two
        sets of preparation 507 (20 ml of 4 5 solution) is stirred for 15 minutes in 2 litres of
        water and sprinkled over the cow dung from the top.
8.      Place a wet jute sack over the cow pat pit to maintain moisture. The pit should be in a
        well shaded and aerated area.
9.      After one month the manure is gently aerated with a garden fork for uniform mixing.
10.     Cow Pat Pit (CPP), manure matures in 35-40 days.


The Cow Pat Pit manure is stored in earthen pot placed in a dark room. Avoid the cow pat pit
from drying.


Cow Pat Pit manure can be applied along with preparation 500. It requires 15 minutes of
stirring. The common practice is to make a spray solution of CPP with BD 500. After 45
minutes of stirring of BD 500 solution 100gm of CPP is added to the solution and both 500
and CPP are stirred for 15 minutes. The spray solution is then sprayed. CPP is also used as
foliar spray (10%) , plastering the cut ends of the plants after running and in seed treatment
similar to biofertilizers.

1.    Fastest way to get the effect of all biodynamic preparations to the soil.
2.    An array of beneficial microbes is build up which reduces many plant diseases.
3.    Provides nutrients and stimulates plant growth.

                                Cow pat pit (CPP) manure

3.6 Liquid manures

Liquid manure is the fermented preparation obtained by active fermentation of plant or
animal residues with the aid of biodynamic preparations.

Liquid manures are of two types,

1. Plant based liquid manures are prepared from green plants, tree leaves and tender stems
   of plants.
          Green manuring plants like – Sunhemp, Dhaincha, Sesbania, Erythrina etc. and
           other leguminous plants can be used
          Tree leaves – Leaves from Neem, Pongamia, Subabool, and leaves of other local
           medicinal trees.

           Tender stems – Lantana, Calotropis, and local plants.
           Weeds – Parthenium, Stinging nettle, and other weeds before flowering.
            A mixture of different plants results in good quality liquid manure.

2. Animal based – comprises of cattle dung, sheep and goat droppings, fish manure etc.

Method of preparation

The basic principle is to allow the materials to ferment over a certain period.
1. A non-corrosive drum of capacity of 200 litre or more of food or water storage grade
   plastic is taken.
2. The plant materials for liquid manures are chosen based on the availability.
3. The plant materials are shredded properly and 30 kg of the plant material is put into the
4. Cow dung (30 kg) is also added to the drum.
5. The drum is filled with good quality of water upto the brim.
6. One set of biodynamic preparations 502-507 is added.
7. Initially the mixture has to be stirred every day for one week. After that the stirring has to
   be done once a week with a long stick to aid fermentation and extensive stabilization of
8. Liquid manure is ready in a month for use.

The liquid manure has to be diluted with water prior to application. The dilution has to be
one part liquid manure and ten parts water.

1. Act as tonic or stimulant to plants.
2. Is used as insecticide and fungicide when Neem, Vitex, Calotropis, Stinging nettle are
   used as raw materials for liquid manures
3. Improves the nutrient utilization.

                                          Liquid manure

3.7 Preparation 500 (Cow horn manure)

This preparation is one of the basic preparation in biodynamic agriculture. It is commonly
known as Preparation 500, the biodynamic field spray.

       Cow horn manure is prepared by burying a cow-horn filled with fresh cow dung of a
lactating cow. Such horns are buried in soil during autumn and winter period and are lifted
out in the early spring in accordance with the planting calendar. In other words, the horns are
buried in September-October and lifted during March-April during descending moon. The
manure when knocked out of the horn gets transformed into sweet smelling colloidal humus.

                                     Cow horn manure

       About 35 gms of BD 500 is required for one-acre land. The required quantity of the
preparation is placed in a vessel containing good quality water and stirred rhythmically in
clockwise and anticlockwise direction alternately for one hour. First, the movement is
clockwise, till a vortex is formed, then the movement is reversed till another vortex is
created, again the movement is reversed, and so on for one hour.

The stirred preparation 500 is immediately sprayed on the land with the help of a sprayer or a
broom. The broom is dipped into the bucket containing stirred preparation 500 and is
splashed on the desired area.

