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in this article, we are going to learn about the concept of organic farming, organic farming is a new system of farming or agriculture that repairs, maintains, and improves the ecological balance.
Definition of organic farming
Organic farming can be defined as a system of management and agricultural production that combines a high level of biodiversity with environmental practices that preserve natural resources and has rigorous standards for animal welfare. Furthermore, organic farming responds to consumer growing demand for natural products and simultaneously allows to preserve the environment in the context of sustainable rural development. The term organic farming can apply to the following categories of products:
- Unprocessed products: vegetables, cereals, fruits, cotton, flowers, animals, eggs or milk;
- Processed products for human consumption: cheese, bread or instantaneous meals;
- Food for animals like organic soy cakes;
- Materials for vegetative reproduction and seeds.
By USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Organic farming is a system that avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives etc) and to the maximum extent feasible rely upon crop rotation
By FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)
“Organic agriculture is a unique production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity, and this is accomplished by using on-farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off-farm inputs”.
Terminology of Organic Farming
- The use of “organic” popularized by Howard and Rodale refers more narrowly to the use of organic matter derived from plant compost and animal manures to improve the humus content of soils, grounded in the work of early soil scientists who developed what was then called “humus farming”. Since the early 1940s, the two camps have tended to merge.
- Biodynamic agriculturists, on the other hand, used the term “organic” to indicate that a farm should be viewed as a living organism, in the sense of the following quotation:
- “An organic farm, properly speaking, is not one that uses certain methods and substances and avoids others; it is a farm whose structure is formed in imitation of the structure of a natural system that has the integrity, the independence and the benign dependence of an organism. ~ ” Wendell Berry, “The Gift of Good Land”
- Until the 1920s, farmers produced food using natural means, controlling pests naturally and feeding the soil using traditional farming practices that conserved and regenerated the land. The farming method changed dramatically after the Second World War with new research that showed how certain chemical
- The farming method changed significantly after the Second World War with new research that showed how certain chemicals were capable of killing insects. Paul Miller developed DDT in 1939 and the new era of using a new class of insecticides began.
- The modern organic movement and industrialized agriculture began at the same time.
- With the increased usage of chemicals and pesticides in farming, the pioneers of the early organic movement started looking into new, alternative ways to the heating problems of soil depletion, low food quality, and livestock feed, which was followed by rural poverty, erosion and decline of crop varieties, to name a few.
- They soon realized that if we wanted to solve these problems, our focus should turn to improve the soil’s health.
- The modern organic movement started in the early part of the twentieth century, primarily in Europe and later in the United States. We say modern, as we can trace the beginning of organic agriculture to 1840 when the mineral plant nutrition theory was developed (Justus von Liebig (12 May 1803 – 18 April 1873)).
But how it all started?
Let’s take a look at the significant dates in organic farming history.
- 1924 – Rudolf Steiner publishes “Spiritual Foundations for Renewal of Agriculture.”
This book explains the method that may be the first comprehensive organic farming system. The same year he gave eight talks on the spiritual foundation of agriculture, later called biodynamic agriculture.
- 1928 – The founding year of “Demeter”
Demeter is now the largest certification organization for biodynamic farming. The same year the Demeter Symbol was introduced, and the first standards for quality control were set.
- 1935 – Mokichi Okada established an agricultural system originally called, “no fertilizer farming” or “Nature Farming” in Japan.
- 1939 – Lord Northbourne first used the term “organic farming.”
He derived the term from his concept of “the farm as organism” which he explains in details in his book “Look to the Land” (1940).
Lady Eve Balfour launches the Haughley Experiment on farmland in England.
This the first scientific, side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional farming
- 1940 – Sir Albert Howard published “An Agricultural Testament,” a book that focuses on composting methods.
- 1942 – J.I. Rodale started publishing Organic Farming and Gardening magazine (founded Rodale Inc. in 1930). Today the magazine is known as Organic Gardening.
- 1946 – A group of farmers, scientists, and nutritionists founded the Soil Association of the United Kingdom.
Today, the Soil Association is the leading organization in the field of organic agriculture in the UK. The organization’s primary focus is research and promotion of the sustainable relationships between the soil, plants, animals, people and the biosphere. You might be surprised by Soil Association is a charity.
- 1947 – Sir Albert Howard published “The Soil and Health, A Study of Organic Agriculture.”
