General

Organic Farming – A Boon for Environmental Sustainability

Organic farming is a holistic approach to integrated farming that produces food and meat without using conventional fertilisers, synthetic pesticides, growth hormones, chemicals or genetically modified organisms. Organic farming strives for sustainability, ensures crops which do not have any harmful residues, and enterprises methods which are sustainable and maintain harmony with nature. (Darnhofer et al, 2010).

History of Organic Farming

The birth of Organic farming dates back to 1940s when concerns grew about chemicals used in agriculture like the DDT and the health threats that came from these chemical laden foods and livestock. Gradually, farmers started shifting to organic methods of farming for safe and toxic free crops and meat (Kuepper, 2010).

Certification and Benefits of Organic Farming

High standards exist for organic products and that leads to certification. This is the reason why Organic food products are very costly to buy. Despite higher prices, organic products come with many benefits.

Organic Farming makes the soil fertile and increases its productivity.

Soil which is cultivated naturally by several organic practices like composting, green manure, symbiotic associations and less tillage is more productive and fertile. Soil treated with organic fertilisers hosts billions of useful bacteria from around fifteen thousand species. These useful bacteria and fungi break down chemicals, plant residues, and livestock wastes into useful soil nutrients that improve soil binding and structural characteristics thereby delivering more stable systems (Bhardwaj et al, 2014).

Organic farming boosts stable biodiversity.

Organic farmers are the custodians of resilient biodiversity. Use of traditional and non-conventional seeds, breeds and farming methods ensures resistance to infectious diseases and resilience to climate change. Organic farming minimizes erosion of agricultural biodiversity and enhances species richness, and abundance by almost 30% as compared to inorganic farming methods. No chemical usage in the farms gives birth to a rich organic area for flora and fauna such as pollinators and pest predators (Hole et al, 2005).

Organic Farming promotes water conservation and water management.

For preventing water contamination, organic farmers don’t allow water to get exposed to any toxins and also avoid using antibiotics for livestock. Soil rich in organic matter contains good moisture and improves water retention and water infiltration. Healthy soil acts like a sponge that keeps plants moisturised. Also, the organic farms recharge underground water up to twenty percent (Dumanski et al, 2006).

Air and climate change.

Organic farming alleviates conventional energy use by minimizing agricultural chemical needs. Non-conventional farming methods address the issue of GHG emissions and global warming by sequestering carbon in the soil. Organic agriculture practices like reduced tillage, use of crop rotation, nitrogen fixing legumes etc. maximise the carbon concentration in the soil. The more organic carbon stored in the soil, the more mitigation ability of agriculture against climate change (Kassov et al, 2010).

Organic farming prevents algal bloom formation.

Algal blooms are caused by runoff from farms where conventional fertilisers rich in nitrogen and phosphorus are used. It can be argued that even organic fertilisers contain nitrogen and phosphorus. However, they also contain many other nutrients which create a nutritional balance. Moreover, organic farming improves soil binding and reduces runoff. A nutrient rich soil is complete and contains earthworms and nematodes which result in increased soil density and reduced sandiness thereby causing less runoff. Organic farming also boosts bacteria named rhizobia that help plants fix nitrogen and help utilize and convert these nutrients before they get an opportunity to run-off.

Conclusion

Organic agriculture ensures soil enrichment and conditioning, soil stabilization, waste decomposition, carbon sequestration, pest predation, and pollinators. Organic farming promotes a pollution free and sustainable agricultural system.

References

Bhardwaj, D., Ansari, M. W., Sahoo, R. K., & Tuteja, N. (2014). Biofertilizers function as key player in sustainable agriculture by improving soil fertility, plant tolerance and crop productivity. Microbial cell factories, 13(1), 66.

Darnhofer, I., Lindenthal, T., Bartel-Kratochvil, R., & Zollitsch, W. (2010). Conventionalisation of organic farming practices: from structural criteria towards an assessment based on organic principles. A review. Agronomy for sustainable development, 30(1), 67-81.

Dumanski, J., Peiretti, R., Benites, J. R., McGarry, D., & Pieri, C. (2006). The paradigm of conservation agriculture. Proc. World Assoc. Soil Water Conserv. P, 1, 58-64.

Hole, D. G., Perkins, A. J., Wilson, J. D., Alexander, I. H., Grice, P. V., & Evans, A. D. (2005). Does organic farming benefit biodiversity? Biological conservation, 122(1), 113-130.

Kassow, A., Rahmann, G., Blank, B., Paulsen, H. M., & Aulrich, K. (2010). Studies on greenhouse gas emissions in organic and conventional dairy farms. In Ressortforschung für den Ökologischen Landbau 2009 (pp. 65-76). Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut-Bundesforschungsinstitut für Ländliche Räume, Wald und Fischerei (vTI).

Kuepper, G. (2010). A brief overview of the history and philosophy of organic agriculture. Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Poteau, OK.

4 Comments

  1. High standards exist for organic products and that leads to certification.

    Yes, but when organic is part of the industrial food complex, there are immense pressures on supply and organic standards do have escape clauses in them. See https://web.archive.org/web/20170624155942/https://www.law.cornell.edu/cfr/text/7/205.204.

    And there is heavy use of irrigation which strains aquifers and other natural water systems.

    Organic is better than non-organic but it still has problems when it is part of the current food production and distribution system.

  2. Someone who chucks around manure from lot fed cattle or intensive piggery or chook operations does not a sustainable organic farming operation make. Maybe the definitions need a bit more work.

  3. Great Article,
    In the present scenario it is very important that each person should be aware about the importance of organically grown fruits and vegetables to one’s health, and it has become vary much important that we should take initiative in promoting and spreading awareness about organic farming as much as possible asi was going through some articles on organic farming I saw one website OrganicIndiaStory.com which share great articles about the real heroes who are working towards organic farming and what are their views on it.

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