Continuing with our series on the advantages offered by a Land & Cow based developmental model, this time we focus on one often neglected cow produce – manure! Manure or cow dung as called in India, finds its use in various places in traditional Indian culture. Manure is known in many Indian languages as go-var; go meaning cow and var meaning boon. It indicates how much the traditional Indians revered this excrement. Even the sacred texts of India, the vedas, which condemn all forms of excrements as abominable, hail cow dung as all auspicious. So much so that one finds is use in many sacred ceremonies and worship. So what’s so special about cow dung?
From a pure utility perspective, cow dung is one of the best forms of natural fertilizer. Application of cow dung for soil enrichment is an age old agricultural practice which was lost post introduction of chemical fertilizers. With rising demand for chemical free food and growing acceptance of organic farming, cow dung forms a very important link in chemical free farming.
Another growing trend is the use of cow dung in producing biogas, a cheap alternative source of energy that can be used as a fuel for cooking or to even produce electricity. Researchers at Hewlett Packard Co.’s HP Labs have found ways to power their data servers using cow manure. So its not just milk and food, but cows can even help us power our laptops and ipods!
But how about putting some cow manure all over your house? Sounds yucky, well its not really so, cow dung plasters are commonly found in many Indian homes. Cow dung, also hailed for its anti-bacterial properties, is the best natural disinfectant. In any typical Indian village it not uncommon to find the entire floor of the house coated with some fresh cow dung paste. Cow dung mixed with lime is also used to coat the walls of cob houses. Recent research findings from independent groups in University of Bristol and Sage college in Troy, NY, show cow dung to be an excellent mood enhancing agent. Cow dung contains a bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae, which activates a group of neurons in the brain that produce serotonin – a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well being and happiness. So the next time you’re feeling depressed try walking into a cow barn and get a lungful of the fresh fragrance of cow dung.
Well the benefits do not end here, in the next article read how cow dung is being used to make various cosmetics and lifestyle accessories.