In the course of the videos published during the last couple of weeks, we talked about Beejamritham and Jeevamritham, the benefits of cow dung and traditional farming methods, as well as the need to avoid chemical fertilizers and pesticides completely. A few people asked us how we make Beejamritham and Jeevamritham. I am not technically qualified to speak about it because I have not taken part in any workshop. But there is a method I follow, derived from what I have seen at various places. I shall share that with you. If anyone notices any error in it, please mention it in the comment box so that it benefits everyone.
There are a couple of basic issues to consider. One is the food web. That is, plants are the only living beings that use sunlight to produce food. As consumers, all of us eat it. There are no other producers. After making food through photosynthesis, the plants use up whatever they require, and send the rest to the soil in the form of carbohydrates. The micro-organisms in the soil – the bacteria and the fungi – eat it, and give necessary nutrients back to the plants. Earlier, we believed that NPK (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium) was all that the plants required. Today, it is said, plants need up to 40-42 types of nutrients. (I have a friend named Sanal in the US who takes keen interest in this subject, and sends me a lot of material. Much of the information I share with you was supplied by him.) The microbes supply these 42 nutrients to the plants.
There exists a symbiotic relationship between plants and microbes. These microbes are consumed by other microbes which, in turn, are consumed by beetles and earthworms which are consumed by birds and animals. Then come the humans. That is how energy from plants comes to humans. The most important component in all this – which gives plants what they require and which ultimately comes to humans either directly or through animals – is the category of microbes. Without microbes, plants will not survive and vice versa. Unfortunately, we do not acknowledge the microbes at all.
For instance, in my childhood, whenever we grew elephant yam, we dug pits, filled them with dry leaves and set fire to them. The belief was that the heat would kill all the microbes, and so no harm would come to the sapling that sprouted from the corm. Even today, in polyhouse farming, what they do is sprinkle water, allow sunlight to fall, spread mulch, and then kill all the microbes. Or, use chemicals to destroy all the microbes. The belief is that if microbes are destroyed, small creatures will not come. Thus, the saplings or plants will not come to any harm. But the plants will not get the necessary nutrients either. As a result, we will get good-looking products but they will not contain nutrients needed for our body.
Similarly, there are hundreds of microbes inside our intestines. But as we will be tackling that subject in another video, I shall not go into the details now. If we need to remain healthy, we should eat food that grows naturally. We shall explain that elaborately, using diagrams, in another video. What I wish to say is that the best way to enrich the soil with microbes is to introduce urine of indigenous cows and Beejamritham. This is recommended by Subhash Palekar, the agricultural scientist. In fact, all those who recommend these methods are trained scientists. Like Prof. Miyawaki or Masanobu Fukuoka or Dr Christine Jones. I don’t have that scientific background but I study and try to understand what they have said regarding this subject. What all of them say is that plants need microbes for their growth.
There are two species of cows – Bos indicus found in India and Asia, and Bos taurus found in other lands. There are different types – running to crores – of microbes in the stomach of the Bos indicus. Subhash Palekar found out a method to increase their numbers in the soil, and that is Jeevamritham. Following his method, we collect the dung of indigenous cow in a barrel. The dung should not be dry because as it grows old, the number of microbes in it decreases. So fresh dung should be used.
Collect 10 kg of fresh cow dung in the barrel, pour 10 litres of cow urine into it, and add two kg of powdered jaggery into it. Mix the solution well. Next, add two kg of powdered pulses in order to include protein into the mixture, for the sake of microbes. What we do here is we soak cow pea [Vigna unguiculata] in water, and then grind it to paste consistency. So the volume will increase. Do not use a lot of water. You may powder cow pea, if you so wish. It will mix with the solution quickly. Then, add a fistful of soil (which does not contain chemical fertilizers) taken from the plot where you do farming, and stir the solution in the clockwise direction. This is to harness the energy of Nature. I do not know anything more about that aspect. Sanal tells me that certain bacteria grow in the presence of oxygen. So the stirring takes care of aeration of the mixture. Then add 200 litres of water. Next close the mouth of the barrel using a jute sackcloth. This will permit air to enter the barrel. Keep the barrel under the shade of a tree.
