Organic farming is a technique, which involves the cultivation of plants and rearing of animals in natural ways. This process involves the use of biological materials, avoiding synthetic substances to maintain soil fertility and ecological balance thereby minimizing pollution and wastage.
In other words, “organic farming is a farming method that involves growing and nurturing crops without the use of synthetic based fertilizers and pesticides”.
It relies on ecologically balanced agricultural principles like crop rotation, green manure, organic waste, biological pest control, mineral and rock additives. Organic farming makes use of pesticides and fertilizers if they are considered natural and avoids the use of various petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides.
“Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved…”
Differences Between Organic and Conventional Farming Methods
In the conventional farming methods, before seeds are sown, the farmer will have to treat or fumigate his farm using harsh chemicals to exterminate any naturally existing fungicides. He will fertilize the soil using petroleum-based fertilizers. On the flip side, the organic farmer will prepare and enrich his land before sowing by sprinkling natural-based fertilizers such as manure, bone meal or shellfish fertilizer.
Before planting seeds, the organic farmer will soak the seeds in fungicides and pesticides to keep insects and pests at bay. Chemical are also incorporated in the irrigation water to prevent insects from stealing the planted seeds.
On the other hand, the organic farmer will not soak his seeds in any chemical solution nor irrigate the newly planted seeds using water with added chemicals. In fact, he will not even irrigate with council water, which is normally chlorinated to kill any bacteria. He will depend on natural rain or harvest and stored rainwater to use during dry months
When the seeds have sprung up, and it’s time to get rid of weeds, the conventional farmer will use weedicide to exterminate weeds. The organic farmer will not use such chemicals to get rid of the weed problem. Instead, he will physically weed out the farm, although it’s very labor-intensive. Better still, the organic farmer can use a flame weeder to exterminate weeds or use animals to eat away the weeds.
When it comes to consumption, it’s a no-brainer that anyone consuming products from the conventional farmer will absorb the pesticide and weedicide residues into the body, which could lead to developing dangerous diseases like cancer. People understand that health is important to them and that’s why they are going organic in record numbers today.
Reasons For Organic Farming
1. To Accrue the Benefits of Nutrients
Foods from organic farms are loaded with nutrients such as vitamins, enzymes, minerals and other micro-nutrients compared to those from conventional farms. This is because organic farms are managed and nourished using sustainable practices
2. Natural and Better Taste
Those that have tasted organically farmed foods would attest to the fact that they have a natural and better taste. The natural and superior taste stems from the well balanced and nourished soil. Organic farmers always prioritize quality over quantity.
3. Direct Support to Farming
Purchasing food items from organic farmers is a surefire investment in a cost-effective future. It all starts with you buying food items from known organic sources.
4. To Prevent Antibiotics, Drugs, and Hormones in Animal Products
Avast majority of pesticides are consumed by the population stem from poultry, meat, eggs, fish and dairy product since animals and birds that produce these products sit on top of the food chain.
This means they are fed foods loaded with chemicals and toxins. Drugs, antibiotics, and growth hormones are also injected into these animals and so, are directly transferred to meat and dairy products.
Key Features of Organic Farming
1. Protecting soil quality using organic material and encouraging biological activity
2. Indirect provision of crop nutrients using soil microorganisms
3. Nitrogen fixation in soils using legumes
4. Weed and pest control based on methods like crop rotation, biological diversity, natural predators, organic manures and suitable chemical, thermal and biological intervention
5. Rearing of livestock, taking care of housing, nutrition, health, rearing and breeding
6. Care for the larger environment and conservation of natural habitats and wildlife
Principles of Organic Farming
1. Principle of Health
Organic agriculture must contribute to the health and well being of soil, plants, animals, humans and the earth. It is the sustenance of mental, physical, ecological and social well being. For instance, it provides pollution and chemical-free, nutritious food items for humans.
2. Principle of Fairness
Fairness is evident in maintaining equity and justice of the shared planet both among humans and other living beings. Organic farming provides good quality of life and helps in reducing poverty. Natural resources must be judiciously used and preserved for future generations.
3. Principle of Ecological Balance
Organic farming must be modeled on living ecological systems. Organic farming methods must fit the ecological balances and cycles in nature.
4. Principle of Care
Organic agriculture should be practiced in a careful and responsible manner to benefit the present and future generations and the environment.
As opposed to modern and conventional agricultural methods, organic farming does not depend on synthetic chemicals. It utilizes natural, biological methods to build up soil fertility such as microbial activity boosting plant nutrition.
Benefits of Organically Grown Food Items and Agricultural Produce
1. Better Nutrition
As compared to a longer time conventionally grown food, organic food is much richer in nutrients. The nutritional value of a food item is determined by its mineral and vitamin content. Organic farming enhances the nutrients of the soil which is passed on to the plants and animals.
2. Helps us Stay Healthy
Organic foods do not contain any chemicals. This is because organic farmers don’t use chemicals at any stage of the food-growing process like their commercial counterparts. Organic farmers use natural farming techniques that don’t harm humans and the environment. These foods keep dangerous diseases like cancer and diabetes at bay.
3. Free of Poisonous Chemicals
Organic farming does not make use of poisonous chemicals, pesticides and weedicides. As organic farming avoids these toxins, it reduces the sickness and diseases due to them.
4. Lower Prices
There is a big misconception that organic foods are relatively expensive. The truth is they are actually cheaper because they don’t require the application of expensive pesticides, insecticides, and weedicides. In fact, you can get organic foods direct from the source at really reasonable prices.
5. Enhanced Taste
The quality of food is also determined by its taste. Organic food often tastes better than other food. The sugar content in organically grown fruits and vegetables provides them with extra taste.
6. Organic Farming Methods are Eco-friendly
In commercial farms, the chemicals applied to infiltrate into the soil and severely contaminate it and nearby water sources. Plant life, animals, and humans are all impacted by this phenomenon. Organic farming does not utilize these harsh chemicals so; the environment remains protected.
7. Longer Shelf–life
Organic plants have greater metabolic and structural integrity in their cellular structure than conventional crops. This enables the storage of organic food for a longer time.
Organic farming is preferred as it battles pests and weeds in a non-toxic manner, involves fewer input costs for cultivation and preserves the ecological balance while promoting biological diversity and protection of the environment.