History of Organic Farming
Northbourne, in the 1940s, introduced “organic” and “organic farming” as a concept. Chemical fertilizers, synthetic insecticides, and synthetic substances are not utilized in organic farming. Instead, it encourages the use of natural fertilizers, biological pest control made from plant or animal waste, and organic manure, among other things, to support sustainable farming practices. The primary goal is to reverse the effects of the green revolution and restore ecological balance.
Organic farming is an agricultural strategy that emphasises crop rotation and companion planting while utilizing organic fertilizers such as compost manure, green manure, and bone meal. Biological pest control, mixed cropping, and insect predator breeding are all encouraged.
Healthy food, healthy soils, healthy plants, and healthy habitats, as well as crop yield, are all priorities in organic farming. To improve soil quality and build organic soil matter, organic farmers use biological fertilizer inputs and management strategies such as cover cropping and crop rotation. Organic farmers improve the soil’s ability to absorb water by increasing the amount of organic matter in the soil, reducing the effects of drought and flooding. Improving soil organic matter also aids in the absorption and storage of carbon and other nutrients required for growing healthy crops that are more resistant to insects and diseases.
Genetically modified (GM) seed, industrial pesticides, and fertilizers are not used in organic farming. Design and implementation of an organic system plan that describes the practices used in producing crops and livestock products; a detailed record keeping system that tracks all products from the field to point of sale; and the maintenance of buffer zones to prevent inadvertent contamination by synthetic farm chemicals from adjacent conventional fields are some of the essential characteristics of organic systems.
Definition of organic farming:
Organic farming is a management and agricultural production system that combines a high level of biodiversity with environmental measures that preserve natural resources and has strict animal welfare standards. Furthermore, organic farming meets the growing demand for natural products among consumers while also allowing for environmental preservation in the context of long-term 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.
Principles of Organic Farming:
Organic farming is built on four essential principles, according to the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements – IFOAM: health, ecology, fairness, and care.
Organic farming should promote soil health, allowing plants, animals, humans, and the world to thrive.
Health – Organic farming should improve soil health thus sustaining plants, animals, humans as well as the planet. The fullness and integrity of living systems is defined as health. It is the maintenance of physical, mental, social, and ecological well-being, not just the absence of illness. Immunity, resiliency, and regeneration are all important components of good health.
Organic agriculture’s goal, whether in farming, processing, distribution, or consumption, is to maintain and improve the health of ecosystems and organisms of all sizes, from the tiniest in the soil to humans.
Organic agriculture, in particular, aims to create high-quality, nutrient-dense food that aids in health prevention and well-being. As a result, it should avoid the use of potentially harmful fertilizers, pesticides, animal medications, and food additives.
Ecology – Organic farming should support natural cycles and living systems while also assisting in their preservation.
Organic agriculture is based on this notion, which places it within live ecological systems. It specifies that production should be based on environmentally friendly procedures and recycling. The ecology of the unique production environment provides nourishment and well-being. This is the living soil in the case of crops, the farm ecosystem in the case of animals, and the aquatic environment in the case of fish and marine species.
Organic farming, pastoral, and wild harvesting systems should all work in harmony with nature’s cycles and ecological balances. These cycles are ubiquitous, yet they operate differently depending on the location. Local factors, ecology, culture, and size must all be considered while implementing organic management. In order to maintain and improve environmental quality while conserving resources, inputs should be decreased through reuse, recycling, and efficient material and energy management.
Through the design of farming systems, the construction of habitats, and the preservation of genetic and agricultural diversity, organic agriculture should achieve ecological balance. Landscapes, climate, habitats, biodiversity, air, and water should all be protected and benefited by those who produce, process, trade, or consume organic products.
Organic farming should be built on living ecological processes and cycles, which should be worked with, emulated, and helped to sustain.
Fairness – It should be based on strong bonds that promote environmental stewardship, social justice, and fair trade practices.
Organic agriculture should be based on mutually beneficial relationships that ensure equality in terms of the environment and life opportunities.
Equity, respect, justice, and stewardship of the common world are characteristics of fairness, both among people and in their interactions with other living species.
This idea emphasises that people involved in organic agriculture should handle human connections in such a way that all parties — farmers, workers, processors, distributors, traders, and customers – are treated fairly at all levels. Organic agriculture should improve the quality of life for everyone engaged, as well as contribute to food sovereignty and poverty reduction. Its goal is to generate enough high-quality food and other items to meet demand.
This principle states that animals should be given living conditions and opportunities that are compatible with their physiology, natural behavior, and overall well-being.