The ingredients are 10 kg of fresh dung, 10 litres of cow urine, 2 kg of cow pea (in powder or paste form) and 2 kg of jaggery (in place of jaggery, you may use coconut water, 5-6 litres of it) in order to take care of fermentation. If indigenous fruits are available, they may be added too. Keep this mixture for two days to allow fermentation. Use it within 48 hours because as time goes, the number of microbes inside the mixture will begin to decrease. Now, add 100 times water into it and use it. That is, if you have prepared 200 litres, you can make it 20,000 litres. And use it in your plot to improve your farming.
There are people who complain that Jeevamritham did not yield the promised results when they used it. What they need to pay special attention to is that there is no point in merely pouring Jeevamrithan into the soil. You should have a thick mulch over the soil. If you pour Jeevamritham on dry soil, microbes will not grow because they need a favourable environment for growth. If you mulch the soil, the soil will remain moist and cool. It is on such a plot that you should sprinkle Jeevamritham. It is enough if you do it once every two weeks. Palekar says the dung of one cow is enough to do farming in 30 acres of land. I think that is right. Many people follow his method. That was named Zero-Budget Farming by Palekar himself. There isn’t much cost involved in it. The dung of one cow is sufficient. If that can be used for 30 acres of land, you can imagine the yield.
Then there is Beejamritham, a solution that will help seeds sprout with any damage. The method is nearly the same. There is only a minor difference. You will need only 5 kg of cow dung. Tie it up in a bundle. If you have 20 litres of Beejamritham, you can dip 100 kg of seeds in it, before sowing. In order to prepare it, take 5 kg of cow dung, tie it up in a bundle and soak it. In order to prepare Jeevamritham, you have to mix it in water and stir it. Here you leave it in a bundle inside a vessel of water. Let it remain so for 12 hours. The soft portions of the dung will dissolve in the water, leaving the solid parts inside the cloth. Squeeze the bundle cloth and collect that water. Then add 5 litres of fresh cow urine to it. Then add lime paste to it. You can either purchase it from small shops that sell paan or you should purchase shells, boil them in water and make the paste. Do not purchase fragrant lime paste because it contains other chemicals. Lime paste is alkaline and is added to dung water in order to neutralize its acidity.
Add only a small quantity of lime paste – 50 gm for 20 litres. That is 2.5 gm for one litre. Tie up the lime paste in a small bundle. Earlier, whenever wells were cleaned, lime paste was tied up in a bundle, tied to a rope and dropped into the well. Occasionally, we used to give the rope a shake or two so that the lime paste would dissolve in the well water. If we kids shook it more than three times, the elders of the family would tweak our ears. So that was a traditional water cleansing technique. Similarly, the lime paste bundle should be left in it for 12 hours after which it should be squeezed and then discarded. The lime paste and cow dung bundles can be prepared simultaneously and left in the vessel containing 2 litres of water. That is, 50 gm of lime paste in 2 litres of water. The 5 kg cow dung bundle is dipped in water in such a manner that it gets properly soaked. Add 5 litres of cow urine. All this will come to 20 litres of the mixture, to which you must add one fistful of fertilizer-free soil. Close the mouth of the vessel with a jute sackcloth so that air enters it. And stir it to allow oxygen to dissolve so that bacteria get a favourable environment to grow in. Keep the vessel under a shade. After 24 hours, seeds can be dipped in it.
Palekar recommended it for raising paddy, not elephant yam. He suggests that the seeds be spread out on a mat and the liquid Beejamritham sprinkled on them. Earlier, the corm of elephant yam was dipped in dung water and dried before it was buried in the soil. Same was the case with banana corms. I follow this method here. Let me see what the results are. Maybe I’ll lose a few seeds. But if they sprout, I shall let you know. Palekar recommends that the seeds should be spread and Beejamritham sprinkled over them. Here, we are dipping the seeds in Beejamritham, allowing them to dry, and then sowing them. That way, the plants will not get damaged easily as they grow. We are conducting the experiment. I suggest that you too do the same. Many have followed this technique and reaped rich rewards.