Organic Farming by Vermiculture: Producing Safe, Nutritive and Protective Foods by Earthworms (Charles Darwin’s Friends of Farmers)
Journal of Experimental Agriculture International,
Agrochemicals which ushered in the ‘green revolution’ in the 1950-60’s, boosted food productivity, but at the cost of environment and society. It increased food production but also destroyed the ‘physical, chemical and the biological properties’ of soil over the years of use. It killed the beneficial soil organisms and also impaired the power of ‘biological resistance’ in crops making them more susceptible to pests and diseases. No farmland of world is free of toxic pesticides today. Over the years it has worked like a ‘slow poison’ for the soil and society. According to UNEP and WHO nearly 3 million people suffer from ‘acute pesticide poisoning’ and some 10 to 20 thousand people die every year from it in both the developed and the developing countries.
Organic farming by earthworms (Sir Charles Darwin’s ‘friends of farmers’) can provide a sustainable and also highly economical solution to the various problems created by the destructive agrochemicals in farm production. Earthworms vermicompost are scientifically proving to be an ‘extraordinary powerful growth promoters and protectors’ for crops (5-7 times over other bulky organic fertilizers and 20-40 % higher over chemical fertilizers). They are rich in NKP, micronutrients, beneficial soil microbes like ‘nitrogen-fixing’ and ‘phosphate solubilizing’ bacteria, ‘mycorrhizal fungi’, humus and growth hormones – auxins, gibberlins and cytokinins. It has very high ‘porosity’, ‘aeration’, ‘drainage’ and ‘water holding capacity’ and makes the soil soft. More significantly it also protect plants against various pests and diseases either by suppressing or repelling them or by inducing biological resistance in plants to fight them or by killing them by their beneficial microbes (chitin and cellulose degraders). ‘Vermiwash’ (liquid filtered through the body of worms) and the ‘vermicompost tea’ (solution of vermicompost) also works as very ‘powerful bio-pesticides’ eliminating the use of toxic chemical pesticides.
Agriculture has also been responsible for huge emissions of greenhouse gases and induction of global warming. Of the increase of atmospheric carbon over the last 150 years, about a third (33.3 %) is thought to have come from agriculture. Chemical agriculture has further augmented GHG emissions. From their production in factories to their transport and use in farms agrochemicals generate huge toxic wastes and pollution and greenhouse gases. Aggressive tillage of compacted soils (due to use of agrochemicals) depletes the ‘soil organic carbon’ (SOC) and emits large volumes of CO2. Chemical nitrogen from the soil is oxidised as N2O which is 312 times more powerful GHG than CO2. Organic farming by vermicompost ‘sequesters’ large amount of ‘atmospheric carbon’ and bury them back into the soil as SOC improving soil fertility and also ‘mitigating global warming’. Soil amended with vermicompost have significantly greater ‘soil bulk density’ and hence porous and lighter and never get compacted needing no or low tillage. Production of vermicompost divert huge amount of wastes from ‘landfills’ which emit large amount of powerful greenhouse gases like CH4 and N2O along with CO2. Every 1 kg of waste diverted from landfills prevents 1 kg of greenhouse gas emission equivalent to CO2. It is like a ‘win-win situation’ for the nation, farmers, environment and the society.
The objectives of this review paper is to scientifically prove that vermiculture technology with the aid of earthworms and its metabolic products (vermicast) can boost farm production without agrochemicals (completely organic) and justify the beliefs of Sir Charles Darwin who called the earthworms as ‘friends of farmers’ centuries ago. Besides, it will provide several social, economic and environmental benefits to the society by way of producing ‘chemical-free’ safe, ‘nutritive and protective’ foods (even against some forms of cancers) for the people, salvaging human wastes and reducing the needs for costly landfills, mitigating global warming by sequestering carbon into soil.
- Vermiculture and organic farming
- high food production without agrochemicals
- nutritive and protective foods
- soil carbon sequestration and fertility improvement
- mitigation of global warming
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