Organic farming is the method of crop and livestock production that involves much more than choosing not to use pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones. (food.ndtv. com)
In other words, it is referred to as low input farming and uses natural sources of nutrients such as compost, crop residues and manure, and natural methods of crop and weed control, instead of using synthetic or inorganic agrochemicals.
Objectives of Adopting Organic Farming
Organic farming may be adopted to:
- increase genetic diversity
- promote more usage of natural pesticides
- ensure the right soil cultivation at the right time
- keep and build good soil structure and fertility
- control pests, diseases and weeds
Types of Organic Farming
- Pure organic farming
It involves the use of organic manures and biopesticides with complete avoidance of inorganic chemicals and pesticides.
- Integrated organic farming
It involves integrated nutrient management and integrated pest management. It is the type of farming in which there is a development of crops from natural resources that have complete nutritive value, as well as the ability to protect the crops from pests.
In organic farming, we use the following techniques;
- CROP ROTATION: It is the technique to grow various kinds of crops in the same area, according to the different seasons, in a sequential manner.
- GREEN MANURE: It refers to the dying plants that are uprooted and turned into the soil to make them act as a nutrient for the soil to increase its quality.
- BIOLOGICAL PEST CONTROL: With this method, we use living organisms to control pests with or without the use of chemicals.
- COMPOST: Highly rich in nutrients, it is a recycled organic matter used as a fertilizer in agricultural farms.
Methods of Organic Farming
- Soil management
After cultivation of crops, the soil loses its nutrients and its quality depletes. Organic agriculture initiates the use of natural ways to increase the fertility of the soil. Hence it focuses on the use of bacteria that is present in animal waste which helps in making the soil nutrients more productive and fertile.
- Weed management
Weed is an unwanted plant that grows in agricultural fields. Organic agriculture focuses on lowering weed rather than removing it completely. The two most widely used weed management techniques are :
- Mulching: A process where we use plastic films or plant residue on the surface of the soil to block the growth of weeds.
- Mowing or Cutting: Where there is a removal of weeds’ top growth.
- Crop diversity
Monoculture is the practice used in agricultural fields where we harvest and cultivate only one type of crop in a particular location. Recently, polyculture has come into existence, where we harvest and cultivate different kinds of crops to meet the increasing crop demand and produce the required soil microorganisms.
- Controlling other organisms
There are both useful and harmful organisms in the agricultural farm which affect the field. So, we need to control the growth of such organisms to protect the soil and the crops. We can do this by the use of herbicides and pesticides that contain fewer chemicals or are natural.
IMPORTANCE OF ORGANIC FARMING
- The environment benefits because natural habitat sources are less threatened.
- It provides healthier food for people.
- The soil is in better condition because of the manure used.
- Organic farming helps to prevent environmental degradation and can be used to regenerate degraded areas.
- Organic manures produce optimal conditions in the soil for high yields and good-quality crops.
- They reduce the need for purchased inputs.
- They improve the soil’s chemical properties such as supply and retention of soil nutrients and promote favourable chemical reactions.
- Organically grown plants are more resistant to diseases and insects and hence only a few chemical sprays or other protective treatments are required.
- Production costs are a high error because farmers need more workers.
- Food illness may happen more often.
- Organic food is more expensive because farmers do not get much out of their land as conventional farmers do.
- Organic farming cannot produce enough food that the world’s population needs to survive.
Principles Of Organic Farming
- Principle of health
Organic agriculture must contribute to the health and well-being of soil, plants, animals, humans and the earth.
2. Principle of ecological balance
We must model organic farming on living ecological systems. Moreover, the methods of organic farming must fit the ecological balance and cycles in nature.
- Principle of fairness
Organic farming provides good quality of life and helps in reducing soil infertility.
- Principle of care
We should practice organic agriculture in a careful and responsible manner to benefit the present and future generations and the environment.
Why Is Conventional Farming Unsustainable?
- Loss of soil fertility due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers and lack of crop rotation.
- Nitrates run-off during rains contaminates water resources.
- Use of poisonous biocide sprays to curb pest and weeds.
- Soil erosion due to deep ploughing and heavy rains.
- Loss of biodiversity due to Monoculture.