Bio-dynamic Management
of a Cotton Crop

by Peter Proctor

 

 

Here are a few ideas on the growing of Biodynamic Cotton that I have gained from my biodynamic work in India.

 

Land Preparation

 

Preparing the land for the cotton is most important.  The structure, fertility and the availability of plant nutrients in the soil is essential.  All the basic principles of organic soil management must be addressed.  These include applying good quality compost, crop rotation, and the growing of soil sustaining green manure crops.  Various liquid manures will be helpful.

 

Compost made using the biodynamic preparation 502-507 should be applied at the rate of 5 tonnes per acre.  This compost should have a cow dung component and if there is a need for phosphate in the soil, rock phosphate should be added to the compost.  Up to 100kgs per 5m3 (5 tonnes) of phosphate rock can be added.  The compost can be incorporated into the soil before sowing the green crop.

 

Crop rotation is essential.  Never grow cotton after cotton as this encourages problems with insects and fungus.  Always grow another crop in between.  Work out a suitable rotation.

 

Always grow a green manure crop before growing cotton.  Grow a legume such as dolichus lab lab, vetch, sunhemp or various pulses which do well in your district.  Also incorporate a grain in the sowing mixture.  Dig into the soil three weeks before sowing.

 

Preparation BD500 and Soil Structure

 

Apply biodynamic preparation 500 at least four times a year.  Twice in Autumn and twice in Spring.   

 

Use 25gms of preparation BD500 in 13 litres of clean water per acre or 62.5gms in 30 litres of water per hectare and stirred for 1 hour, applied in the afternoon on a descending period of the moon.

 

This will very quickly improve soil structure, increase humus levels, as well as water penetrability, water holding capacity and improve the tilth of the soil.

 

CPP can be added to the stirring of the BD500 20 minutes before the end of stirring.

 

Horn Silica BD501

 

The use of preparation horn silica BD501 will strengthen the plant to withstand insect attack and will also add quality to the cotton fibre.  Always apply BD501 early in the morning at sunrise to avoid burning of the plants.  One way to apply this silica, is using the sequence of BD500, CPP and BD501.

 

In the evening before the Moon opposite Sature, apply preparation BD500 into which CPP has been added to the stirring (100gms per acre or 250gm CPP per hectare to BD500).  Then the next morning early, apply the BD501 as a mist over the plants.

 

BD501 is used at the rate of 1gm in 12.5 litres of water per acre or 2.5gm in 30 litres per hectare.

 

Sowing Seed

 

Sow cotton seed when the Moon and Saturn are in opposition.  This planetary configuration occurs every 28 days.  Consult the BD Planting Calendar for these dates. It has been found that sowing at this time will give a very strong germination, and the subsequent plants are strong and will perform well.  There will also be a tendency for the plants to be resistant to pest attack.

 

Liquid Manures

 

CPP

Make CPP.  When the plants are about 100mm high, apply CPP at the rate of 2kg in 40 litres of water per acre.  This can be applied weekly or once a fortnight.  Apply in thel ate afternoon.  It will keep the plants growing strongly.

 

Seaweed

Make seaweed liquid manure.  Apply once a month.

 

Stinging Nettle and Cow Urine

Make up a stinging nettle liquid manure and ferment with BD preps 502-507.  Add 5% cow urine to the liquid and apply 1 part to 10 parts to the foliage.  This will do two things.  Act as a foliar feed for the cotton and discourage the cotton boll worm.  Apply every 14 days or when the boll worm is active.  It can be combined with the CPP.

 

Insect Control

 

Use the Nettle/Cow Urine mixture as above. 

 

A mixture of crushed garlic, chilli pepper powder and ginger powder. 

100gms of each to 10 litres of water.

Soak the crushed garlic overnight in some vegetable oil.

Simmer chilli powder for 10 minutes.

Simmer the ginger for 10 minutes.

Add 50gms of soft soap to the garlic.

Make up to 10 litres stir well, strain and spray.

 

Use Neem oil.

 

Compost Tea

Made from compost where the biodynamic preparations 502-507 have been used.  It has been sprayed on plants to reduce incidence of boll worm.

Soak 1kg of matured compost in 40 litres clean water for 24 hours.

Give frequent stirrings of this mixture to aerate this water to increase the spore forming antagonistic bacteria.

Then spray.