Express press service
NAGAPATTINAM: Can the crops for our food be prepared in an organic and nutritious way using carefully prepared inputs in the delta? N Veeraragavan, a school principal from Pannal village in Nagapattinam district, has an emphatic yes for an answer. The 56-year-old headmaster of Panchayat Union Primary School grows crops using an advanced organic farming method called “biodynamic farming”.
Veeraragavan, who successfully practiced ‘biodynamic agriculture’ (Uyir Iyakka Velanmai), as a first in the delta district, says, “My goal is to help create a healthy society through organic food. I want people to live free from disease. Biodynamic agriculture enriches our crops, adds more nutritional value and makes our food healthier and tastier.”
Veeraragavan grows crops such as paddy, coconut, sesame, banana, mango and jasmine on his 10 acre plot in Adhanur village near Vedaranyam using this method.
Among the established practices of biodynamic agriculture, Veeraragavan makes and applies four. These are horn manure (Kombu Saanam), horn silica (Kombu Manarchatthu), Cow Pit Fertilizer (Pasunchaan Kuzhi Uram) and Biodynamic Compost (Uyiriyakka Kooteru)
“There are only a few biodynamic farmers across Tamil Nadu. Most of them are in the western districts. learned biodynamic farming methods from my mentors T Navaneedhakrishnan and Mahesh Melvyn. I started using their inputs for a year. Then I started making my fertilizers and saw significant benefits,” says Veeraragavan.
He makes horn manure and horn silica using cattle horns as containers during the annual preparation months. He’s made hundreds of pounds of cow dung pit fertilizer in a pit shed and made tons of biodynamic compost over the past year. He uses dung from his cows, silica from building debris, eggshells from bakeries and green waste from his trees as ingredients.
Veeraragavan follows a schedule to make and apply them. “Biodynamic farmers follow astronomically important days to apply fertilizers and achieve a higher quality of productivity. As my father was an astrologer, I follow the astrological calendar religiously,” adds Veeraragavan.
He buys fertilizers like yarrow compost, chamomile compost, stinging nettle compost, oak bark compost, dandelion compost and valerian compost from other biodynamic farmers and for his cultures. The ones he buys from others are prepared using cleansed animal organs like deer bladders, cattle intestines, cattle skulls, and bovine visceral membranes as containers by other biodynamic farmers. However, Veeraragavan’s family eats vegetarian food.
Veeraragavan’s farming method impressed the Department of Agriculture. S Panneerselvam, co-director of the department, says: “Biodynamic agriculture is still theoretical for many farmers and academics. Veeraragavan took the initiative to practice it. We hope many farmers will learn from him. We plan to invite him to our organic farming workshops. agriculture.”
Veeraragavan is also trying to motivate more farmers in Vedaranyam to practice biodynamic agriculture.
R Karthikeyan, Tamil teacher and farmer from Pushpavanam, says, “I used the agricultural inputs from Veeraragavan biodynamic agriculture. It has helped me nourish my paddy crops and revive my flowering plants. Now I have started making fertilizers like him, following his methods for my crop.”