The definition of organic farming as accepted is clear. It’s the production of produce, including grains and livestock, that avoids any use of artificial chemicals like synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones.
By choosing not to rely on the techniques employed in mass market farming and production, the organic farmer commits to produce foods that are healthier for the human population. But there is a caveat that goes with it – it takes more efforts and a management system that is labour intensive and innovative.
Here are seven facts about organic farming:
✅ Organic farms are seldom large in size compared to the thousands of acres that are managed by big farmers using modern methods. Naturally, the output tends to be lower during the transition from modern farming practices to organic cultivation.
✅ Modern fertilizers provide a boost to the plants, but they don’t do it without adding something else to the crop – some of the chemicals linger in the food system. Organic farmers have to resort to much more difficult ways to nourish their soil like natural compost and manure and other ways of providing for the plants.
✅ Did you know that in order to be certified ‘organic’ by agencies like the USDA or Canada Organic, a farm must rotate its crops i.e. a farmer cannot continuously plant the same crop during each growing season. Crop rotation involves the much more demanding commitment of planting of different seeds on the same land in different years or seasons, using a set pattern. This technique helps replace the nutrients in the soil for the plants.
✅ Chemical pesticides and herbicides are considered a modern blessing to farmers because they help in keeping the crops safe from these pests. Again, the increasing use of these chemicals have been known to cause health complications in humans.According to Dr. Edward Group, writes in the globalhealingcenter.com, “Ancient Indians highly revered neem oil as a powerful, all-natural plant for warding off pests. Neem juice is even one the most powerful natural pesticides on the planet, holding over 50 natural insecticides.” He also mentions some more remedies like salt spray, eucalyptus oil, onion and garlic spray, tobacco spray and others. Obviously, this is not done as easily as spraying a brand name pesticide for quick results.
✅ After a land parcel has been converted to organic method, it takes about three to five years before crop yield catches up with conventional output. In the meanwhile, farmers have to maximize their returns on investment by charging a little more to make up for the losses.
✅ Added to the above is the requirement to create ‘buffer zones’ between organic and non-organic farmlands in order to avoid cross contamination. GMO crops that is the norm nowadays cannot stand rubbing shoulders with organic crops; they must maintain a healthy distance between them. And that effectively reduces the availability of ideal organic farmland.
✅ Organic farmers are generally more committed to sustainability and fair wages to their workers. This adds to the cost of their operation. But as long as there are consumers who appreciate what they do for their workers, the organic farmer will continue to produce food the way nature meant it to be.