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FARMER'S NOTEBOOK

Zero farming: no investment, yet guarantees good yield

M.J. PRABU

Three tonnes of paddy have been harvested from an acre by this method

— Photo: Special Arrangement

Personal Experience: The farmer, Kailash Murthy with the plantains harvested from his farm at Doddinduvadi village, Karnataka.

“No ploughing, fertilizers or weeding needed to get a good harvest.”

That may sound like a fairy tale. But if one visits the farm of Mr. M.K. Kailash Murthy, of Doddinduvadi village of Kollegal taluk in Chamarajanagar district, you will realise it is true.

A banker who left his job to become a farmer, Mr. Murthy says, “external inputs are not necessary for getting a good yield.”

Inspiration

He calls this system of farming “zero farming method” and says, “reading the book The One-Straw Revolution written by Masanobu Fukuoka, a pioneer in natural farming in Japan, motivated me to follow this technique.”

The concept of natural farming, “revolves around the theory that ‘nature knows best’ and hence it is better to leave everything in her care,” he says.

In his 6.5 acres, Mr. Murthy, like several farmers, used fertilizers and pesticides and got a good yield.

Declining yield

“However, to my dismay, the yield started reducing steadily every year. Desperate to find a solution for this declining yield, I decided to experiment on the zero farming technique in my field.

“Except seeds, I did not use any other external input and a remarkable transformation started taking place gradually," says Mr. Murthy.

The natural balance of the soil got restored, which transformed his fields into a mini-forest. Thousands of plant varieties, including many medicinal plants, started growing.

Bountiful birds

Several bird species and reptiles made their homes in the farm. “But this transformation was not an overnight miracle. It takes time,” he cautions.

On an experimental basis he harvested about 3 tonnes of paddy by this method from one acre against 1.18 tonnes harvested by his neighbours using fertilizers and modern techniques. “Farmers must understand that pests are natural occurrences. Left alone, the crops develop a resistance to them.

“Merely spraying the crops with pesticides will not control the pests. Initially it may seem to control, but in the long run the pests become immune,” he explains.

Myth broken

Zero farming method requires no investment but guarantees good yield. It dispels the myth that hybrid seeds, fertilizers, and pest-control techniques alone can guarantee good yield.

“Visitors can personally come and see my farm and if they desire, can emulate it,” says Mr. Murthy. Switching directly from chemical farming to natural farming is a risky proposition, according to him.

Soil productivity

“It is better to maintain soil productivity by adopting organic farming for at least three years before switching over to natural farming,” he explains.

In future, more than food crises, global warming threatens to create serious harm to the planet.

With this method of farming one can reduce global warming which in turn increases food production and protection of bio-diversity, according to him.

But how far is this technique reliable to feed the world population?

“In the last five to six decades, we have inflicted irreparable damage to the lands as a result of which agricultural output is declining.

“This method rejuvenates the land, which directly increases the food output. Instead of worrying about what to do to the land, we have to think about what not to do,” he concludes.

Positive report

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Horticulture Research, Bangalore visited his farm and endorsed his zero farming technique.

For more information contact Mr. M.K. Kailash Murthy, Academy of Natural Farming, Doddinduvadi village, Kollegal, Chamarajanagar district, Karnataka, website: www.the-anf.org, email: kailashnatufarm@gmail.com, mobile: 9880185757 and 9845125808.

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