Zero Budget Natural Farming

Zero Budget Natural Farming

Zero Budget Natural agricultural (ZBNF) refers to a collection of agricultural approaches that encourage sustainable agriculture by avoiding the use of external inputs such as artificial fertilisers and pesticides. It is founded on the idea of collaborating with nature to produce a healthy and productive ecosystem.

What is Zero Budget Natural Farming

Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZNBF) is the practise of growing crops without the use of any fertilizers, pesticides, or other external chemicals. The term “Zero Budget” refers to the cultivation of all crops at no expense. ZBNF guides farmers towards sustainable farming practises, which helps to keep soil fertility, ensure chemical-free agriculture, and assure low production costs (zero cost), consequently increasing farmers’ revenue.

Zero Budget Natural Farming is a farming technique founded on the concepts of collaborating with nature to create a healthy and productive ecosystem.

Subhash Palekar, a Padmashri, promote the concept of ZBNF in the mid-1990s as an alternative to the Green Revolution’s tactics based on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Principles of Zero Budget Natural Farming

Zero Budget Natural Farming is a complex and holistic farming system that is based on the principles of nature. It is a sustainable and low-cost method of farming that can help farmers to produce healthy and nutritious food without harming the environment. Principles of ZBNF are motioned below:

  • No external inputs.
  • Local seeds (use of local varieties)
  • Microbial Seed treatment.
  • Microbial inoculants for soil health.
  • Cover crops for biomass mulching and bio-mass incorporation for creating a suitable micro-climate for maximum beneficial microbial activity.
  • Mixed cropping.
  • Integration of trees into the farm.
  • Integration of livestock, especially of native breed for cow dung and cow urine as essential inputs for several practices.
  • Water and moisture conservation.

4 Elements of Zero Budget Natural Farming

These four elements are also called as Core Principles of the ZBNF. Below we mentioned the 4 important elements of the ZBNF:

A. Bijamrita/Beejamrutham

Bijamrita is a natural seed treatment which is used in Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF). It is a mixture of cow dung, cow urine, water, lime, and a handful of soil from under a banyan tree. Bijamrita is rich in beneficial microorganisms.

B. Jiwamrita/Jeevamrutha

Cow dung is a natural source that can be used to improve soil fertility and nutrient value. One gramme of cow manure may contain 300 to 500 billion helpful microorganisms. These bacteria help decompose the biomass in the soil and transform it into readily available/ready-to-use nutrients for crops.

C. Mulching/Acchadana

Mulching is the process of covering the top soil with crop wastes/organic waste or with cover crops. It reduces the water loss, and check the weed growth.

D. Waaphasa (Soil Aeration)

Plant growth and development require adequate soil aeration. The ZBNF approach is opposed to the use of vermicompost because it imports the most common composting worm, the European Red Wiggler, into Indian soil, where it absorbs harmful metals and damages ground water and soil.

Cropping Model of ZBNF

The ZBNF cropping model is a low-cost, sustainable farming strategy that can assist farmers in producing healthy, nutritious food while minimizing environmental impact. It is a comprehensive and holistic system based on natural principles.

Why ZBNF is Important?

According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), 70% of farmers spend more than they make, and the majority of farmers are in debt. In places like Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, where each household has an average debt of Rs 1 lakh, the indebtedness level is around 90%.

One component being examined to accomplish the central government’s objective of doubling farmers’ income by 2022 is zero budget natural farming.

Advantages of Zero Budget Natural Farming

  • ZBNF farmers do not utilise any external inputs, such as chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or herbicides, resulting in lower prices. This has the potential to dramatically lower farming costs.
  • Soil health is improved through ZBNF practises such as mulching and crop rotation. This results in increased crop yields and more resilient crops.
  • Water conservation: ZBNF practises such as water harvesting and mulching help to conserve water. This is especially significant in locations with limited water resources.
  • ZBNF practises including mixed cropping and intercropping help to promote biodiversity. This can assist to lower the danger of pests and illnesses, as well as making the farming system more robust to climate change.
  • ZBNF uses no chemical inputs, which decreases the environmental impact of farming. ZBNF can also help to improve the quality of the air and water.
  • ZBNF crops are grown without the use of chemical fertilisers or pesticides, resulting in improved nutrition. This indicates that they are more nutritious and better to eat.
  • ZBNF farmers can save money on inputs while selling their produce for more money. Farmers’ income and livelihoods may benefit as a result of this.

Disadvantages of Zero Budget Natural Farming

  • Crop yields for ZBNF farmers are frequently lower than for regular farmers. This is due to the fact that ZBNF does not rely on external inputs such as chemical fertilisers or pesticides.
  • ZBNF farming may require more labour than normal farming. This is because ZBNF farmers must devote more time to duties such as natural input preparation and weeding.
  • A farm may need several years to fully shift to ZBNF. Farmers may endure decreased agricultural yields and greater labour costs during this changeover phase.
  • There is insufficient scientific proof to back up the claims made regarding ZBNF. Farmers who use ZBNF are therefore incurring a risk.
  • Farmers who grow ZBNF may experience difficulties promoting and selling their goods. This is due to the fact that consumers are not always aware with ZBNF and are not always prepared to pay a premium for ZBNF products.

ZBNF vs Conventional Farming

Here are differences between zero-budget natural farming (ZBNF) and conventional farming:

Characteristic ZBNF Conventional farming
Input use There are no external inputs such as chemical fertilisers, insecticides, or herbicides. Chemical fertilisers, insecticides, and herbicides are used as external inputs.
Soil health Natural practises such as mulching and crop rotation are used to improve soil health. Cause soil deterioration over time
Water use Water conservation practises include water collection and mulching. Can be water-intensive
Biodiversity It Promotes biodiversity through practices, such as mixed cropping and intercropping May reduce biodiversity
Environmental impact Reduces environmental impact by avoiding the use of chemical inputs Can have a negative impact on the environment, such as water pollution and soil erosion

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