Organic farming

Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest controlto maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured fertilizers, pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, and genetically modified organisms.[1] Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations established in 1972[2]. IFOAM defines the overarching goal of organic farming as: "Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystemsand people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversityand cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.." —International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements[3] Since 1990, the market for organic products has grown from nothing, reaching $55 billion in 2009 according to Organic Monitor ( This demand has driven a similar increase in organically managed farmland. Approximately 37,000,000 hectares (91,000,000 acres) worldwide are now farmed organically, representing approximately 0.9 percent of total world farmland (2009) (see Willer/Kilcher 2011).

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1 History 2 Methods o 2.1 Soil management o 2.2 Weed management o 2.3 Controlling other organisms o 2.4 Genetic modification 3 Standards o 3.1 Composting 4 Economics o 4.1 Geographic producer distribution o 4.2 Growth o 4.3 Productivity and profitability  4.3.1 Profitability  4.3.2 Sustainability (African case) o 4.4 Employment impact 5 Externalities o 5.1 Pesticides o 5.2 Food quality and safety o 5.3 Clothing quality and safety o 5.4 Soil conservation o 5.5 Climate change o 5.6 Nutrient leaching

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o 5.7 Biodiversity 6 Sales and marketing o 6.1 Distributors o 6.2 Farmers' markets 7 Capacity building 8 Controversy 9 See also 10 Citations 11 References 12 Further reading 13 External links

[edit] History
Main article: History of organic farming Organic farming (of many particular kinds) was the original type of agriculture, and has been practiced for thousands of years. After the industrial revolution had introduced inorganic methods, some of which were not well developed and had serious side effects, an organic movement began in the 1940s as a reaction to agriculture's growing reliance on synthetic fertilizers. Artificial fertilizers had been created during the 18th century, initially with superphosphates and then ammonia-based fertilizers mass-produced using the HaberBosch process developed during World War I. These early fertilizers were cheap, powerful, and easy to transport in bulk. Similar advances occurred in chemical pesticides in the 1940s, leading to the decade being referred to as the 'pesticide era'.[4] Although organic farming is prehistoric in the widest sense, Sir Albert Howardis widely considered to be the "father of organic farming" in the sense that he was a key founder of the post-industrial-revolution organic movement.[5] Further work was done by J.I. Rodale in the United States, Lady Eve Balfour in the United Kingdom, and many others across the world. The modern organic movement is a revival movement in the sense that it seeks to restore balance that was lost when technology grew rapidly in the 19th and 20th centuries. Modern organic farming has made up only a fraction of total agricultural output from its beginning until today. Increasing environmental awareness in the general population has transformed the originally supply-driven movement to a demand-driven one. Premium prices and some government subsidies attracted farmers. In the developing world, many producers farmaccording to traditional methods which are comparable to organic farming but are not certified. In other cases, farmers in the developing world have converted for economic reasons.[6]

[edit] Methods
Main article: Organic farming methods

certain processed fertilizers such as seed meal and various mineral powders such as rock phosphate and greensand. but the competition between the legume and the crop can be problematic and wider spacing between crop rows is required.[8]:43 Mixed farms with both livestock and crops can operate as ley farms. which is sometimes used for insect and disease control. Farms without livestock ("stockless") may find it more difficult to maintain fertility. "The Gift of Good Land" [edit] Soil management Plants need nitrogen. due to decreased soil microbe community.[10] [edit] Weed management . In turn. and may rely more on external inputs such as imported manure as well as grain legumes and green manures. and potassium. potentially aiding synchronization. but getting enough nitrogen. they produce benefits of healthier yields and more productive soil for future crops. phosphorus. "An organic farm. and different plants leave different amounts of nitrogen. Natural pH amendments include lime and sulfur.Organic cultivation of mixed vegetables in Capay. magnesium sulfate.S. Varieties of bacteria and fungi break down chemicals. a naturally occurring form of potashwhich provides potassium. Note the hedgerow in the background. as well as micronutrients and symbiotic relationships with fungi and other organisms to flourish. and particularly synchronization so that plants get enough nitrogen at the right time (when plants need it most). Intercropping. it is a farm whose structure is formed in imitation of the structure of a natural system that has the integrity.[7] Organic farmers also use animal manure. more arable soil system. Together these methods help to control erosion. some compounds such as iron sulfate. whereby the land gathers fertility through growing nitrogen-fixing forage grasses such as white clover or alfalfa and grows cash crops or cereals when fertility is established. properly speaking.[9]Fields with less or no manure display significantly lower yields.[7] Crop rotation and green manure ("cover crops") help to provide nitrogen through legumes (more precisely. Horticulturalfarms growing fruits and vegetables which operate in protected conditions are often even more reliant upon external inputs. plant matter and animal waste into productive soil nutrients. providing a healthier. but in the U. aluminum sulfate. Crop residues can be ploughed back into the soil. can also increase soil nutrients. California. the independence and the benign dependence of an organism" —Wendell Berry. In some cases pH may need to be amended. is likely the greatest challenge for organic farmers.[7] Biological research on soil and soil organisms has proven beneficial to organic farming. is not one that uses certain methods and substances and avoids others. and soluble boron products are allowed in organic farming. the Fabaceae family) which fix nitrogen from the atmosphere through symbiosis with rhizobial bacteria. although grain legumes may fix limited nitrogen because they are harvested.

