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Natural farming is the solution to soil erosion

Changing climatic patterns erratic monsoon and prolonged dry spells are an occupational hazard for farmers They have been advised to replicate the rainwater harvesting model of Subash Sharma a farmer from Yavatmal district of Maharashtra Samiksha Jain spoke to Subash to discuss his model

Subash Sharma
Farmer
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What technological challenges you have come across so far?
I have done two types of framing. One, chemical farming which is also known as applied science, and another is natural farming. I found that chemical farming is the most destructive type of farming, whereas, if we understand , natural farming is the most sustainable and eco- friendly. By doing chemical farming we destroy soil fertility, deplete our water resources and, at the same time, reduce the life span of seeds. We discovered that the solution was organic or natural farming.When we are engaged in natural farming, we realised that in natural farming organic carbon of soil ,which has gone down below 0.5, could be increased to 2 within 2-3 years.

What motivated you to switch to organic farming?
When I was doing chemical farming, I came to know that it was very expensive and it could be done only by taking loan, yet farmers were not ensured about the output. I came to understand that my expenses were increasing and the output was decreasing. When I started agriculture in 1975, the cotton yield was 12 quintal, Jawar was 20 quintal, vegetable was 300 quintal in chemical farming. But after a certain time the production started decreasing. Finally in 1994, I decided to quit chemical farming.

What method and technology have you used to retain soil fertility?

I have developed certain micro crunching system which does not allow farm soil to erode. In order to make soil fertile, one has to see that it does not erode. So I made a manure fertilizer. It was made using one tonne of cow dung, half tonne of tank silt, 50 kg oil cake and 25 kg jaggery solution composted for a month with plenty amount of water in it. This can be used in two hectares, and can limit moisture evaporation to about 30 per cent.

Explain your model of rain water harvesting.
During summer, the field is ploughed and one-foot deep furrows are made. When it rains the water stays back the furrows and sinks into the soil. If there is heavy downpour, the furrows are opened for the excess water to flow towards the lower end of the farm where a channel is dug up to help it to run into a trench. Any over flow from the trench is led to a farm pond. For every hectare the farmer has dug a small farm pond.

What difficulties did you encounter while farming? And how did you overcome them?
My first problem was water. The soil eroded with water, and then I came to understand the importance of soil. My second problem was that I was not aware about the seeds; which seeds should be sown and when. So, slowly nature guided me and made me understand.

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