Livestock and Natural Resource Management in Sustainable Agriculture.
Livestock have been associated with humankind since time immemorial. Domestic Animals plays different role in human life due to its complex interaction among man, animal and surrounding environment.Livestock in developing countries is considered as the most economically important sub-sector of agriculture which contributes up to 25% of agricultural GDP in our own context it contributes about 31% in national agricultural GDP excluding its contribution of animal drought power. Rural livelihood greatly depends on accessibility of natural resources. The livestock sector holds promises for significant improvement in rural income through efficient utilization of natural resources like land, water, grasslands and women work forces in rural level. Livestock provides nutritious food in the form of milk, meat, and eggs where as other products like hides, skin, wool, feathers, dung and urine etc for the well being of mankind. Livestock also makes a significant contribution as animal power for transportation and agricultural operation particularly in rural areas.
Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control and mechanical cultivation. Organic farming maintains organic matter at an optimal level in soil and it sustains reasonable productivity. Livestock plays an important role in relation to the general principle s of organic agriculture and supports biological cycles like carbon cycle, water cycle, oxygen cycle, nitrogen cycle, within the farming system and diversifying production. Sustainable agriculture is considered as a salubrious relation among soil, plant, livestock man and environment. In organic farming farmers uses natural processes to enhance productivity, maintain the nutritive status of the soil to be less dependent on external resources to keep cost down. Organic farming uses natural materials which are by products of the farm and these include the production of compost which is key elements of organic farming. Organic matters improves water holding capacity of light textured soils and enhances supply of nutrients particularly nitrogen, phosphorus, sulpher and at the same times makes theme less susceptible to leaching. In other hand organic matter makes heavy soils more porous, permits better aeration and also reduces crusting. The iron-organic complexes such as Fe-humate make iron more available to plant. Organic matter protects the boron against leaching which is required for maintaining the structure of plants. It is also essential for embryonic development and organogenesis in plants.Polysaccride, lignin and protein are major constitutes of organic matters. The benefits to soil from organic matter is ceaseless decomposition of plant and animal residue into simple inorganic compounds like carbon dioxide, water, nitrate, phosphate and sulphate which can be easily recycled by plants. The organic methods can help small farm family to survive, increase in farm productivity repair of decades of environmental damage, knit communities in to smaller more sustainable distribution networks all leading to improve food security around the world.
Several waste products of animal origin are used in organic farming can be listed below.
Composting is an aerobic decomposition technique of biodegradable organic matter. The decomposition is performed primarily by facultative and obligate aerobic bacteria; yeast in the cooler initial phase and in the end phase decomposition is performed by a number of larger organisms like oligochaete worms, springtails, ants and nematodes. Composition is a well established process in ecological agriculture followed in this part of globe since ancient time. It is environmentally safe and it enhances the nutritive value of the soil. It nurtures the organism in the soil which is generally destroyed by the use of the chemical fertilizer and pesticides. Compost significantly reduces cost of production. The making of compost means that farmer have to raise large number of cattle and has grass to feed theme. Cattle not only supply dung and urine for making of compost. The nutrient content of in compost varies greatly. It depends not only on different species but also between manure from different housing system with different storage system and farm. The quality of fodder strongly influences the amount of nutrient in the compost as 70-90% of the ingested nitrogen and phosphorous are excreted in manure. Well composted farmyard manure is easy to spread on the fields. Compost is almost free of toxic substances. As when well composting is done most of the pathogen and weed seeds are being destroyed. Use of compost improves the soil fertility. Application of compost may have reducing effect on attack of useful soil pathogens.
Vermicomposting is process of breakdown of organic matter by the joint action of earthworms and microorganism which does not involve the generation of high heat as in case of composting. It is the process of transforming farmyard manure into the compost with the help of earthworm. In Nepal both in rural and urban and peri urban area million of tons of livestock excreta are produced every year causing concern due to odour and pollution problems. Cattle shed manure supplies nearly 10 times as much nitrogen and phosphoric acid to the soil as other manures and fertilizers. Vermicomposting results in bioconversion of the waste streams into two useful products the earthworm biomass and the vermicompost.During Vermicomposting important plant nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus ,potassium and calcium present in feed material are converted into form that are much more soluble and easily available to plants.
Slurry is the mixture of faeces and urine it contains approximately 60% of faeces and 40% of urine. The main component in urine is urea. Some salts are also present with vitamins, hormones and enzymes. Phosphorus is absent in urine and potassium is found in mineral form which is easily available to the plants. Slurry should be stored at least for two month especially under cold conditions to reduce the parasitic load.
It is being considered as a natural disinfectant and pest repellent. Since very long time universally being used in combination with various plants or dung to manufacture plant growth promoting products. Cow dung and urine are two bio-matters which can be used methodically to get better result in controlling several plant pathogenic fungi. It can be also substituted for phenyl. If 10 liters of cow urine mixed with one kg of neem and 100g of garlic and boiled till its volume comes to half filter this mixture can be used for controlling insect in vegetable, legumes in cotton at the rate of 50ml liquid in per liter of water.
Biogas refers to a gas produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Biogas originates from biogenic materials and is types of biofuel.The biogas plant have become a boon to the rural farmers in Nepal. The two main product of it are enriched compost manure and methane. Biogas is used for cooking, lighting purpose and in case of large plants as motive power for driving small engines. The wide scale utilization of biogas and compost making technology offers the most appropriate answer to solve three national interconnected major problems which the countries are facing today called three F’s food, fertilizer and fuel. Biogas system have immense potential for waste recycling, improves public health and hygien,pollution control, environmental management which is important for developing countries now a days. The biogas is an ideal inexhaustible source of energy that could serve the rural area very well. Utilization of biogas reduces the consumption of commercial energy sources like coal, kerosene which results in reduction of family fuel budget. Forest wealth of nation is also saved. Valuable organic fertilizers can be obtained thus reducing the dependences on chemical fertilizers.
Thus livestock by utilizing the natural resources produces high value nutritious food to human kind which helps to earn the profit for farming communities and also help in food security. As the livestock byproducts if utilized properly it not only provides organic manure for agriculture production but also contributes the fuel energy .Which maintains the soil fertility and increases the productivity. Also by utilizing the livestock byproduct the environmental protection, safeguarding the public health reduction in environmental pollution can be achieved for this we only need the awareness activities to be carried out in rural farming communities if it is being so we need no worried about uncertain shortage of commercial chemical fertilizer now and then.
Tags: agriculture livestock, green manure, livestock sector, manure compost, natural resource management