Note: All the biodynamic preparations can be prepared by farmers. They are also
commercially available. The cost of 250 gms of cow horn manure ranges from Rs. 300 to
rs.350, 15 gms of horn silica costs Rs.150 to Rs.200 and one set of biodynamic preparations
502 to 507 cost Rs. 71 to Rs. 100.

                         4. Organic Pest and Disease Management

In organic agriculture the pests and diseases can be managed by a cultural practices and
biological approaches. These practices are region and crop specific.

4.1 Cultural practices
The cultural methods are the traditional practices followed by farmers for modulating crop
growth through adjustments in time of sowing, cultural practices and plant population density
for altering the microclimate to minimize the risks.

a) Crop rotation
Rotating the crop belonging to one family with one of a different family helps to solve the
pest to a large extent. Rotating groundnut with maize will reduce the attack of white grubs.
Rotating pigeonpea or chickpea with other non- leguminous crop is a good practice for
managing fusarium wilt and nematode problems.

b) Trap crops
Pests are strongly attracted by certain plants and when these are sown in field or along the
border, the pests will gather in them which can be destroyed. Mustard is a trap crop along
with cabbage for the control of diamond back moth, aphid and leaf webber. African marigold
is a good trap crop for the American boll worm, besides it also attracts the adults of leaf
minor for egg laying on the leaves. Maize plants can be a trap crop to attract fruit fly adults in
vegetable cultivation wherein fruitfly is a major problem and also for cotton bollworm
Helicoverpa armigera in cotton fields.

c) Intercropping
Intercropping generally has positive effects in terms of reducing the occurrence of insect
pests. Insects find difficult to locate host plants as the visual and chemical stimuli for the

host are not so strong and aromatic odour of other plants can disrupt host finding behaviour.
Intercropping also interferes with the population development and survival of insect pests.
For example, cabbage along with carrot or tomato is an important intercrop combination to
effectively manage diamond back moth. Sowing cowpea as intercrop with groundnut
minimizes leaf miner infestation. Green gram intercropped with sugarcane reduces the
incidence of sugarcane early shoot borer. Growing short-duration pulses like black gram,
cowpea, soybean and green gram as intercrops in cotton increase the effectiveness of natural
enemies like coccinellids, syrphids, trichogrammatids etc.

d) Use of resistant /tolerant varieties
Genotypes showing tolerance and resistance to insect pests and diseases are to be used for
sowing. Plants have their sophisticated mechanism to protect them from the attack by pests.
Certain genotypes act as detterents, antifeedants and some encourage the predators of pests.
There should be constant watch to update such genotypes in the region. A series of resistant
varieties have been developed for all the crops in accordance to the agro-climatic zone.

4.2 Biological approaches
The biological approaches to pest management comprise of use of,
   a) plants or botanicals
   b) microbial pesticides
   c) biocontrol by insects
   d) biorationals

4.2.1 Botanicals
The plant kingdom is a rich storehouse of biologically active compounds and various plant
products are in use for many centuries in India to minimize losses in crops and grain storage.

Large database of plant species that possess pest controlling properties like insecticidal,
antifeedant, repellant, attractant and growth inhibiting properties on various insects exist in
every village. Some of the plants widely used in the preparation of botanical pesticides are,
Anona sp, Azadirachta indica, Chrysanthemum sp., Cymbopogan sp., Nicotiana sp,
Pongamia sp, Vitex sp. etc. The seeds, leaves, extracts, fruits, kernels, oil and decoctions of
the botanicals are used to manage the pests. Following are some of the botanical pesticides
which can be prepared by using the plants with pesticidal activity.

a) Neem Seed Kernel Extract (NSKE)
i) Collect 25 kg of neem seeds and crush them into coarse powder.

ii) The crushed seeds are tied in a muslin or cotton cloth and immersed in 50 litres of water in
   a container overnight.

iii) Separate the extract completely by squeezing the cloth containing the crushed neem
   seeds. The cloth containing the crushed neem seeds are again dipped in 50 litres of water
   and squeezed again.

iv) To the concentrated solution of 100 litres add 400 litres of water. The spray solution is
   5% which can be sprayed as a foliar spray. For every 100 litres of the spray solution add
   about 50 gm of khadi soap which acts as an emulsifier to spread the spray solution
   uniformly on the foliage. NSKE should be used within 2-3 days after it has been

v) This spray is effective for a variety of leaf eating insects and can also be undertaken as a
   prophylactic or a preventive measure before the onset of pests.

