Finding Organic Fertilizer
Posted on June 3rd, 2022

D. W. A. Hettiarachchi

Our country’s food production was almost destroyed by a stroke of a pen perhaps due to wrong advice to the authorities. But was there a massive use of chemical fertilizer even in early 70s when Mahaveli was not in the horizon?. I do not think so.

I was about 9 years old when my father who was an engine driver of factories aligned with coconut industry, when he introduced me to farming. Perhaps he wanted to teach me the things involved in paddy cultivation including the selection process in finding the correct seed or ‘biththara wee”. I never saw any other farmer in that area (or ‘yaaya’) using fertilizer. That was in early 50s. Then in early 70s, after I got married I used to see the methods used in rice cultivation in my father in law’s area in Dedigama. There too, I did not see fertilizer being used, but the farmers were contended with the yield they got and their rice store box which is sufficient for the whole year for a large family was always full. What was the reason?. Perhaps they were getting organic fertilizer for free.

All along their water streams I have seen large Mee trees. They never cut down those trees to which large number of bats would come and feed on the fruits. And their droppings must have been supplying the organic fertilizer needs free of charge. The following link gives a very good proof how this factor has helped the farming in some parts of Africa and Americas.

 This our farmers may have used many a thousand of years ago. And according to history discussion that are going on weekly, our ancient kings have prohibited the cutting of Mee trees. https://youtu.be/GztRh8isKKc

Another thing which I have found is the use of sewage treatment plant effluent. When I was doing the construction of Pugoda textile mill, we constructed a treatment plant called ‘Trickling Filter’ for the processing of sewage of about 50 houses. There were no equipment or chemicals used. The sewage was directed to a tank via a series of channels which trickled on to stones of about 150 mm in size and about 1.5 m thick layer. What came out at the bottom was completely oxidized effluent which was allowed to enter a stream that fed a sizable paddy field owned by villagers. I saw the rice plant were very green and healthy. Similarly I have observed in an ASEAN country where they have many oxidation pond that they used to treat sewage from housing schemes, the effluent is nourishing and we could see lot of plants and fish that thrive on the downstream side. Sometimes we have seen many crocodiles also that come to feed on the fish. There have been cases when the crocodiles attacking people who come to catch fish. No chemicals are used in this process of oxidation. This means that if we allow the natural process to take place there will be a bio diversity as well as saving of costs.

This is food for thought of authorities when they design new housing schemes in distant areas. The trickling filter mentioned above was not more than 30m by 20m which didn’t occupy lot of land.

“The phosphate issue which the author (narrator) is emphasizing on is another kettle of fish. We own at Eppawala one of the largest deposits of Phosphate compounds in the world. And it is one of our strategic assets  Hope the current government will not try to auction it to foreigners as they did before.”

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