Organic farming is a production system which favors maximum use of organic material (crop residues, animal excreta, legumes, on and off farm organic wastes, growth regulators, biopesticides etc.) and discourages use of synthetically produced agro-inputs, for maintaining soil productivity and fertility and pest management under conditions of sustainable natural resources and healthy environment.
Organic farm products have got more value as compared to inorganic products. People are becoming more conscious for their health and environment. Organic-farming is sustainable and eco-friendly which enables to conserve biodiversity and to protect enviro nment. Organic farming system avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. It mainly relies upon crop rotation, organic manures, bio-pesticides and integrated pest management (IPM).
Organic farming system in India is not new and is being followed from ancient time. It is a method of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (bio fertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an ecofriendly pollution free environment.
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
The technology of Green revolution, especially in India, has led to multi-fold aggrandizing in the production of food grains, but, simultaneously it has asked for demands on farm power, water, and fertilizer. The intensive cropping effect has shown results through deteriorating of the tilth of the soil and decreasing content of organic matter. Apart from this, the high levels of chemical inputs is contributing to pollution and resulting in further deterioration of soil health. Also, the rising use of agro- chemical is constantly resulting in water pollution and deterioration in healthy atmospheric conditions. It has affected the production of crops and degraded human health as well.
In organic farming, chemical herbicides cannot be used. So weeding can be done only manually. Different cultural practices like tillage, flooding, mulching can be used to manage the weeds. Besides, biological (pathogen) method can be used to manage the loss due to weeds. When the ground is fallow, a cover crop can be planted to suppress weeds and build soil quality. Weeds growth can also be limited by using drip irrigation whenever possible, which restricts the distribution of water to the plant line.
Plant diseases are major constraints for reductions in crop yield and quality in organic and low input production systems. Proper fertility management to crops through balanced supply of macro and micronutrients and adoption of crop rotation have shown to improve the resistance of crops to certain diseases. Thus one of the biggest rewards of organic farming is healthy soil that is alive with beneficial organisms. These healthy microbes, fungi and bacteria keep the harmful bacteria and fungi that cause disease in check.
Disclaimer: This article is originally published on https://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/Andhra-Pradesh/2016-04-22/Organic-farming-gaining-popularity-in-Anantapur/223323