Cow dung and urine (and the preparations derived from these two) are excellent for soil improvement. Infact they are the centre of most organic and natural farming methods like Bhaskar Save’s, Natueco , Deshpande method, Palekar Method etc.
How do we actually inculcate this if the fields extend beyond few acres ? Smaller farms, hence have been more manageable and sustainable. However, at the Madman’s farm – we had no choice but to take care of entire 25 acres of farm. So, in spite of various challenges that a big farm brings – we slowly began the process.
To improve soil, green manure appeared far easier a method than hosting numerous cows. Lack of labor, skills, management and time are various challenges that affect our decision.
However, we again happen to hit – what appears so far as jackpot. We did not plough the fields after harvesting tuar dal (Pigeon pea) because we wanted to see if the crop survives till next season so that we can avoid tilling and increase organic matter,nitrogen in soil. We also couldn’t fence our entire campus due to ethical dilemmas (like Is it right to cut off your farm from rest of the fields ? or How fencing will reduce playgrounds for wild animals from nearby jungle! ).
What happened as the summer began, people of nearby villages started loosening up their animals who were attracted to the greenery of tuar fields. So, everyday a lot of cows simply walk into the fields and graze on remaining tuar plants and some other grasses here and there. This is triple plus. One, cows get fodder, which is very scarce in summer here. Second, cows urinate and dung in the fields which is a natural manuring and soil improvement process. Third, the tuar plants are being pruned (unless heavily eaten which rarely happens) which improves it’s growth. Traditional wisdom also says that plants eaten by cows fall less into the attack of pests and disease. Ofcourse they end up damaging some plants but overall it appears to be have a net positive impact on the fields.
Now, we are planning to also make some arrangements for cows to drink water so they can also drink water and rest at the farm.
While overgrazing remains a concern but we feel happy to share our fields and crop with cows. We feel happy if they can get some green food, some water because of our efforts and nourish the soil in the process. We feel happy when they visit us and rest in fields, reminding us – that these are not “our personal” fields but a piece of land belonging to mother nature.