b) Liquid manure for pest management
i) Collect 30 kg of plants (leaves and tender parts) of plants which have pesticidal
 activity are chopped into small pieces and put into 200 litre barrel

ii) Add 30 kgs of cattle dung into the barrel and fill it up with water.

iii) About 5 kgs of local soil is added into the barell to facilitate faster degradation. Even
   1 set of biodynamic preparation (502-507) can be added into the barrel.

iv) The barrel is stirred every day for 7 days. The preparation is ready by 30 days.

v) The concentrated solution can be diluted ten times in water and used as a foliar spray.

vi) These sprays are very efficient in managing a variety of pests.

                       Preparing liquid manure for pest management

4..2.2 Microbial pesticides or bio-pesticides
The use of microorganisms as biocontrol agents is gaining importance in recent years.
Biopesticides are the living organisms or their derived parts which are used as bio-control
agents to protect the crops against the insect pests. Entomopathogenic viruses of baculovirus
group, bacterial insecticides, particularly Bacillus thuringiensis, entomo-fungal pathogens,
protozoans and insect parasitic nematodes have been found to control important pests of
crops. These biopesticides are commercially available and are quite difficult to formulate in
the field conditions.

Types of Microbial Biopesticides
   i) Bacterial Biopesticides
   ii) Fungal Biopesticides
   iii) Viral Biopesticides

Biorationals comprise of use of pheromones, sticky traps in pest management. There are
three main ways in which pheromones may be used to assist the control of pests.
   iv) traps
   v) to disrupt mating
   vi) for survey and monitoring
Method of application of biopesticides

         Seed treatment : 10gm/kg of seed

         Nursery bed : 1kg/ 100 kg soil mix

         Soil drenching : 10g/litre of water

         Seedling dip (30 min) : 10g/litre of water

         Soil application : 5kg/acre with FYM

         Foliar spray : 1kg/acre

Table 4. Commercially important microbial bio-pesticides and biorationals used in

 S.   Category        Products                       Target pest              Major crops
 1.   Bacteria        Bacillus thuringiensis         Lepidoptera              Cotton, maize,
                      Bacillus sphaericus            Mosquitoes, Flies        vegetables, soybean,
                      Bacillus subtilis              Fungal pathogens         groundnut, wheat, peas,
                      Pseudomonas fluorescens        Fungal pathogens         oilseeds,

 2.   Fungi           Trichoderma viride             Fungal pathogens         Wheat, rice, pulses,
                      Trichoderma harzianum                                   vegetables, plantations,
                      Trichoderma hamatum                                     spices and sugarcane

                      Beauveria bassiana             Insect pests such as     Cotton, pulses,
                      Verticillium lecanii           bollworms, white         oilseeds, plantation
                      Metarhizium anisopliae         flies, root grubs, tea   crops, spices and
                      Paecilomyces lilacinus         mosquito bugs.           vegetables
                      Nomuraea rileyi
 3.   Viruses         Nuclear polyhedrosis Virus     American Boll worm,      Cotton, sunflower,
                      (NPV) of Helicoverpa           tobacco caterpillar      tobacco and sugarcane
                      armigera, Spodoptera sp.       and shoot borer
                      and Chilo infescatellus

 4.   Biorationals    Pheromone traps,               Bactocera sp.            Cotton, sugarcane,
                      Pheromone lures, sticky        Chilo sp.                vegetables, fruitcrops
                      traps and mating               Dacus sp.
                      disruptants                    Earias vittella
                                                     Helicoverpa armigera
                                                     Leucinodes orbonalis
                                                     Plutella xylostella

4.2.3 Biocontrol by insects
Here insects are used to control the pests. These beneficial insects either predate the pests or
damage the different stages of insect development like egg, larva, pupa. Accordingly these
biocontrol agents are categorized as,

a) Egg parasites
These parasites damage the egg stage of the harmful insect. Some of the commonly used egg
parasites are Trichogramma spp. Telenomus spp. and Testrastichus sp. These parasites
control top shoot borer in sugarcane, internode borer in sugarcane, cotton bollworms, paddy
stem borer, sorghum stem borer, fruit borers etc..