This is the first book to include “organic” agriculture/farming in the title.
- 1959 – The year of creation of Groupement d’agriculteurs biologiques de l’Ouest in France. (Association of organic farmers from the west)
- 1962 – The famous scientist and naturalist Rachel Carson published “Silent Spring.”
The book played a key role in the prohibition of DDT in the US, according to many. In the book, Carson writes about the effects of DDT and other pesticides on the environment.
- 1971 – The year when Bioland is founded, Germany’s largest organic producer organisation
- 1972 – The year marks the creation of IFOAM – the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements in Versailles, France.
- 1973 – Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) was founded In Switzerland
- 1978 – Creation of FNAB, the National Federation of Organic Farming in France
- 1980 – IFOAM defines the basic standards and regulations relating to the certification of organic agriculture
- 1983 – Austria becomes the first country to establish organic farming guidelines.
- 1985 – Creation of the Agriculture Biologique (AB) mark, the logo for organic products
- 1990 – Law on Organic Agriculture adopted in the United States
- 1990 – Established the first fair of organic products BioFach (BIOFACH) in Germany
- 1991 – The European Union provides a legal framework for the designation of organic agriculture (No. 2092/91, revised in 1999, 834/2007 and 889/2008)
- 1997 – The first National Organic Program (NOP) is released by the USDA.
- 1999 – Codex Alimentarius, a commission run by the UN’s World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization, sanctions international guidelines to cultivate, process, market, and label organic foods
- 2000 – The JAS Standards for organic plants and organic processed foods of plant origin were established in Japan
- 2002 – The United States of America adopts the National Organic Program (NOP), providing a development framework for organic agriculture.
- 2004 – The European Commission adopted the first Action Plan for Organic Food and Farming
- 2008 – IFOAM offered the following definition for Organic Agriculture:
Types of Organic Farming
Organic farming is divided into 2 types, namely:
- Integrated organic farming
- Pure organic farming
- Pure organic farming means avoiding all unnatural chemicals. In this process of farming, all the fertilisers and pesticides are obtained from natural sources such as bone meal or blood meal.
- Integrated organic farming includes the integration of pest management and nutrients management to achieve ecological requirements and demands.
Meaning and Importance of Organic Farming
Meaning of organic farming
System of farming that uses organic inputs like green manures, cow dung, etc., for cultivation.
Need of organic farming
- Excessive use of chemical fertilisers reduces the fertility of soil.
- Excessive use of chemicals has led to soil, water, and air pollution.
- To conserve ecosystem.
- To promote sustainable development.
- Inexpensive farming.
- Increased demand of organic products due to safety of food.
Benefits of Organic Farming
Benefits of organic farming
- Promotes sustainable development.
- Healthy and tasty food.
- Inexpensive process.
- It uses organic inputs.
- Generates income.
- Generates income through exports.
- Source of employment.
- Organic farming is more labour intensive. Hence, it generates more employment.
Limitations of Organic Farming
Limitations of organic farming
- Less output.
- Higher price.
- The lack of awareness.
- Organic products generally demand a higher price due to a higher demand.
- Shorter shelf life.
- Organic products have a shorter shelf life due to the absence of artificial preservatives.
The relevance of Organic Farming
Relevance of organic farming in India
- High nutritional value.
- Maximum profit.
- Employment opportunity.
6 – Advantages of Organic Farming
Economical: In organic farming, no expensive fertilisers, pesticides, or HYV seeds are required for the plantation of crops. Therefore, there is no extra expense.
Good return on Investment: With the usage of cheaper and local inputs, a farmer can make a good return on investment.
High demand: There is a huge demand for organic products in India and across the globe, which generates more income through export.
Nutritional: As compared to chemical and fertiliser-utilised products, organic products are more nutritional, tasty, and good for health.
Environment-friendly: The farming of organic products is free of chemicals and fertilisers, so it does not harm the environment.
4- Disadvantages of Organic Farming
Incompetent: The major issue of organic farming is the lack of inadequate infrastructure and marketing of the product.
Less production: The products obtained through organic farming are less in the initial years as compared to those in chemical products. So, farmers find it difficult to accommodate large-scale production.
Shorter shelf life: Organic products have more flaws and shorter shelf life than chemical products.
Limited production: Off-season crops are limited and have fewer options in organic farming.