What is Organic Farming?

Organic farming is the use of agricultural production systems reliant on green manure, compost, biological pest control, and crop rotation to produce crops, livestock and poultry. Organic centered agricultural production system fosters the cycling of resources to conserve biodiversity and promote ecological balance. The use of green manure, cover crops, animal manure and soil rotation to interrupt the habitation of pests and diseases, improve soil fertility, and maximize the soil’s biological activity are the primary aspects of organic farming.

In other words, organic farming does not allow the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, herbicides, or pesticides.  Thus, the objectives of organic farming is agricultural production of fibers, grains, vegetables, flowers, fruits, foods, and  animal products such as milk, eggs and meat in the best natural way.

Unlike other agricultural practices, organic farming performs better with regards to water and soil conservation, maintaining ecological balance, and utilization of renewable resources. On the contrary, it also has its drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons of organic farming.

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Pros of Organic Farming

  1. High nutrition values

Organic food products contain very high nutritional content because they do not contain modified ingredients compared to the conventional agricultural food products. Another factor that makes them highly nutrition is that they are given time to develop and are provided with the best natural conditions for growth. The vitamin and mineral content of organic food products is always high as the soil life and health offers the most suitable mechanism for crops to access soil nutrients. Plus, healthy foodstuff simply means healthy people and better nourishment for a better living for both people and animals.

  1. Better taste

Apart from nutrition, the mineral and sugar structures in organic foods are tasty because the crops are given more time to develop and mature. The use of natural and environmentally friendly agricultural production techniques is revealed to be the reason for the better taste in organic food products. It is commonly reported that the taste of organic vegetables and fruits are of higher quality compared to those that are conventionally grown.

  1. Improved human health

Organic produce offers the safest products for human consumption compared to any other available food products. Organic products are high in nutrition content, they contain lower levels of chemicals, and they do not have modified ingredients. Besides, organic standards have set strict regulations to ensure all products that are labeled organic are truly organic in production and processing which ensure that they are free from synthetic chemicals components and genetically modified production technologies. Accordingly, organic products can improve human health by ensuring that the risks to diseases like infertility, cancer, and immunodeficiency are minimized.

  1. Environmental sustainability

Achieving tremendous environmental sustainability mileage is the dream of every nation in the world. This can be partly be achieved by the use of organic farming. Research reveals that organic farming can provide impressive mechanisms for advancing ecological harmony, biodiversity, and biological cycles which are environmentally sustaining. For example, the primary objectives of organic farming are soil management and conservation, promoting nutrient cycle, ecological balance and conserving biodiversity.

On this account, it is evident that organic farming has the best interest of preserving the natural environment. Furthermore, since most organic farming production methods are energy efficient compared to traditional farming, it saves energy. The use of natural methods in place of chemicals also saves the worlds water sources and lands from contamination and pollution.

  1. Food security

The demand against the supply of food has always been disproportionate due to the effects of climate change and poor farming practices that cause poor crop produce. Various people around the globe are facing starvation and lack enough food supply as there is a general shortage of safe and nutritious food to satisfy food preferences and dietary needs for a healthy and active life.

This means that many people risk suffering the consequences of food insecurity. In the pillars of food security, a recent study in Science-Digest stressed that promotion of organic farming can intensify yield production particularly in poor countries where inputs for conventional agriculture are highly expensive, thus contributing to increased food security. This is attributed to the fact that organically grown plants are more durable, have higher resistance to pest and diseases, and are equally drought tolerant.

  1. Organic products are poison-free

Organic farming does not use any kind of dangerous chemicals to keep away pests and diseases. All the practices are natural and thus do not harm the consumer. Aspects such as biomagnification is lessened via the practice of organic farming as chemical pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, and artificial growth hormones are all prohibited on an organic farm. Therefore, organic food products are free of contamination with health harming chemical substances.

  1. Lower input costs

Organic farming does not involve the use of expensive agrochemicals as they are highly forbidden. Organic crops also have better resistance to pest and diseases. When these components are combined together, they considerably save farmers on the costs of using expensive fungicides, pesticides, and insecticides. Fertilizers are created by green manuring or composting and yields are increased by the use of crop rotation, cover cropping and soil rotation. These practices typically lower the costs of crop and animal production unlike the case in conventional agricultural production techniques.

  1. Better soil conservation and management

Organic farming highly relies on nourishing the soil naturally by the use of compost, natural powders and green manure. Crop rotation, intercropping and minimal tillage is also used to improve soil fertility, structure, and water holding capacity in organic farming. As a result, it helps to support the soil microbial activities that transform and release soil nutrients and conserves the soil in the long-term by cushioning against soil degradation.

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Cons of Organic Farming

  1. Diminished productivity in the long-term

The contemporary world agricultural production goal is superior productivity. While organic farming promises improved and healthier produce, it is only beneficial in the short term as the massive inputs such as machinery and chemicals are out of the picture. By contrast, over the long-term, the productivity advantages diminish. As the soil health and fertility declines over time in organic farming, so does the yields and this happens when the soil reaches the point where it can no longer convert the existing humus into soil fertility.

As a result, productivity starts to diminish and farmers resort to boost it by adding chemical inputs. It takes time for the soil to regenerate and restore after a growing season in organic farming. Hence, when the soil is utilized over the longer time frame then it cannot produce enough produce that can support the survival needs of the world’s population.

  1. Time consuming

It requires a lot of commitment, patience and uphill struggle to effectively grow crops organically. Organic farming needs a high amount of interaction between a farmer and his/her crops or livestock. Whether it is ensuring the crops are pest and disease free in an organic way or the use of natural methods to control weeds or raising animals in an organic way, the process is highly time consuming.

The farmer has to spend most of the time, day after day, observing and catering for the needs of his/her crops and animals with utmost care in the best natural way. This makes organic farming to be more labor intensive compared to the conventional mechanical or chemical agriculture. Higher yields can be produced industrially as opposed to the sole practice of organic farming owing to its time consuming nature.

  1. Skills

More skills are needed to farm organically compared to mechanical and chemical agriculture. This is greatly associated with the fact that the definitive aspect of organic farming maintains the use of natural inputs and close observation of the production process. Organic farmers lack the convenience of using mechanized or chemical techniques to fix every problem that is encountered.

Instead, they have to employ careful observation and superior understanding of the production process so as to realize the most suitable natural farming system that will correct the production problems rather than attaining short-term solutions. On this basis, the bigger concern is the duration it takes to develop the appropriate skills to wholly understand how to build a healthy farm ecosystem while at the same time seeking for valuable and high productivity.

  1. Organic products are extremely expensive

Organic foods are the most expensive agricultural produces in the market. Perhaps this is one of the main reasons that organic farming is not fully supported as not so many people realize its great benefits. In the supermarkets, for instance, organic vegetables and fruits cost as much as 20 to 40 percent more than their non-organic equivalent. The consumers pay the price and this is said to be one of the major disadvantages of organically produced food products. The exorbitant prices of organic products are linked with the notion that organic farmers do not yield as much out of their farms as conventional farmers do.

  1. Lacks the flexibility of utilizing GMO advantages

The classic nature of organic farming is the complete avoidance of any sort of genetic modification. Well, despite the fact that this helps to bolster healthy lifestyle, organic growers miss out on significant genetic engineered technologies which can assist crops to better resist pests and diseases or tolerate weeds. Convectional farmers have the flexibility of taking advantage of genetic modification, which is generally lacking in organic farming.

Image credit: stevepb , pineapple

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.