When there was a boom in production of crops in the sixties due to use of various chemical fertilizers, people seemed to be very happy to due to the green revolution happening. Besides artificial fertilization, lots of pesticides have also been included in agriculture for protecting the crops from pests that damage them. While all these resulted in bumper growth of food and framing since then, it has also started showing the inevitable effect of chemicals on human health. Studies also indicated that use of chemicals is responsible for many health issues. Thus, the concept of growing organic food and farming evolved. These no pesticides foods are grown following natural process and have gone through popularity explosion in the last decade.
What is organic farming?
This is an alternative agricultural process that does not use any chemical for increasing the soil fertility and preventing the crops from pests. The process of growing organic food and farming is worldwide regulated by the International Federation of Organic agricultural movements (IFOAM) that have large number of affiliates in more than one hundred countries. IFOAM has own standards and calls for maximum utilization of the bio-diversity; mostly depending on the natural decomposition organic substances for increasing soil fertility. Biological pest control methods are also used in this natural food and farming process and this also bans use of genetically modified organisms and hormones.
What are organic foods and farm products?
Foods that are grown without using any synthetic chemicals or genetically modified organisms, antibiotics or without growth inducing hormones and any other artificial additives are labeled as organic foods. Antibiotics and hormones are never applied on the organically raised animals and these are not fed on foods that are not grown organically.
Basics of Growing organic food and farming
The two basic needs of producing healthy natural foods are soil and weed management.
- Soil management: Other than using organic fertilizers such as compost, animal manure and bone meal; soil fertilization is also enhanced by rotation of crops, reduced tillage and companion planting as well. Supplying sufficient nitrogen to the plants is a real challenge to the organic farmers and this is done by planting cover crops that provide green manure that supplies nitrogen. The bacteria present in the plants and animal wastes transform those into high yield soil nutrients resulting more healthy crops.
- Weed management: For growing organic foods, management of weeds is done not by elimination of weeds but by suppressing those. Weeds are controlled by following biological methods rather than using synthetic chemicals. This is most effectively done with the help of cover crops and crops with different life cycles that discourage weed generation. Other cultural methods used include dense planting, tilling the soil between crops for intimate mixing of the crop residue with the soil, killing weeds by heat, mowing and mulching. In some cases grazing is also used to for controlling weeds. Geese and ducks are also used for eating insects and weeds.
Reasons for growing organic food and farming
Growing organic food and farming prevents transfer of harsh chemicals to human body and thus ensures food safety and thereby promotes good health. This is also a very good way for improving the quality of soil and also reduces pollution.
Organic products are the present lifestyle and as of 2011, almost 0.9 percent of the total farmland in the world is used for producing organic foods.