NEED OF ORGANIC FARMING
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.
The key characteristics of organic farming include:-
- Protecting the long term fertility of soils by maintaining organic matter levels, encouraging soil biological activity, and careful mechanical intervention
- Providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by the action of soil micro-organisms
- Nitrogen self-sufficiency through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, as well as effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures
- Weed, disease and pest control relying primarily on crop rotations, natural predators, diversity, organic manuring, resistant varieties and limited (preferably minimal) thermal, biological and chemical intervention
- The extensive management of livestock, paying full regard to their evolutionary adaptations, behavioural needs and animal welfare issues with respect to nutrition, housing, health, breeding and rearing
- Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats
Organic Farming Methods:-
Since synthetic fertilizers are not used, building and maintaining a rich, living soil through the addition of organic matter is a priority for organic farmers. Organic matter can be applied through the application of manure, compost, and animal by-products, such as feather meal or blood meal. Due to the potential for harbouring human pathogens, the USDA National Organic Standards mandate that raw manure must be applied no later than 90 or 120 days before harvest, depending on whether the harvested part of the crop is in contact with the ground. Composted manure that has been turned 5 times in 15 days and reached temperatures between 55–77.2 °C (131–171 °F) has no restrictions on application times. Compost adds organic matter, providing a wide rangeof nutrients for plants, and adds beneficial microbes to the soil. Given that these nutrients are mostly in an unmineralized form that cannot be taken up by plants, soil microbes are needed to break down organic matter and transform nutrients into a bioavailable “mineralized” state. In comparison, synthetic fertilizers are already in mineralized form and can be taken up by plants directly.
Soil is maintained by planting and then tilling in cover crops, which help protect the soil from erosion off-season and provide additional organic matter. The tilling in of nitrogen-fixing cover crops, such as clover or alfalfa, also adds nitrogen to the soil. Cover crops are commonly planted before or after the cash crop season or in conjunction with crop rotation and can also be planted between the rows of some crops, such as tree fruits. Researchers and growers are working to develop organic farming “no-till” and reduced-tillage practices in order to further reduce erosion.
Organic pesticides are derived from naturally occurring sources. These include living organisms such as the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, which is used to control caterpillar pests, or plant derivatives such as pyrethrins (from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium) or neem oil (from the seeds of Azadirachta indica). Mineral-based inorganic pesticides such as sulfur and copper are also allowed.
In addition to pesticides, organic pest control integrates biological, cultural, and genetic controls to minimize pest damage. Biological control utilizes the natural enemies of pests, such as predatory insects(e.g., ladybugs) or parasitoids (e.g., certain wasps) to attack insect pests. Pest cycles can be disrupted with cultural controls, of which crop rotation is the most widely used. Finally, traditional plant breeding has produced numerous crop varieties that are resistant to specific pests. The use of such varieties and the planting of genetically diverse crops provide genetic control against pests and many plant diseases.