Organic Farming – all about
Organic Farming definition: It is a production system that sustains and maintains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people. It solely depends on ecological processes, biodiversity, and various life cycles that are adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs that have adverse effects. Organic farming is the combination of tradition, innovation, and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships among different components and good quality of life for all involved.
History of Organic farming: It has been practiced in India since thousands of years ago in which agriculture is done with the help of organic techniques like the use of plants and animal wastes as pesticides and fertilizers.
Principles of Organic farming:
There are 4 basic principles involved in organic agriculture. They are,
Principle of health: It sustains and enhances the health of humans, soil, animal, plant, and the planet as one and indivisible.
Principle of ecology: Organic farming is based on ecological systems and cycles that work with them to emulate them and helps to sustain them.
The principle of fairness: Organic farming builds relationships that ensure fairness in relationship with the common environment and life opportunities.
Principle of care: It manages the biodiversity in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of present and future generations of the living beings and the environment.
Benefits/ Pros of Organic farming:
- It reduces the production costs of farmers since there is no usage of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
- It helps to reduce global warming.
- Water pollution is destroyed.
- It leads to very lesser residues in foodstuffs.
- It helps to conserve the environment more healthily.
- Organic agriculture saves energy and protects the biodiversity.
- It improves the soil properties like water holding capacity, good aeration, easy root penetration, and reduces erosion.
Drawbacks/ Cons of Organic farming:
- Farmers need more labors, therefore, the labor charge is high.
- Since, organic food is produced in lesser quantities, the marketing, and distribution of these products is not efficient.
- It cannot lead to enough food production such that many people suffer from starvation.
- Lack of proper awareness and technology of organic farming.
Various components of Organic farming:
The various components of Organic farming are enlisted below in detail
- Organic manures: It is used as organic fertilizer rich in organic matter. Commonly used organic manures in farming are farmyard manure, green manures, vermin-compost, crop residues, and bio-fertilizers.
- Farmyard manure: it increases the water holding capacity of the soil. It is obtained from cow dung. This can improve the soil, tilth, and aeration.
- Green manures: it is a cover crop grown to add nutrients and organic matter to the soil. The most common examples of green manures are Sunnhemp, Dhaincha, Berseem, Sesbania, and Desmanthus.
- Vermicompost: it is a stable fine granular organic material that loosens the soil and helps in proper air passage. The mucus attached to the cast because of hygroscopy increases the water holding capacity of the soil.
- Crop residues: various crop residues like wheat and paddy straw, sugarcane trash, paddy, and maize husk have high nutritional value when applied in the soil.
- Biofertilizers: it contains specific micro-organisms in a concentrated form that can fix atmospheric nitrogen in the roots of the leguminous plants. For example, nitrogen fixers are Rhizobium, Azotobacter, Azospirillum, and Acetobacter. Phosphorus solubilizing and mobilizing bio-fertilizers is VAM.
Weed management in Organic Farming/ Organic weed management:
- Crop rotation: leguminous crop is followed by a non-leguminous crop. For instance, wheat is followed by black gram.
- Different cultural practices like tillage, summer ploughing, mulching, and flooding.
- Many biological methods are used to control weeds like zygogramma beetle for the control of parthenium weeds.
- For fallow ground, cover crops like cowpea can be grown to suppress weeds.
Insect Pest Management in Organic Farming/ Organic pest management:
- Growing resistant cultivars: this may be less attractive to the pests. Some external morphological characters such as cuticle, wax, spines, color, and trichomes present on these cultivars reduce the pest susceptibility. Many plants produce certain chemical compounds that repel the pests. For example, pyrethrum produced from chrysanthemum plants have repellant property.
- Sanitation: roper removal of crop debris and dirt is necessary. Using clean equipment while working in the farm area is recommended.
- Tillage: it disrupts the life cycle of many pests and expose the pest to predators.
- Mulches: plastic mulches spreading speed up the early season crop growth that enhances plant ability to withstand insect feeding. For instance, mulches with straw can reduce the colorado potato beetle problem.
- Composting: it helps in controlling pests above and below ground. It also improves soil physical properties and increases soil micro-organisms.
- Trap crops: it is grown to lure the insect pests away from the commercial crop. For example, marigold is grown as a trap crop in tomato cultivation.
- Manual control: handpicking of grubs, mowing, pruning at the appropriate stage, water sprays are also effective.
- Physical barriers: bagging the fruits against fruit sucking moth, trunk bands against mealy bag, setting up of light traps, baits, water traps, yellow sticky traps, and pheromone traps to attract insects.
- Predators and parasitoids: encouraging the activity of predators and parasitoids helps in controlling pests. For example, wheel bug nymph feeds on colarado potato beetle.
- Botanical pesticides: it is derived from plants such as neem oil, neem seed kernel extract, pyrethrum, etc., for example, azadiractin derived from neem controls squash bugs, aphids, mexican bean beetle.
Disease management in Organic Farming/ Organic disease management:
- Crop rotation: it is generally used in controlling soil and stubble borne diseases. It is recommended to control leaf blights in many cereals.
- Growing resistant cultivars: it is the most efficient and cost-effective method of disease control. For example, swarna sub 1 variety is highly resistant to bacterial leaf blight of rice.
- Field sanitation: straw is the primary inoculum of many diseases. Proper disposal of straw and other debris is necessary.
- Planting date and rates: barley yellow dwarf can be controlled by early seeding.
- Flooding: it is used to control soil-borne pathogens like phytophthora, rhizoctonia. It also helps in the destruction of debris carrying the inoculum.
- Earthing up: it is meant for controlling damping-off in brinjal and tomato nurseries.
- Bio-pesticides: Trichoderma sp and Pseudomonas fluorescens are used as seed treatment and soil treatment materials.
Conclusion of Organic Farming: As a sum up, organic agriculture is a better choice for the environment as well as human beings. It is an integrated approach where all the aspects of agriculture are interlinked together.