This article throws light upon the nine main principles for the promotion of ecological agriculture. The principles are: 1. Land Degradation 2. Water Management 3. Energy Management 4. Soil Nutrient 5. Genetic Diversity 6. Pest Management 7. Post-Harvest System 8. Systematic Approach 9. Location Specific Research and Development.
Principle # 1. Land Degradation:
Land should be classified on the basis of both biological potential and biological diversity with conservation intensity, restoration intensity and sustainable intensification areas. Thus agricultural land should not be used for non-agricultural purposes. The degradation level must be restored.
Principle # 2. Water Management:
The water must be effectively used and there must be sustainable management of available surface and ground water resources. There should be integrated policy for the conjunctive use of river, rain, ground, sea, and sewage water.
Principle # 3. Energy Management:
Energy should be managed in an integrated manner involving the use of renewable energy and non-renewable energy resources in appropriate manner which will bring the desired yield level.
Principle # 4. Soil Nutrient:
Soil nutrient supply from market purchased input be reduced instead organic sources of the plant nutrients be exported. The integrated system of nutrient supply should be adopted by means of crop rotation, green manures, and bio-fertilizers. Biodynamic systems that make significant use of compost and humus will help to improve soil structure and fertility.
Principle # 5. Genetic Diversity:
Genetic diversity and location specific varieties are essential for achieving sustainable advances in productivity. Genetic homogeneity is harmful there must be a blend of traditional and frontier technologies. Diversity of crops and crop varieties will be the result of such a joint endeavour, thus enhancing stability of yield.
But an Indian scientist, Dr. Richaria, has shown that indigenous varieties can be high yielding given the required inputs, and that the yield of many traditional farmers’ fall in or above the minimum limits set for high yields and their methods of cultivation deserve full attention.
Dr. Shiva says that “India is a Vavilov centre of genetic diversity of rice. Out of amazing diversity, Indian peasants and tribals have selected and improved many indigenous high yielding varieties. In South India, in semi-arid tracts of Deccan, yield went up to 5,000 kilos per hectare under tank and well irrigation. Under intensive manuring they could go even higher.”
Principle # 6. Pest Management:
Tropical and sub-tropical regions suffer from weeds, insect-pests, pathogens, therefore, an integrated pest management system needs development and adoption. Again, genetic diversity is essential to develop multiple resistance to biotic and abiotic stress. Biological pest control will do away with chemical pesticide. Pesticides prepared from Neem must be popularized.
Selective microbial pesticide offer particular promises of which strain of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) is an example. Transgenic techniques have made the transfer and expression of the Bt toxin possible in general crops. The application of genetic engineering as applied to pest control are growing rapidly. In order to prevent health hazards from the natural pesticides test should be given.
Principle # 7. Post-Harvest System:
In order to get the full benefit from production advances there should match between production and post-harvest technologies. Therefore, preparation of value added products from the available agricultural biomass is important both for enhancing income and ensuring good nutritional and consumers acceptance properties.
Drying, storing, marketing techniques should be less demanding on renewable energy. In food storage quantitative losses emerging from micro-toxin and bacterial food infection be totally prevented. Nucleic probes and monoclonal antibiotic can help in rapid diagnosis for which research and training investment is worthwhile.
Principle # 8. Systematic Approach:
Land, water, energy and credit availability should be utilized in a mutually reinforcing manner for maintaining ecological and economic sustainability. A system approach involving integrated attention to crops and livestock farming and agro-forestry and aquaculture will be helpful in generating more jobs and income at the same time protect soil health.
Principle # 9. Location Specific Research and Development:
The farm families should become partners in research and training with the scientists for development and dissemination of new technologies. Thus, food security will be carried on within carrying capacity of the supporting eco-systems. The motto should be “Think rationally and plan locally.”