India is an agricultural society with more than lakhs of farmers dependent on this sector for a living. Even in this era of rapid modernization and industrialization, the economy of India largely depends on the success of agricultural production and more than 35%-40% of India’s national income comes from the agricultural sector. But with the rapid process of urbanization and a higher standard of living, the population of the country is increasing at an alarming rate. However, the quantity of land on this earth is fixed and the land allotted for agriculture is shrinking day by day with more land being used for accommodation purposes of this ever-growing population.
Thus, the only alternative left to us for feeding this huge number of people is by switching to modern agriculture with high yielding varieties of crops providing an increased amount of yield per unit area. On the other hand, greater population size is responsible for more pollution of natural resources such as air, water, soil and so on. For checking this ever-increasing amount of pollution, switching to organic farming is the need of the hour for sustainable development of the future of our planet as well as future generations.
The Neem –
Scientific name: Azadirachta indica
Neem Cake as Organic Manure –
It is the by-product obtained in the process of cold pressing of neem tree fruits and kernels, and the solvent extraction process for neem oil cake. It is a potential source of organic manure meeting all international standards. Neem seed cake can be used as manure as well as a nitrification inhibitor. Also, after processing, neem cake can be used for partial replacement of poultry and cattle feed.
Components of Neem cake manure –
Neem cake contains Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium (NPK) in adequate quantities and completely in the organic form which is essential for plant growth. As a completely organic and botanical product, neem cakes are devoid of any additional inorganic or chemical forms of the nutrients. The one hundred per cent natural components of the neem cake are as follows –
The cake is rich in both sulphur compounds and liminoids. The cake also contains various compounds like azadiradione, salannin, nimbin and azadirachtin as the major components.
Neem cakes make the soil more fertile not by adding nutrients to the soil but by blocking soil bacteria from converting nitrogenous compounds back into nitrogen gas. It is a nitrification inhibitor and thus prolongs the availability of nitrogen to both short duration as well as long duration crops.
Use of Neem cakes as fertilizer –
Neem cakes protect the plant roots from the invasion of nematodes, soil grubs and white ants as well. With naturally fertilizing properties, the cakes have amazing pesticidal properties. In India, neem cakes can be used for fertilizing paddy, cotton and sugarcane. Using neem cakes as manures have shown positive results in increasing the dry matter of various crops and trees.
Neem cakes also perform an important function in reducing the alkalinity in soil, as it produces organic acids on decomposition. The acids being produced from totally natural sources are extensively compatible with the soil microbes and roots of the plants and thus ensure the fertility of the soil. Neem cake improves the overall organic matter content of the soil, helping to improve soil texture, water holding capacity and soil aeration for better root development.
Benefits of using organic neem cake manure –
It has been proven by various researches that neem extracts are completely non-toxic to humans. These extracts also are not at all toxic to birds, to beneficial insects and help to protect the crops from various pests at the same time. Several other reasons include –
· It is completely biodegradable and thus no waste or pollution will be generated after application and can be used with many other different types of fertilizers.
· It will enhance the efficiency of other fertilizers by inhibiting nitrification.
· It is completely free from heavy metals and therefore is totally safe for use in home gardens or large agricultural fields.
· It is a slow-release fertilizer and thus ensures uniform release of nutrients during the critical stages of growth of the plants.
· Neem cakes are more cost-efficient than other fertilizers because the fertilizer in them lasts longer. They remain effective until the next batch of the crop is planted because of their long sustaining organic fertilizer compounds. As a result, the cost of using extra nutrients is cut.
· Using neem cakes increase the water holding capacity of the soil and also improve the soil structure.
How to apply neem cakes –
The following methods can be applied for applying neem cakes in the soil –
1. The soil where the neem cakes are to be amended should first be ploughed deeply. This will disrupt the habitation of deep soil nematodes by bringing them to the surface of topsoil.
2. The neem cakes should be mixed thoroughly with the soil around the roots of plants, vegetables, shrubs and trees as per the dosages mentioned in the labels. They can be applied exclusively or can be applied mixed with other fertilizers such as urea.