Organic farming methods are being encouraged as people have become more environmentally conscious. Extensive use of chemicals in farming not only affects the quality of the product but has negative effects on the environment too. Toxic chemical compounds affect not only the soil quality but the air quality as well.
The commercial production generally demands the use of large amounts of fertilizers and pesticides, and therefore farmers use chemical-based products extensively for the faster results. But these chemicals seep into the crops and thus enter the food chain. They cause many diseases in the long run. Besides, the overall impact on the environment is also a concern. Therefore, researchers have been suggesting that the traditional organic farming methods should be revived and heavy dependence on chemicals should be reduced.
Some of the major harmful effects of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides are:
The excess chemicals in the fertilizers and pesticides run off to the waterways, which contaminates the source of water. Addition of these chemicals leads to reduced levels of oxygen in the water thus effecting the organisms present in it. Aquatic plants and animals are therefore at risk due to the increased toxicity, which leads to the death of these organisms.
These chemical fertilizers and pesticides have larger concentrations of nutrients, this leads to browning or yellowing of the leaves. It also damages the produce and harms both the quality and quantity of the yield. It is known as chemical burn as excess usage of chemicals lead to this damage.
Fertilizers mostly contain a large quantity of nitrogen and the plants fail to absorb all the chemicals at a times. As a result, the additional chemicals are released into the atmosphere which affects the air quality. This also leads to the release of greenhouse gases, which further adds to the global warming.
● Soil Acidification
Due to the use of excessive chemical fertilizers, the organic content of the soil decreases and the acidic content of the soil increases. The topsoil therefore gets damaged. This acidification also affects the crop quality and quantity as the plants derive nutrients mostly from topmost layer of the soil.
The constant use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides rips off the essential nutrients and minerals from the soil. This affects the nutritional composition of the product too due to depletion of minerals.
Excessive use of chemicals alters the pH levels of the soil. The naturally found microorganisms get affected due to this change. Thereby, the helpful bacteria and other living microorganisms get destroyed.
Organic fertilizers and pesticides
Organic fertilizers and pesticides not only improve the quantity but they hugely improve the quality of the produce. They are usually made from animal and plant wastes. Usually, manure or compost are used as the base, but they can be processed too. There are different advantages of using chemical-free alternatives for farming. Some of them are:
- The soil structure is improved as the organic matter absorbs more water and nutrients. So, the retaining capacity of the soil improves.
- The microorganisms thrive better with organic matter.
- They are sustainable options and are also environment friendly. The quality of soil, air and water remains intact and animal welfare is also promoted.
- The taste and nutritional composition of the food improves substantially.
In India, cow is considered a sacred animal. Even the waste generated by cows is considered useful. Cow dung and cow urine have been used as natural fertilizers and pesticides for ages. Traditional farmers make use of these wastes as they are healthy and economic. Here are some of the products that are used as fertilizers and pesticides in organic farming:
- Cow Urine
The urine of cows is rich in different minerals like sulfur, potassium, copper, iron, etc. It helps in increasing the resistance of the plants to fight off diseases as well as disease-causing organisms. It can also act as a supplement for urea.
- Cow Urine and Neem
The neem leaves and cow urine can be mixed to be used as pesticides. Both components have medicinal properties. They also effectively curb insects and pests. Therefore, this mixture is generally used as a natural pesticide.
- Cow Dung
It is the best organic fertilizer. It not only enhances the nutritional value of plants but also improves the health of the soil. The microbial population improves significantly with cow dung fertilizer. Therefore, the quality of the soil becomes better and the chances of pathogenic diseases decrease.
Vermicomposting is the scientific method of making compost from Cow dung by using earthworms. Earthworms feed on the organic waste materials and give out excreta in the form of “vermicasts” that are rich in nitrates and minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and potassium. These are used as fertilizers and enhance soil quality.
- Jeevamrut / GhanJeevamrut / PanchGavya / Beejamrut,
All these products are made from Cow urine and Cow Dung as the base ingredient along with agricultural by-products. They are used as plant growth enhancing substances. They are the rich sources of beneficial micro flora which support, stimulate the plant growth and help in getting better vegetative growth and also good quality yield.
- Neemastra / Agniastra / Brahmastra / Dashparni Ark,
All these pesticides are prepared from Cow urine with Cow Dung as main ingredient along with other agricultural ingredients. They help the crop plants to control various types of pests, infections and diseases.
Thus, wastes generated from cows are also potential sources for sustainable farming methods. For best benefits and results, it is important that these products are obtained from healthy and indigenous cow breeds, rather than hybrid or genetically modified organisms.
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