Mythbusting 101: Organic Farming vs Traditional Farming
We understand the importance of a well-balanced diet to stay healthy.
However, in today's world, fruits, vegetables, cereals & other food that we consume are grown with synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and they have a lingering harmful impact on our health. In such a setting, it is critical that we encourage the next generation to practise natural & organic farming alongside us.
Traditional Natural Farming Practices and Techniques, has the potential to increase beneficial microbial and fungal activity in the soil, retain requisite amount of organic content and hence the way forward to keep agriculture on earth sustainable, improve the nutritional quality, quantity of yield etc. of food that produced and therefore have healing health implications
What Is Organic Natural Farming?
Organic farming is frequently misunderstood as just avoiding the use of synthetic chemicals in agriculture. Organic farming is a sustainable farming system that maintains the long-term fertility of the land and uses limited land resources to produce high quality nutritious food. It’s achieved by carefully combining ancient natural yet scientific practices with use of biological and technology advances, increasing awareness, training in knowledge of multiple sciences, crop breeding, animal husbandry and ecology etc. To provide adequate levels of agricultural, livestock, and human nutrition, protection from pests and illnesses, and an appropriate return on the people and other resources utilised, Organic Farming places the greatest emphasis on locally, or farm-derived, renewable resources.
In short "Organic agriculture is called that method of farming, under which the balance of the environment is restored, and it is protected and promoted."
Why Is it necessary?
Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing contribute to over 20% of India’s GDP. It’s the one of the main pillars of Indian economy & the backbone or mainstay for rural economy, the primary source of revenue for farmers.
Since the Green Revolution, it has been imperative to boost production to keep up with rising population and economic compulsions. As a result, chemical fertilisers and pesticides were introduced with an intent to produce higher yield and reduce risk from pests etc. It did show good results over the initial few years. Unfortunately the unregulated use of these extremely toxic chemicals by rural farmers led to destruction of precious soil, decline on yield, increased water requirements, significant increase in toxin contents in food grown, increased cost inputs and eventually resulting in polluting of the land, water, and environment.
As a result, the government has suggested farming on the premise of continuous and sustainable farming for several years in order to address these issues. The states' agriculture departments have consistently supported the adoption of this style of farming, which we refer to as Natural organic farming. The Indian government is encouraging people to embrace this farming method.
Myths and Fallacies about Organic Farming In India
Today, there is a rise in demand for food produced through organic farming around the world in order to enhance the supply of safe food. Although, due to low awareness at the producer level on the difference between traditional farming and organic farming, there are a lot of myths surrounding organic farming, both in favour of and against it. The following are a few of the more common ones:
1. Organic agricultural yields are lower than chemical farming.
This is NOT TRUE.
Natural Farming if diligently practiced, provides good yield and are consistent over years in term of output and nutritional quality while using less water and other resources & lesser cost inputs
Farming, with use of chemical fertilisers, boosters and pesticides etc. destroy the microbial colonies and deplete organic content in soil. Interestingly the yield in the first few years is more as compared to natural and organic but soon stats to spiral down once the soil has become dirt and yield hits levels far below those consistent yields from natural practices and the land temperature also rises significantly.
I had carried out a study on Wheat grown traditionally versus the method introduced during the Green Revolution.
Average yield per acre of Khapli or Kalyan Sona or Bansi used to be around 14 to 15 Quintals in the traditional farming called Koradvahu (dry farming- no water given to this crop from planting to harvesting) versus the Green Revolution method of using Urea and flooding the fields with water to combat the heat generated and also to support additional growth and yield. History and records show that the yield did go up significantly to about 24 quintals however, they started sliding back for several reasons, and now stands at 8 to 10 quintals per acre. Not to mention that this method uses approximately 15 Lacs litres of water per acre to produce this 10 Quintals. Its ridiculous even to compare.
Please read the wheat article on www.jaivik-farms.com to get more specific details.
The biggest sufferer as a wheat producer is the state of Punjab where land desertification is rampant and scary, with food that has hardly any nutrition and above all the increase in chronic medical ailments, even significant rise in Cancer.
Note: - Switching back from chemical to organic has to be done under guidance and sequential treatments from experts to minimise the failures and yield loss during the transition
2. Organic farming is not economical
This is NOT TRUE.
There is strong evidence which suggests that organic farming is profitable and could be more profitable than traditional farming since people are getting more health conscious and moving towards healthier options.
Organic farming can stand its ground under traditional economic evaluations, but when you also start to incorporate natural capital values (Natural capital includes a mind-boggling array of ecosystem services and resources provided by the natural world) organic becomes the clear winner for long-term profitability.
While some approaches, such as composting and mulching, do incur higher labour expenses, the overall cost of cultivation is usually less than that of chemical farming.
To understand this, refer to the benefits below of how organic farming utilizes and increases various natural capital functions;
- Adding organic matter to the soil every year (a fundamental organic technique) improves the soil's ability to store carbon dioxide and improves the quality and amount of produce.
- Organic matter in the soil also boosts the soil's water-holding capacity, reducing the demand for water and making organic farms more drought-resistant.
- The right balance of organic content in the soil thrives the multiplication of microbial colonies and earthworms. This intensive process of organic breakdown, increases the Macro and Micronutrient availability and hence absorption by the plant from the soil increases and there by leading to healthy foods.
- The entire natural activity below the soil involving the Microbial & Fungal world with earth worms in the presence of organic content, increases rainwater permeability, water retention and avoids soil erosion.
- Biodiversity on organic farms brings a slew of financial advantages. A diversified crop system entails a year-round succession of blooms that can feed (and offer habitat for) insect populations. These helpful insects aid in the control of hazardous insect populations, decreasing or eliminating the need for pesticides, and offering pollination services to boost harvest yields.
- On organic vegetable and seed farms, genetic diversity serves as a well-stocked gene bank for prospective new varieties that will be resistant to future environmental changes, insect populations, and illnesses — an important service for global food security, not to mention delicious food!
3. You can't get enough nutritious elements from waste manure.
In organic farming, there is no concept of feeding plants. Rather, the concern is how to feed and keep the soil healthy and alive. Countless creatures and microorganisms that survive on 'living' lands conduct the majority of the labour. Organic farming's numerous applications ensure that the land's fruitful power is always preserved.
We can compare it to achieving your whole nutritional needs for the day (determined by a nutritionist) by swallowing a few tablets and capsules. Your nutritional requirements have been satisfied, but can you stay healthy?
4. The non-use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides is organic farming!
The final and the most common misconception is that organic farming is merely avoiding the use of traditional fertilisers and pesticides. That is not the case. While organic farming is all about preserving soil health ("feeding the soil" rather than "feeding the plant"), it also requires adopting a variety of strategies to produce the maximum yields possible in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner.
Organic farming entails a lot of hard work and even systems like Zero Budget Farming, Amrut Krishi, and Agnihotra etc. entail tremendous understanding of nature, natural agriculture, and the local ecosystem. External inputs are environmentally dubious and monetarily unsustainable for an organic farm, even if they are eco-friendly or biodegradable. On-farm labour is thus required to produce inputs such as compost and bio pesticides.
Knowing all of the above significant reasons, we may conclude that the continued use of chemical fertilisers in the fields is destroying our organic system. The earth is also deteriorating. At the same time, water pollution has begun to reach an all-time high. If we want to avoid the risks that will arise in the future as well as today, we should work towards creating a healthier ecosystem for crop production using Organic Farming (‘feeding the soil’).
Organic farming is better for both environment and health than traditional farming. Today the biggest problem related to the environment is the consumption of energy and the use of energy in organic farming is much less than traditional farming.