International Centre of Excellence for Regenerative Agriculture 'Nico Roozen'

International Centre of Excellence for Regenerative Agriculture 'Nico...

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International Centre of Excellence for regenerative agriculture 'Nico Roozen'

Regenerative agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming system. It focuses on top soil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing the ecosystem system, supporting bio-sequestration of carbon, increasing resilience to climate change and strengthening the health vitality of the farm system.

Nico Roozen International Centre of Excellence for regenerative agriculture was set up by sustainable development organization Solidaridad (, with the objective to perform research, promote regenerative agriculture practices and train small-scale farmers on the same. The Centre is known as “Nico Roozen International Centre for regenerative Agriculture”. It was inaugurated by former and long-time Solidaridad director Nico Roozen on 5th April 2023. It is located in Barkehda Kharet, Sehore, Madhya Pradesh, India ( The Centre is primarily meant to undertake research, training and demonstration model in an area of six-acre land area.

Key regenerative practices promoted are:

Minimum Tillage:
The soil is given only light tillage, followed by sowing in row spacing. The undisturbed soil has a natural ability to enrich the soil organic and humus content which is critical for soil organic carbon content. Sapling are sown in soil least disturbed by tillage.

Incorporation of vermicompost
Vermicompost can be made at farm or village level. It is enriched with supportive bio-elements like Phosphorus Solubilizing Bacteria (PSB) for fertility, Trichoderma viridi to to combat plant pathogenic fungi and Azatobacter for Nitrogen fixation in the soil. The compost helps build soil, improve its water holding capacity, enrich the soil humus content and acts as soil conditioner. The compost is incorporated prior to sowing and mixed in to the soil. The crop gets all the essential plants nutrients in balanced proportions throughout the growth period and therefore the need to apply external fertilizer becomes low.

Inter cropping
The intercropping is one of the key activities which is based on principle of extracting the nutrients from different soil depth as each crop has its own root depth and root area zone from where it extracts its moisture and all essential nutrients. Intercropping is one of the resilient production methods. The different crops have a complementary effect on each other, the possibility of weed infestation is reduced, the cycle of insect and disease which becomes persistent in monocropping is broken and biomass and soil humus content are enriched. These practices are adopted in the herbal garden, where 20 herbal plant species have been sown in row following a sequence of one crop per row in an area of 50 feet x 50 feet.

Mulching for soil cover
The centre has a good number of bamboo trees and grass species which shed huge quantity of dry leaves. Such leaves are much useful as mulch and soil cover. The same has been applied in between the crop rows. It helps conserve soil moisture, avoid weed growth and also provides nutrients to the crop on decomposition. The vegetative mulch helps enrich the soil with organic matter and humus content. It has helped retain the soil moisture for long duration by reducing the moisture loss through evapo-transpiration. Mulching is a regular and periodic activity which is undertaken in all crops at the centre. Crop residue and stubble of soybean and maize of the previous Kharif (monsoon) crop of this year was threshed at the centre and the same was applied in the inter-row space of papaya and Marigold in the current Rabi (winter) season.

Plant Protection with use of biopesticides
The centre has set up a series of indigenously prepared organic biopesticides prepared from plant sources like Neem seed kernel extract, Garlic Ginger paste, Dashparni extract (Neem leaves extract), Agneyastra (decoction of Neem oil, cow dung, cow urine, gram flour, soil) a.o. Besides, yellow and blue sticky insect cards have been set up. Such an integrated approach has been proven useful in protecting the crop from pest problems. Appropriate plant protection measures are adopted as per expert guidance and the crops are periodically monitored. The effect of each application is supervised and record is kept for its efficacy and future refence. In addition, botanical extracts are applied at an interval of 15 days. This approach has helped avoid the use of synthetic chemical pesticide to almost zero.

Use of Plant Growth Promoters
The indigenously prepared liquid manures have huge potential to boost plant growth. Therefore a unit for the production of Jeevamrut is set up. Jeevamrut is prepared from a mixture of cow dung, cow urine, gram flour, jaggery and soil underneath of Neem or Peepal (Sacred Fig) trees. The mixture is left for fermentation for five days in the shade. The solution so prepared is applied to the crop through fertigation or foliar spray. It helps in tremendous increase of soil inhabiting microbial population and thereby nutrient availability to the crop. Other such indigenously prepared growth promoters are also being applied, like Kanda tonic (decoction from cow dung cake), Nariyal tonic (decoction from coconut).

Crop Diversity
Crop diversification is one of the basic principles of regenerative practices. At the Nico Centre, efforts have been taken to diversify the cropping system with inclusion of all sorts of crops. Within the medicinal plants more than 20 different medical plants have been planted. Besides, other crops like maize, soybean, turmeric, wheat (1.5 acre), berseem clover, vegetables (2500 sqf), banana, Marigold, papaya, chick pea, linseed (0.4 acre), maize, wheat, green peas (0.4 acre), mustard (0.5 acre) a.o. are being grown in line with regenerative cultivation practices. It gives wide diversity in cropping system and a complementary effect to each cropping system.

Supply of health saplings through polyhouse
Within the Nico Roozen Centre a polyhouse has been set up in an area of 10,000 square feet. It gives controlled environmental condition for nursery raising and getting healthy saplings. Healthy saplings of medicinal plants like Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis), Giloy (Tinospora cordifolia), Aprajeeta (Clitoria ternatea), Hadjod (Cissus quandragularis), Tulsi (Holy Basil), Kala Dhatura (Datura metel) have been raised in the polyhouse and the saplings of the same have been planted at the centre. Also saplings have been distributed to farmers of the adjoining villages of the centre free of cost to promote backyard herbal gardens.

Irrigation management with micro-irrigation system
Efficient irrigation management is one of the core aspects of the regenerative farming practices. The Centre has been equipped with a drip and sprinkler irrigation system. Such a method of irrigation has helped conserve the irrigation water by over 50 to 70%. The irrigation water is applied directly at the crop root zone in the form of droplets. It helps augment irrigation use efficiency and avoid losses caused due to convenance and evapotranspiration at critical growth stages. The soil being enriched with compost and crop residue has greater ability to retain soil moisture for longer duration.

Livestock management
Livestock integration is an integral part of the regenerative agriculture practices. A cow shed has been set up at the centre wherein couple of cows are being reared with adoption of good husbandry practices. Balanced nutrition is being given with incorporation of green and dry fodder coupled with concentrate, mineral mixture. The cow dung and cow urine from the unit is collected and utilized for the preparation of biopesticides and enriched manure including compost, Jeevamrut etc.



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Monique Van De Vijver