Removing top growth of weeds.Turning the soil between crops to incorporate crop residues and soil amendments. but tend to fly away. tobacco. corn gluten meal. and corn. Organic farmers often depend on biological pest control. Flame weeding and thermal weeding . These include certain formulations of acetic acid(concentrated vinegar). geese have been used successfully to weed a range of organic crops including cotton. provision of habitat for beneficial organisms. Examples of beneficial insects include minute pirate bugs.[11] Organic farmers strive to increase soil organic mattercontent.Using heat to kill weeds.[11] Mechanical and physical weed control practices used on organic farms can be broadly grouped as:[14]      Tillage. fungi and bacteria. mechanical.[13] Other cultural practices used to enhance crop competitiveness and reduce weed pressure include selection of competitive crop varieties. Organic crop rotations frequently include weed-suppressive cover cropsand crops with dissimilar life cycles to discourage weeds associated with a particular crop.Organic weedmanagement promotes weed suppression.[12] meaning that a single crop cannot be grown in the same location without a different. plastic films.[16] [edit] Controlling other organisms See also: Biological pest control Organisms aside from weeds that cause problems on organic farms include arthropods (e. common in the southern U. Parasitoid waspstend to be effective for their selected prey. all of which eat a wide range of pests. big-eyed bugs. which can support microorganisms that destroy common weed seeds. Predatory mites are effective for controlling other mites. and essential oils.[15] reviving the practice of keeping cotton patch geese. selection of pest-resistant crops and animals. Organic farmers use a wide range of Integrated Pest Management practices to prevent pests and diseases. Cultivation . strawberries. however. Some naturally-sourced chemicals are allowed for herbicidal use.[11] Organic farmers integrate cultural. and to a lesser extent ladybugs (which tend to fly away). crop protection using physical barriers. Similarly.[14] Weeds can be controlled by grazing. sanitation to remove pest habitat. At this time. and crop diversification through companion planting or establishment of polycultures. rather than weed elimination. organic herbicides and bioherbicidesplay a minor role in the organic weed control toolbox. and Mulching .Disturbing the soil after seeding. intervening crop. Mowing and cutting . tight row spacing. by enhancing crop competition and phytotoxic effects on weeds. remove existing weed growth and prepare a seedbed for planting. Praying mantis tend to move more slowly and eat less heavily. but like all small insects can be less effective outdoors because the wind controls their movement. before the 1950s. or landscape fabric. and late planting into warm soil to encourage rapid crop germination. physical and chemical tactics to manage weeds without synthetic herbicides. These include. A few selective bioherbicides based on fungal pathogens have also been developed. the use of beneficial organisms to reduce pest populations. but are not limited to. crop rotation and nutrient management. high-density planting. nematodes. Organic standards require rotation of annual crops. mites).g.[8]:66-90 . some rice farmers introduce ducks and fish to wet paddy fields to eat both weeds and insects. insects.Blocking weed emergence with organic materials..S. biological. For example. such as row covers. Lacewings are also effective.

arsenic.[citation needed] The dangers that genetic modification could pose to the environment and/or individual health are hotly contested. Naturally-derived insecticides allowed for use on organic farms use include Bacillus thuringiensis (a bacterial toxin). there is concern that the pollen from genetically modified crops is increasingly penetrating organic and heirloom seed stocks.[21]Similarly. copper hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate for managing fungi. These are mainly effective for diseases affecting roots. and the fungus Trichoderma harzianum. as well as other natural plant extracts have antimicrobial characteristics that can help.[20] Synthetic pesticides allowed for use on organic farms include insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils for insect management. spinosad (a bacterial metabolite). 1998. some organic farmers question the rationale behind the ban on the use of genetically engineered seed because they see it a biological technology consistent with organic principles. safer and more environmentally friendly than synthetic pesticides. With some exceptions. Agricultural Research Service scientists have found that caprylic acid. participants at IFOAM's 12th Scientific Conference issued the Mar del Plata Declaration. Although opposition to the use of any transgenic technologies in organic farming is strong. which may attack or out-compete certain plant pathogens. Pesticides with different modes of action should be rotated to minimize development of pesticide resistance. like most conventional insecticides. and strychnine. International trade restrictionslimit the availability GMOs to certain countries.[8]:92[unreliable source?] Rotenone and pyrethrumare particularly controversial because they work by attacking the nervous system.When these practices are insufficient to prevent or control pests an organic farmer may apply a pesticide. but not necessarily. where more than 600 delegates from over 60 countries voted unanimously to exclude the use of genetically modified organisms in food production and agriculture. and synthetic substances are prohibited.[17] Compost teacontains a mix of beneficial microbes. naturally-occurring pesticides are allowed for use on organic farms. a naturally-occurring fatty acid in milk and coconuts. particularly in the developing world. and Bordeaux mixture. one survey found that only 5.[20] [edit] Genetic modification Main article: Genetically modified organism A key characteristic of organic farming is the rejection of genetically engineered plants and animals. Fewer than 10% of organic farmers use these pesticides regularly. Naturally-derived fungicides allowed for use on organic farms include the bacteria Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus pumilus. making it difficult.[23] [edit] Standards . neem (a tree extract) and rotenone (a legume root extract). if not impossible.[22] Although GMOs are excluded from organic farming. On October 19. agricultural researchers Luis Herrera-Estrella and Ariel Alvarez-Morales continue to advocate integration of transgenic technologies into organic farming as the optimal means to sustainable agriculture. pyrethrum (a chrysanthemum extract).[18]but variability among formulations and preparation methods may contribute to inconsistent results or even dangerous growth of toxic microbes in compost teas. These include nicotine sulfate. These are sometimes called green pesticides because they are generally.7% use pyrethrum (Lotter 2003:26). to keep these genomes from entering the organic food supply.[19] Some naturally-derived pesticides are not allowed for use on organic farms.3% of vegetable growers in California use rotenone while 1.

