Going into agriculture has been a very beneficial experience. I love nature and being on a farm with all the green around is always a delight. We started the idea of this farm from very bright ideals; we wanted to produce organic foods and so we have always put the quality of our produce and happiness of our customers before profit.
Our land is farmed without the use of chemicals and we are committed to the environmental sustainability and natural biodiversity of the land. Because of the absence of chemicals, hormone and antibiotic residues it makes our products very safe and truly organic to our customers.
We currently grow, different varieties of vegetables, including, amaranthus, ugu, carrot, cabbage, cucumber, tomatoes, cucumerina, corn, mint, basil, dill and more.We have many trees including bitter kola, kolanuts, coffee, cocoa, palm trees, mango, orange, African cherry, cassava, banana, plantain and etc. We have gone from a field of trees to a farm full of trees, herbs and very soon, animals.
Choosing organic agriculture has been a very big step, I do not have any formal training but I have read extensively, taken online courses, visited many farms and always in contact with university professors who are quite knowledgeable about organic agriculture. We have also succeeded in gaining knowledge by collaborating with more experienced organic farmers.
Managing pests is the most challenging experience I have had so far. I remembered watching helplessly how our first attempt at growing cucumber was attacked by pests. I had called one of my ‘Organic Mentors’ in panic to ask his advice. He had suggested that I soak neem leaves in water for 3 days after which I add some soap, cayenne pepper, mix thoroughly together and spray either late evening or very early morning. I was rather overzealous in carrying out this simple task; can you guess what I did? I had asked one of the farm workers to rub the neem leaves together and then put in water. The result? I burnt off all my cucumber.
We have battled many pests and overcome them with organic pesticides but the most vicious pest has been the brown grasshoppers – could they be the Carolina locust? I am yet to confirm the identity. They come in swarms, usually during the dry season and they eat only the vegetable known as Amaranthus Hybridus. We are still battling them and I shall share with you the outcome of our new experiments with organic pesticides.
The experiences though painful, come with beneficial lessons. Pests will always come; it was so interesting to discover that some of them are useful because they eat other pests. Finding new methods to get rid of pests without requiring chemical inputs has increasingly become a priority for many organic farmers. For example, organic farmers opt for biological controls such as beneficial insects, mechanical means such as row covers, and treatment schedules through non-chemical, non-synthetic pesticides.
I believe that implementing organic methods can save crops from destructive pests without the need for harmful pesticides. Let me share some lessons from ORGANIC INDIA.
ORGANIC INDIA was formed in the 1990’s by a small group of people from around the world who met in Lucknow, a town in northern India. They had traveled to meet H.W.L. Poonja, the spiritual teacher fondly known as “Papaji.” Drawn by the search for truth and self-realization, they came to hear Papaji’s simple teachings:
“Keep Quiet. The eternal truth exists within you. Do not entertain a single thought and the truth will reveal itself to itself.”
Inspired by Papaji’s lifetime of service, this group of visionaries (and future founders of ORGANIC INDIA) together created a holistic business that would eventually change the face of agriculture in northern India. Their idea was simple: establish a sustainable business model to support the livelihood of thousands of impoverished farmers in India by providing training and education, enabling self-sufficiency and skills that could be passed on to future generations.
This idea became a movement as organic and biodynamic farming methods were developed and practiced. The founder’s mission to offer safe effective herbal products to the world is the driving force behind an organic revolution that started with ORGANIC INDIA and is now taking root all across India.
So, how does ORGANIC INDIA deal with pests without pesticides?
Suresh Singh owns his own plot of 3.75 acres. He grows Rama, Vana and Shyama Tulsi (which are species of basil in English and scientific name Ocimum tenuiflorum) within ORGANIC INDIA’s certification planHe says “Whatever else I am growing in my fields, vegetables like potato, cauliflower, bottle-gourd and others, I do not spray any insecticide, or use urea, potash or any other harmful chemicals anymore “I am happy with the taste of vegetables & the improvements in the health of our families. Organic farming practices help in every manner to us and Mother Nature.”
So, Suresh Singh says Organic India deal with pests without pesticides in the following ways;
Primarily, we use organic and biodynamic techniques to ensure the richness of the soil, so the plants have a greater ability to withstand ‘pests’ naturally. We minimize monocroping by rotating complimentary herb crops on smaller plots. We call upon the biodiversity we support for assistance, and offer our herbs back to regenerate the soil – even our teas, to nourish and protect the next generation! Read on to learn more:
Ensure Your Soil is Alive
When the soil is alive and rich and thriving then anything that comes out of that soil will be alive and rich and thriving, including the plants and these plants will have a much greater ability to withstand pests naturally. We use both organic and biodynamic techniques to ensure this.
The more you partake in monocrop mentality the more you open yourself to imbalance at all levels, and pests pounce on that imbalance. In our fields we tend to allow many plants to grow, for instance, when we plant Tulsi the soil naturally has seeds for Motha (Phyllanthus), which we then also harvest for the Liver Kidney Formula.
Increase Diversity of Biota
Since the 1960”s the Green Revolution has devastated the diversity of the biota in India. For instance, the toxic chemicals used to grow conventional pysllium are so poisonous that they can kill animals the size of deer who graze in the environs of psyllium farms, and the run-off from these fields destroy the aquatic life as well. Conversely, on our organic biodynamic farms there have been reports of birds that have not been seen for 40 years! These birds are fantastic pest management and they come back to the farms because we invite them with rich potent gorgeous soil that supports the ecosystem they require! It is so beautiful to see this happening and truly is one of the great rewards of being involved with creating sustainable solutions for the world.
Plant on Smaller Plots
In a way this is very much like minimizing monocrops, as the hedgerows between fields can be filled with so much life that radically increase the diversity of the ecosystem. The more the ecosystem is diversified, the more it keeps itself in balance. Most of our fields are only 1 to 2 acres and are separated with trees, shrubs, bushes, grasses: in short, the abundance innate to diversity.
Put Your Herbs in the Soil
Herbs are an incredible source of intelligence, and often, a single herb has the intelligence to create 800 or more molecules out of earth, rain, wind and sun. Many of these molecules, when put back into the soil, enhance the potency of the soil. For instance, we grind up Tulsi and put it back into the fields to enhance both the vitality of the soil, but also to protect the plants from invaders. The Tulsi in the soil minimizes fungal infections in plants that grow in that soil.
Use Herbal “Teas” to Protect Herbs
When you use the above techniques you tend to not have to be concerned about pests, however, sometimes it still happens. When a crop starts to be attacked by pests, sometimes you let it as part of the balance of the ecosystem. But if it gets at all out of control then you look around and, since you are not monocropping, you see what plants/herbs around are not being attacked. Then you take about 5 to 10 of these plants that are not being touched by that specific pest and you make a “tea” or a fermentation of those herbs, and then you spray that onto the effected plants. This usually helps to reduce the infection to the point where the plants and the ecosystem can take over, especially as many of these plants typically used in such “teas,” for instance Neem, boost the innate immunity of the plants that are sprayed.
This is not at all an exhaustive list of how ORGANIC INDIA deals with pests in its fields, but gives you an idea of how, by promoting wellness and balance in the ecosystem, we promote wellness and balance in the lives and health of all those involved, from the birds and the deer to you, the end consumer.
So how do you keep pests away organically? Share your tips, I like to know.