Field research on organic farming inputs on Annapurna farm, Auroville

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Initiated in June 2015 on Annapurna Farm, the largest of Auroville’s organic farms, EcoPro runs a research project comparing the impact of six different organic inputs on ten field plots of 600-700 sq.m. each. Annapurna grows paddy on an area of 6 ha and more, and our research plots are part of the cultivated area. We measure the impact of the inputs on paddy yields and on soil parameters.

  1. Organic inputs as practiced on the farm (green manuring and application of farmyard manure – FYM) on control plots. [C] While these basic organic practices and inputs are the same on all plots, the amounts of FYM differ in relation to the amounts of other compost inputs.
  2. Biodynamic preparations i.e. applications of BD 500 (horn manure), BD 501 (horn silica), cow pat pit (CPP) and BD compost; [BD]
  3. “Effective Microorganisms”; [EM]
  4. Terra preta i.e. biochar-based compost; [TP]
  5. [BD + TP]
  6. [EM + TP]

Biochar and Terra Preta

Biochar is a highly porous substance obtained by pyrolysis i.e. the thermochemical conversion of biowaste in the absence of oxygen, in our case of waste wood from Auroville farms and forest, with the help of a kiln model named Kon-Tiki. Biochar-enriched soils found in the Amazon forest and other parts of the world were observed to be long-term carbon-stable, rich in organic matter and highly productive.
Terra preta is Portuguese for “black soil”, i.e. for soil or for compost that is based on biochar. We produce it in soil pits by composting animal and plant waste mixed with biochar and rock dust.