b) Larval parasites
These parasites destroy the larval stages of the pests. The classical example is Bracon spp.
used in controlling the black headed caterpillar in coconut and Goppniozus nephantidis is
used against coconut leaf eating caterpillar.

c) Pupal parasites
The pupal stage of the pests are destroyed by the pupal parasites. Testrastichus sp is widely
used to control pests like American boll worm,. Paddy leaf rollers, black headed caterpillars
etc. in their pupal stages.

d) Predators
The predators like Chrysopa sp, Menochilus spp. are highly useful in controlling a wide
variety of pests like aphids, whiteflies, cotton boll worms, leaf insects etc.

        The eggs of these parasitoids are commercially available in egg cards. Each egg card
(eg. Trichogramma) contain 20,000 live parasitized eggs which have 90-96% hatching
within 7-10 days of parasitization. These are applied @ 3-5 cards/ha. Each egg card cost
Rs.20 to Rs.50. Chrysopa sp. is available in vials containing 1000-5000 live eggs/larve. The
standard recommendation to crops like cotton, sunflower, tobacco, groundnut, mustard and
vegetables is 5000-10000 eggs/larve per ha. Each vial cost Rs.150 to Rs.200.

4.3 Preparation 501 ( Horn Silica)

This is made from a crystal of quartz (Silicon oxide, SiO2). The crystal is ground up into a
fine powder as smooth as talcum powder. It is moistened with water, put into a cow horn and
buried in the soil during spring and summer.It is important to have good quality quartz
crystals, well formed and clear, which should allow the light to flow right through. A good
clear crystal will cause the refraction of light in the same way as the prism.

       Preparation 501 is also stirred in a similar manner like preparation 500. It is stirred for
one hour, using one gram in 13.5 litres of water and sufficient for one acre land. It is applied
in the morning in a fine mist, using a high pressure spray, allowing the mist to be suspended
briefly in the air so that the sunlight can shine momentarily through the mist on the plant, the
fine mist is allowed to drift over the crop. For smaller area knapsack sprayer is used with
their fine nozzles turned skywards to produce misting effect.

                                  Preparation of Horn Silica

        As a general rule, 501 should be sprayed at the early stage of the plant and after the
fruit set. Preparation 501 is generally sprayed in the morning during spring and early summer
and sometimes in the autumn if the lushness of growth demands it. As the season advances
during summer, 501 is sprayed progressively early in the morning.

Because of the stimulation of the light, it is advised not to use 501 in drought conditions and
should only be used once in the spring on pasture as overuse can accentuate drought
conditions. Due to the enhancement of photosynthesis of the plant, the starches, sugars and
cellulose are improved. The quality of grain produced is greatly increased.

4.4 Mineral Based pesticides for managing diseases
Sulphur probably is the oldest known pesticide in use. Sulphur can be used as dust, wettable
powder, paste or liquid. It is very effective in controlling powdery mildews, rusts, leaf blights
and fruit rots.

Lime Sulphur
Boling lime and slphur together makes lime sulphur. The mixture is used as a dormant spray
of fruit trees to control diseases such as blight, anthracnose, powdery mildews and some
insects including scales, thrips and eriophyid mites.

                               5.      Animal Husbandry
Animal husbandry is an important and integral component of the organic farming system and
a basic resource for ensuring livelihood and food security. Amongst the livestock, cattle and
buffaloes play a significant role, because of their contribution to human nutrition (milk and
milk products), plant nutrition (dung and urine) and energy (draft power). Cattle and
buffaloes are maintained by all sections of the community and unlike other natural resources,
it is well distributed among small and large land holders.

         India possesses a good number of native cattle breeds. Unfortunately with the
artificial insemination (AI) with the high milk yielding breeds like Holstein Friesian and
Jersy, the native breeds were neglected which were otherwise easy to manage. The high cost
of maintaining the elite breeds and non-availability of the native breeds is main reason for
dwindling cattle population amongst the farmers. The Indian breeds of cattle were classified
into milch breeds, draught and dual purpose breeds (Table 4).

