Organic farming

Description

Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control. Organic farming uses fertilizers and pesticides but excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured (synthetic) fertilizers, pesticides (which includeherbicides, insecticides and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, genetically modified organisms, human sewage sludge, and nanomaterials.

Organic Farming is a specific system of farming whose aim is to produce quality food in a manner beneficial to the environment and to wildlife. Organic farmers practice farming in accordance with standards, which have been formulated for crop and livestock production. The thrust of these standards is to develop a system of farming that co-exists with other systems, sustains soil fertility and protects the environment, wildlife and non-renewable resources.

Organic production and labelling of organic products is controlled by European and national regulations, i.e. European Council Regulation (EEC) No. 834/2007 as amended, which is backed up by Statutory Instruments Nos. 112 of 2004 and 698 of 2007. The EU legislation allows Member States to use private inspection bodies to carry out the inspection and licensing system of organic operators. Five certification bodies are approved to carry out this work in Ireland, i.e. Institute of Marketecology (IMO), Irish Organic Farmers and Growers Association (IOFGA), Organic Trust Limited, BDAA-Demeter UK and Global Trust Certification Limited.

 

Objectives

 

Examples

There are several organic farming systems. Biodynamic farming is a comprehensive approach, with its own international governing body. The Do Nothing Farming method focuses on a minimum of mechanical cultivation and labor for grain crops. French intensive and biointensive, methods are well-suited to organic principles. Other examples of techniques are holistic management,permaculture, SRI and no-till farming (the last two which may be implemented in conventional or organic systems).

While fundamentally different because of the use of carbon based fertilizers compared with highly soluble synthetic based fertilizers, large-scale agriculture and organic farming are not entirely mutually exclusive. For example, Integrated Pest Management is a multifaceted strategy that can include synthetic pesticides as a last resort—both organic and conventional farms use IPM systems for pest control.

Organic farming methods combine scientific knowledge of ecology and modern technology with traditional farming practices based on naturally occurring biological processes. Organic farming methods are studied in the field of agroecology. While conventional agriculture uses synthetic pesticides and water-soluble synthetically purified fertilizers, organic farmers are restricted by regulations to using natural pesticides and fertilizers. The principal methods of organic farming include crop rotation, green manures and compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation. These measures use the natural environment to enhance agricultural productivity: legumes are planted to fix nitrogen into the soil, natural insect predators are encouraged, crops are rotated to confuse pests and renew soil, and natural materials such as potassium bicarbonate and mulches are used to control disease and weeds. Hardier plants are generated through plant breeding rather than genetic engineering.