Zero Budget Natural Farming
Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF), which is a set of farming methods, and also a grassroots peasant movement, has spread to various states in India. It has attained wide success in southern India, especially the southern Indian state of Karnataka where it first evolved. ZBNF inspires a spirit of volunteerism among its peasant farmer members, who are the main protagonists of the movement.
The four pillars of ZNBF:
- Microbial culture: It provides nutrients, but most importantly, acts as a catalytic agent that promotes the activity of microorganisms in the soil, as well as increases earthworm activity; During the 48 hour fermentation process, the aerobic and anaerobic bacteria present in the cow dung and urine multiply as they eat up organic ingredients (like pulse flour). A handful of undisturbed soil is also added to the preparation, as inoculate of native species of microbes and organisms. It also helps to prevent fungal and bacterial plant diseases.
- Treatment of seeds, seedlings or any planting material: It is effective in protecting young roots from fungus as well as from soil-borne and seedborne diseases that commonly affect plants after the monsoon period.
- Mulching: Soil Mulch: This protects topsoil during cultivation and does not destroy it by tilling. It promotes aeration and water retention in the soil. Straw Mulch: Straw material usually refers to the dried biomass waste of previous crops, it can be composed of the dead material of any living being (plants, animals, etc).
- Moisture: it is a necessary condition for the roots of the plants.
It is, basically, a natural farming technique that uses biological pesticides instead of chemical-based fertilizers. Farmers use earthworms, cow dung, urine, plants, human excreta and such biological fertilizers for crop protection. Intercropping and Contour Bunds are some of the techniques of ZBNF. It reduces farmers’ investment. It also protects the soil from degradation.
ZBNF works not just in agronomic terms, but also brings about a variety of social and economic benefits. ZBNF brings improvements in yield, soil conservation, seed diversity, quality of produce, household food autonomy, income, and health.