Use of ash in Ladakh
i) Nutrient recycling
The inhabitants of this entire region use cattle dung, shrubs
and bushes as the main source of fuel. Ashes available, there upon, are mixed
either with household waste or human excreta. Sometimes ashes are also
broadcasted in the fields.
Mixing of ash with household waste and human excreta aids in
nutrient availability and recycling. Ash primarily meets the deficiency of
potash. Availability of phosphorus is also ensured. In addition to this, human
excreta and household waste also contains good amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus
ii) Softening of hard soils
In Nubra valley, hard soils are softened by putting ash obtained
from cowdung, sheep/goat manure, fuelwood etc.
Through this practice upper layers of soils are not only
softened but their fertility status is also improved, as ash contains
iii) Increased size of potatoes through the use
of ash and goat manure
A mixture of kitchen ash and goat manure is used in kitchen
gardens (Nubra valley) for growing potatoes.
The spreading of this mixture as an organic manure, increases
the size of potatoes on account of optimum supply of nutrients in otherwise
nutrient deficient soils. Secondly organic manure improves the soil structure,
porosity and water holding capacity of the soils. In this way there is an
overall improvement in physical, chemical and biological properties like
microbial population etc., which has increased the size of potatoes.
iv) Poultry manure and ash for increased
This specific technology is used only in case of tomato,
brinjal, capsicum and cauliflower. Kitchen ash and poultry manure mix enhances
vegetable production levels.
Stage of farm yard manure in cultivated fields
In west Himalayan cold deserts, FYM with a thin coverage of soil
is kept in small heaps in the fields from October to March. With the onset of
summer months it is spread in the open field.
Coverage of organic manure (FYM) with soil in open fields
throughout winter helps in regulating (heap) temperature necessary for proper
decomposition of FYM.
In Bharmour area the practice of green manuring is localized in
a few villages (paddy growing). Leaves and twigs of wild bushes such as basuti
and kaimal are used.
Use of goat manure
In Ladakh, goat manure is considered to be more nutritious. Goat
manure when added to millet fields improves production. Goats are specially
penned in these plots/fields.
Goat manure improves not only the millet production but also its
taste. According to farmers vegetables grown in goat manure have longer keeping
quality. It is easy to plough fields manured with goat excreta. Actually with
the addition of goat excreta, there is improvement in the physical properties
like soil structure, water holding capacity and porosity. There is also an
improvement in soil fertility as it contains 3% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus and 2%
Use of sachik soil for higher crop yield
Yellow soil (Sachik) found in Tagloom area is used as manure for
enhancing crop production. Yak loads of this yellowish/dark brown coloured soil
are scattered in the fields.
Biofencing with seabuckthorn (Hippophae
This practice is prevalent in Spiti and other regions. There is
a common practice to provide biofencing with seabuckthorn in cold deserts in
general and Spiti in particular (Fig. 2.28).
The biofence of seabuckthorn being thorny in nature protects
crop from stray animals. Its multipurpose utility as a nitrogen fixer, checks
against soil erosion, conservation of soil and moisture, source of fuelwood and
indigenous drug (rich source of vitamin C) makes it a promising plants for
eco-economic rehabilitation of the region.
Fig. 2.28 Biofence - common in hills
and is of thorny shrubs/cut piece of thorny plants
Sprawling of ash dust in cucurbits and other vegetable
In the west Himalayan cold deserts, ash dust is a product
obtained after the combustion of fuelwood. It has been observed that dusting of
material in the fields enhance early maturity and high yield of vegetable crops.
The reason for the early maturity of cucurbits and vegetable
crops is due to the fact that ash dust contains sufficient quantity of
phosphorus in available form to the plants. Secondly, in cucurbits the ash dust
has been used to repel the insect pest of the crops. Thirdly, amendments of ash
dust in the soil, improves soil structure and fertility. Ash dust is also useful
in enhancing the maturity of bulb crops which normally takes 6-7 months for
obtaining economic yield.
Drought power according to soil texture
In west Himalayan cold deserts, ploughing is generally carried
out by dzos, however in sandy situations horses are employed for its speedy
completion. In Turpuk of Nubra valley ploughing is done by a single horse.
Sandy soil have less soil strength than clayey soil. Due to this
reason, the drought power requirement for ploughing varies according to soil