000 hectares (2.6 million hectares). reduced soil erosion. created the National Organic Program (NOP).S.[31] Besides Australia. a trend toward legislated standards began. including Australia's 1. For products which do not come into direct contact with soil.5 percent while North America has 7. (2003:7). a subfield of agricultural economics. In the 1990s. and in 2002 the U. and economies of scale.180. information asymmetries.[27] [edit] Composting Under USDA organic standards. which as of 2001 are estimated to have $6 and $8 billion respectively of the $20 billion global market (Lotter 2003:6).8 million hectares). 120 days must pass before the crop is harvested if the final product comes into direct contact with the soil.[29] Organic farmers in California have cited marketing as their greatest obstacle. Europe farms 23 percent of global organic farmland (6. requiring more energy and manufactured inputs. As of 2007 Australasia has 39% of the total organic farmland. for example. increased biodiversity. Asia has 9. Although the scope of economics is broad.[citation needed] Traditional organic farming is labor and knowledge-intensive whereas conventional farming is capital-intensive.900. Some entities such as the European Union subsidizeorganic farming. If raw animal manure is used. unintended consequences. opportunity costs.[28] [edit] Economics The economics of organic farming. reduced carbon emissions. most notably with the 1991 EU-Eco-regulation developed for European Union. As early as the 1970s private associations certified organic producers. In the 1980s. Organic production materials used in and foods are tested independently by the Organic Materials Review Institute. Standards may be voluntary or legislated. agricultural economics tends to focus on maximizing yields and efficiency at the farm level. In 2005 IFOAM created the Principles of Organic Agriculture.9 million hectares). and the United States (1. followed by Latin America with 19 percent (5. the countries with the most organic farmland are Argentina (3. an international guideline for certification criteria. in large part because these countries want to account for the externalitiesof reduced water use.3 million hectares).000 acres) but 97 percent of this land is sprawling rangeland (2007:35).Main article: Organic certification Standards regulate production methods and in some cases final output for organic agriculture. governments began to produce organic production guidelines. Much of Argentina's organic farmland is pasture. 90 days must pass prior to harvest. Economics takes an anthropocentricapproach to the value of the natural world: biodiversity.1 million hectares).[30] [edit] Geographic producer distribution The markets for organic products are strongest in North America and Europe. . US sales are 20x as much. and assorted other benefits that result from organic farming. encompasses the entire process and effects of organic farming in terms of human society.[26] Typically the agencies accredit certification groups rather than individual farms. The EU's program was followed by a Japanese program in 2001. China (2. reduced water contamination. Africa has 3 percent. is considered beneficial only to the extent that it is valued by people and increases profits.2 percent. manure must be subjected to proper thermophilic compostingand allowed to reach a sterilizing temperature.[24]which set standards for 12 countries. including social costs. and a 1993 UK program.[25]As of 2007 over 60 countries regulate organic farming (IFOAM 2007:11).

[35] [edit] Productivity and profitability Various studies find that versus conventional agriculture. Italy.. such as corn and sugar. As a result of this policy difference. In total 32. the United States has not.2 million hectares) have experienced strong growth in organic farmland.[33]However.2 million hectares were under organic management in 2007. Germany.[42] Organic farms are more profitable in the drier states of the United States.[36] or 95-100%.[38]or 100% for corn and soybean. By 2002 this was $23 billion and by 2007 more than $46 billion. In the EU it grew by 21% in the period 2005 to 2008. For 1999 11 million hectares of organically managed land are reported. and potentially an even larger that of Australia (2007:42). sometimes yielding 70-90% more than conventional farms during droughts.. consuming less energy and zero pesticides. Spain.[34]continuing to subsidize some but not all traditional commercial crops. Brazil and the US.[32] In recent years both Europe (2007: 7. it is likely to gain increasing impact on national agricultural policies and confront some of the scaling challenges faced by conventional agriculture. organic crops yielded 91%. The country with the most organic land is Australia with more than 12 million hectares. Uruguay.6 percent in the U. and 97% less pesticides. this growth has occurred under different conditions.[32] IFOAM's most recent edition of The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2009lists the countries which had the most hectares in 2007.[37] along with 50% lower expenditure on fertilizer and energy. (from the abstract) Converted organic farms have lower pre-harvest yields than their conventional counterparts in developed countries (92%) but higher than their low-intensity counterparts in developing countries (132%). the estimated market value of certified organic products was estimated to be $20 billion. [edit] Growth Organic farmland by world region (2000-2008) As of 2001.[41] Organic farms withstand severe weather conditions better than conventional farms.[44] .[43]Organic farms survive hurricane damage much better. While the European Union has shifted agricultural subsidies to organic farmers due to perceived environmental benefits. retaining 20 to 40% more topsoil and smaller economic losses at highly significant levels than their methods could produce enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population. and the UK follow the United States in the amount of organic land (2007:26). followed by Argentina. likely due to their superior drought performance.8 million hectares.1% percent of European Union farmland was organically managed compared to the 0. Brazil (the world's largest agricultural exporter).2 million hectares) and North America (2007: 2.[39] A 2007 study[40]compiling research from 293 different comparisons into a single study to assess the overall efficiency of the two agricultural systems has concluded that . as of 2008 4.[clarification needed] The results were attributed to lower yields in average and good years but higher yields during drought years.S. This is due to relatively lower adoption of fertilizers and pesticides in the developing world compared to the intensive farming of the developed world. European Union: 7. without increasing the agricultural land base.[32] As organic farming becomes a major commercial force in agriculture.

