Growing without fertilisers - soil building with weeds
Updated: Mar 1, 2019
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One of the major costs on a farm tends to be fertilisers - even if you are growing organically. This is especially true if you import your manure/compost instead of producing it (like us). However this challenge seems even more severe in lands like we use - where the soil building activities are undermined by water inundation in the monsoons.
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Most organic farms solve this problem by setting up composting systems or have cattle to produce their own manure. However, in smaller spaces and with limited manpower this can be a difficult or time consuming thing to do.
Our interest therefore has been to learn more about organic farming methods like green manuring, cover cropping and crop rotations as a soil building and manuring technique. The benefits of achieving this in the long run would clearly be considerable to any organic farm.
While we have seen the benefits of green manuring on our own farms, we've heard about more advanced practitioners who actually use indigenous weeds to do this job. Admittedly adoption of these methods have been more in agro-forestry and plantation systems - but it seems worth our while to see if we can incorporate it into our vegetable growing systems too.
Our visit to B.N. Nandish Shimoga, Karnataka provided a lot of interesting ideas for how such a system may be designed. His "Legume Logic" shows how mulching and green manuring with weeds can be incorporated into your seasonal growing practices to completely eliminate the need for manure application. The results speak for themselves and provide many interesting ideas for paddy growers in Goa.
To learn more about the methods he employs, read here (click link below)... http://www.indiawaterportal.org/sites/indiawaterportal.org/files/Organic%20farming%20through%20green-culture_Weeds%20and%20Mulching_BN%20Nandish_Shimoga_OFAI%20SAC_2009.pdf