Add cows, subtract chemicals: Organic farming a plus for climate-hit Indian farmers

(Reuters News, 21 Mar 2019) Farmers are producing biogas from cow manure to provide clean energy at home, and then using the leftover slurry to improve the soil in their fields.

As climate change brought less predictable weather, farmers Deepankar Mandal and Sanjib Mandal used to struggle with growing uncertainty about whether they would get a crop each season.

"Rains have become erratic, insufficient or wrongly timed," said Deepankar. "The crops failed, the water table got lower each year (and) there were newer pests attacking our paddy and vegetables."

Most years, "we were battling against the odds for our survival", added the farmer from India's West Bengal state.

But in recent years, they have tried a new way to cope: producing biogas from cow manure to provide clean energy at home, and then using the leftover slurry to improve the soil in their fields.

The change has helped them save money by cutting out costly chemical fertilisers. It has also reduced deforestation and allowed them to restore the earth so it now holds more water, helping them through droughts, the farmers said.

Moreover, with biogas to cook at home, "we do not have to wander for hours here and there in search of f

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Reuters News, 21 Mar 2019: Add cows, subtract chemicals: Organic farming a plus for climate-hit Indian farmers