- Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZNBF) means raising crops without using any fertilizers and pesticides or any other external materials.
- The word Zero Budget refers to the zero cost of production of all crops.
- ZBNF guides the farmers towards sustainable farming practices thus helps in retaining soil fertility, to ensure a chemical free agriculture and ensure low cost of production (zero cost) and thereby enhancing the farmers income.
- It also reduces dependence on purchased inputs as it encourages use of own seeds and locally available natural fertilizers and farming is done in synchronization with nature.
- In short, ZBNF, is a farming method that believes in growing crops in tune with nature.
- The concept was promoted by agriculturist & Padma Shri awardee SubhashPalekar, in the mid-1990s as an alternative to the Green Revolution’s methods driven by chemical fertilizers and pesticides and intensive irrigation.
Principles of Zero Budget Natural Farming
- No external inputs
- Soil to be covered with crops 365 days (Living Root)
- Minimal disturbance of Soil
- Biostimulants as necessary catalysts
- Use indigenous seed
- Mixed cropping
- Integration of trees into the farm
- Water and moisture conservation
- Integrate animals in to farming
- Increase organic residues on the soil
- Pest-management through botanical extracts
- No synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides.
- ZBNF processes require 50–60 per cent less water and less electricity (than non-ZBNF) for all the selected crops.
- ZBNF reduces methane emissions significantly through multiple aeration.
- It also has the potential to avoid residue burning by practicing mulching.
- The cost of cultivation is lower in ZBNF. Hence, all statements are correct.
Four main elements and models of ZNBF
- The seeds are treated with formulations prepared using cow dung and cow urine from native cow species.
- Benefits: The seed treatment using “Bijamrita” protects the seeds from diseases.
- Jiwamrita is prepared using cow dung and cow urine. It is used as an input for the plants. It is a fermented microbial culture obtained from cow dung, urine, jaggery, pulse flour and uncontaminated soil.
- Benefits: This culture stimulates microbial activity in the soil and enhances nutrient availability for the plants, protects the crops against soil pathogens and increases carbon content of the soil.
- Mulching is the process of covering the top soil with crop wastes/organic waste or with cover crops.
- Benefits: Mulching materials decomposes and produces humus which conserves top soil, increases water retention capacity of the soil, decreases evaporation loss, encourages soil fauna besides enriching soil nutrient status and controlling weed growth.
Waaphasa/Moisture (Soil Aeration):
- Good aeration is required in the soil for plant growth and development.
- Benefits: Due to the application of Jiwamrita and mulching, the aeration of the soil increases, thus improves humus content, water availability, water holding capacity and soil structure which is most suitable for crop growth especially during drought periods.
Why in News?
- Government of India held discussions with state governments to promote Zero Budget Natural Farming in the country.