Himachal to collaborate with CSIR-IMTech for natural farming

A collaboration between the state project implementing unit of Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana and the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)-Institute of Microbial Technology in Chandigarh is on the cards for microbial study of dung and urine of indigenous cows being used for Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) in Himachal Pradesh.

The SPNF is a non-chemical, low-cost, climate-resilient agriculture technique, which is being promoted under the Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kisan Yojana since its launch in 2018.

It recommends the use of dung and urine of indigenous cow breeds as the key components for soil fertility enhancement and plant protection.

The state government has provided financial assistance for the purchase of 1,000 indigenous cows by the farmers across Himachal Pradesh. The cow dung harbours a rich microbial diversity, different species of bacteria, protozoa and yeast that play a significant role in the promotion of plant growth and plant protection. The utilization of cow dung bacteria can mobilize nutrients, besides contributing to sustainable agriculture.

The CSIR team of scientists headed by its Director Sanjeev Khosla was in Shimla this week to visit the farms where the natural farming technique is being followed.

The team visited an apple orchard at Moolberi village in Totu block, and a vegetable grower practising natural farming in polyhouses at Koara village in Mashobra block in Shimla district.

They interacted with the farmers and project officials and took note of the basic concept of natural farming, its formulations and methodology and impact on the cultivation and production and also economy of the farmers.

“A memorandum of understanding will be signed shortly between the Himachal Pradesh government and the CSIR-IMTech,” said veterinary officer Sushil Sood.

He said the collaborative research with IMTech proposes to isolate an array of bacteria from indigenous cow’s dung, followed by their identification and preliminary screening with reference to key fertility enhancing components in the Subhash Palekar Natural Farming practices.

“The work plan aims at extraction, amplification, cloning and sequencing of microbial DNA from fresh cow dung, evaluating microbial diversity and quantification in preparations such as Beejamrit, Jeevamrit and Ghaneevamrit so as to standardise the formulation of these mixtures for different agro-climatic zones,” he said.

The state project implementing unit has already tied up with the farm universities in Palampur and Solan to study different aspects of natural farming.