What is Organic Farming?
It is a form farming that purely involves natural ways of crop cultivation and rearing of animals. This means that it involves avoiding the use of synthetic inputs like pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, preservatives, additives, veterinary drugs and genetically modified seeds.
This is done in order to maintain fertility of the soil and ecological balance to reduce pollution and to keep pests and diseases at bay. It encompasses the use of agronomic, mechanical and biological methods such as crop rotation, green manure, biological pest control, organic waste and mineral or rock additives.
Benefits of Organic Farming to the Environment
Due to its natural form, organic farming does a lot of good to the environment. Below are some of its benefits to the environment:
1.Prevents environmental pollution by pesticides and chemicals
Pesticides and chemicals harm the environment in the following ways:
● Pesticides encourage bacteria, fungi, weeds and pests to become disease-resistant.
● Contamination of soils by pesticides and chemicals applied on plants.
● Synthetic chemicals deter beneficial practices like crop rotation and cover cropping which increases soil erosion.
Research has found that just 1 teaspoon of organic soil has between 600 million to 1 billion useful bacteria while soil that is exposed to chemical treatment has a meagre 100 useful bacteria!
3.Reduces soil erosion
Organic farming methods such as crop rotation and cover cropping are a great help in combating soil erosion since they ensure that the ground is covered by vegetation.
4.Combats the effects of global warming
Food that’s produced through organic farming is mostly distributed locally so carbon dioxide emitted during transportation is considerably reduced so it helps in fighting global warming.
The elimination of the use of chemicals and use of natural methods encourages a natural balance in the ecosystem thus no species can outnumber another.
Economic Aid for Conversion to Organic Farming
In 2010 alone, British supermarket’s expenditure on organic food and drink totaled to £946 million with £66 million being Scotland’s. The biggest sellers were vegetable, fruit and dairy products which accounted for £33.2 million. With such lucrative earnings, the Scottish government is willing to fund even more farmers who are willing to cross over to organic farming.
Conversion to organic farming is a difficult process that leads to reduced yields as it takes a while for full biological activity to take off. Funding may come in form of:
● Compensating losses incurred, because conversion products are not considered organic and so cannot be sold as so.
● Assistance in the payment of extra costs such as certification costs.
● Assistance in the acquiring of implements and building of new infrastructure.
The economic assistance may extend past the conversion period in forms such as tax reductions and preferential treatment when getting credit.
Conditions for receiving funding for conversion to organic farming in Scotland
All land managers in Scotland are eligible to apply for the funding as long as you meet the organic standards for a minimum of 5 years. The organic standards are as follows:
● You must not use any artificial fertilisers or pesticides
● To maintain fertility, you should husbandry methods such as crop rotation
● Apply husbandry techniques in eliminating weeds, pests, and diseases
● Only use a limited number of approved products when processing organic foods
The same standards apply for the UK.
Funding is available for farmers who are converting to organic farming and also for farmers who want to continue with organic farming. The payment is per (ha)and depends on the type of land in question.
The organic conversion rates are as follows:
The organic maintenance rates are as follows:
A minimum of £500 is paid per year for both conversion and maintenance as per IACS
UK’s Organic Conversion Grants
Improved permanent grassland- £75 per ha for upto 2 yrs
Unimproved permanent grassland-£50 per ha for upto 2 yrs
Rotational land- £175 per ha for upto 2 yrs
Horticulture- £400 per ha for upto 2 yrs
Top fruit-£450 per ha for upto 2 yrs
UK’s Land Management Grants
Improved permanent grassland- £40 per ha
Unimproved permanent grassland-£20 per ha
Rotational land- £65 per ha
Horticulture- £200 per ha
Top fruit-£300 per ha
Enclosed rough grazing-£8 per ha