|Organic farming - Organic cultivation of vegetables and plants|
|Organic farming - is a form of agriculture that relies on ecosystem management and attempts to reduce or eliminate external agricultural inputs, especially synthetic ones. It is a holistic production management system that promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity.|
|It is important to make the distinction between organic farming and organic food. Farming is concerned with producing fresh productsvegetables, fruits, meat, dairy, eggsfor immediate consumption, or for use as ingredients in processed food. The manufacture of most commercially processed food is well beyond the scope of farming. It is also important to note that organic farming is a reaction against the large-scale, chemical-based farming practices that have become the norm in food production over the last 80 years. The differences between organic farming and modern conventional farming account for most of the controversy and claims surrounding organic agriculture and organic food. Until recently, the comparison looked something like this:|
|In preference to the use of off-farm inputs, organic farming emphasizes management practices, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems. Utilizing both traditional and scientific knowledge, organic agricultural systems rely on agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods (these may require external inputs of nonrenewable resources, like tractor fuel), as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfill any specific function within the system. Organic farming is also associated with support for principles beyond cultural practices, such as fair trade and environmental stewardship, although this does not apply to all organic farms and farmers. Organic farming excludes the use of synthetic inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). In many countries the use of veterinarydrugs is excluded. In a number of countries, including the US, Bulgaria, Iceland, Norway, Romania, Switzerland, Turkey, Australia, India, Japan, the Philippines, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Argentina, Costa Rica, Tunisia, and in the EU, organic farming is also defined by law, so that the commercial use of the term organic to describe farming and food products is regulated by the government. Where laws exist, organic certification is available to farms for a fee, and it is usually illegal for a non-certified farm to call itself or its products organic . Elsewhere, for example, in Canada, voluntary certification is available, while legislation may be pending.|
|Farming Productivity - A 22-year farm trial study by Cornell University published in 2005 concluded that organic farming produces the same corn and soybean yields as conventional methods, but consumes less energy and contains no pesticide residues. However, a prominent 21-year Swiss study found an average of 20% lower organic yields over conventional, along with 50% lower expenditure on fertilizer and energy, and 97% less pesticides Organic Farming - .
A major US survey published in 2001, analyzed results from 150 growing seasons for various crops and concluded that organic yields were 95-100% of conventional yields OFRF - . Comparative yield studies are still scarce, and overall results remain "inconclusive".|
The issue of productivity is more complex than a summary of yield (production per land area), which was the measure used in these studies. Instead, productivity could be calculated in labour time rather than by land area. Organic methods often require more labor, providing rural jobs but increasing costs to urban consumers. Also, grain forms the majority of world agricultural production, and most of that is fed to animals, not humansbroad calculations of how much agriculture is feeding people is therefore complicated when feeding animals to feed people is factored in.
The hidden costs of conventional agriculture are seldom addressed in productivity calculations. Conventional agriculture is based on importing energy, particularly in the form of fertilizer and other agrichemicals, machinery and fuel, and long-distance transport. The full cost of these inputs are not included. For example, maintenance of the airports and highways that allow easy transport are not factored into food costs. If airports were shut down, or highway systems compromised, however, there would be an immediate affect on the cost of food. More indirectly, it is argued that the cost of the side effects of chemical agriculture, like health care and environmental clean up, should be included in the cost of agribusiness. Instead, these hidden costs are paid by the public in other ways, such as through taxation to fund services like pollution control measures, and increased health care costs. Of course, many of these hidden cost factors are disputed, and they are difficult to investigate.
Related to this is the amount of money that actually reaches the farmer. Currently, large-scale farms receive around 10-20% of the supermarket retail price. The other 80-90% is absorbed by the food distribution system for processing, transport, packaging and marketing. The organic argument holds that more efficient distribution, through decentralization of production (e.g. family farm vs. factory farm), and development of local and regional markets, would put more money in the hands of farmers, allowing for increased productivity.
|Pesticides - Organic farming does not result in the release of synthetic pesticides into the food supply or the environment, but it does allow certain so-called natural pesticides, such as those derived from plants. Critics claim that many synthetic pesticides are improvements on natural pesticides, that they are less dangerous to humans and more environmentally friendly, and that the distinction between "artificial" and "natural" pesticides is arbitrary and has no bearing on their safety to humans and the environment. Organic advocates respond that they use natural pesticides as a last resort, growing healthier, disease-resistant plants, using cover crops and crop rotation, and encouraging beneficial insects and birds as the primary methods of pest control. The most common organic pesticides, accepted for restricted use by most organic standards, include Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), pyrethrum, and rotenone.|
Another argument against organic farming is that, while it works acceptably at present because pests are kept under control in surrounding conventional farms and thus do not spread into organic farms, if it became universal, the "islands" they operate on would disappear and pests would become a severe issue. This argument also works in reverse, as organic farms can be islands of safety for predator insects and pollinators, without which, more pollination services would be required, and ever-increasing quantities of pesticides would be needed as pest populations acquired resistance to pesticides (to a degree, in both instances this is already the case).
