Authors: Dr. Rajdeep Mundiyara, Sharwan Kumar Jat and Prem Kumar
Rajasthan State Seeds Corporation Ltd. Jodhpur (Rajasthan)
*Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
In the past, farmers used to apply these eco-friendly fertilizers but with green revolution they started using chemical fertilizers indiscriminately that deteriorated the soil quality affecting crop productivity. Compared to chemical fertilizers, the cost of eco-friendly fertilizers is cheaper. Moreover, these eco-friendly fertilizers can be prepared locally. Application of these eco-friendly fertilizers ensures improvement in physical, chemical and biological properties of the soils. These are biodegradable and environment friendly. Hence, the farmers have now started using them in their farms. The different ecofriendly fertilizers include:
I. Bulky organic manures:
- Farmyard Manure:
Farmyard manure is perhaps the most valuable organic matter applied to a soil. The manure is produced in the farm chiefly with cattle dung. The manure consists of a mixture of cow dung, the liquid excreta (or) urine, the bedding material used in the stable and any remnants of the straw and plant stalks fed to cattle. Use of chemical preservatives @ 400-800 g of SSP or gypsum can reduce the volatilization losses and improves the manure quality.
- Sheep and goat manure:
The droppings of sheep and goat provide valuable manure. Penning of sheep and goat in the fallow field is the common practice in India. It has been estimated that by stocking 1000 sheep for a night will add about 2 tonnes of droppings. The manure contains 3% N, 1% P2O5 and 2% K 2O
- Poultry manure:
II. Concentrated organic manures:
Concentrated organic manures of plant and animal origin forms best source for supplying nutrients to the soils apart from improving physical properties of soils. The concentrated organic manures of plant origin includes mustard cake, groundnut cake, sesamum cake, castor cake, neem cake, sunflower cake, mahua cake, etc. The most commonly used concentrated organic manure of plant origin is neem cake. The concentrated organic manures of animal origin include waste products of slaughter house such as bone meal, blood meal, blood meal, horn meal, meat meal, fish meal.
By decomposition of plant and animal wastes with various additives, compost can be prepared which can be efficiently applied to crops to enhance the soil fertility. Generally crop residues such as straw, or peanut hulls, saw dust, dried leaves, stubbles, stalks of chillies, pigeon pea, tobacco, weeds, household kitchen waste can be used to prepare compost. To get good quality compost it is important to maintain 50% of moisture content and 50% of aeration which can be achieved by staking and occasional turnings. Even earthworms such as Elsenia Foetida can be introduced for quick decomposition and to enhance the nutritive quality of compost, materials such as lime, gypsum, and rock phosphate can be used as additives to accelerate the composting process. If the raw materials used for composting has huge C: N ratio, then it is important to add N @ 0.1 to 1% to enhance composting. Usually, this process takes 2-3 months for its preparation. The N-P-K content in the compost consists of 0.3-0.1-0.3%. There are several composting methods but the simple and best method that a farmer can practice is Indore process. For this method, 30x14x3 feet pit is required with narrow bottom and wide surface (Ist layer).Straw or Organic farm waste should be spread up to 3" thickness. Then, cattle urine, soil and wood ashes are to sprinkled (IInd layer) followed by cattle dung to 2" thickness (IIIrd layer). In this way, pit has to be filled till 3 feet above the ground. Extra aeration has to be provided with artificial vents/holes of 4" diameter pipes for every 4 feet length of the pit. The compost pit has to be watered in the morning and evening i.e., twice a day and further materials should be turned once at the end of first fort night, again at the end of second fortnight and finally when it is 2 months old. Totally three turnings are required. In this way, farmers can prepare their own compost and cut down the cost incurred in fertilizers.
IV. Vermi compost:
Vermicomposting is a method of making compost with the help of earth worms. It can be prepared in pits of 1m depth x 1m height or cement tubes to a height of 2.5 feet x 3 feet breadth. The raw materials required for its preparation includes any organic material generated from the farm. Cow dung, biogas slurry or urine of cattle is required as starters. Bedding materials of 1 inch thickness should be prepared with soft leaves (first layer). Then thick organic layer with finely chopped raw materials to 9 inch thickness should be prepared (second layer). Equal mixture of dung plus water should be spread to 2 inch thickness (third layer) to protect it from ants, lizards etc. At the 24th day, after this preparation, worms need to be introduced (2000 worms for square meter). For proper moisture and aeration turnings are required. The turnover of the compost is 75% (If 1000kg of raw material is introduced into the pit the compost available is 750kg). The vermicompost will be ready by 2.5 to 3 months. Stop watering before one week of harvest. All the worms will come close and penetrate into each other in two to three locations, which is the harvest indicator. At this time heap the compost by removing earthworm balls. Then sieve the compost material using a 2mm sieve and now the vermicompost is ready for use in the field.
V. Biogas slurry:
Biogas slurry obtained from biogas plants can be used as bulky organic manure. This biogas plant can be established by farmers locally, which requires a brick lined well with an inlet and an outlet covered with an iron drum introduced upside down into the well. The cattle dung is made into slurry by adding water and this is fed through inlet pipe.This material in absence of air produces methane which can be used as cooking gas in the kitchen. The gas is taken through a wheel cork on the top of the drum and led to the kitchen by pipes. The spent slurry overflows from the top of the well and gets collected in a pit. This needs to be periodically removed and added to the compost. Roughly five animals (45kg of dung) is the prerequisite to operate a gas plant of 2 m3 capacity. Normally the distance between the gas plant and the place where gas is produced should be within twenty meters (kitchen to biogas plant). Besides cattle dung, piggery or poultry or night soil can be used as raw material for producing biogas slurry. The manure obtained from biogas plant has higher nitrogen content of 1.5% against 0.75% in FYM.
Eco-friendly fertilizer application is a sound soil fertility management practice. Hence, farmers should prepare their own compost on their farms individually or on community basis with locally available raw materials. Such practice also helps in reducing cost invested on purchase of chemical fertilizers.
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