While planning my first garden, I came across the term organic farming. At first I thought, wouldn’t all farming be organic? What is the difference between regular farming and organic farming? Read on to find out the advantages of organic farming.
Advantages of Organic Farming
1.Organic farming is much more holistic then traditional farming. Organic farmers use agricultural principles that are ecologically safe to help them work the soil, control pests, and ensure proper crop rotation. To put it simply, organic farmers let nature do the work.
2. Organics farms often include all aspects of farming like vegetables, grains, meats, dairy, eggs, and even cotton. From a farm to be considered organic, it must stay as close to nature as possible and not use any synthetic substances like pesticides of fertilizers. Organic farmers can’t use any synthetic growth hormones or antibiotics on their livestock, and their animals must have room to roam outdoors and eat only organic feed.
3. Organic farming started to really become a monitored practice in 1994. At that that there were only 2500-3000 certified organic farmers in the US. Today, there are more then 10,000 farms who have been certified organic in the US, and these farms provide approximately 2% of the total US food supply.
4. The most important factor to an organic farm is the soil. It all starts with the right mix that will lead to healthy crops and animals. Good soils results in less diseases and makes the farm much more productive.
5. So how do you get productive soil? Three key components are:
- Composting organic materials that will decay naturally like yard trimmings, food waste, and manure. By using compost, you get beneficial bacteria and fungi, resulting in nutrient-rich soil.
- Cover Crops & Green Manures: Cover crops are plants grown specifically to benefit the crops and are used to help protect the soils surface from water and wind, maintain soil structure, and maintain the healthy organic matter in the soil. Green manure is a top of cover crop and this is grown to add nutrients back into the soil. Cover crops also keep weeds at bay and to distract pests. It’s a natural fertilizer/pesticide.
- Rotating Crops. This is done by using different fields for different things each year. So one year a field could be used to grow pumpkins and the next field be used to graze sheep. The next year these fields would be switched. This way the nutrients are not depleted in one field.
6. The same level of care goes into livestock. Their habitats are similar to that of their natural habitat, and they receive humane treatment. Livestock do not relieve growth hormones, and they don’t receive any antibiotics. The animals are vaccinated as a preventative measure. Livestock are fed 100% organic food.
Organic farming really goes back to the roots of farming before high production was encouraged and expected from farmers for them to succeed. It’s the way our food should be grown so we don’t have to worry about pesticide poisoning or the alteration of our hormones due to the hormones that are fed to animals.
Clearly it’s also becoming much more common and easier to find organic foods, even in your local supermarket. The price tag might be higher for these organic foods, but it might be worth it. That is something you’ll have to ask yourself.