All about Organic Farming

What is organic farming?

Organic farming system in India is not new and is being followed from ancient time. It is a method of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (biofertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an eco friendly pollution free environment.

As per the definition of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) study team on organic farming “organic farming is a system which 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 rotations, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilization and plant protection”.

FAO suggested that “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”.

Need of organic farming

With the increase in population our compulsion would be not only to stabilize agricultural production but to increase it further in sustainable manner. The scientists have realized that the ‘Green Revolution’ with high input use has reached a plateau and is now sustained with diminishing return of falling dividends. Thus, a natural balance needs to be maintained at all cost for existence of life and property. The obvious choice for that would be more relevant in the present era, when these agrochemicals which are produced from fossil fuel and are not renewable and are diminishing in availability. It may also cost heavily on our foreign exchange in future.

Problems of Present Day Agriculture:

The Green revolution technology, particularly in India, led to many fold increase in food grains production, but has made demands on water, fertilizer and farm power. The effect of intensive cropping has resulted in deteriorating soil tilth and decreased organic matter content high level of chemical inputs is increasing pollution hazard and result further degradation of soil health, the increased use of agro- chemical is polluting water and atmosphere and thus effect on crop production, and animal and reflect on human health.

Some Important Problems are:

  1. Soil degradation.
  2. Decreasing soil fertility.
  3. Water and environmental pollution.
  4. Water management problems like:
  • Problem of brackish ground water.
  • Runoff and flooding.
  • Salinization Problem.
  • Low irrigation efficiency.

Why Organic Farming not Adopted on Large Scale?

Cause of low adoption:

1. Chemical are easy to use and less costly.
2. The benefit of organic practices is not seen immediately.
3. Large quintiles of organic inputs are required.
4. Difficult to get organic fertilizer.
5. Unorganized market for organically grown produce.
6. Preference to consume organic food is yet not established.
7. Economic loss to transition (from traditional agriculture to organic agriculture).
8. No experimental evidence on the cost benefit ratio of organic farming.
9. Government effort to propagate.
10. Scientific research is also scare.

There are at least three options available in organic farming they are:

1. Pure organic farming.

2. Integrated green revolution farming.

3. Integrated farming system.( IFS).

 

1. Pure Organic Farming:

This excludes the use of inorganic manures and biological pest control methods. It all the NPK requirement is to be supplied in the form of organic either as farm or town compost or green manure, the quantity of organic required will be huge. But large potential of organic resources remains untapped in the country. Nearly 750 millions tones of cow dung, 250 millions tones yielding crop varieties and hybrid and mechanization of labour are retained. But much greater efficiency on the use of these inputs is obtained to limit damages to the environment and human health. For this purpose, some organic techniques are developed and combined with the input technology in order to create integrated system such as ‘Integrated nutrient management ‘ ( INM), ‘Integrated pest management ‘and biological control method, which reduce need or chemicals. Modern biotechnology is also employed to developed higher yielding, pest resistant crop varities.

2. Integrated Farming System:

The third option in Organic farming is the low input organic farming, in which the farmers have to depend on local resources and ecological process, recycling agricultural wastes and crop residues.

The Following Categories have been Suggestion:

1. External quality freedom from pest and disease damage freshness and colour.

2. Technological quality: Improved properties of storage and processing.

3. Nutritional / physiological quality: Increased content of valuable nutrient and other agricultural chemical residues.

4. Environment quality of the system of production, with regard to the organization of crop and livestock and management of farm resources, in such a way that they harmonize rather than conflict with natural system.

 

This system merits consideration on the ground that most of the ills of modern day agriculture are avoided. Use of agro chemical is forbidden. There is emphasis on build up or organic matter in the soil, there by activating biological activity. Soil is treated as a living organism. Maintenance of favorable soil structure and development and use of crop rotation that improve soil fertility, control pests and disease, pest and diseases, pests and weeds are adopted. The major difference between organic and conventional farming is the almost exclusive reliance of the organic farmer on organic matter for supply of nutrients.

As a consequence of conventional agricultural practices, soil erosion and air pollution may occur. Eroded soils run into reservoirs, clogging water ways, etc, thereby existing an off farm impact. In areas where soils are heavily fertilized soils omit 2 to 10 times as much nitrous oxide as unfertilized soils and pasture.

Conservation of wild life habitat and rural landscape to agricultural use may lead to loss of biodiversity and degradation of landscape an off farm impact having long term consequence on productivity and sustainability. In view of the impact that conventional agricultural practices have, what is needed is an ecomically and environmentally efficient agriculture.

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