Scientific Aspects of Agnihotra: Effect of Agnihotra Atmosphere and Agnihotra Ash on Plant Growth and Soil Health (part 7)
by Dr. Ulrich Berk
In the last issue we discussed the effects of Agnihotra and Agnihotra Ash on the growth and disease resistance of plants – both under lab conditions and in a greenhouse.
But what are the effects in field conditions? The first systematic study on Homa Organic Farming was done in the Agricultural University in Palampur, Himachal Pradesh (a northern state in India, at the edge of the Himalaya mountains).
It is interesting how this research project started.
In 2006, Karin Heschl and Bruce Johnson, both experts on Homa Organic Farming who live in India, gave presentations at a conference on organic farming. After Karin’s presentation, in which she mentioned considerable increase in the yield of mangoes in Homa Therapy atmosphere, one participant of the conference, Dr. D.S. Rathore, at that time Vice-Chancellor of the Palampur Agricultural University, expressed his protest afterwards– saying that it is just impossible that burning cow dung and ghee and uttering some simple mantras could bring about such effects.
Another senior agricultural scientist, Dr. R.K. Pathak, saw this and talked to Dr. Rathore – saying that is is unscientific to just claim the Homa method cannot work. A scientific approach would be to set up an experiment and show that the method does not work.
Dr. Rathore agreed, so they were setting up a small Homa Organic Farm on the land of the university. In 2007 Reiner Sczypior, a Homa volunteer from Austria who then stayed in India, set up the resonance system. On that farm, for several years a lot of research was conducted. Soon it became clear that the original aim – showing that Homa methods do not work – could not be achieved. On the contrary, they got many good results.
They studied the effect of organic nutrients, including Agnihotra Ash, on crop productivity and soil health.
Medicinal plants such as lemongrass, wild marigold, and aloe vera were chosen.
With lemongrass, there was a significant increase in the yield attributes, viz. plant height, number of leaves and plant spread, and ultimately the yield of lemongrass increased with the addition of organics over the control.
Highest biological yield (7833 kg per hectare) was obtained in the treatment with organic manure + Agnihotra Ash + sowing according to the moon calendar, while lowest yield (2833 kg per hectare) was obtained in control + not following the moon calendar. Second best treatments was that using organic manure + Agnihotra Ash, but not following the moon calendar.
Also the oil content was best in treatments with Agnihotra Ash – up to seven times higher than control!
Similar results were found with wild marigold and with aloe vera. The authors sum up their findings as follows:
“To sum up, it has been clearly demonstrated in this experiment that in lemongrass, wild marigold and aloe vera, Agnihotra Ash was significantly superior to other organic treatments.“
The second part of their research was about soil health, a very important factor also for future production (and declining soil health is a big problem worldwide because of conventional farming).
Following are the results they got regarding soil health:
- Homa environment inhibited growth of harmful bacteria like Fusarium solani, F.oxysporum, Rhizoctonia solani, Sclerotinia sclerotiorum, Sclerotium rolfsii, Phoma medicaginis and Alternaria brassicae;
- Maximum inhibition ranged (29-42%) recorded in Agnihotra hut followed by Tryambakam hut (8-32).
- Homa environment had adverse impact on appearance and population build up of pests such as tomato fruit and shoot borer and semi loper;
- Homa ash possessed deterrent capabilities for management of these insects as compared to untreated tomato plants.
- Applications of ash dust in soil at transplanting & further supplementation as drench at regular 15 days interval was effective in management of these insects.
- Effects of Agnihotra Ash on the growth of soil borne pathogens and bio agents indicated that all organisms were inhibited by Agnihotra Ash;
- Aerial micro flora count showed interesting observations:
- Bacterial counts in room where Agnihotra was performed got reduced significantly.
- In room with only fire did not show any significant change in microbial (bacterial, fungal, and actinomycetes) counts! This shows that control of harmful bacteria is actually the effect of Agnihotra performed properly – just having a fire does not have these effects.
- In total of 70 beneficial bacterial isolates, 18 isolates selected as phosphate solubilizers.
- 18 showed IAA production in range of 0.4-15.6 μg/ mL
- (IAA – Indole Acetic Acid – production is a major property of rhizosphere bacteria that stimulate and facilitate plant growth.)
- 7 isolates showed siderophore production in range of 3-14 activity diameters. (Siderophores make iron available to plants.)
- 12 bacterial isolates showed Ammonia production.
- Isolates isolated during and after the Agnihotra were found to show a variety of PGPR traits. (PGPR: Plant Growth Promoting Rhizobacteria.)
- These appear attractive towards development of microbial inoculants and enrichment of various organic manures.
These results made it to the front page of the journal Indian Express, “Bhasma“.