Natural farming which is also known as “do-nothing farming” is an environmentally friendly and sustainable way of growing food without interfering with crop and soil relationship as found in nature. It is a simple process of imitating nature to establish the balance between different components of nature on the farm. Its principles and techniques were established by Masanobu Fukuoka, a Japanese farmer and philosopher. He has described his success in Natural Farming in his book ‘ One-Straw Revolution.
Nepalese agriculture is in the phase of transition of from traditional agriculture to conventional agriculture.
Nepalese agriculture is in the phase of transition from traditional agriculture to conventional agriculture. The process is termed as ‘Agriculture Revolution’ in Nepal. The term has been a National Agenda for a decade yet no progress has been made as Nepal is still dependent on India for a huge portion of the import of fruits, vegetables and cereal crops. As western agriculture has already experienced high tech agriculture and its impact on the environment and soil, they are starting to shift from this highly rated conventional agriculture to sustainable agriculture, Nepal is yet to implement that technology and face its consequences. Hence as seen from the point of view of Nepalese farmer the agriculture sector here should be revolutionized but not at the cost of those environmental consequences that come beside revolution. The commercial analysis of input and output has been implemented in agriculture so much that modern farm seems keen of maximizing output from minimal input. In such a situation, Agriculture Revolution is nothing but a business strategy to commercialize the modern equipment and technology of Western nations. The youth of the nation are into the process to revolutionize agriculture but not many of them know at what cost they are revolutionizing it.
Modern days farms reaps soil fertility in the form of higher production and clean harvest.
The soil around us will never remain as such until eternity. It has gained its fertility from a long process of weathering. The fact that its fertility is decreasing year after year is due to human nature of taking everything from nature and return very little to nature. Modern days farms reap soil fertility in the form of higher production and clean harvest. It does not involve any method of returning nutrient back to the soil. At present no one seems to be concerned about its decreasing fertility. All they know is that they can get maximum profit in agriculture if they implement fertilizer, hybrid seed, pesticide and modern technology. Little they know is that they are digging a pit of food insecurity for their future generation by reaping soil fertility.
Everything around us has been modified or developed in lab according to the need specifically in agriculture.
Natural farming on the other hand is contradictory to conventional farming. It says to do nothing, which implies that the crop should not be disturbed and let it grow independently. The soil in the modern farms is disturbed all-around year by tilling and inter cultivation. After all round year production, we harvest more resources from the soil than we return to it. Hence, the concept of Natural farming is important to ensure soil fertility by giving more to the soil than taking from it. Human beings have modified nature around it so much that everything we call natural is not natural. Everything around us has been modified or developed in the lab according to the need specifically in agriculture. The scientist took over the responsibility of increasing the productivity from hybrid seed. They got success in it but increased the possibility of pest attack and diseases. Then they invented pesticides and insecticides to solve the problem that they created themselves. They took over the entirely natural process of the plants. Then the plants became dependent on the pesticides and fertilizer that now those hybridized plants will not give good production without fertilizer and pesticides. For example, if we try to practice natural farming in an orchard and leave it under nature’s control then the plants will get attacked by pest or weeds will overcome them. Here the plants have been developed in such a way through years of breeding that it will only give production on frequent training, pruning and pesticide application. The natural process of plant growth and its disease resistance has been replaced by human intervention, hence the fruit is not natural anymore.
So, the principle of natural farming is based on the fact that any crop is capable of producing, developing resistance against insect and disease, etc in its own way in nature without human intervention. For pest there is a predator in nature, we should not destroy the predator by excessive tilling and weeding as weeds are a natural habitat for the predators. We should not eliminate weeds from the farm but we should manage them to grow with cooperation with main plants.
Similarly, the tillage of soil is unnecessary in natural farming for crop production. Because nature has its own way of tilling the soil by expanding roots into the soil. Similarly, the soil-dwelling insects and moles are natural soil tiller. The fertilizer application in the soil is also unnecessary as soil nutrients can be recycled by crop rotation. The planting of deep-rooted crops helps to extract nutrients from deep soil by roots. When these crops are harvested their debris should be mulched in soil by which the nutrients from deep soil is transferred to the topsoil.
For centuries, farmers have assumed that the plough is essential for growing crops. However, non-cultivation is fundamental to natural farming. The earth cultivates itself naturally by means of the penetration of plant roots and the activity of microorganisms, small animals, and earthworms.
NO CHEMICAL FERTILIZER OR PREPARED COMPOST;
People interfere with nature, and, try as they may, they cannot heal the resulting wounds. Their careless farming practices drain the soil of essential nutrients and the result is yearly depletion of the land. If left to itself, the soil maintains its fertility naturally, in accordance with the orderly cycle of plant and animal life.
NO WEEDING BY TILLAGE OR HERBICIDES;
Weeds play their part in building soil fertility and in balancing the biological community. As a fundamental principle, weeds should be controlled, not eliminated. Straw mulch, a ground cover of white clover inter-planted with the crops, and temporary flooding provide effective weed control in my fields.
NO DEPENDENCE ON CHEMICALS.
From the time that weak plants developed as a result of such unnatural practices as ploughing and fertilizing, disease and insect imbalance became a great problem in agriculture. Nature left alone, is in perfect balance. Harmful insects and plant diseases are always present but do not occur in nature to an extent that requires the use of poisonous chemicals. The sensible approach to disease and insect control is to grow sturdy crops in a healthy environment.
Hence the importance of natural farming should be taught to every youth and the farmer of Nepal. We should not revolutionize the agriculture at the cost of soil infertility and food insecurity in the future. The consequences of conventional agriculture should not be ignored. More priority should be given to sustainable farming and its approaches.
National Agriculture Genetic Resource Center ( Gene Bank)