Fact Or Myth: Organic Farming Ascertains Sustainability

Even if organic farming might be a concern in the larger perspective of global environment, it is certainly the best option for farming for the local environment

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The incessant risk of global warming is mostly accredited to the growing environmental pollution caused by the increasing demands and the lavish lifestyles of people in the modern era. Sustainable development has become a big challenge in every industry; agriculture is no exception. Some of the common modern agricultural practices such as the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, etc., to maximize crop yield have been a major contributor to the deteriorating environmental conditions, disturbing the nutrient balance of the soil thereby reducing soil fertility.

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To address these challenges, organic farming can be a sustainable alternative by providing an option for natural crop cultivation with the use of environment friendly; animal and plant-based organic resources that are highly enriched in nutrients. Organic farming eventually enhances microbial activities and thereby improves soil health. While farmers across the globe have been exploring several approaches to address environmental concerns, organic farming has proven to be more effective in maintaining an ecological balance. It leads to yield stability, improved soil health, no environmental concerns, organic food, and a reduction in the use of synthesized fertilizers.

Some of the key elements organic farming is based on are organic manure, crop rotation, vermicomposting, nitrogen-fixing microorganisms, organic residue, crop residue, bio-fertilizers, biopesticides, kitchen waste, sludge and biogas: all of which had proven effects in maintaining soil health and texture; thereby, developing sustainable agriculture.

Core principles of organic agriculture are health, ecology, fairness and care, and an overall emphasis on environmental safety. Hence, organic farming works as a natural tool to reduce air, water and soil pollution, leading towards environmental protection and sustainable development. In organic farming, farmers restrain from the use of chemicals in the field and instead use crop rotation and bio-fertilizers to further enrich the field with nitrogen and other essential crop nutrients.

The eco-friendly technique is also applied in the production of vegetables, fruits and eggs. In poultry farming, the hens are fed with organic feed and have access to outdoors. Organic poultry farming includes zero presence of pesticides, insecticides, chemicals, drugs and hormone residues. With the rising demand for organic milk, meat and egg products, organic farming has become very much prevalent in India because of the use of indigenous technical knowledge and practices followed by the Indian farmers, and the agricultural technology support from the startups.

Amid the escalating concerns over controlling overall pollution, several legislations and policies have also been framed in various countries to promote organic farming; though in many parts of the world, the implementation of eco-friendly farming has not yet implemented at the regional level. Proper follow-up, ground-level implementation, impact analysis, and public awareness will play a major role in making organic farming a prevalent approach of agricultural practice.

Benefits

One of the primary benefits of organic farming is sustainability in the long run as it has an effective mid and long term impact on the agri-ecosystem by increasing soil fertility and decreasing pest problems. It is more precisely a proactive approach taken to avoid an agricultural problem rather than dealing with it after it emerges.

Organic farming also comprises soil building practices like crop rotations, inter-cropping, symbiotic associations, cover crops, organic fertilizers and minimum tillage, which significantly improves the formation, structure and health of the soil and increases nutrient and energy cycling and plays a vital role in reducing soil erosion. Further, with no use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, the possibility of groundwater pollution is minimal. The application of organic fertilizers like compost, animal manure, green manure, etc., provides a greater bio-diversity.

Organic farming also contributes significantly to mitigating the greenhouse effect by reducing the carbon footprint in the soil; thereby helping to control global warming and climate change. It has a major impact on maintaining bio-diversity by creating a suitable habitat for wildlife through the maintenance of natural areas within and around organic fields and absence of chemical inputs. Also, by avoiding the use of genetically modified organisms, organic farming encourages natural bio-diversity. Organic farming has proven effects in developing the agricultural ecosystem by increased and healthy production while ensuring nature conservation.

Organic farming and sustainability

Though organic farming can undoubtedly be considered a better way of farming and environment protection, a few studies suggest that it might not be that much sustainable. The primary reason behind this may be that it offers significantly lower crop yield and requires far more land area. To make organic food available for the masses, vast stretches of additional lands for agriculture are required, which might be achieved through deforestation and in a way affect the environment. Researchers have even argued that organically farmed food has a bigger climate impact than the conventionally farmed variety. Deforestation, in order to acquire additional agricultural lands for organic farming, might also lead to higher carbon emissions and play a counter role in controlling global warming.

However, even if organic farming might be a concern in the larger perspective of global environment, it is certainly the best option for farming for the local environment around the farms as it excludes toxins that come from chemicals and fertilizers used in conventional ways of farming – which can wreak havoc in the local ecosystem by directly impacting the water and soil.