Producing Herbs Through Natural Farming Technology
For over four years now, Herbanext has been using vermicasting with very good results as an organic fertilizer and foliar spray for its various medicinal herbs. Vermicasting is an excellent source of nutrients for organic farming and enhances plant resistance to some diseases caused by insects, nematodes, fungi, and bacteria. It also has an aggregated structure and a high content of humus which improves significantly the soil texture and its water holding capacity.
Certain non-aromatic herbs, however, are particularly attractive to insects and can suffer heavy damaged during summer months where insect infestations tend to be high. To cope up with this problem, Herbanext has adapted Natural Farming technology in its farm. Natural Farming is a relatively new concept of organic farming in the Philippines which originated in Japan and South Korea.
Like conventional organic farming, Natural Farming does not use any chemical-based implements including insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Unlike conventional organic farming, however, Natural Farming teaches farmers simple fermentation techniques among other farm-based technologies to produce their own organic implements utilizing as much as possible resources available from within the farm. These organic implements include Indigenous Microorganisms (IMO), Fermented Plant Juice (FPJ), Fermented Fruit Juice (FFJ), Lactic Acid Bacteria Serum (LABS), Fish Amino Acid (FAA), Oriental Herbal Nutrients (OHN), Calcium Nutrient, and Calcium Phosphate Nutrient. The farming system is divided into three stages, namely: vegetative stage, change over stage, reproductive stage. Specific combination of these concoctions is sprayed according to the growth stage of the plant.
Natural Farming concoctions which contain live microorganisms feed both the plant and the soil (especially IMO and LABS). The inoculation and “cultivation” of beneficial microorganisms in the soil is a very important practice in Natural Farming as this allows vital nutrients and minerals to be available to the plants. It also promotes the proliferation of earthworms and other higher soil organisms which contribute to the overall fertility of the soil. It is remarkable to notice that plants grow very healthy and virtually pest-free without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. In the event of pest infestation, natural farming also has at its disposal various botanical extracts as repellants, such as kakawate, makabuhay, chili peppers, and garlic.
The concept of natural farming is actually not limited to agricultural crops but is also applied to animal farming utilizing similar fermented products and botanical extracts in lieu of synthetic chemicals and antibiotics. In the Philippines, the natural farming already has serious practitioners coming from all walks of life, from small rural farmers to weekend agriculturists and to large-scale farmers. To the serious proponents of organic farming and organic foods, natural farming is fast becoming the technology of choice because of the high quality of products produced, the very low cost of inputs required, and the use of natural environment-friendly concoctions which do not pollute the environment.