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Shvoong Home>Science>Biology>Organic farming Summary

Organic farming

Book Summary   by:chennu     Original Author: chennubhotlavsk
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Organic farming is a form of agriculture which excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers(such as nitrates and phosphates) and pesticides(herbicdes,insecticides and fungicides), or other agrochemicals(such as hormones,growth stimulants,or fruit regulators etc.),livestock feed additives, and genetically modified organisms.In place of artificial fertilizers,compost,manure,seaweed,or other substances derived from living things are used & hence called ‘organic’).Growing a crop of a nitrogen fixing Lucerene,then plugging it back in to the soil also fertilizes the ground. As far as possible, organic farmers rely on crop rotation, green manure, compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and control pests. Organic farming is often contrasted with conventional, or mainstream, farming. 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, an international umbrella organization for organic organizations. Approximately 310,000 square kilometres (75 million acres) worldwide are now farmed organically. Since 1990 the market for organic products has grown at a rapid pace, averaging 20-25% per year, and this has driven a similar increase in organically managed farmland. As of 2001, the estimated total market value of certified organic products was estimated to be $20 billion. The overarching goal of organic farming is defined as "The role of organic agriculture, whether in farming, processing, distribution, or consumption, is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings.The "—International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) envisages - The Principles of Organic Agriculture - Principle of health as follows: This principle points out that the health of individuals and communities cannot be separated from the health of ecosystems - healthy soils produce healthy crops that foster the health of animals and people.
Health is the wholeness and integrity of living systems. It is not simply the absence of illness, but the maintenance of physical, mental, social and ecological well-being. Immunity, resilience and regeneration are key characteristics of health.

The role of organic agriculture, whether in farming, processing, distribution, or consumption, is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings.
In particular, organic agriculture is intended to produce high quality, nutritious food that contributes to preventive health care and well being. In view of this it should avoid the use of fertilizers, pesticides, animal drugs and food additives that may have adverse health effects. A key characteristic of organic farming is rejection of genetically engineered products, including plants and animals. On October 19, 1998, participants at IFOAM''s 12th Scientific Conference of IFOAM) issued the Mar del Plata Declaration, where more than 600 delegates from over 60 countries voted unanimously to exclude the use of genetically modified organisms in food production and agriculture. From this point, it became widely recognized that GMOs are categorically excluded from organic farming. Although GMOs are excluded from use in organic farming, there is concern that the pollen from genetically modified crops is increasingly contaminating organic and heirloom genetics making it difficult, if not impossible, to keep these genetics from entering the organic food supply. International trade restrictions limit the availability GMOs to certain countries. Some organic farmers use naturally occurring chemicals such as nicotine or pyrethrum to kill pests,but control by non- chemical methods is preferred.Those methods include removal by hand,intercropping(planting with companion plants which deter pests),mechanical barriers to infestation.Weeds can be controlled by hoeing,mulching(covering with manure,straw or black plastic),or burning off.Organic farming methods produce food with minimal pesticide residues and greately reduce pollution of the environment.Soil structure is greately improved by organic methods,and recent studies showed that a conventional farm can lose four times as much soil through erosion as an organic farm,although the loss may not be immediately obvious.
Published: February 29, 2008   
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