The farming methods that make use of the various traditional agricultural practices like minimum tillage, composting, crop rotation, biological pest control, etc. and exclude the application of synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, growth regulators and genetic modification of crop species, are included in organic farming methods. The use of modern technology in combination with organic farming practices, helps in creating a balanced and sustainable environment for crop growth. Organic farming methods take a holistic approach in growing crops rather than exploiting the available natural resources.
It is a farming practice which involves the use of eco-friendly methods to grow crops and the exclusion of synthetic products such as chemical fertilizers, insecticides and pesticides. Organic farming is practiced on 32.2 million hectares of land the world over. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) carries out the tasks related to setting standards and regulation of organic farming activities worldwide.
Organic Farming Methods
The use of organic farming methods is aimed at enhancing the productivity of crops without the use of any kind of synthetic materials and adopting a sustainable approach towards farming.
Polyculture is an important aspect of organic farming. In the traditional form of farming, monoculture is practiced, which includes growing a single crop in a given piece of land. Though the motive behind cultivating a single crop, is to reduce costs incurred in fertilizers, seeds, pesticides, etc. However, it creates problems in the long run. The reduction in the fertility of the soil owing to the extraction of nutrients over a long period and soil erosion result from the practice of monoculture. Moreover, the pests become immune to the chemicals used for their control. Polyculture is a completely different approach towards farming as compared to monoculture. In this method of farming, a variety of crops are cultivated on a single piece of land. It helps attract different soil microbes. Some crops act as repellents to pest and this results in pest control, in an organic manner.
Composts are used to enhance soil fertility in organic farming methods. Green manuring too, is a nice way to add nutrients to the soil. It is the practice of growing plants with prolific leaf growth like Alfalfa, and burying them in the soil before the cultivation of the main crop. The green manuring crops add organic matter to the soil that is necessary for plant growth.
It is an important aspect in the growth of any crop. Organic pest control involves undertaking various activities to control pests without using chemical pesticides and insecticides. The growth of beneficial insects is encouraged by growing suitable plants which attract them. Beneficial insects are actually predators which control harmful insects. Disease resistant varieties are chosen for cultivation, in order to keep diseases at bay without having to spend money on costly pesticides. Special types of crops known as 'companion crops' are grown to control pests. These crops help in diverting or discouraging the growth of harmful pests. Biological pesticides such as neem extract, are useful in controlling many different pests. The practice of crop rotation helps in disturbing the reproduction cycles of pests, thereby inhibiting their growth and protecting the crops.
The prime objective behind following the methodology of sustainable agriculture is to maintain the ecosystem. Thus, it includes the preservation of nutrients present in the soil, keeping the soil aerated and use of fertilizers that decompose in soil. The result of practicing sustainable agriculture is the maintenance of healthy soil that should be able to nourish plant growth for a longer period.
It is necessary to follow organic farming methods for sustainable growth of crops. It not only helps in growing crops at a lesser cost compared to the traditional method, but also maintains the balance of our ecosystem.