A Journey From the Soil to the Soul

Saturday, January 25, 2020
3:30 pm to 4:45 pm

Workshop Description

“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Punjab, a northern state of India, was once known for having one of the richest soils in the world.

The “Green Revolution” depleted the soil to the extent that today it yields more farmer suicides than crop production.

The farmers are tired and the soil is weary by the incessant use of chemical inputs.

In 2004 Biodynamic practices were initiated on a conventional farm in central Punjab. Alkalinity in the soil, by 55 years of chemicalization, was visible to the naked eye. The incorporation of green manures, BD compost, BD 500 and CPP manure revived the fertility and soil carbon. The gradual build up of humus brought down the irrigation and ploughing by 50%. Crop rotation gave weeds a chance to thrive and express the character of the soil. They too were used as a soil cover and green manure.

This micro ecosystem lured back flocks of birds to the farm. Over 50 species have been photographed, some are new to the region.

Variety of beetles, bees, spiders, snakes, rodents, butterflies have been documented and so have a range of fungi.

The biodiversity is an indicator of the enhanced symbiosis created by BD practices.

Temperatures below 5°C in winters and 47°C in summers are congenial to grow a diverse variety of crops. Wheat, rice, maze, millets, oats are cereals grown. Oil seeds consist of mustard, flax, sesame and rapeseed. Horse gram, moong, pigeon pea and beans are pulses grown. Besides chilies and turmeric as spices, all winter and summer seasonal vegetables are cultivated. Napier, rye, guinea are the grasses, other fodder crops are clover and millets.

The farm is IMO certified. In a span of 12 years, over 400 photos have been captured to show a visual presentation of the changes observed related to soil, crops, flora and fauna by the application of Biodynamic Practices.

Topics covered will include:

  • Basic Biodynamics
  • Manures; green, Liquid, BD compost, CPP, BD500, 501.
  • Mulching
  • Weeds
  • Birds
  • Insects
  • Crops
  • Biodiversity
chattha collage sharing knowledge

Sharing knowledge with other farmers.

chattha collage mulch

Making compost.

c 201 1080 sq

Plowing green manure.

c 204 1080 sq

Burying the cow horns in a pit in the fall.  They are filled with cow dung – the process of making BD500 / horn manure.

c 205 1080 sq

The horn manure (BD500) is ready in spring and Jaspal is extracting it from the cows horns.

Untitled 1080 sq

Vegetables on the farm.

Chattha collage grasses

14 varieties of grass from a 100 square feet on the farm (right)

Chattha collage Fungi

Photos of some of the fungi on the farm.

Chattha Collage Insects

A few of the insects on the farm.

Speaker: Jaspal Chattha

Punjab is a northern state of India, the land of the five rivers. It is known for its fertile soil and generations of agricultural history.

My fore fathers were farmers in Punjab.

In 1960 the region was organic by default, chemical fertilizers were not heard of.

Before the machines came in, I had a chance to work with oxen, whether it was ploughing or turning the Persian wheel to irrigate the fields.

Going to a boarding school and returning with a degree with Honours in Geography was good paper work but walking back to a conventional farm, ravaged by the “Green Revolution”, was an eye opener.

The feet and spirit both hurt to walk upon such soil.

Chemical inputs had turned the soil weary and sick.

In 2002 I heard about Biodynamics and went through a formal training in 2004. Peter Proctor, David Hogg, Binita Shah and Hugh Lovell were my first teachers.

My religious Biodynamic striving, to undo the damage done by chemicals, gradually revived and rejuvenated the sick soil.

Supa Agricultural Research Group, Nainital have me as their faculty. I work with Naandi Foundation, Hyderabad, as a consultant and was a managing committee member of the BD Association of India.

Farming and training other farmers is my passion and have being doing so with the mentioned organisations.

My farm was featured in a documentary film, “The Symphony of the Soil,”