The 2000 review included reported pesticide poisonings but did not include speculative chronic health effects of pesticides. and that it is more likely to be sustainable in the long-term"[49] and that "yields had more than doubled where organic.[47]Organic production was more profitable in Wisconsin.[51] [edit] Externalities Main article: Motivations for organic agriculture Agriculture imposes negative externalities (uncompensated costs) upon society through land and other resource use. and the 2004 review relied on a 1992 estimate of the total impact of pesticides. and air quality. Whether the benefits are private or public depends upon the division of property rights. water usage. arguing that much of the benefits from organic farming are derived from imported materials which could not be regarded as "self-sustaining".[50] [edit] Employment impact Organic methods often require more labor than traditional farming. contribute to increased profits. while livestock production costs 714 million dollars. Positive externalities include self-reliance.[55] [edit] Pesticides .[53]In 2005 in the USA concluded that cropland costs the economy approximately 5 to 16 billion dollars ($30 to $96 per hectare). or near-organic practices had been used" and that soil fertility and drought resistance improved.[52]In 2000 uncompensated costs for 1996 reached 2. which suggests long-term yield benefits from organic farming.Contrary to widespread belief. therefore it provides rural jobs.[45]An 18-year study of organic methods on nutrient-depleted soil. profitability is mixed. subsidy payments and assorted other problems. given price premiums. respect for nature. Without the price premium. entrepreneurship. biodiversity loss.343 million British pounds or 208 pounds per hectare. organic farming can build up soil organic matter better than conventional no-till farming. Organic farms have been consistently found to be as or more profitable than conventional farms. It has been proposed that organic agriculture can reduce the level of some negative externalities from (conventional) agriculture. concluded that conventional methods were superior for soil fertility and yield in a cold-temperate climate. nutrient runoff.[48] [edit] Sustainability (African case) In 2008 the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated that "organic agriculture can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems.[46] [edit] Profitability The decreased cost of synthetic fertilizer and pesticide inputs. pesticides. along with the higher prices that consumers pay for organic produce. Organic methods reduce some of these costs.[54]Both studies recommended reducing externalities. erosion.

Washington reminding orchardists not to spray pesticides on these trees. Ecological concerns primarily focus around pesticideuse. Most organic farms largely avoid pesticides as opposed to conventional farms.[62] [63] [edit] Food quality and safety Main article: Organic food . pyrethrum.’ Profound differences exist between children and adults. detoxify. According to the National Academy of Sciences: "A fundamental maxim of pediatric medicine is that children are not ‘little adults.[61] Runoff is one of the most damaging effects of pesticide use. in spite of slight increases in area planted and weight of pesticides applied. Reduction and elimination of chemical pesticide use is technically challenging. human health. and excrete xenobiotic compounds. there are still areas of the country where there is no evidence of progress. and areas where risk levels for protection of drinking water. Children exposed to pesticides are of special concern.”[57] The five main pesticides used in organic farming are Bt (a bacterial toxin). while 1. algae and crustaceans remain high".[60]Organic pesticides often complement other pest control strategies. There are differences in their ability to activate. Their metabolic rates are more rapid than those of adults. as 16% of the world's pesticides are used in the production of cotton . Nevertheless.7% admit pyrethrum use(Lotter 2003:26). All these differences can affect the toxicity of pesticides in infants and children. rotenone. and for these reasons the toxicity of pesticides is frequently different in children and adults. 5.3% of vegetable growers will admit rotenone use.A sign outside of an organic apple orchard in Pateros.[58] copper and sulphur. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Servicetracks the environmental effects of water contamination and concluded. Infants and children are growing and developing. "the Nation's pesticide policies during the last twenty six years have succeeded in reducing overall environmental risk. fish.[56] Some pesticides damage the environment or with direct exposure.[59] Fewer than 10% of organic vegetable farmers acknowledge using these pesticides regularly[citation needed] .

"Organic fruits and vegetables can be expected to contain fewer agrochemical residues than conventionally grown alternatives.[citation needed] Lack of data has limited research on the health effects of natural plant pesticides and bacterial pathogens.[citation needed] "Organic products stand out as having higher levels of secondary plant compounds and vitamin C". An example of the "no differences" school stated: No evidence of a difference in content of nutrients and other substances between organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock products was detected for the majority of nutrients assessed in this review suggesting that organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock products are broadly comparable in their nutrient content. There is no good evidence that increased dietary intake. organic clothinghas become widely available. "because of the limited and highly variable data available. Some find no significant differences. or meat.. there is currently no evidence of a health benefit from consuming organic compared to conventionally produced foodstuffs."[67] Individual studies have considered a variety of possible impacts. they also found that statistically significantdifferences between the composition of organic and conventional food were present for a few substances.[68]Pesticide residues present a second channel for health effects.. which improve health and reduce cancer regardless of their source. Although many consumers of organic clothing merely dislike synthetic chemicals. a chronic medical condition characterized by symptoms that the affected person says are adverse effects from exposure to low levels of chemicals. which contains limitations in the design and in the comparability of studies. It should be noted that this conclusion relates to the evidence base currently available on the nutrient content of foodstuffs.[65] Organic kiwifruit had more antioxidants. The results are diverse. Nitrateconcentrations may be less. Others disagree.[64] However. but the health impact of nitrates is debated.Many studies have examined the relative quality and safety benefits of organic and conventional agricultural techniques.[66] A review of potential health effects analysed eleven articles. and concerns over the reliability of some reported findings.[68] [edit] Clothing quality and safety Main article: Organic clothing Recently. "the significance of this difference is questionable"[68]and "It is intuitive to assume that children whose diets consist of organic food items would have a lower probability of neurologic health risks". although no comparable benefit was found for organic fruits. yet.[68]Consumption of organic milk was associated with a decrease in risk for eczema. vegetables. of the nutrients identified in this review to be present in larger amounts in organically than in conventionally produced crops and livestock products. concluding.[71] The higher cost of organic food (ranging from 45 to 200%) could inhibit consumption of the recommended 5 servings per day of vegetables and fruits.[citation needed] [edit] Soil conservation Main article: Soil conservation . including pesticide residues. and pesticide exposure brought an increased risk for ADHD in one study. and it is therefore unlikely that these differences in nutrient content are relevant to consumer health. would be of benefit to individuals consuming a normal varied diet. a significant portion of the organic clothing market comes from those suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.[69][70]Comments include.

