Organic farming can be understood as an agricultural method that doesn’t makes use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It was introduced by Sir Albert Howard, recognized as the Father of Organic Farming, who wanted to evolve a more eco-friendly way of agriculture. It depends on various other farming methods, like crop rotation and the use of compost. Organic farming thrives on the benefits obtained from recycling and use of natural products. Green manure, biological pest control methods and special cultivation techniques are employed to maintain soil productivity. Presently, organic farming is catering to a huge market worldwide. Explore the article to know its advantages and disadvantages.
Process And Consequence Of Organic Farming
- Organic farming is more economical than the other farming techniques. Its range of benefits includes reduced soil erosion (retaining fertility and reducing the need for fertilizers) and less use of water. Therefore, organic farming is more profitable.
- Organic farming results in less nutrient contamination, since it stays away from artificial pesticides. This leads to reduced carbon-emission and increased biodiversity.
- Organic farming is capable of producing the same crop variants that are produced by the conventional farming methods, even as it brings down the expenditure on fertilizers and energy by 50%. This type of farming also retains 40% more topsoil.
- The issue of soil management is effectively addressed by organic farming. It involves techniques like crop rotation and inter-cropping and makes extensive use of green manure, which helps even damaged soil that is prone to erosion and salinity, to feed on micro nutrients.
- This type of farming helps the farmers clear the weeds, without using any mechanical and chemical applications. Organic way of farming relies on practices like hand weeding and enhancement of soil with mulch, garlic and clove oil, corn gluten meal, table salt and borax, to get rid of weeds and insects, while ensuring crop quality.
- Farming in the organic way is environment-friendly and non-toxic, as it uses green pesticides like neem, composed tea and spinosad. These pesticides boost the crop defense systems, by identifying and removing diseased and dying plants in time.
- The UN Environmental program conducted a study and survey on organic farming in 2008, which concluded that farming by organic methods gives small yields when compared to conventional farming methods.
- Norman Borlaug, the Father of the Modern Green Revolution, has argued that since organic farming is capable of catering to a very small consumer group, world ecosystems are being destroyed by the expanding cropland in an alarming way.
- Danish Environmental Protection Agency conducted a research and concluded that the organic farms which produce potatoes, seed grass and sugar beet are barely producing half of the total output produced by conventional farming, in the same area.
- Organic agriculture is hardly contributing to addressing the issue of global climate change. It does reduce CO2 emissions to a certain extent, but there is no dramatic contribution.
- In 1998, Denis Avery of the Hudson Institute publicized the increased risk of E. coli infection by the consumption of organic food.
Benefits of organic fertilizer
- Organic fertilizers have been known to improve the biodiversity (soil life) and long-term productivity of soil and may prove a large depository for excess carbon dioxide
- Organic nutrients increase the abundance of soil organisms by providing organic matter and micronutrients for organisms such as fungal mycorrhiza, (which aid plants in absorbing nutrients), and can drastically reduce external inputs of pesticides, energy and fertilizer, at the cost of decreased yield.
- Organic fertilizer nutrient content, solubility, and nutrient release rates are typically all lower than inorganic fertilizers One study[which?] found that over a 140-day period, after 7 leachings:
- Organic fertilizers had released between 25% and 60% of their nitrogen content Controlled release fertilizers (CRFs) had a relatively constant rate of release
- Soluble fertilizer released most of its nitrogen content at the first leaching
In general, the nutrients in organic fertilizer are both more dilute and also much less readily available to plants. According to UC IPM, all organic fertilizers are classified as 'slow-release' fertilizers, and therefore cannot cause nitrogen burn.
Organic fertilizers from composts and other sources can be quite variable from one batch to the next. Without batch testing, amounts of applied nutrient cannot be precisely known. Nevertheless they are at least as effective as chemical fertilizers over longer periods of use
Advantages Of Organic Farming
- Organic farming is more cost effective. It reduces the production cost by about 25-30%, because it does not involve the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
- It retains 40% more topsoil, thus increasing the crop yield up to five-fold within five years.
- Organic farming is more profitable because it reduces water use, nutrient-contamination by pesticides, and reduced soil erosion.
- It also enables the farmers to use the soil for a longer period of time to grow crops as soil fertility is maintained for a long time.
- Cattle grazing on organic farmlands have been found to be less prone to diseases, and they yield more healthy milk.
- Products or foodstuffs produced from organic farming do not contain any sort of artificial flavors or preservatives.
- Due to the absence of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, the original nutritional content of food is preserved.
- Organic farming also helps reduce the occurrence of many ailments, and speeds the recovery process by boosting the immune system.
Disadvantages Of Organic Farming
- Organic farming results in smaller yields, and is more labor intensive, and time-consuming.
- Organic fertilizers tend to release slowly, and hence may need several applications before the desired results can be brought about.
- Farming the organic way requires deep skill and extensive knowledge.
Trace mineral depletion
- Many inorganic fertilizers may not replace trace mineral elements in the soil which become gradually depleted by crops. This depletion has been linked to studies which have shown a marked fall (up to 75%) in the quantities of such minerals present in fruit and vegetables.
- In Western Australia deficiencies of zinc, copper, manganese, iron and molybdenum were identified as limiting the growth of broad-acre crops and pastures in the 1940s and 1950s. Soils in Western Australia are very old, highly weathered and deficient in many of the major nutrients and trace elements. Since this time these trace elements are routinely added to inorganic fertilizers used in agriculture in this state.
Negative environmental effects
- Runoff of soil and fertilizer during a rain storm
- An algal bloom causing eutrophication
- The nitrogen-rich compounds found in fertilizer run-off is the primary cause of a serious depletion of oxygen in many parts of the ocean, especially in coastal zones; the resulting lack of dissolved oxygen is greatly reducing the ability of these areas to sustain oceanic fauna. Visually, water may become cloudy and discolored (green, yellow, brown, or red). this is called bluebaby syndrome.