Ecoscience Research Foundation "Earthworm is the pulse of the soil,
healthier the pulse healthier the soil"
Nature bestows everything in due balance - the hill and the valleys, the plains, the deserts, the meandering rivers and the voluminous oceans all bear testimony to the creation and the might of nature. The magnificent tall trees reaching the sky made Kahlil Gibran describe them in The Prophet as "poems that the earth writes on the sky".

Man is one peculiar animal in the biodiversity of nature. He has always preferred a forest edge. In dense forests he axed the trees, but did he cut them all? Well, no! And in the grasslands, he planted trees. Man therefore preferred to live along with the trees. Today's man is no more that Homo sapiens who had all these honest desires. He prefers to be called as the master of creation. He names his programs as "Man and the Biosphere." He justifies identifying himself distinctly different from all the other biological inhabitants on earth. This change of attitude has directed man to depend more on his technology than on nature making him forget that his technology one day may be his grave.

Man's unplanned behaviour and repulsive gestures have eroded the earth of its purity. He justifies his actions in the name of humanity by providing deforested land for food and shelter - I mean, agriculture and housing. Though to some extent true in countries with growing population, the callous disregard for forests is justified by planting monocultures through social forestry projects. Environmental lungs are getting diseased and the day is not far when we may demand for oxygen from an air devoid of it. There is absolutely no hope that we can survive anaerobically (Biotechnologists can think of genetic engineering here!). Better therefore plant your oxygen (I mean trees) today. 

Forests support a large biodiversity of organisms ranging from the tiny microbes to the large mammals like the apes. Plants and animals have increased in their diversity since the coming of oxygen in the atmosphere, that is millions of years before even man existed. Man is the first and the only creature to establish a RED BOOK to record how unceremoniously he has destroyed diversity. Today, in spite of man, a large diversity still exists in South America, Africa and many parts of Asia. United States of America, the largest investor in multinational companies, who depends on products of natural origin, also probably has a large biodiversity, not on their soils but definitely in their supermarkets.

Talking of Sustainable Agriculture (SA), the stress normally is laid on soils, its fertility and its productivity. SA is a holistic approach. Healthy soils need good water and good air to support production. The SA component should therefore include water management and air quality. What has nature taught us? In natural ecosystems many of the organisms like the microbes (bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes and protozoan), microarthropods, molluscs, insects and the earthworms compost all the litter. The resulting humus is incorporated into the soil. Soils have a characteristic scent. Do soils really have that scent in them? The answer is a definite NO. Dry soil has no odour, water is odourless -- but healthy moist soils do give the characteristic scent. This is due to the sweat and blood of living organisms in the soil, as they toil to keep mother earth happy. We add tons of chemicals under the pretext of a green (colour and not prosperity) revolution and destroy the soil biological component, killing the earth in the process. The results are now evident in the form of non-productive "dead" soils. We then call them wastelands. They are not "waste" lands, but certainly "wasted" lands.

Soil fertility has become one of the most important jargons of a conventional agronomist. This term has been directly correlated to fertilizers. The absurd notion: "more fertility with more fertilizers" has indeed robbed the soil of its fertility. The traditional concept to evaluate the soil had been its quality or health. Soil health is a more appropriate term as it reflects the entire system and not just the chemical status of the soil. Soil health not just includes the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil but also the biotic components of the soils. It is the "living" soil. Though multitudes of soil organisms are related to soil health, earthworm is the pulse of the soil. Thus healthier the pulse, healthier is the soil. To an agronomist soil may be a mineral matter. It is not so to a traditional farmer who calls the soil, mother. Soil to a SA farmer is a living organism and not just mineral matter. A living organism is characterized by the presence of a digestive system, a respiratory system, a circulatory system, an excretory system and a reproductive system. A soil can also be described to possess these systems, as the soil can "digest" any dead organism buried into it, can "respire", can "circulate" nutrients through it, can selectively "excrete" salts to the surface in saline soils, and helps the plants establish a "placental" connection to it. Venerated as "mother" by the SA farmer, he always wants her to be "dressed" with mulch and does not strip her to sun's fury as does a conventional farmer.

Nature pollutes the environment but knows how to handle it. Man also pollutes, but the pollution he and his technology have produced is such that neither he nor his technology knows how to handle it. He calls this end product as garbage, and dumps it just anywhere, as he strongly believes in NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard).

There are 21 major cities in the world and more than half of these exist in Asia, where a large amount of organic biomass is being wasted. There is a tremendous demand for organic matter in the soils today. On one hand the soils are starving for want of organic matter while on the other man is setting to flames agro waste and urban-based compostable wastes. One established solution to this problem of satisfying the soil's demand as well as solving the problem of organic waste management is composting. Technology on composting is abundantly available in our country. Ranging from the typical anaerobic composting to a variety of aerobic composting procedures (biodung composting, Nadep composting, vermicomposting, etc) have been time and again proved on field situations.

Though one single solution cannot handle the problem of all the garbage from urban centres, a variety of composting procedures can indeed be tried and implemented. The cost of establishing such composting procedures in large scale may range from a relatively low cost to extremely high costs when sophisticated machinery is involved. The Governments, Municipal Corporations, Municipalities and Panchayats can definitely start Pilot units and then expand them on commercial basis. The act of composting garbage is not new as the civic bodies were accustomed to do these decades back. Why, even today in some smaller towns the dumping yard is popularly known as compost yard.

Interested citizens can compost their garbage within their premises. Garbage means "material of no use" or "refuse". Once we start composting garbage then garbage is no more a "refuse" but a "resource".

Do not waste waste, waste is precious. Any takers!!!
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