Workplace safety is a separate, related issue. Toxic agrichemicals create a hazardous work environment. Chemical accidents and the effects of long-term exposure are both well-known risks faced by many farm workers. Also, the effect of chemicals, airborne after spraying, and in the groundwater, on neighboring communities is a concern.
|Soil conservation - The practice of ploughing (see tillage) to prepare soil for planting is claimed to increase soil damage compared to using herbicides, like glyphosates.
In fact, this argument applies primarily to large-scale, chemical-based agriculture, where huge areas are repeatedly tilled and planted with the same crops. By using artificial fertilizer rather than replacing organic material, the soil structure is progressively destroyed, and becomes increasingly susceptible to wind and water erosion. Use of
herbicides to kill weeds, instead of plowing them under, may present a short-term solution to this problem. However, repeated use of
herbicides also kills microorganisms that contribute to the decomposition of plant residues that help rebuild the organic matter that holds the soil together. It also encourages the selection of the most herbicide-resistant weeds, which necessitates increased herbicide
||Government subsidies - Some organic farming advocates believe that, even if yields are currently lower, these results are obtained without the huge subsidies paid to conventional farmers, and expect yields to be equivalent or higher if organic farming were subsidized to the same level.|
It should be noted that the conventional, chemical-based approach is also widely practiced in countries that do not heavily subsidise their farmers, such as Australia, as well as many other countries which are not mentioned here.
|Rural infrastructure - Critics condemn agribusiness practices for putting small, independent farmers out of business, destroying rural communities in the process, and causing the "art of farming" to be lost. According to these critics, small-scale organic farming encourages local economies, and provides social and employment alternatives to concentrated, energy-dependent urban living, thus improving the quality of life for everyone.|
As discussed previously, the entry of large-scale businesses into production of organic food undermines the belief that a preference by consumers for organic food will necessarily translate into a substantive change in the nature of agribusiness. This is where the distinction between organic farming, organic food, and organic certification becomes tricky. If the strong consumer trend represents simply the desire for an "organic" stamp on their food, then the trend to large-scale, global, corporate farming, certified organic or not, will continue. If consumers embrace a broader concept of "organic", which includes fresh, local food, substantial changes in the food industry would have to follow to meet this demand.
|Sustainability - Although it is common to equate organic farming with sustainable agriculture, the two are not synonymous. Sustainability in agriculture is a broad concept, with considerations on many levels, such as "environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity." - With regard to organic farming methods, one goal of sustainability would be to approach as closely as possible a balance between what is taken out of the soil with what is returned to it, without relying on outside inputs. An organic operation that imports the manure it uses to replace the nutrients taken out of the soil by crops, must factor in the resources required to produce and transport that manure, when calculating sustainability. Organic farming today is a small part of the agricultural landscape, with a relatively minor impact on the environment. As the size of organic farms continues to increase, a new set of large-scale considerations will eventually have to be tackled.
Large organic farms that rely on machinery and automation, and purchased inputs, will have similar sustainability issues as large conventional farms do today.
||Farming future - Organic farming is at a crossroads. Despite the growth in the organic food market over the last decade, the future of the small, independent farmer, organic or otherwise, is as much in jeopardy now as it has been in recent decades. The local infrastructure to support small farmers is all but non-existent in most developed nations - the current food distribution system favors high-volume production, and large farming operations. What is commonly known as "organic farming" may change quite dramatically in the coming few years.|
|Organic farming is now gaining popularity and is being accepted by people all over the world. In Deborah Koons Garcia's film The Future of Food Organic Farming - , it is stated that the American market for organically grown food amounted to $1 billion in 1994, and $13 billion in 2003. A growing consumer market is naturally one of the main factors encouraging farmers to convert to organic agricultural production. Increased consumer awareness of food safety issues and environmental concerns has contributed to the growth in organic farming over the last few years.
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||BBSRC - the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
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||Trewavas, Anthony Much Food, Many Problems. Nature - Urban Myths of Organic Farming. Nature
||Back to the land
||WWOOF - World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, an organization which facilitates placement of volunteer workers
||neem cake - Neem Cake Organic Manure
||The Organic Farm
||Organic Farming in Europe Definition and methods for organic farming in several languajes. da de et el en es fr it lv lt hu nl pl pt sk sl fi svi.
||International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
||Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF)
||Organic Consumers Association
||Organic Volunteers A catalog of internships on organic farms
||The Organic Way
||Regional and special interest: -
||Agroecological approaches for small farmers in the developing world Agroeco
||AMERC Organic farm in Poland
||Cuban Organic Support Group COSG
||map of chefs and restaurants who directly support local, sustainable agriculture Mapped on Platial.
||Nutrients in Organic Farming Regional
||The Great American Milk Wars Intellectual conservative
||Organic Farming State - The World of Organic Agriculture: More Than 31 Million Hectares Worldwide. The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), the Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), and the Foundation Ecology & Farming (SOEL), Germany, presented the latest global data on organic farming at the BioFach fair 2006 in Nuremberg, the world leading fair for organic food.|
According to the survey, currently more than 31 million hectares of farmland are under organic management worldwide, a gain of around five million hectares in a single year. A major increase of organic land has taken place in China, where nearly three million hectares of pastoral land were recently certified.
||Farm Methods Organic and Conventional