Ecological farming, also called organic or biological, is based on the premise that the crops take advantage of natural resources to, for example, fight pests, maintain or increase soil fertility, etc., without resorting to synthetic chemicals such as fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, and without using any organisms that have been genetically modified. This way, more natural, healthy and nutritious foods are obtained. In addition, it helps to achieve greater sustainability of the environment causing minimal environmental impact.
There are several types of ecological farming that are based on balance and respect for the environment, such as biodynamic agriculture, natural agriculture or Fukuoka, synergistic agriculture, messianic agriculture, permaculture, etc.
Whether we are talking about ecological farming, organic farming, regenerative agriculture or sustainable agriculture, this system of notions indicates the same thing – an alternative to traditional farming due to its inadequate functioning and the causes that have led to a decrease in plant resistance, animal health and soil quality and, implicitly, human health. In other words, the ecological farming system is intended to provide consumers with fresh, tasty and authentic food, while respecting the natural life cycle of the systems. To achieve this, ecological farming is based on a number of objectives and principles as well as on good practices designed to minimize the impact of man on the environment:
- Rotation of crops as a prerequisite for efficient use of farm resources;
- Strict limitation of the use of fertilizers and synthetic chemical pesticides due to their potentially harmful effect on the environment;
- Prohibition of the use of genetically modified organisms;
- Encouraging a diverse ecosystem to maintain soil fertility and control pests by natural means (such as using animal manure and farm feed as fertilizer);
- Choosing different plant species and animal breeds that are better suited to local conditions and potential problems with pests and diseases;
- Raising animals in the open and in shelters and feeding them with organic feed;
- Using animal breeding practices adapted to each breed.
The benefits of ecological farming
- Ecological products are healthier since they are free from persistent toxic waste from pesticides, insecticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, additives and preservatives, many of which are used in conventional agriculture to eliminate insects or pests and fight diseases and to add colour (like in the case of apples, oranges, etc.) On the medium or long term, such products can have negative effects on human health. Since they don’t contain artificial substances, the foods from ecological farming are assimilated correctly by the organism without altering the metabolic functions. According to nutritionists, most degenerative diseases have their origin in food.
Another characteristic of ecological farming is that, when growing food in balanced soils by natural fertilizers, the products are more nutritious because they contain higher levels of vitamins, essential minerals, antioxidants, carbohydrates and proteins.
2. Ecological foods don’t contain synthetic additives that can cause health problems such as heart failure, osteoporosis, migraines, allergies, hyperactivity, Parkinson’s, etc. It is noteworthy that biological products, grown without the use of agrochemicals while respecting the natural rhythms and without additives, are balanced and very rich in nutrients. On the other hand, different studies have shown that it’s not essential to incorporate synthetic substances in the culture or production of food or its subsequent conservation. There is no need to look for products out of season to meet the nutritional needs of our body.
3. Respecting the environment is one of the advantages of ecological products. When farmers grow ecological crops, they take part in the conservation of the environment and avoid contamination of land, water and air.
Ecological farming is the most respectful of wildlife, because it produces a lower pollution of aerosols, it produces less carbon dioxide, it prevents the greenhouse effect, it doesn’t generate polluting waste and helps make energy savings, since in the cultivation and in the production of the products it takes advantage of the maximum of renewable resources.
4. Improving soil composition by recycling waste and by-products from plants and animals not only enhances biological activity in the soil and prevents its erosion but can counteract climate change by re-establishing the levels of organic matter and therefore the carbon content in the soil. A growing number of scientific studies suggest that ecological farming could play a role in fighting against climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizers are one of the main sources of carbon dioxide emissions from agriculture and the most important single source of nitrous oxide emissions in the world’s business sectors.
Farmers practising ecological farming are not just trying to keep the soil in a good, fertile and natural state. They also try to make it better by using appropriate nutrients, improving its structure and effectively managing water. In the spirit of this idea, many farmers currently maintain, or plant, hedges to prevent the erosion of the land under the influence of wind. At the same time, these hedges and the various natural edges around the land help create ideal habitats for birds, insects and other wildlife on farmland, thus contributing to overall biodiversity. By using interstitial crops and crop protection and by improving soil humus content, ecological methods can help prevent infiltration of nutrients in groundwater and surface waters and reduce the risk of soil erosion, minimizing the risks of water contamination.