Organic farming is a method of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manures, and compost to maintain soil health and fertility. This type of farming also eschews the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. It has been around for thousands of years, but it has seen a resurgence in popularity recently as more consumers become interested in buying organic food. In fact, according to The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), there has been a steady increase in the total area of organic farmland being managed worldwide since 2018.
There are many different scientific trends in organic farming, but here are five of the most notable ones:
1. The Use of Biodynamic Preparations
Biodynamic preparations are special mixes of herbs, minerals, and manure that encourage plant growth and improve soil health. These preparations are made according to strict recipes and are applied to the land using various methods, including spraying, spraying, watering, or burying them in the ground.
Other preparations include:
- Horn silica (used to increase photosynthesis in plants).
- Horn manure (used to improve soil structure).
- Yarrow oil (used to repel insects).
Biodynamic preparations are not just for large-scale farmers; home gardeners can also benefit from using them. These preparations allow gardeners to create a more sustainable and environmentally friendly garden.
2. The Use of Leguminous Crops
Leguminous crops are plants that belong to the legume family, which includes beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts. These crops are often used in rotation with other crops because they help to fix nitrogen in the soil. This means that they can improve soil fertility without the need for synthetic fertilizers.
As a result, organic farmers who rotate their crops and include legumes can significantly increase the amount of nitrogen in their soil, leading to healthier plants and higher yields. In addition to their benefits for the soil, legumes are relatively easy to grow and require little in the way of inputs.
3. The Use of Cover Crops
Cover crops are grown between rows of cash crops (such as corn or soybeans) to improve soil health. By planting cover crops, farmers can reduce the need for synthetic fertilizers while also controlling weeds and pests and providing food and shelter for beneficial insects. In addition, cover crops can help to break up compacted soils and add organic matter to the soil. As a result, cover crops play an essential role in organic farming systems.
While cover crops have many benefits, they must be carefully managed to be effective. For example, farmers must select the right cover crop for their climate and soil type and ensure that the cover crop is planted at the right time of year. In addition, farmers must take care to properly terminate the cover crop to avoid damaging their fields. With proper management, however, cover crops can be a valuable tool for organic farmers.
4. The Use of Compost
Farmers have used compost to improve their crops for centuries. Also called organic matter, compost is made up of decaying plant and animal material. It is rich in nutrients, which can help improve soil quality and promote plant growth. Compost also helps to retain moisture, making it an ideal way to reduce water usage in farming.
In recent years, the use of compost has become even more important as farmers strive to meet the growing population’s demands while minimizing their environmental impact. By using compost instead of chemical fertilizers, farmers can reduce their carbon footprint and help to make organic farming more sustainable.
Compost can be made at home or bought from commercial suppliers who offer organic compost delivery. This is ideal because farmers can get the compost they need without transporting it long distances. No matter how it is sourced, compost can be a valuable tool in the fight against climate change with the right care and management.
5. The Use of Green Manures
Green manures are plants grown specifically to be plowed back into the soil. They help to improve soil fertility by adding organic matter back into the ground. They are an important part of organic farming systems, where they can help to replenish nutrients that have been depleted by the previous cropping. Green manures can also help to improve soil structure, increase water infiltration and reduce erosion. In addition, they can provide a valuable source of food and shelter for beneficial insects such as ladybirds and lacewings.
While green manures are often grown as a temporary cover crop between main crops, some species can be left in place for several years to provide ongoing benefits. The most common green manure crops include clovers, alfalfa, buckwheat, and rye.
When selecting a green manure crop, it is important to consider factors such as climate, soil type, and the intended duration of the cropping cycle. Incorporating green manures into your farming system can help to create a more sustainable and productive landscape.
Organic farming is a method of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manures, and compost to maintain soil health and fertility. This approach to farming has several benefits, both for the environment and the farmers themselves. All in all, there are plenty of reasons to consider making the switch to organic agriculture!