rivers. is one way to minimize erosion. soil microbes.[82][83] An average of 30% more species inhabit organic farms. and groundwater can cause algal blooms. Agriculture relies on roughly one meter of topsoil.[83] Many weed species attract beneficial insects that improve soil qualities and forage on weed pests. earthworms.In Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations. naturally occurring species observed in comparative farm land practice studies show a preference for organic farming both by abundance and diversity. geomorphologist David Montgomery outlines a coming crisis from soil erosion. as they must travel far from the coast to find fish. sequesters carbon in the soil.[77] Organically fertilizing fields "significantly [reduces] harmful nitrate leaching" over conventionally fertilized fields: "annual nitrate leaching was 4. eutrophication. like any well managed agricultural system. beetles. especially from beneficial soil microbes . and that is being depleted ten times faster than it is being replaced. The main contributor to this pollution is nitrate fertilizers whose use is expected to "double or almost triple by 2050".[82]Nearly all non-crop.[76]Organic agriculture can decrease fossil fuel emissions and. However.[80] Agricultural runoff and algae blooms are strongly linked in California. Soil carbon data show that regenerative organic agricultural practices are among the most effective strategies for mitigating CO2emissions. The resulting externalities could be neutralized by charging 1 euro per kg of released nitrogen.[81] [edit] Biodiversity Main article: Organic farming and biodiversity A wide range of organisms benefit from organic farming.[74] [edit] Nutrient leaching Excess nutrients in lakes.[79] Nitrogen leaching into the Danube River was substantially lower among organic farms. a recent study by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service has found that manure applications in tilled organic farming are better at building up the soil than no-till. Lack of herbicides and pesticides improve biodiversity fitness and population density. biodiversity. nitratesare harmful to aquatic organisms by themselves. and effective soil management providing the capacity to mitigate and even reverse the effects of climate change. but it is unclear whether organic methods confer greater benefits than conventional integrated agri-environmental programs.[82] Increased biodiversity. vegetation. and subsequent dead zones. which some claim depends upon pesticides.[78] The large dead zonein the Gulf of Mexico is caused in large part by agricultural runoff: a combination of fertilizer and livestockmanure. and mammals are particularly affected.[85] spiders. In addition.6 times higher in conventional plots than organic plots".[74] Agriculture has been undervalued and underestimated as a means to combat global climate change. Over half of the nitrogen released into the Gulf comes from agriculture.[72] No-till farming. while experiencing reduced intake of herbicides and pesticides. Carbon sequestration occurs at especially high levels in organic no-till managed soil.[73][74][75] [edit] Climate change Organic agriculture emphasizes closed nutrient cycles. butterflies.[84] Birds. This increases costs for fishermen.[86] Soil-bound organisms often benefit because of increased bacteria populations due to natural fertilizer such as manure.4-5. The elimination of synthetic nitrogen in organic systems decreases fossil fuel consumption by 33 percent and carbon sequestration takes CO2out of the atmosphere by putting it in the soil in the form of organic matter which is often lost in conventionally managed soils.

) and therefore cost-effectiveness. under other labels. It would provide more money and a better opportunity to compete internationally with the huge distributors. down from 73% in 2005.[93] [edit] Capacity building Organic agriculture can contribute to ecologically sustainable. ConAgra.and mycorrhizaehave been proposed as an explanation for the high yields experienced by some organic plots. Heinz. One theory was that consumers were substituting "local" produce for "organic" produce.[citation needed]Common game birds such as the ringnecked pheasant and the northern bobwhite often reside in agriculture landscapes. In California 2% of the farms account for over half of sales. and the small farms can still compete and have similar prices with the much larger farms that usually take all of the profits. including localized training material. Most small cooperative distributors have merged or were acquired by large multinationals such as General Mills. Kellogg. 75% of organic farms are smaller than 2. especially in light of the differences seen in a 21-year comparison of organic and control fields.[89] [edit] Distributors In the United States.[90]This consolidation has raised concerns among consumers and journalists of potential fraud and degradation in standards.g.[citation needed] Organic agriculture is knowledge intensive. These products are what economists call credence goods in that they rely on uncertain certification.755 in 1994 to 5.274 in 2009. Local and international markets for organic products show tremendous growth prospects and offer creative producers and exporters excellent opportunities to improve their income and living conditions. Farmers selling directly to consumers at farmers' marketshave continued to achieve these higher returns. local seed varieties.[91] Organic foods also can be a niche in developing nations.[citation needed] . In the United States the number of farmers' markets tripled from 1. Species found in organic farms enhance sustainability by reducing human input (e.[94]The application of organic principles enables employment of local resources (e..[88]69% of Americans claim to occasionally buy organic products. socio-economic development. pesticides)..(Lotter 2003:4) Small farms join together in cooperatives such as Organic Valley. As of 2007.[92] [edit] Farmers' markets Price premiums are important for the profitability of small organic farmers. fertilizers. Most sell their organic products through subsidiaries. capacity building efforts are underway. Organic prices are much more stable than conventional foods.[87] Farmers that produce with organic methods reduce risk of poor yields by promoting biodiversity. etc. especially in poorer countries.g. and 42% of Americans polled don't trust organic produce.[citation needed] [edit] Sales and marketing Most sales are concentrated in developed nations. and benefit recreational hunters. but as of 2007 only 3 remained. and others.[10] Biodiversity from organic farming provides capital to humans. to limited effect. Interest in organic products dropped between 2006 and 2008. to market their goods more effectively. Inc. the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements hosted more than 170 free manuals and 75 training opportunities online.5 hectares. manure. Globally. In 1982 there were 28 consumer cooperative distributors.

