Kartar, 38, lives on the farm where he grew up in Punjab, but he’s adding a twist to the family tradition. In place of what he calls the farm’s “rigid, chemical-based” practices, he’s transitioning his 280 acres to organic farming methods.
It has been a rigorous process. He’s navigated challenges through trial and error because—despite the growth of organic agriculture—there isn’t an organized mentor or a playbook to follow. On a conventional farm, he says, “I hire labor to come out and spray our whole farm within a day, and then come and spread the nutrients, the fertilizer. I can’t do that with organic.”
It’s not a matter of simply turning off the chemicals. New age Farmers who actually want to recreate a link to a ‘Healthy Past’ must learn to manage soil nutrients without chemical fertilizers and tackle weeds and insects without chemically produced herbicides and insecticides. It’s a steep learning curve.
Through the years, our soil has been contaminated by chemicals. The unregulated use of chemical fertilizers has killed the good bacteria in the soil. This good bacteria creates nutrients and helps produce naturally nutrient crops. However, the use of chemicals has killed this bacteria and started a vicious cycle where the farmer uses ever more chemicals to get more crops as the bacteria in the soil is just not enough to even provide basic nutrients. The repeated use of these chemicals every year further reduces the bacteria and therefore needs even more chemicals with each sowing circle.
According to some studies, there are billions of microbes in a teaspoon (roughly 10gms) of fertile soil. According to some other studies, microbes have fallen to a few thousand in the same mass in some parts of India. From living soil, we are slowly going towards dead soil that produces crops only due to the administration of harmful chemicals.
Not only do soil microorganisms nourish and protect plants, but they also play a crucial role in providing many “ecosystem services” that are absolutely critical to human survival. By many calculations, the living soil is the Earth’s most valuable ecosystem, providing ecological services such as climate regulation, mitigation of drought and floods, soil erosion prevention, and water filtration, worth trillions of dollars each year. Those who study the human microbiome have now begun to borrow the term “ecosystem services” to describe critical functions played by microorganisms in human health.
So, not only have we hindered natural processes that nourish crops and sequester carbon in cultivated land, but modern agriculture has become one of the biggest causes of climate instability. Our current global food system, from clearing forests to growing food, to fertilizer manufacturing, to food storage and packaging, is responsible for up to one-third of all human-caused greenhouse-gas emissions. This is more than all the cars and trucks in the transportation sector, which accounts for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gases globally.
Farmers like Kartar are fighting almost insurmountable odds against a rapidly degenerating farming ecosystem. They are true KISAN of tomorrow, helping us protect the world and bring palatable, eco-friendly food to our table that will not only help us feed our hunger, but act as catalysts to good health and productive life. They are the super warriors that will change the way we live.
We at Earthy Tales are but a small part of the Eco System that Kartar and many of his friends are fighting to preserve through their undying efforts. We only help in bringing their produce to your tables. We are just the transmitters of their efforts in preserving your family’s health.
We are humbled by their efforts and the responsibility of the revolution they have undertaken.