organic farming

White Plumage Friends in Organic Farming

White Plumage Friends in Organic Farming 
- Amina Bibi

Organic Farming is a method of crop production which involves an integration of different farming systems like crop, cattle, fish, poultry etc.  The bio-network forms a cycle of effective utilization of resources which often results in sustainability through the enhancement of soil fertility and biological diversity. 

I happen to observe one such organic field loaded with well decomposed cattle waste (Farm Yard manure). The field was very thirsty, thanks to the vagaries of monsoon. On receipt of a good rainfall after a very long time, the dumped farmyard manure became slurry and the nutrient rich solution penetrated in the soil. During land preparation, the puddling (tillage of field in flooded condition) is the first farm operation of Paddy cultivation,  I could see hundreds of visitors – White Plumage friends.

Being a nature lover, I admired seeing the White Plumage Friends. Yes, they are here for the first time. I had seen Mynahs, King Crow, sparrows, Kingfishers. Fleets of Egrets – Little Egrets, Giant Egrets, Snowy Egrets and Cattle Egrets were busy picking the insects and grubs. Egrets are new to this area.
Puddling the paddy field with tractor accompanied with a fleet of White Plumage Friends was an evidence of biodiversity. The fleets comprising of Egrets and Herons with a large number of Cattle Egrets were literally cleaning the field. I saw similar situation of white Plumage friends voraciously feeding on grubs and insects during summer ploughing of the fields too. Summer Ploughing (Ploughing the field during summer to recharge soil profile) helps to kill weeds, hibernating insects and disease-causing organisms by exposing them to the summer. Activity of White Plumage friends were seen during summer ploughing of organic Farm too. They were actively feeding on the grubs and insects which were hidden in the field brought up due to the tillage. This activity of Plumage Friends would reduce the cost of Plant Protection to the farmer. When the grubs and insects are controlled at the initial stage of crop cultivation the crops grow with low pest load. Hence the need for pesticide usage is greatly reduced. The presence of Plumage Friends for the entire crop duration would keep the insect population in control. This condition favors the biodiversity and ensures food security for the people.

It is obvious that role of plumage friends are vital and pave a way to healthy living. They are present right from the land preparation activity in the field. They are active in action to keep the pests in control throughout the cropping period. They also save the crop from rodent damage at the final stage (Pre - harvesting) of the crop. Organic Farming is the way of cultivating crops including many organisms in a network. All interlinked in such a way the ecological balance is maintained. On the contrary, if pesticides are sprayed to protect the crop, the Plumage friends’ lose their feed. On feeding the insects with pesticide load result in thin shelled eggs hence the population reduction results in INCREASED PEST LOAD due to absence of Plumage friends to keep it in control. Then it is a vicious cycle to use even more pesticides. Ultimately the entire biodiversity is disturbed. Let us encourage and educate of farmers to turn to Organic farming and feed the world naturally.  
K. Amina Bibi is  Agriculture Officer,  Pondicherry, India

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