The word 'Organic' refers to something that originates naturally or derived from living matter. Organic farming is an ancient agricultural system that adopts an organic technique while using environmentally friendly pest management and biological fertilizers primarily derived from animal and plant waste and nitrogen-fixing crops.
Organic agriculture is that kind of production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil's biological activity. This is accomplished by using on-farm agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off-farm inputs.
The main objective of organic farming is to produce a crop that has high nutritional value with a low or negligible amount of harmful substances. The various methods of organic farming are practiced as follows:
1. Crop Diversification - 'Crop Diversification' is the process of doing variation in the genetic and phenotypic properties used in cultivation. The old-styled agricultural methods adopt a monoculture approach where at a given piece of land, only one type of crop is planted. But under crop diversification, new crops get immediately planted on the same plot of land. This form of organic farming approach is also known as polyculture, which is a perfect way to meet the increasing crop demand. This crop diversification helps in generating the much-needed microorganisms for the soil.
2. Soil Management - 'Soil Management' is the total of all operations, practices and treatments used to protect soil and enhance its performance. In organic farming, it plays the same role in improving its nutrients. After crop cultivation, the earth loses its nutrients, and its consistency also depletes. This organic cultivation stimulates the use of sustainable methods to enhance soil quality. Instead of using toxic pesticides to improve the soil, organic farming relies on introducing sustainable approaches not only to promote plant quality but also to unharmed biodiversity and for the welfare of human beings.
One of the best examples of natural soil improvement strategies is the use of the bacteria found in agricultural waste. These bacteria help make the soil nutrients more productive; even better than the liquid-containing chemicals and make the soil nutrients more effective for soil enhancement.
3. Weed Management - Weeds are the unwanted plants that grow without sowing at any place in the agricultural fields and whose presence is more harmful than profit to the farmer is called weed. Organic farming focused on lowering weed instead of obliterating it. These weeds interfere with the productive and desirable plants in cropland and cause significant problems in non-cropped areas.
Eliminating weeds is an essential factor in the management of all land and water resources, and its effect is most excellent on agriculture. The two most widely used weed management techniques are:
- Mulching: It is a process whereby using plastic films or plant residue, on the surface of the soil, helps in blocking the growth of weeds.
- Mowing or Cutting: The removal of weeds top growth.
4. Controlling other Organisms/Biological Pest Control: It is a method wherein living organisms are used to control pests. It could be with the limited use of chemicals or without the use of chemicals at all. The agricultural lands have both useful and harmful organisms that affect the field and the growth of such harmful microorganisms needs to be controlled for the soil and crop protection.
This process of curbing the growth of harmful microorganisms can be done by using natural herbicides and pesticides like cow urine, and liquid extracts of Azadirachtaindica what we call 'Neem' in Hindi. The process makes the crop devoid of any artificial compounds and super healthy for consumption.
5. Livestock: Livestock is generally characterized as domesticated animals raised to produce labour and commodities such as milk, fur, meat, clothing, and wool in an agricultural environment. The domestic animals who are fed with chemical-free feed produce organic manure, and this manure improves the fertility of soil and crop.
It has a crucial part in the nutrient cycle. The livestock excreta has many useful nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus along with organic matter which maintains fertility and soil structure. Other than helping the soul with a different kind of manure, the domestic animals graze down weeds.
Only while adopting all these natural ways in their unadulterated methods can give you the best products which we call organic farming these days. The concept of organic agriculture was here for a long time, but the only greed of producing more while introducing artificial means at the cost of health made it look very fancy in recent times.
Another essential aspect of organic farming is to do away with producing crops with genetic modifications as it primarily focuses on the use of nature and does not promote the idea of engineered crops.
Thank you Dr. Bhupesh Vashisht