Organic farming is an agricultural system that focuses on developing a healthy and sustainable production system that combines traditions, innovation and science to protect the soil, environment, ecosystems and people. In other words, it considers high standards of biodiversity with thoughtful environmental practices to preserve naturally available resources, foster the cycling of resources, enhance the immense ecological balance, and benefit every stakeholder.
More about organic farming
Rather than concentrating on external agricultural inputs, it focuses on ecosystem management and site-specific conditions. In simple words, organic farming aims to make soil, plants, and food healthy and improve crop yield. Organic farmers work with nature and the overall environment and balance the ecosystem. They may view their farm as a closely-connected integrated entity that can thrive and sustain itself when nature itself is used as a model.
It can involve many activities and understanding put together - analyzing the soil to identify relevant farming techniques, effectively harnessing the available natural resources to minimize waste, promoting natural predators to combat pests, recycling nutrients, etc.
Organic farming supports the growing demand among consumers to opt for natural products. However, the concept of organic farming is not new and has been here for a long time. According to Britannica, "The concepts of organic agriculture were developed in the early 1900s by Sir Albert Howard, F.H. King, Rudolf Steiner, and others who believed that the use of animal manures (often made into compost), cover crops, crop rotation, and biologically based pest controls resulted in a better farming system."
This form of farming has been followed in India since ancient times. In fact, Howard, as an agricultural researcher in India, was very much inspired by the traditional and sustainable farming practices in the country, and he advocated for their adoption in the west. (Source)
The core focus of organic farming
Generally speaking, organic agriculture or organic farming has the following key attributes -
• Using green manures, animal manures, cover crops, crop rotation, etc. to improve the soil's overall quality, enhance biological activity, and make sustainable agricultural processes to keep soil health consistently good.
• Using biological control and other ways to naturally manage weeds, control pests and insects, and plant diseases.
• Promoting biodiversity. Biodiversity refers to the different kinds of living species on the Earth, including plants, animals, fungi, and even microorganisms. Every species works together like an intricate web to support life, promote diversity and balance in nature.
• Using holistic approaches and thoughtful, humanly ways to foster the well-being of animals
• Reduction of external agricultural inputs like hormones, antibiotics
• Promoting the use of renewable resources, effectively utilizing and conserving soil and water
• Restore, maintain and enhance ecological balance
Types of organic farming
Organic farming has been divided into two types, namely pure organic farming and integrated organic farming. As the name denotes, unnatural chemicals are completely avoided in pure organic farming. Instead, natural sources are used as fertilizers and pesticides. On the other hand, integrated organic farming involves an integrated approach that consists of the integration of pest and nutrients management
Techniques of organic farming
Some of the techniques of organic farming may include Crop rotation, Green manure, Compost, Crop diversity, Biological pest management, Weed management (moving or cutting, mulching), Crop diversity etc.
Benefits and limitations of organic farming
One of the core benefits of organic farming is that it is economical. Growers can earn a good return on investment. The steady demand for natural and organic food products means the practice is profitable. Organic farming is eco-friendly, promote ecological diversity. Organic foods may be more nutritional and tasty compared to other farming techniques.
There are limitations in crop choices. Because of low production in the early years, farmers may find it hard to meet large-scale demands. They may also have a shorter shelf life when compared with chemical products. Organic products may not be affordable for all classes of consumers. The farming practice can be time-consuming, and it may be hard to meet the regulatory requirements.
Organic farming is growing in popularity, but it has challenges that may be addressed as innovations are introduced. While it can work as a thoughtful farming practice, it is equally true that the judicious use of safe and effective agrochemicals can promote the sustainable agricultural practice. To learn more about the agrochemicals of India, insect control chemicals, please click here.