Organic farming is a system of agriculture that relies on natural inputs to sustain soil fertility. Organic farming eschews fossil-fuel based fertilizers and pesticides in favor of crop rotation, green manures, composts, and biological pest control.
What is Organic Farming
Organic farming Is an agricultural system that uses environmentally based pest controls and the use of biological fertilizers largely derived from animal and plant waste and cover crops that fix nitrogen during crop cultivation. Modern organic farming has developed in response to the environmental damage caused by the use of chemical pesticides and industrial fertilizers in conventional agriculture Being of many environmental benefits.
Compared with conventional farming, organic farming uses fewer pesticides, reduces soil erosion, reduces nitrate filtration into groundwater and surface water, and recycles animal waste back into the farm.
These benefits are balanced by higher food costs for consumers and lower yields in general. Indeed, yields of organic crops were found to be approximately 25% lower than those typically grown, although this largely depends on the type of crop.
The challenge for organic agriculture in the future will be to maintain its environmental benefits, increase yields, and lower prices while meeting the challenges of climate change and an increasing world population.
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Concepts of organic farming were developed in the early 1900s by Sir * Albert Howard, FJ Kink, Rudolf Steiner, and others who believed that the use of animal manure – often compost – and cover crops, crop rotation (agricultural rotations), and biologically based pest control controls. All lead to a better farming system.
These practices were reinforced by many advocates – such as JI Rodale and his son Robert from 1940 onwards, at which time the Journal of Organic Horticulture and Agriculture and a number of texts on organic farming were published. The demand for organic food increased in the 1960s with the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carson who documented the extent of environmental damage caused by pesticides.
Organic food sales have increased since the late 20th century, and environmental awareness has increased along with concerns about the health effects of pesticide residues, GM crop consumption, and the growth of the organic sector.
In the United States, retail sales increased from $ 20.39 billion in 2008 to $ 45.21 billion in 2017, while sales in Europe were about $ 33 billion (€ 29.8 billion) in 2015.
The price of organic food was generally higher than the price of conventional food depending on the product, season, and supply and demand fluctuations, and the price of organic food anywhere can be less than 10% and may rise to more than 100% of the price of conventionally grown products.
Governments have officially defined organic farming in terms of farmers’ reliance on the production of their organic produce. There are specific organic standards for crops, animals, wild products, and agricultural product processing.
For example, organic standards in the European Union (EU) and the USA prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, ionizing radiation, and plants or genetically modified products. In the European Union, certified organic control bodies carry out organic inspections in accordance with European Union standards.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Standards have known organic farming since 2000, and there are several certified organic certification bodies throughout the country.
Although most countries have their own organic certification programs, certification bodies in the European Union or the United States can inspect farms, treatments, and procedures used and certify them in other countries. This is especially useful when, for example, products that are grown organically in Mexico are exported to the United States.
Organic Farming Methods:
Since synthetic fertilizers are not used, farmers care for and conserve the soil by adding organic matter to it, which is important and essential for farmers.
Organic matter can be applied through the use of animal manure, compost fertilizer, and animal by-products such as feather meal or blood.
Due to the potential for harboring human pathogens; The USDA National Organic Standards state that raw compost should be applied no later than 90 or 120 days before harvest; Depending on whether the harvested part of the crop is in contact with the ground.
Compost that has been composted into fermented animal manure after being stirred five times in 15 days and has reached temperatures between 55 and 77.2 ° C (131-171 ° F) has no requirements at times of application.
(Compost) adds organic matter, provides a wide range of nutrients to plants and adds beneficial microbes to the soil, and these nutrients are often in a non-metallic form that plants cannot take, so soil microbes are necessary to break down organic matter and convert nutrients into a state (mineralize ) Are bioavailable.
Soil is preserved by planting green fertilizers and then plowing, which helps to protect the soil from erosion in the off-season by providing additional organic materials, and cover crops that fix nitrogen, such as alfalfa or alfalfa, are added, and industrial fertilizers that are in the form of the mineral can be taken directly by the plants.
Cover crops are usually grown before or after the profitable crop season or in conjunction with crops, and they can also be grown between the rows of some crops such as fruit trees, and researchers and farmers strive to develop non-tillage farming practices and reduce tillage practices in order to reduce erosion.
Insect and pest control:
Organic pesticides are derived from natural sources and include organisms such as bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis) that are used to control pests such as biting caterpillars, or plant derivatives such as pyrethrins (a product from dried chrysanthemum flowers) or neem oil (from Azdrecht seeds). It also allows the use of inorganic pesticides based on minerals such as copper and sulfur.
In addition to pesticides, organic pest control integrates biological, agricultural, and genetic controls to reduce pest damage. Biological control uses natural enemies of pests such as predatory insects (beetles) or parasites such as some wasps to attack insect pests.
Traditional plant breeding has produced many types of pest-resistant crops, and the use of these varieties and the cultivation of genetically diverse crops provides genetic control against pests and reduces plant diseases.
What is inorganic farming?
Inorganic farming is a method that contrasts with organic farming, it uses pesticides, chemicals, and synthetic fertilizers to grow products for human and animal consumption. Recent studies indicate that organic and inorganic products have a slight difference in nutrition, and the main difference lies in the method of production.
Organic farming organized by the National Organic Program seeks to reduce the environmental impact of these products by reducing harmful synthetic elements and eliminating them from entering the food cycle.
The inorganic products regulated by the USDA tend to appear larger and more homogeneous, and the elements of organic produce are often smaller and have a variety of shapes.