Table 5. Important cattle breeds of India

Breeds                                     Names

Milch breeds:                              Tharparkar, Gir, Sahiwal, Red Sindhi
Average milk production above 1500

Dual-purpose breeds:                       Haryana, Kankrej, Rathi, Minari, Ongole and
i) Average productivity breeds:            Dangi
   Average milk production between
   1000-1500 kg/lactation

ii) Low productivity breeds:               Mewati and Deoni
   Average milk production less than
   1000 kg/lactation

Draught purpose breeds:                    Nagori, Bachaur, malvi, Hallikar, Amritmahal,
Average milk production less than          Khillari, Bargur, Panwar, Siri, Gaolao, Krishna
500 kg/lactation                           valley, Kankatha, Kherigarh, Khangayam

5.1 Advantages of native breeds of cattle
i)     In dry and hot tracts, the native breeds perform well than the cross breeds and is
       economical for the farmers to maintain the native cows, inspite of low milk
ii)    The resource poor small and marginal farmers cannot afford to feed and maintain the
iii)   Native breeds withstand stress better than crossbreds.
iv)    In organic agriculture, cattle dung and urine are of multifarious use than milk.

                                         Native breeds

5.2 Animal feeding

The traditional practices and indegenous knowledge about livestock feeding and health
provides a gamut of information on different resources. In most of the rainfed areas of India,
use of leaves, flowers and pods of trees and selected bushes and creepers for livestock
feeding is a common practice. Many of the species are identified as beneficial to the animals
promoting milk production and growth (Table 5).

Table 6. Use of different plants in traditional animal feeding and their benefits

Plant species             Season of max.    Animal type       Benefits
Ailianthus sp             All year round    Cattle, goat      Improves milk production
Alangium salvifolium      Dec. to June      Cattle, buffalo   Improves milk production and

Bassia latifolia          Apr. to June      Cattle, goat      Improves milk production
Mosinda tomentosa         Nov. To June      Cattle, buffalo   Improves milk production
Maytenus emerginata       Feb. to June      Cattle, buffalo   Improves fat% in milk
Prosopis cinereria        All year round    Cattle, buffalo   Improves milk production
Tinospora cordifolia      July to Nov.      Cattle, buffalo   Improves milk production
Ventilago denticulata     July to Nov.      Cattle, buffalo   Improves milk production

Storage of useful feed material has to be practiced to take care of the cattle during the lean

          Cow dung and urine are used in a variety of preparations for nutrient and pest
management and are very imporatnt inputs in orgnaic farming. Arrangements should be
made to collect cow urine from the cattle shed.

5.3 Poultry

Poultry is a very component in organic farming. Here poultry does not mean the factory
farming of birds in cages rather the birds are let free in the open field to forage which is
referred as “free ranged chicken”. The chicken need young, short grass to feed, they scrap
and loosen the soil between the grasses and bring air into the bottom layers. They spread,pick
the parasite larvae and eggs and also provide give some extra manure. When the birds are left
in the cattel shed, they feed on the ticks and maggots and keep the cattle free from these
parasites. In addition to chicken, turkeys, guinea fowls, ducks and geese provide insect, snail,
and slug control. Geese are efficient in controlling weeds as they have a strong preference for
young grasses.

                                    Free-ranged poultry

                                     6.   No Cost Inputs
No-cost inputs are those which cost nothing or cost minimum with high benefits. Following
are the no-cost inputs,

         Indicator Plants
         Use of planting calendar
         Homa Theraphy or Agnihotra

6.1 Indicator Plants
When a nutrient element is not present in sufficient quantity is soil or is not supplied in
sufficient quantity, all crop plants show the deficiency symptoms described above to a
greater or lesser degree depending on the extent of the deficiency. However, some plants
have been found to be specially useful as indicators of particular deficiencies. These plants
are markedly susceptible to the particular deficiency and deficiency symptoms are shown
more prominently by such indicator plants.

A list of such indicator plants suitable for various deficiencies is given below.
Deficient element                                     Indicator plants
1. Nitrogen                                           Cauliflower, Cabbage
2. Phosphorus                                         Rapeseed
3. Potassium                                          Potato, cauliflower, broad beans
4. Calcium                                            Cauliflower, cabbage
5. Magnesium                                          Potato, cauliflower
6. Iron                                               Cauliflower, cabbage, oats, potato
7. Zinc                                               Citrus, cereals, linseed
8. Copper                                             Wheat, oats
9. Manganese                                          Oats, sugar, beet, potato
10. Boron                                             Sugarbeet, cauliflower
11. Molybdenum                                        Cauliflower
In addition, sunflower and crotons are indicators of moisture stress in the soil. Farmers can
irrigate the crop looking into the wilting symptoms of these plants.

