ORGANIC FARMING : METHODS AND BENEFITS

Organic farming is one of the oldest farming methods practiced in India. Long before the chemicals and fertilizers were sprayed on farms, the organic method was used widely. Organic farming refers to the use of organic waste and biological materials to cultivate the land and keep the soil rich to raise the crops. Thus, even after the crops are harvested and the next sowing season is ready, it doesn’t degrade the quality of soil and the crops can grow better as they get nutrients from the natural sources instead of the artificial ones. The land can be used to grow crops for generations without much effort. This eco friendly method keeps the environment pollution free. 

There are several methods through which organic farming is done. 

 

Crop rotation –

Different crops are planted sequentially on the same part of land throughout different times of the year. This is done to restore the nutrients that have been used up by one plant. One example can be planting beans at the place of corn. Since corn uses up nitrogen, after harvesting it the farmer can plant beans which returns the nitrogen back into the soil through nitrogen cycle. 

 

Soil management –

After a crop is harvested, the soil becomes less nutritious because of their consumption by the crop. To make the soil fertile for the next season the soil is added with manures, compost or organic fertilizers. It restores the essential bacteria and other microorganisms back to the soil which enriches it. This way, the soil management enhances the quality of soil before the next series of crops can be planted.

 

Weed management –

Weeds are the unwanted crops that grow on the soil. They grow without any effort since the seeds are easily spread by natural processes. Weeds can cause problems to the crops that are intended to grow as they take up the space, nutrients and sunlight. Different tools and techniques are used to minimise the grown weeds or to prevent them from growing. 

 

Controlling other organisms –

As the soil is home to many organisms both the useful and harmful organisms grow in it. Some of them like insects and mites can be harmful and stunt the growth of intended crops or spoil them in the growing phase. Due to this natural pesticides or herbicides are often used to control them. 

 

Livestock –

Livestock in general provides many benefits to the farmers. Almost all the farms have them to increase the quality of the farm. The animal waste of livestock is used for nutrient cycling on the farm. Cow Dung is the most common material which is mixed with water and sprayed over the entire farm to make it richer. Animals also chew down the certain weeds which can ease the sowing process of intended crops. Animals are also used for land preparation such as ploughing for better practice of organic farming. 

 

Crop diversity –

Monoculture was practiced earlier which included planting a certain crop at the entire available land space. That was useful only till polyculture wasn’t into existence. Polyculture has been into practice which includes planting a variety of crops on the available land. Crop diversity is different from crop rotation (where different crops are raised on the same land at different times). Polyculture offered more benefits than monoculture as it was sustainable and produced different useful soil microorganisms.

Benefits

  • Healthy foods – Foods obtained from organic farming are healthier and nutritious compared to the GMOs (genetically modified crops) or the ones that are grown even off season using chemical fertilizers.
  • Keeps the environment healthy – Since organic farming uses natural methods, no harmful waste is produced as every byproduct is used. 
  • Better soil quality – The soil is enriched through natural processes and materials thus it stays healthy for longer periods of time and can be used quickly to grow another season of crops. 
  • Low chances of infection – Organically grown crops have low chances of getting attacked and infected by harmful organisms as they are grown through biological processes instead of artificial ones.
  • No harm at all – When fertilizers are used they have to be added in the right quantity otherwise they can harm the growing crop. On the other hand, natural manure and compost used in organic farming can be added in any quantity as it promotes healthy growth and restores the nutrients in soil thus enriching it. 

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