[98] In contrast. Borlaug asserts that organic farming practices can at most feed 4 billion people.[41] That analysis has been criticised by Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute. Dennis Avery (also at Hudson) that the risk of E. who contends that the review claimed many non-organic studies to be organic. Trewavasand other critics contested the notion that organic agricultural systems are more friendly to the environment and more sustainable than conventional farming systems.[100][101][102] Urs Niggli.[100] [edit] See also                    Organic farming by country Agroecology Biodynamic agriculture Certified Naturally Grown Industrial agriculture List of organic gardening and farming topics Motivations for organic agriculture Organic clothing Organic food Organic movement Organic beans Permaculture Seasonal food Sustainable agriculture Wildculture Organic Farming Digest Australian Organic Farming and Gardening Society WWOOF Nayakrishi .[edit] Controversy Norman Borlaug. father of the "Green Revolution". and gave equal weight to studies from sources which were not impartial. Prof A. director of the FiBL Institutecontends that there is[103] a global campaign against organic farming that mostly derives from Avery's book The truth about organic farming. the UN Environmental Programmeconcluded that organic methods greatly increase yields in Africa. Environmental and health effects were assumed but hard to assess. counted high organic yields several times by citing different papers which referenced the same data.[49]A review of over two hundred crop comparisons argued that organic farming could produce enough food to sustain the current human population and that the difference in yields between organic and non-organic methods were small. after expanding cropland dramatically and destroying ecosystems in the process. (Avery had cited CDC as a source.[99] The Center for Disease Control repudiated a claim by Avery's father.) Avery had included problems stemming from non-organic unpasteurized juice in his calculations. misreported organic yields. Nobel Peace Prize laureate. coli infection was eight times higher when eating organic food. with non-organic methods yielding slightly more in developed areas and organic methods yielding slightly more in developing areas. made false comparisons between yields of organic and non-organic studies which were not comparable.[95][96][97] The Danish Environmental Protection Agency estimated that phasing out all pesticides would result in an overall yield reduction of about 25%.

In this regard. GOOD THINGS ABOUT ORGANIC FARMING CONSUMER BENEFITS: Nutrition The nutritional value of food is largely a function of its vitamin and mineral content. fungicides and herbicides. Healthy plants mean healthy people. advantages and disadvantages organic farming advantages and disadvantages organic farming . as well as examining the environmental effects of organic farming. and such better nourished plants provide better nourishment to people and animals alike. As you would expect of populations fed on chemically grown foods. Right>> An ecological organic garden where the vegetables sow themselves! Watch the video. there has been a profound upward trend in the incidence of diseases associated with exposure to toxic chemicals in industrialized societies. advantages and disadvantages organic farming Because it fosters the life of the soil organic farming reaps the benefits soil life offers in greatly facilitated plant access to soil nutrients.Advantages and Disadvantages Organic Farming: Good Things. Poison-free advantages and disadvantages organic farming A major benefit to consumers of organic food is that it is free of contamination with health harming chemicals such as pesticides. organically grown food is dramatically superior in mineral content to that grown by modern conventional methods. Barriers and Environmental Effects Advantages and Disadvantages Organic Farming pro and cons organic farming Despite the good things about organic farming why do most farmers still operate by industrialized agriculture? Here we explore the pros and cons organic farming presents for consumers and producers.

Adjusted to take account of our aging population. Representative data on the number of new cancer cases in New South Wales. The tastiness of fruit and vegetables is directly related to its sugar content. Australia has been collected by the New South Wales Central Cancer Registry. It comes as no surprise. This quality of fruit and vegetable can be empirically measured by subjecting its juice to Brix analysis. which is a measure of its specific gravity (density). As a result. therefore. Food Keeps Longer Organically grown plants are nourished naturally.000 people.advantages and disadvantages organic farming advantages and disadvantages organic farming Take cancer for example. GROWER BENEFITS: advantages and disadvantages organic farming A healthy plant grown organically in properly balanced soil resists most diseases and insect pests. that organically grown food tastes better than that conventionally grown. their graph (above) shows that between 1972 and 2004 the incidence of new cancer cases per year (average for both sexes) has risen from 323 to 488 per 100. The Brix score is widely used in testing fruit and vegetables for their quality prior to export. This is an increase of over 50% in just 32 years. which in turn is a function of the quality of nutrition that the plant itself has enjoyed. advantages and disadvantages organic farming Food Tastes Better advantages and disadvantages organic farming Animals and people have the sense of taste to allow them to discern the quality of the food they ingest. organically grown foods can be stored longer and do not show the latter’s susceptibility to rapid mold and rotting. <> . rendering the structural and metabolic integrity of their cellular structure superior to those conventionally grown.

