Journal ID : AMA-30-06-2022-11507
[This article belongs to Volume - 53, Issue - 07]
Total View : 369

Title : Impact of Natural Farming on soil health, microbial dynamics and crop productivity under north-western conditions of India

Abstract :

Studies were conducted on Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) [formerly known as Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)] practised at 72 ha farm of Gurukul Kurukshetra, Haryana, India. Soil samples at different times were collected and got analyzed from different premier institutes of India. The results revealed that there was significant enrichment of soils in terms of Organic Carbon (OC), available phosphorus, available potash, micronutrients and biological health with the adoption of ZBNF practices. The average OC in the soil samples collected from Gurukul farm in May 2017 and analysed at CCS Haryana Agricultural University (HAU), Hisar was 0.61% in which 19% soil samples were found rich in OC (>0.75%). After one year of cropping, it was observed that 95% soil samples were rich in OC with average OC value of 0.91% in the range of 0.82-1.12%. The results obtained in the analysis of the samples collected in October 2018 and May 2019 confirmed the earlier findings. Similar trend was observed in the analytical results of soil samples from other institutes. The impact on soil OC was more pronounced in rice-wheat system than in other cropping systems. There was 89, 32 and 179 % increase in mean values of available P in the soil samples collected in May 2018, October 2018 and May 2019, respectively, over that recorded in the soil samples collected in May 2017 and analysed at CCSHAU Hisar. Likewise, mean available K increased by 7, 17 and 66% in the samples collected at the respective time of sampling. The extent of increase in micronutrients was 32, 27, 31 and 114% in Zinc, Iron, Copper and Manganese, respectively, after one year of cropping from May 2017 to May 2018. Similar results on micronutrients were obtained in the soil samples analysed at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) Ludhiana. The microbiological studies indicated that there was 528 times more colony forming units of bacteria per gram of soil in the soil samples of Gurukul farm as compared to that recorded in the soils of farmers’ fields practising chemical farming. Maximum microbial count in Jeevamrit (a liquid ZBNF formulation) was recorded on 12th day after its preparation. A multifold increase in microbial count with the addition of jaggery and pulse flour and their combined synergistic effect in Jeevamrit was also observed. Amendment of Jeevamrit with bio-inoculant, Azotobactor increased total microbial count by 2.66 times over Jeevamrit alone, whereas, addition of Azospirillum and Rhizobium in Jeevamrit failed to enhance microbial enrichment over Jeevamrit and Jeevamrit plus Azotobactor combination. Addition of soil (as innoculam in Jeevamrit) increased microbial count by about 105 times. Use of pre-made Jeevamrit as inoculum for further preparation of Jeevamrit could not emulate in terms of microbial count as compared to the Jeevamrit containing all the primary constituents. Total microbial count in the dung of native cow breeds was 363 and 25 times more than in the dung of buffalo and native breed of bull. The crop yields obtained at Gurukul Farm were highly comparable to the level achieved by the farmers. Average yields of non-scented high yielding cultivars of rice (including hybrids) were 74.45 q/ha in the range of 70-83 q/ha. Average wheat yields of Bansi, a desi (indigenous) variety, was 32.30 q/ha. Production of sugarcane achieved a level of 1300 q/ha with average cane yields of 850-1100 q/ha during the previous years. In vegetables, average tuber yield of potato ranged between 250-300 q/ha. The net returns from rice and wheat crops were 1.45 to 2.71 times higher than that of farmers produce.

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