Natural and environmental resources used in production and consumption should be managed in a socially and environmentally just manner, and they should be kept in trust for future generations. Fairness necessitates open and equitable production, distribution, and trading systems that account for genuine environmental and social costs.
Care – Organic farming should be done with care, with the environment and future generations in mind. Organic agriculture is a live, dynamic system that adapts to both internal and external pressures. Organic agriculture practitioners can improve efficiency and output, but this should not come at the expense of health and well-being. As a result, new technologies must be evaluated, and established processes must be reexamined. Due to our lack of understanding of ecosystems and agriculture, caution is advised.
This principle emphasises that in organic agriculture, precaution and accountability are the most important considerations in management, development, and technology choices.
Organic agriculture requires science to assure that it is healthy, safe, and environmentally sound. Scientific knowledge, on the other hand, is insufficient. Time-tested solutions are based on practical experience, accumulated wisdom, and traditional and indigenous knowledge.
Organic agriculture should avoid major hazards by implementing acceptable technologies and avoiding risky ones like genetic engineering. Through transparent and participatory processes, decisions should reflect the values and needs of all those who may be affected.
To maintain the health and well-being of present and future generations, as well as the environment, organic agriculture should be managed with prudence and responsibility.
The major goal is to encourage large-scale, high-quality food production by improving soil fertility, minimizing pollution, avoiding pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, preserving genetic variety, and promoting natural agricultural system cycles.
Types Organic Farming:
Organic farming is of two types; Pure Organic Farming and Integrated Organic Farming.
Pure Organic Farming – This involves avoiding all unnatural chemicals. Instead, fertilizer and pesticides are obtained from natural sources. It is known as pure organic farming.
Integrated Organic Farming – This involves an integrated approach towards nutrient management and pest management to meet ecological standards and economic demands.
Benefits of Organic Farming:
Reduces Exposure To Harmful Chemicals:
Pesticides are commonly used by farmers to maximize agricultural output from a limited amount of land. These insecticides help to make crops resistant to illnesses and, as a result, increase farm productivity. However, as a side effect, this procedure eventually results in soil contamination over time. Furthermore, synthetic chemicals commonly used to augment processes like crop rotation create soil erosion, which has a negative influence on the ecosystem.
Consumes Less Energy:
Organic farming does not rely on synthetic fertilisers, as contrast to traditional agricultural methods that rely heavily on toxic chemicals. Fertilizer avoidance adds to a larger cause of energy conservation. This is due to the fact that synthesised fertilisers require a large amount of energy to produce. Organic farming systems, on average, use 30-50 percent less energy than conventional farming systems.
Reduces Nitrogen Run-Off Induced Pollution:
Nitrogen is a major component in the production of traditional crop fertilisers. As a result, over the last few years, its use has skyrocketed. When nitrogen is applied to the land, around two-thirds of it ends up in rivers, interfering with the marine environment and disrupting the overall ecosystem.
The emission of nitrogen has a severe influence on biodiversity and pollutes water bodies. Organic farming, on the other hand, does not result in such nitrogen run-off because it does not rely on synthetic nitrogen-based chemicals.
Facilitates Healthy Soil Formation:
Natural cultivation processes are at the heart of organic farming, and they are considerably superior to chemical soil management in terms of long-term soil impact. Organic farming assures that the environment is not harmed by externally exposed chemicals because its procedures closely resemble those of nature. This preserves the soil’s natural ability to thrive on a long-term basis.
Organic methods ensure a healthier and more useful soil, with a well-balanced carbon and nitrogen cycle. Furthermore, the natural nitrogen fixation in the soil is boosted due to the high preservation of beneficial microorganisms.
Combats the Effects of Global Warming:
Organic farming, as a long-term practice, also helps to mitigate the effects of global warming. The Rodale Institute Farming System conducted an interesting study that compared the outcomes of organic and conventional agriculture.
Organic farming produces food that is more nutritious and safe. Organic food is becoming increasingly popular as consumers seek for meals that are perceived to be healthier and safer. As a result, organic food may ensure food safety from farm to fork. Organic farming is more environmentally friendly than conventional farming. Organic farming promotes consumer health by keeping soil healthy and maintaining environmental integrity. Organic agriculture analyses the agro-medium- ecosystems and long-term effects of agricultural activities. Its goal is to generate food while maintaining an ecological balance to avoid difficulties with soil fertility or pests.
MBA in Rural Management, 1st Division
Utkal University, Chandikhole Campus