as they do in organic agriculture. organic farming does not incur the use of expensive agrichemicals – they are not permitted! The greater resistance of their crops to pests and the diseases save farmers significantly in expensive insecticides. and tomato and cucumber plants. He explained that the strip had been nourished using agrichemical fertilizer early in the growing period. both healthy and diseased. This was dramatically illustrated to me several years ago when I was fortunate to attend a workshop with Australian organic gardening guru Peter Bennett. hays off and dies earlier than it otherwise would have. Drought Resistance Organically grown plants are more drought tolerant. As soon as water becomes limited. the soluble nutrient salts in the cells of chemically fed plants are unable to osmotically draw sufficient water to maintain safe dilution. Fertilizers are either created in situ by green manuring and leguminous crop rotation or on-farm via composting and worm farming. By the same means he grew healthy rosebushes between rows that were riddled by insects. however. Disease and Pest Resistance For instance. and the plant stops growing. reap ongoing benefits to production at minimal maintenance. Added Value . fungicides and other pesticides. Lower Input Costs By definition. The creation of living. he restored the mineral balance to part of the soil and the trees growing in that part became clean while the rest remained diseased. When farmers husband the life of the soil. fertile soil conditions through early corrective soil re-mineralization and strategic Keyline chisel ploughing are significant establishment costs that. Biodynamic farmers use a low cost microbial solution sprayed onto their crops. are also better able to compete with those weeds that are present. Because chemical fertilizer is soluble. They soon reach toxic concentrations. placed by the wisdom of creation to heal and restore damaged soils. the improved conditions dissuade many weeds and favor their crops. A slide he showed us has stuck in my mind ever since: it was a field of wheat. where the vines intertwined. being healthier. Bisecting the ripening green crop was a wide yellowed strip that had already finished growing and hayed off. The crops. Northern observed that the bugs ate up the diseased and refused to touch the healthy plants! Weed Competitiveness Weeds are nature’s band-aids. They can and do enjoy good growth as long as water is readily available. in an orange grove infested with scale. however. plants are forced to imbibe it every time they are thirsty for water.This was proven by US doctor and soil nutrition pioneer Dr Northern who conducted many experiments to test the hypothesis during the 1930’s. organically grown on re-mineralized soil.

and diminishes its soil life to the point where it can no longer function to convert available organic matter into soil fertility.benefits organic farming soil Organic farming benefits food production without destroying our environmental resources.There is a discerning market of consumers who recognize the greater food value of organic produce and are willing to pay premium prices for it. Conventional growers. Even the need to cultivate may be questioned… After noticing rice thriving wild amongst weeds on roadsides. Productivity begins to wane. this yield is possible by expending massive inputs of chemicals and machinery. In contrast to cultivation. However.g. direct drilling does not mechanically disrupt soil structure and removes the risk of exposed soil being lost to wind or water erosion. However. So it’s a circular argument! Structurally sound (life-rich) soils may be cultivated regularly without significant damage. “Roundup Ready Canola”) or resist pests (e. In the short term. and attempts to bolster it with increasing chemical inputs (common advice from farm consultants) has a similar effect to flogging a dead horse. Cultivation While their conventional counterparts may sow by direct drilling of seed into herbicide treated soils. Industrialized agriculture thrashes the land. In my years working with broadacre farmers in the wheatbelt of WA. productivity advantages dwindle. the manager of Heinz-Watties in New Zealand explained how his company had been actively supporting and recruiting farmers to organic production in order to service large and lucrative markets in Japan and Europe. ORGANIC FARMING DISADVANTAGES Productivity Proponents of industrialized agriculture point to its superior productivity. Japanese alternative agriculturalist Masanobu Fukuoka succeeded in establishing crops by broadcasting seed coated in clay onto untilled land. organic farmers are usually at least partly dependent on cultivation to remove weeds prior to sowing. over the longer time frame. . particularly if protected appropriately by windbreaks and Keyline soil conservation measures. Bollworm resistant cotton). the structure of agrichemically-deadened soils is weakened by the corresponding loss of soil life and thus unable to maintain its integrity under occasional cultivation. ensuring sustainability for not only the current but also future generations. it was common for them to remark on how much richer pastures and crops were in their youth. working over bland fields of a single crop (monoculture). the benefits of organic farming for soil life is fundamental to its methods. In an interview with me in 1998. GM Crops Organic growers do not use genetically modified or engineered food crops.g. are free to “take advantage” of GM crops. Because it relies on living soil to build fertility. on the other hand. This is a valid argument where farmers are working marginal quality soils. some of which are engineered to tolerate herbicides (e.

They have to engage careful observation and greater understanding in order to know how to tweak their farming system to correct the cause of the problem rather than simply putting a plaster over its effect. Organic farmers I have interviewed report that their most valuable remedies and advice come from other organic farmers. and are often in fact negative. The main advantage farmers using such crops gain is convenience only. organic farming requires greater interaction between a farmer and his crop for observation. ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS ORGANIC FARMING Climate Friendly The synthetic inputs upon which conventional agriculture is so dependent are energy expensive to mine and manufacture. Today the embodied energy of industrial agriculture uses up 9 calories for every 1 calorie of food that it produces! Organic agriculture with its low input needs of naturally derived substances produces less greenhouse gas emissions and is considerably more climate friendly. Skill advantages and disadvantages organic farming It requires considerably more skill to farm organically. This is a bigger issue during the conversion period from conventional to wholly organic when both the learning curve and transition related problems are peaking (it takes time to build a healthy farm ecosystem that copes well without synthetic crutches). because professional farming of any sort naturally imparts a close and observant relationship to living things. The main concern is that once they are released it is nigh impossible to “un-release” them. There are worrying indications that GM crops may be associated with harm to both human health and the environment. timely intervention and weed control for instance. Organic farmers do not have some convenient chemical fix on the shelf for every problem they encounter. productivity gains attributed to GM crops are usually negligible when growing conditions. advantages and disadvantages organic farming Time Indeed. naturally a single farmer can produce more crop using industrial methods than he or she could by solely organic methods.According to a report from the Directorate-General for Agriculture of the European Commission. farmer experience and soil types are factored in. Ecologically Friendly It doesn’t use soluble fertilizers… . However. the best organic farmers are converted agrichemical farmers. It is inherently more labor intensive than chemical/mechanical agriculture so that.

