Organic farming is a type of agriculture that benefits from the recycling and use of natural products. Extensive use of dried foliage and kitchen compost not only reduces the investment overheads, but also ensures the growth of crops that are devoid of synthetic interference. The technique is characterized by the use of green manure, biological pest control methods and special cultivation techniques to maintain soil productivity. Limiting the use of synthetic fertilizers or completely doing away with them reduces the risk of exposure to ailments that arise on account of synthetic pesticides, ingrained plant growth regulators and the presence of genetically modified organisms in organic food products.
Today, organic farming caters to a major and preferred industry, worldwide. Organically grown food products have a huge market catered to, by farmlands covering approximately 10% of the total world-farmland cover. The initial effort made by Sir Albert Howard, the Father of Organic Farming, has paid off, metamorphosing into a practice that sustains soil health and ecosystems, by relying on biodiversity, ecological processes and the progress of innovative health sciences.
Advantages of Organic Farming
Lower Growing Cost
The economics of organic farming is characterized by increasing profits via reduced water use, lower expenditure on fertilizer and energy, and increased retention of topsoil. To add to this the increased demand for organic produce makes organic farming a profitable option for farmers.
Enhances Soil Nourishment
Organic farming effectively addresses soil management. Even damaged soil, subject to erosion and salinity, are able to feed on micro-nutrients via crop rotation, inter-cropping techniques and the extensive use of green manure. The absence of chemicals in organic farming does not kill microbes which increase nourishment of the soil.
Resistance to Disease and Pest
Farming the organic way enables farmers to get rid of irksome weeds without the use of any mechanical and chemical applications. Practices such as hand-weeding and soil enhancement with mulch, corn gluten meal, garlic and clove oil, table salt and borax not only get rid of weeds and insects, but also guarantee crop quality.
Increased Drought Tolerance
Organically grown plants are more drought tolerant. The soluble salts in cells of fertilizers-fed plants are unable to osmotically draw sufficient water to maintain safe dilution, thereby increasing the salt content. This salt level reaches toxic levels and result in the death of plants.
The use of green pesticides such as neem, compost tea and spinosad is environment-friendly and non-toxic. These pesticides help in identifying and removing diseased and dying plants in time and subsequently, increasing crop defense systems.
Disadvantages of Organic Farming
An organic farm cannot produce as much yield as a conventional or industrialized farm. A 2008 survey and study conducted by the UN Environmental Program concluded that organic methods of farming result in small yields even in developing areas, compared to conventional farming techniques. Though this point is debatable as the productivity and soil quality of an industrialized farm decreases rapidly over the years.
An organic farmer requires greater understanding of his crop and needs to keep a close watch on his crops as there are no quick fixes involved, like pesticides or chemical fertilizers. Sometimes it can be hard to meet all the strenuous requirements and the experience to carry out organic farming.
Significant amounts of time and energy are required to execute the detailed methods and techniques that are required for a farm to be called an organic farm. Failure to comply with any of these requirements could result in loss of certification, which the farmer will not be able to regain in up to three years.
The Father of the Modern Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, argues that while organic farming practices are capable of catering to the demands of a very small consumer fraction, the expanding cropland is dramatically destroying world ecosystems. Research conducted by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency revealed that organic agriculture is hardly able to address or combat global climate change. Though regenerative organic farming practices are recognized as effective strategies for reducing CO2 emissions to an extent, the impact is not dramatic.
Nevertheless, despite the various advantages and disadvantages of organic farming, farms where organic methods for cropping are experimented with, display more profitability than conventional farms. Organic agriculture is definitely more sustainable in the long run, improving soil fertility and terrain drought resistance greatly. These farming practices completely waive off external costs, incurred due to investment in chemical pesticides and nutrient runoff, and a number of health issues that result from agrochemical residue.