6.2 Use of Planting Calendar

The life patterns of all living organisms are woven into the cosmic rhythms. The present

scientific world may not accept the fact regarding the influence of the cosmic rhythms and

the constellations on the life forms. Human life, as well as animal and plant life, is strongly

dependent on the rhythms of the earth. The plant and animal life is instantly influenced by

the sidereal and synodic relationships of the sun, earth, moon and other planets. On the basis

of such influences the planting calendar is prepared for agricultural operations during

different timings of the year. The calendar for the year 2006 is provided at the end of the


i) Moon opposite to Saturn
It occurs approximately once in 29.5 days.
Activities to be undertaken
1. Seed sowing, transplanting, grafting, pruning and layering.
2. Spraying BD501 (Cow horn silica) to manage pests.
3. Spraying liquid manures and foliar sprays.

ii) Full moon
This occurs every 29.5 days
Activities to be under taken
1. Sow seeds two days before sowing
2. Apply liquid manures and CPP (Cow Pat Pit) manure

3. Spraying bio pesticides to control pest and disease.
4. Drench the animals for internal parasites (48 hours before)

iii) New moon
This happens once in 27.5days
Activities to be carried out
1. Avoid sowing seeds
2. Cutting timber

iv) Ascending periods
The moon moving in an arc from east to west and when this arc gets higher everyday, the
Moon is ascending
Activities to be undertaken
1. Sowing of crops
2. Spray BD501
3. Spray liquid manures and CPP

v) Descending periods
The moon moving in arc from East to West and this arc gets lower everyday, the Moon is
said to be in descending phase.

Activities to be carried out
1. Transplanting of seedlings.
2. Spraying BD500 (Cow horn manure)
3. Making and spreading compost
4. Pruning tress.
5. Land preparation activities.

vi) Nodes
These are the days when moon pass the sun’s path. It creates negative influences on the
growth of plants.

Avoid all agricultural activities

vii) Apogee
Moon’s orbit around the Earth is an elliptic. The point where the moon is far away to earth is
called Apogee.

Activities to be undertaken
1. Planting potatoes
2. Irrigating the field

viii) Perigee
Moon moves around the earth in an elliptical path. The point where the moon is closest to
earth is called as perigee.
Activities to be undertaken
1. Spray biopesticides to manage pest and disease

ix) Seed and fruit days
These days influence the growth of seed and fruit crops and good for sowing and harvesting
for the same.
E.g. paddy, wheat, brinjal, bendhi and tomato

x) Root days
These days influence growth and development of root crops and good for sowing and
harvesting for the same.
E.g. .Potato, carrot and beet root.

xi) Flower day
These days influence on growth and development of flowers and good for sowing and
harvesting for the same.
E.g. cut flowers, cauliflower, rose and jasmine.

xii) Leaf days
These days help in the growth and development of leafy vegetables and good for sowing and
for harvesting.
E.g. Green leaves, cabbage.

6.3 Homa therapy or Agnihotra

Homa is a Sanskrit word used synonymously with Yajna. Yajna is the technical term from
the Vedic science of bioenergy denoting the process of removing the toxic conditions of the
atmosphere through the agency of fire. This means healing and purifying of the atmosphere
with fire as the medium. You heal the atmosphere and the healed atmosphere heals you. This
is the central idea in HOMA Therapy. This knowledge can be used in agriculture,
environment, medicine, psychotherapy, biogenetics, etc.

       Agnihotra is the basic HOMA for all HOMA fire practices given in the ancient Vedic
science. It is tuned to the biorhythm of sunrise and sunset. The process involves preparing
a small fire in a copper pyramid of fixed size and putting some grains of rice into fire exactly
at sunrise and sunset accompanied by chant of two simple Mantras.
       Homa therapy is being practiced by farmers in more than 60 countries. There are
many reports from India and abroad which claim the benefits of Homa in agriculture by
improving the degraded lands, managing pests and diseases and improving the quantity and
quality of the produce.