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Organic Agriculture

Organic Agriculture

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Organic Agriculture

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  1. Organic Agriculture Dr.K.M.Singh, P.S. and Head, DSEE ICAR-Research Complex for Eastern Region, Patna-800 014

  2. Definition of “Organic” • Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. • ‘Organic’ is also a labeling term that denotes products produced following the guidelines for organic production and use materials and practices that enhance the ecological balance of natural systems and that integrate the parts of the farming system into an ecological whole.

  3. Definition of “Organic” • Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil and water. • Organic food handlers, processors and retailers adhere to standards that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural products. • The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.

  4. Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved. ”Organic Agriculture” as defined by International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM), 2008

  5. Why Organic Agriculture? • India is faced with a rapidly growing population and a limited amount of land. • Already, most of its cultivatable land is used for agriculture and many of its forests have disappeared. • To get the most out of their often poor soils, farmers typically use as much fertilizer and pesticide as they can afford, and without any protective gear. • In many regions the "Green Revolution" of the sixties initially increased yields — but in the long run it has caused soil quality deterioration, soil erosion, severe water pollution, and ground water depletion.

  6. Why Organic Agriculture? • The objective of sustainability lies at the heart of organic farming. • It encompass not just conservation of non-renewable resources (soil, energy, minerals) but also issues of environmental, economic and social sustainability. • The aim of organic farming is to create integrated, humane, environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural production systems. • Maximum reliance is placed on locally or farm-derived renewable resources and the management of self-regulating ecological and biological processes to enhance yields. • Organic agriculture can bring decent yields and provide food which is healthy & nutritious.

  7. What is Organic Farming? • Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. • This is accomplished by using, where possible, agronomic, biological, and mechanical methods, as opposed to using synthetic materials, to fulfill any specific function within the system. (FAO, 1999) • Organic farming is the production of crops and livestock without the use of synthetic chemicals and in-organic fertilizers. • Crop rotations, biological pest control, usage of green manure are some of the cornerstones of organic agriculture.

  8. What is Organic Farming? • In simple terms, organic farming is a way of farming which depends mostly on natural inputs and systems of agricultural production, while barring the usage of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified plant organisms. • Livestock is also an important part of the system of organic farming, because they take as fodder the residues left after cultivation and returns back manure for the enrichment of the soil. • Apart from that, the dairy business supplements the meager income of the marginalized farmers. • Organic farming follows the philosophy of ‘optimum production’ as opposed to the theory of ‘maximum production’ (of livestock and crop), under a given farming condition. • It is economical (involves low input costs), helps maintain natural resources, and is considered healthy.

  9. Some common pesticides that affect humans, animals and the environment in adverse ways

  10. Today, Oncologists from the Harvard Medical School recommend to cancer patients to: • Change lifestyle • Become vegetarians or avoid red meat • Eat lots of organic food • Avoid eating FAST FOOD

  11. Soil degradation Erosion Compaction Crusting and salinization Nutrient mining Loss of soil organic matter Food security Yield reduction Efficiency of input use reduced Micro nutrient deficiency Soil Degradation and Food Security Need for paradigm shift in land husbandry and Principles and practices for soil management R. Lal, Food Security journal, 2009

  12. Other Organic Principles • Biodiversity… • Benefits: ecosystem (and financial) stability, more beneficial insects, greater below-ground diversity, better nutrient cycling, disease suppression, tilth, and N-fixation. • Practices: intercropping, companion planting, establishment of beneficial habitats, crop rotations, cover crops, species/ enterprise integration. • Sustainability… • Benefits: reduced energy consumption, soil conservation, efficient water use, increased water quality • Practices: conservation structures, conservation tillage, controlled drainage, rotations, mulching, integrated systems

  13. Organic Principles • Natural Plant Nutrition… • Benefits:Emphasis on soil health translates into healthier food, healthier humans. Less plant disease, fewer weeds, better water-holding capacity, resistance to erosion. • Practices:Crop rotations, cover crops, green manures, animal manures, application of allowable substances in limited quantities, composting. • Natural Pest Management… • Benefits:Increased understanding of the whole system, protection of beneficials, don’t have to deal with toxic compounds. • Practices:Crop rotations, companion plantings, natural predators, ecosystem management, IPM, flame, steam, tillage, composting, cover crops, refuges, ecosystem balance through management

  14. Is organically produced food really healthier? • Secondary plant metabolites such as the flavonoids are good for human health… • Protect against cardiovascular disease, • Protect against cancer and other age-related diseases such as dementia, • Demonstrate potent in vitro antioxidant activity and display free radical scavenging activity. • Increased crop growth and development rates and greater biomass accumulation in well-fertilized crops • This also correlates well with decreased allocation of resources toward the production of starch, cellulose, and non-nitrogen-containing secondary metabolites.

  15. Is organic productive enough? Research results from seven US state universities: • Maize:69 total cropping seasons compared, organic yields were 94% of conventionally produced maize. • Soybeans:Data from five states with 55 growing seasons of data, organic yields were 94% of conventional yields. • Wheat:Two institutions with 16 cropping year experiments, organic wheat produced 97% of the conventional yields. • Tomatoes: At the University of California, 14 years of comparative research on tomatoes showed no yield differences between conventionally and organically grown crops

  16. Is organic productive enough? In 1989, a large-scale, long-term study entitled the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trials (WICST) was initiated at two locations in southern Wisconsin to compare the productivity, profitability, and environmental impact of a range of grain and forage-based cropping systems. • Maize: Compared across years and systems, organic corn yields were 91% of conventional maize yields. • Soybean: Compared across years and systems, organic soybean yields Were 92% percent of conventionally grown beans. • Forage dry matter: Organic system yielded 10% more than conventional.

  17. Is organic productive enough? Crop rotation and manure seemed to be the determining factor. • Combining years masked the impact of weeds… • In roughly 34% of the site-years, weed control was such a problem, mostly due to wet weather, that the relative yields of the organic systems were approximately 74% of conventional systems. • In the other 66% of the cases, where mechanical weed control was successful, the yield of the organic crops was 99% of conventional systems.

  18. Is organic productive enough? • Tests that compare systems show organic performing 90+% as well as conventional • Research funding for organic is less than 1%. What Could be done if a real research effort was applied?

  19. Is organic environmentally friendly? • Conventional agriculture uses more overall energy than organic systems due to heavy reliance on energy intensive fertilizers, chemicals, and concentrated feed. • Organic agriculture often performs relatively better in terms of energy efficiency (measured as the ratio of energy input per unit of crop output) despite lower yields. • With lower energy inputs, organic systems contribute less to greenhouse gas emissions and have a greater potential to sequester carbon in biomass than conventional systems.

  20. Is organic environmentally friendly? • Soil OM increased • Carbon sequestered • Water quality improved • Biodiversity preserved • Energy conserved

  21. Organic Agriculture and farm economy Selected examples of comparisons between organic vs. conventional cash crop production in smallholder farms in Asia • Mendoza, 2004 • A 25% price premium was obtained in certified organic • Giovannucci, 2005 • Own calculations based on 2 years prices given in Giovannucci (2005) • Eyhorn et al., 2005. Numbers presented are averages of two years, own calculations • Includes value of pulse intercrop and a 20% price premium on organic • Mainly opportunity costs of own labour

  22. Conclusions • Organic farming is nothing new, but the need of the hour is to chalk out of a definite strategy on this issue and linking of sources of production to market. • A concerted effort at policy level, active participation of the private sector (for effectively bringing out the commercial face of the concept) and participation of general public is needed for boosting the demand for organic agricultural products. • Farmers need to be provided with requisite economic and structural backup for increasing the marketability of their products.