It was the 1st week of March and we were approaching the harvest season for the two fields of native Khapli wheat we had sowed in the Maval region of Pune.
It was an exciting phase as it was the 1st time that we were growing Khapli wheat in this region and on a client's land parcel. Apart from this, we were using desi seeds and adding another layer by growing without the use of any other inputs except a couple of rounds of Panchgavya.
It might seem like a big risk when you read what we’ve mentioned above, but we had worked extremely hard on soil-building and developing the land before we went on to sowing the Khapli wheat. Still, I would by lying if I said we weren’t a tad bit nervous.
The first few months went by quite nicely and the fields were beginning to look extremely healthy. We had provided the fields with a couple of rounds of Panchgavya during the span of 3 months and it had worked its magic.
"Panchagavya, I feel is one of the most underutilised concoction in the Indian farming eco-system and it’s a simple recipe and skill that every farmer needs to know (and be supported to implement)"
As we came closer to the harvest phase which is usually in late March or April for Khapli wheat our nervousness kept transitioning into satisfaction.
It was March and we had just gotten back to the farm in Maval after a hectic and fun-filled season with our Natural edible holi colours.
It was all normal and satisfying. Though as it’s with agriculture in today’s time of climate change, it can’t be straightforward isn’t it. There is always a twist to the story.
One night during our stay next to the fields we were having dinner and we heard loud thundering and it suddenly started pouring down.
YES, IN THE MIDDLE OF MARCH AND IT WAS NOT A DRIZZLE. IT WAS POURING...
…...and it continued for a couple of hours.
Our hearts sank.
Usually with the Khapli wheat crop, in the month of March as the sun starts beating down, the green plants start transitioning into rich golden fields.
It is a time when it needs the sun to start drying the drop and the worst time for the crop to be facing heavy rains. Rains can be devastating and can destroy the crop.
Therefore, on that particular night, all we could do is pray.
Multiple thoughts started flowing through our heads and sleeping was impossible that night.
"As we sit back and visualise that night – all we can do is imagine the state of a farmer for whom his fields are the only source of income. What we felt was devastating, but what a farmer and his family who completely depend on that crop would go through would be easily 100x of that.”
Early next morning, with the 1st rays of the sun, we rushed to the fields and seeing the crop standing tall with just minor sagging was nothing but a sigh of relief.
It hadn't been destroyed.
As a few hours passed by, the sun grew stronger and the fields began to dry - looking lush and healthy once again.
That sleepless night and that very moment on the succeeding morning in March answered one very potent and repeatedly asked question –
“Is regenerative farming practical and does it really work?”
THE ANSWER IS YES. And these fields of Khapli were a perfect answer, practically on the field.
So, what was the reason that the crop of Khapli on our fields was healthy and thriving even after facing heavy unseasonal rainfall?
IT WAS THE STRENGTH OF THE SOIL.
As regenerative farming consultants, when we connect with any client or land custodian, our initial focus is always on having in-depth conversations around an holistic approach and methods of farming.
As with anything in life, if one needs to succeed, building a solid foundation is a must.
And in the context of working on a farm - what that requires is some research, arriving at a clear vision and Patience. Post this, when we start execution on ground, the primary step is to assess and work on the soil.
Soil building is the executional foundation for the success of any farm – when it comes to the nutrition of the output or the productivity.
"As mentioned by many researchers, without reversing soil degradation, there is simply no way to reconcile the rapid decline in food production with the exponential growth in population size. This is our greatest generational prerogative and most valuable legacy."
Once we work on soil building and regenerating the soil, majority of problems that can arise on a farm land due to predictable and unpredictable issues, can be mitigated.
So, coming back to our story of the Khapli fields, unseasonal rains and a sleepless night – the conclusion was an abundant harvest of Khapli wheat and a happy client who trusted and supported traditional regenerative farming methods.
But that sleepless night will always stay with us.
As an emotion and as an answer to various naysayers who question chemical free and regenerative farming practices.