Zero Budget Natural Farming

2022 JAN 14

Preliminary   > Agriculture   >   Miscellaneous   >   Agri-revolutions

Why in news?

  • Large scale adoption of Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF)  would result in ‘tremendous reduction’ in production of agricultural crops thus comprising India’s food security, an expert committee set up by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has stated.

Zero budget natural farming:

  • Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF) is a farm practices which exclude all synthetic chemical inputs and promote use of on-farm biomass
  • It is also a grassroots peasant movement, which has spread to various states in India.
  • It has attained wide success in southern India, especially the state of Karnataka where it first evolved.


  • The movement in Karnataka state was born out of collaboration between Mr Subhash Palekar, who developed it in the mid-1990s in association with state farmers association Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) as an alternative to the Green Revolution’s methods driven by chemical fertilizers, pesticides and intensive irrigation.

Salient features

  • The term ‘Zero Budget’ means the zero cost of production of all crops.
  • This climate-resilient agricultural method, which is different from organic farming, aims at promoting agroecology and adopting low-cost agriculture practice wherein all critical inputs are gathered from the field and nothing is introduced from outside.
  • Under ZBNF, neither fertilizer nor pesticide is used and only 10 percent of water is to be utilized for irrigation as compared to traditional farming techniques.
  • The ZBNF method also promotes soil aeration, minimal watering, intercropping, bunds and topsoil mulching and discourages intensive irrigation and deep ploughing.
  • ZBNF doesn’t promote vermicomposting as it introduces the most common composting worm, the European red wiggler (Eisenia fetida) to Indian soils. It is claimed that these worms absorb toxic metals and poison groundwater and soil.

Four pillars of ZBNF:

  • Jeevamrutha
    • This is a fermented microbial culture that provides nutrients, acts as a catalytic agent that promotes the activity of microorganisms in the soil, increases earthworm activity, and helps prevent fungal and bacterial plant diseases.
    • The fermentation process spans for 48 hours, during which the aerobic and anaerobic bacteria present in the cow dung and urine multiply as they consume organic ingredients.
    • According to Palekar, Jeevamrutha is only needed for the first three years of the transition, after which the system gets self-sustaining.
  • Beejamrutham
    • A treatment used for seeds, seedlings or any planting material, Bijamrita helps in protecting young roots from fungus, as well as from soil-borne and seed-borne diseases that commonly affect plants post the period of monsoon.
  • Acchadana – mulching
    • Palekhar suggests the following types of mulching:
    • Soil Mulch:
      • Protects topsoil while cultivation and does not destroy it by tilling.
      • Moreover, it promotes aeration and water retention in the soil. Palekar has advocated the avoidance of deep ploughing.
    • Straw Mulch
      • Straw material hints at the dried biomass waste of previous crops.
      • This, as Palekar suggests, can be composed of the dead material of any living beings such as plants, animals, etc.
    • Live Mulch (symbiotic intercrops and mixed crops)
      • It is pivotal to develop multiple cropping patterns of monocotyledons and dicotyledons grown in the same field so as to supply the essential elements to the soil and crops.
  • Whapasa – moisture
    • Palekar opposes the common belief that the plant roots need a lot of water.
    • In this respect, he counters the over-reliance on irrigation in green revolution farming.
    • He strongly opines that the roots need water vapour. This he says as Whapasa is the condition in which the soil contains both air and water molecules.
    • He encourages the reduction of irrigation and emphasizes its usage only during noon.

Add ons:

  • In 2018, Andhra Pradesh rolled out an ambitious plan to become India’s first State to practice 100% natural farming by 2024.



Consider the following statements regardingZero Budget Natural Farming’ practice:

1. It advocates the avoidance of deep ploughing

2. It encourages the reduction of irrigation

3. It doesn’t promote vermicomposting.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 2 and 3 only

(c) 1 and 3 only

(d) 1,2 and 3