Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

an ode to the earthworm

the humble earthworm (manpuzhu in tamil and kechua in hindi) is by a significant lead - the most critical component in farming/agriculture.
to the extent that they have been rated as the top species ever on this planet.
in my ratings they would occupy all the spots from 1 to 10.
what makes them special?
1. conversion of organic matter to plant nutrients. they just chomp up leaves, etc and their poop becomes feed material to plants. this service is super-vital to the ecology.

2. soil aeration and friability - they eat and poop constantly - around 1.5 times their body weight. this poop is called castings.
we found tons of their castings in an unexpected area and boy, were we over the moon..!!

this is a process of continuous tilling of the soil. and as the pooping has to be done on the top of the soil, they tunnel in and out of the soil over 10-12 times a day.
it is estimated that in a well maintained agricultural field, over 6 tons of castings are released each day.
hence the soil gets its necessary dosage of oxygen and the soil becomes loose and crumbly (friable) through this process.

3. tireless workers - they are constantly chewing it up and throwing it out. no 9 to 5, no overtime, no DA, batta, nothing. just doing their thing with no care of the world (except hungry birds).

some of this info was from the legendary bhaskarbhai save, who summarises, "why do we need to add fertiliser or till the soil, when these fellows are constantly doing it?"
point, well made indeed.

if ever we build a temple at pR, the presiding deity will guessed it.


Magesh said...

Hi Sriram,

I have been following your site for the past 1 month. Very interesting and informative.

I am living in Bangalore and have been trying to use organic products instead of the synthetic and chemical filled products.

I have been reading about the use of soap-nuts (actually a fruit) for all cleaning purpose. I heard that it is the best natural soap and can be used for washing clothes, utensils, and even bathing.

Have you heard about it?


csm said...

hi mahesh - good to see you here.
you should try sahaj samruddha in blore as a good place for organic products.
we have a soap nut package from daily dump (also from blore). it is highly recommended (including for washing machine). we are yet to use it thought.
we think that it is the way to go forward here at pR.
you should go for it certainly.

Vanessa said...

@ Magesh, csm
Isn't soap-nut nothing but Ritha?
I have heard about its use for bathing/ in shampoo. Never heard of its use for washing clothes, utensils etc.
Do you really think it is strong enough?
I very much doubt. I sometimes got Rithas (fallen) from Ratnagiri. Used them for shampooing. I would soak them overnight and then use the water as shampoo. It hardly had any soapy feel or bubbles. Very very mild version of soap IMO. Which of course is great for skin/hair.

csm said...

v - soap nut = ritha. totally right.

the daily dump version is a sister species of ritha (maybe rita bhaduri) which is suitable for clothes.