Humus is the heart of the soil and forms the basis of agriculture. It is one of the irreplaceable pillars of farming, so every successful farm is dependent on humus for its flourishing. Do not confuse this humus with the delicious dip as this one is not nearly as appetizing, at least not to people. Humus is, however, the food stock for crops. It provides the much-needed richness to the soil and defines the fertility and prosperity of the soil.
Humus is created due to the decomposition of the dead bodies of all living beings. These include but are not limited to, plants, animals, and other microorganisms in the soil. Continual microorganism activity is a necessary feature of any good humus. The humus, in turn, helps nourish all the plants growing, by greatly improving the quality of the soil. The entire system functions due to the parallel processes of creation along with decomposition. Humus is created by continuously mulching the soil. For creating good quality humus, we recycle everything back to the soil. This means we use all the shreds of the trees, the straw, the residue of all the crops, the plucked weeds and mulch, and put them to use together. The only way to increase the humus in the soil is to mulch, mulch, and mulch again. The more you add organic matter to your soil, the more humus will be created. It is undeniably a rather slow process, but a promising one.
My personal experience with experimentation and farming has been very extensive. In the past, I have tried many techniques to condition my soil. Some of these methods were very heavy on my purse including some expensive organic manure. I even tried vermiculture. It was expensive and complicated. None of these methods sat well with me until I came to a realization. This realization changed everything. I finally saw that I did not need to get anything from outside. Everything I could possibly use, was available on my farm. I just had to recycle it back to the earth.
It is like a never-ending cycle. It simply requires me to give back to my soil everything it has given me. This basically translates to us collecting all the dried leaves, straw, hay, left over of all the crops, wood and twigs which can be converted to sawdust. All these raw materials have the potential to become good humus. However, the main ingredient that transforms all these into humus is the Indian cow’s dung and urine. One layer of the Indian cow dung mixed with all the other organic matter works as a culture and increases the count of microorganism activity in the soil. The more I increase the quantity of cow dung in the soil, the greater the activity of microorganisms. This results in the creation of a lot more humus. The day I started to use the Indian cow dung as a culture was the day on which all the magic began.
The cow dung helps in many ways. One of them is by activating the microorganisms in the soil, which mainly refers to increasing the number of local earthworms. The earthworm is the most valuable player in the process of natural farming. There are many recipes for natural fertilizers created by the brilliant masters of the organic farms’ culture in India. Most of them use Indian cow dung and urine as an activator of culture.
The process of making humus is very mystical. It is a method which uses death to create life. All the waste matter from farms, which would otherwise be abandoned as trash is instead utilized to give rise to life. All that was given by the earth, including the so-called waste material, goes back to the earth and it turns into this black gold known as ‘Humus’.
All I do is create a ring around my trees; the diameter of the ring is the size of the shadow cast by my tree at 12 noon. This is where the roots of the tree are. The circumference of the branches of the tree is equal and parallel to the roots of the tree. We make a ring on that same circumference line, dig up a little and create a cavity. Inside the ring, we keep mulching with all the organic ingredients and farm waste. Along with this, we sprinkle a thin layer of Indian cow dung and again cover it with mulch. As I said, this is where the roots of the tree are. The roots essentially work as the mouth of the tree, from which the tree will receive all its nutrition. This layering is a continuous process. The water sprinklers and rainwater helps in the breakdown of these ingredients and preparation of humus.
Some of the benefits of creating humus in your soil are as follows
1) Humus helps improve the overall quality of the soil. It refines the texture and increases its water absorption power. One of the most important functions of Humus is to improve infiltration and drainage.
2) It acts as a mediator between the elements of the soil and the crop.
3) It is a prominent source of nutrients and energy for the soil. It helps in the supply of nutrients like phosphate, sulphur, hydrogen, oxygen, etc. to the plants. All these nutrients are deposited in the humus by decomposition of proteins and other organic matter, which are introduced from the residue of the crops. Humus makes these nutrients available to the plants so it can be absorbed through its roots.
4) Humus helps make the soil rich. It helps in improving the productivity and fertility of the soil.
5) It is the most important source of nitrogen for tall trees.
6) Cattle and other animals which live on the fodder cultivated through the use of hummus, are stout and healthy. They have a higher resistance to illness. The quality of their dung and urine is of superior quality, which in turn helps in improving the soil conditioning.
7) Plants that are grown in adequate humus are naturally healthier and have a higher ratio of surviving and combating diseases.
8) Humus is like a big layer of sponge that can hold up to 80% – 90% of its weight in water.
This large capacity to hold water helps keep the soil moist for longer.
(However, it has to be mulched time and again and needs to be kept covered with a large layer of mulch, to protect the microorganisms in the humus from the harsh climate and environment).
9) Essential nutrients like ammonia, calcium, get stored in the sponge of the humus. This prevents them from being washed away in the rain, and this, in turn, improves the essential nutrient supply to the plants through the plant root. It acts as a continuous source of natural fertilizer to your plant.
I have personally seen the brightness and lustre improving in my crops because of the humus.
My plants feel fresh and healthy. To me, they look happy. When the humus quantity in my soil is adequate, I feel my flowers are richer in colour and aroma. My garden is lush green and my orchards are bountiful. The great effects of humus are seen almost instantly on my crops. Both the quantity and quality of my produce is better. My vegetables and grains are healthy, excellent in taste, and balanced in nourishment. It helps in increasing the soil fertility as well.