Organic farming is an alternative agricultural system which originated early in the twentieth century in reaction to rapidly changing farming practices. It is a production system that sustains the health of the soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects.
Biofertilizers are defined as preparations containing living cells or latent cells of efficient strains of microorganisms that help crop plants uptake of nutrients by their interactions in the rhizosphere when applied through seed or soil. Biofertilizers could be also called as microbial cultures, bioinoculants, bacterial inoculants or bacterial fertilizers.
They are efficient in fixing nitrogen, solubilising phosphate and decomposing cellulose. They are designed to improve the soil fertility, plant growth, and also the number and biological activity of beneficial microorganisms in the soil. They are eco-friendly organic agro inputs and are more efficient and cost effective than chemical fertilizers.
Bio-fertilisers containing rhizobium bacteria are called rhizobium bio-fertilizer culture. Symbiotic bacteria that reside inside the root nodules convert the atmospheric nitrogen into a bio available form to the plants. This nitrogen fixing bacterium when applied to the soil undergoes multiplication in billions and fixes the atmospheric nitrogen in the soil. Rhizobium is best suited for the paddy fields which increase the yield by 15 – 40%.
Azolla is a free-floating water fern that fixes the atmospheric nitrogen in association with nitrogen fixing blue green alga Anabaena azolla. It is used as a bio-fertilizer for wetland rice cultivation and is known to contribute 40 – 60 kg/ha/crop. The agronomic potential of Azolla is quite significant particularly for increasing the yield of rice crop, as it quickly decompose in soil.
Arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) is formed by the symbiotic association between certain phycomycetous fungi and angiosperm roots. They have the ability to dissolve the phosphates found in abundance in the soil.
Apart from increasing the availability of phosphorus, AM provides necessary strength to resist disease, germs and unfavourable weather conditions. It also assures water availability.
Sea weed liquid fertilizer (SLF) contain scytokinin, gibberellins and auxin apart from macro and micro nutrients. Most seaweed based fertilizers are made from kelp(brown algae) which grows to length of 150 metres. Liquid seaweed fertilizer is not only organic but also eco - friendly.
The alginates in the seaweed that reacts with metals in the linked polymers in the soil. These polymers improve the crumbing in the soil, swell up when they get wet and retain moisture for a long time. They are especially useful in organic gardening which provides carbohydrates for plants. Seaweed has more than 70 minerals, vitamins and enzymes. It promotes vigorous growth. Improves resistance of plants to frost and disease. Seeds soaked in seaweed extract germinate much rapidly and develop a better root system.
Bio-pesticides are biologically based agents used for the control of plant pests. They are in high use due to their non-toxic, cheaper and eco-friendly characteristics as compared to chemical or synthetic pesticides. Bio-pesticides have become an integral component of pest management in terms of the environmental and health issues attributed to the use of chemicals in agriculture.
Trichoderma species are free-living fungi that are common in soil and root ecosystem. They have been recognized as bio-control agent for (1) the control of plant disease (2) ability to enhance root growth development (3) crop productivity (4) resistance to abiotic stress and (5) uptake and use of nutrients.
Beauveria species is an entomo-pathogenic fungus that grows naturally in soils throughout the world. It acts as a parasite on various arthropod species causing white muscardine disease without affecting the plant health and growth. It also controls damping off of tomato caused by Rhizoctonia solani.
Green manuring is defined as the growing of green manure crops and use of these crops directly in the field by ploughing. One of the main objectives of the green manuring is to increase the content of nitrogen in the soil. Also it helps in improving the structure and physical properties of the soil. The most important green manure crops are Crotalaria juncea, Tephrosia purpurea, Indigofera tinctoria
The green manuring can be practised as Green in-situ manuring or Green leaf manuring. Green in-situ manuring refers to the growing of green manuring crops in the border rows or as intercrops along with the main crops. Example: Sun hemp, Cowpea, Green gram etc. whereas green leaf manuring is the application of green leaves and twigs of trees, shrubs, plants growing in wastelands and field bunds. The important plant species useful for green leaf manure are Cassia fistula, Sesbania grandiflora, Azadirachta indica, Delonix regia, Pongamia pinnata etc.,