Trifluraline and Diuron Dieldrin. advantages and disadvantages organic farming Synthetic agrichemicals (and most plastics widely used in our society) are derived from oil. the chief source of the annual algae blooms that plague Perth’s major river (the Swan) is conventional agriculture. Farmers pour tons of phosphate and nitrogenous fertilizer on their cropping lands every year. While systematic monitoring of pesticide contamination of groundwater in Australia is limited. In many areas. Amitrol. Groundwater studies in the US have found similarly significant contamination. In Carolina. unreasonable public health threat to current and future ground water users. Metolachlor. much of this fertilizer is either washed off the soil surface and into waterways (especially phosphates) or leaches through the soil profile beyond the reach of plants and finds its way less directly into waterways (especially nitrates). indicating significant contamination (Australia State of the Environment Report 2001). resulting in groundwater that is unfit for drinking.S. advantages and disadvantages organic farming . and Alachlor. It doesn’t use pesticides or herbicides Another pollution disaster caused by agrichemical use is the contamination of groundwater reserves with poisonous nasties. Eighty percent of the seagrass meadows in Perth’s Cockburn Sound – an important nursery habitat for wild fish stocks . the concentration is greater than the recently revised Australian Drinking Water Guidelines level of 50 mg/L nitrate (as nitrate). occurring over regional and local scales (LWRRDC 1999).A. With fresh water reserves under increasing pressure from climate change this is a grave situation for humanity. Pesticide contamination poses a serious. Lindane. but also Dieldrin. for example. U. In some of the more contaminated areas. available tests have detected pesticides in at least 20% of samples. spews out into the ocean where it supports the growth of algae on sea plants and coral reef systems. The soluble nutrient pollutants that contaminate surface waters fuel the overgrowth of algae. There is no economically viable method to clean up widespread contamination. over 27% of wells sampled in 1997 were found to be contaminated with pesticides predominantly from routine agricultural usage. particularly (in Australia) Atrazine and Simazine. Because it is soluble. Chlorpyriphos.have been decimated due to this process which is called “eutrophication”. Nitrate contamination of groundwater (indicated by >10 mg/L nitrate) in Australia is widespread in every state and territory.Though rarely acknowledged. causing whatever it smothers to die. and thus a source of endocrinedisrupting chemicals (especially xenoestrogens) in the environment. the concentration is in excess of 100 mg/L (LWRRDC 1999). Distorted sex organ development and function in alligators has been related to a major pesticide spill into a lake in Florida. This blocks access to sunlight. What is not used up by algae in fresh waterways.

small farmers in Latin America. Given below are some of the advantages of organic farming for small farmers: . In the early 1990s Cuba had the most industrialized agriculture in Latin America. According to a researchconducted by the Office of Evaluation and Studies (OE). China and Indiacan benefit drastically from organic farming and will help in alleviating poverty in thesecountries. low capital investment. At first Cuba was faced with dire food shortages. truck drivers… everyone learned to garden! Under the community-focused direction of its socialist leadership. Do you believe our corporation-serving governments will so decisively lead us through it? Will you be ready for it? advantages and disadvantages organic farming advantages and Benefits of Organic Farming for Small Farmers User Poor Organic Farming Best Rate Rating: / 24 The various benefits of organicfarming for small farmers all over the world include high premium. manufacture and processing of the synthetic chemicals upon which it is so dependent. particularly in the extraction. With the collapse of the Soviet Union. Numerous small farmers have been practicing organic farming. Even the “safest” herbicides such as Roundup (glycophosphate) – the second most widely used in the USA . including reintroducing the use of bullocks in the cultivation of crops. International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD). readily available Soviet oil. and the ability to use traditional knowledge. since they are unaware of the market opportunities they are not able to reap the benefits of organic farming. This is the near future that awaits us all. ORGANIC FARMING AND PEAK OIL Agrichemical farming is extremely energy reliant. however. and can totally decimate frog populations at routine contamination levels. and despite rationing the average Cuban lost 10 kilograms in weight! Hungry people responded by becoming farmers – lawyers.There is also evidence to link xenoestrogens to a range of human medical concerns. fueled by cheap. virtually overnight. Cuba rapidly made a successful transition to organic agriculture and more labor intensive methods. this supply was cut. Organic farming refers to means of farming that does not involve usage of chemicals such as chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides.are now known to pose a danger to wetland ecologies. In a world of diminishing oil supplies the days of chemical agriculture are numbered! advantages and disadvantages organic farming One has only to study the experience of Cubato know this is so. particularly reproductive problems such as reduced sperm count in men and breast cancer in women. ability to achieve higher premium in the market. teachers.

small farmers practicing organic farming have to suffer less as their investments are low. which are verycostly. Since chemical inputs. Most of this traditional knowledge cannot be used for chemical farming. the farmers can make use of the traditional knowledge. are not required in organic farming. Crop failure. and irregular rainfall. pests. when itcomes to organic farming. Further. therefore. Further. Further most of the small farmers are dependent on natural rain for water. the transition might becostly) Less dependence on money lenders:Many small farmers worldwidecommit suicide due to increasing debt. (It should be noted that while shifting from chemical farming to organic farming. disease. the yearlycosts incurred by the farmer are also low. does not leave an organic farmer into enormous debt. pest or disease attack. small farmers are not dependent on money lenders. in case of organic farming.    . Therefore in cases of natural calamity. Agriculture greatly depends on external factors such as climate. Low investment:Organic farming normally does not involve capital investment as high as that required in chemical farming. small farmers are not dependent on those who provide chemical know-how. and does not force him to take an extreme step. However. Small farmers are able to understand this synergy easily and hence find it easy to implement the Traditional knowledge:Small farmers have abundance of traditional knowledge with them and within theircommunity. when there is a crop failure. Synergy with life forms: Organic farming involves synergy with various plant and animal life forms.  High premium: Organic foodis normally priced 20-30% higher thanconventional food. This premium is very important for a small farmer whose income is just sufficient to feed his/her family with one meal. since organic fertilizers and pesticides can be produced locally.

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