What is Organic
Farming? IFOAM, Certification and Organic Farming Methods
is Organic Farming? Do farmers
truly understand the term, and how sure can you be when you see
something that is labeled
"organic" ? We discuss the cornerstones of this
concept, IFOAM and explain organic farming methods and systems as
opposed to conventional farming methods.
Farming organically is a term that
been grossly misrepresented. It is not just a form of agricultural
practice that uses compost, crop rotation and shuns modern chemicals
and using natural
pesticides and insecticides. Farming organically is
more than that. It is a highly structured practice, conforming to very
detailed production standards, which hopefully, if fulfilled will
result in organic
What is Organic Farming? - IFOAM
First and foremost, Organic Farming is
monitored by an international body set up in 1972 - The International
Federation of Organic Agricultural Movement (IFOAM). And I
their website: "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
Therefore, what we are talking about
Eco-Agriculture and the key word here is health.
Farming organically does not entertain genetically modified foods,
battery-raised animals, additives to animal feed, or anything that is
artificial in any way in agricultural practices.
Organic Farming follows Traditional Farming Methods
There are 4 main principles
of what Organic Farming is, as laid down by IFOAM:
What are the Organic Farming
1. The Principle of Health
2. The Principle of Ecology
3. The Principle of Fairness
4. The Principle of Care
So let us look at each
Farming and the Principle of Health
It stands to reason that if we grow
food and raise animals on healthy soil then we will grow healthy crops
and have healthy animals. The consequence of this is that we then eat
healthy food, and, as a result have a healthy body. It is the
sequential chain of reactions that relies totally on where it all
starts: the soil.
People are concerned about food safety,
particularly in light of the fact that there is serious concern that
modern Agri-Farming practices that are not organic, have caused food
allergies, asthma, and heart disease through artificial additives and
chemical fertilizers that we ingest. Worse still there are diseases
directly linked to irresponsible farming practices that ignore common
sense. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy appears to have been caused by
feeding cows, that are naturally herbivores, the remains of other
cattle and bone meal in order to increase weight and early slaughter.
See our page on 4 reasons why you
should be growing
organic strawberries regarding all the chemical sprays and
are administered to this fruit.
Farming and the
Principle of Ecology
We need to go back to what nature
intended. It is to grow crops and raise animals on land that is
enriched with compost and mulches that are well rotted because this is
the most paramount of stages in organic farming. The aim is to get as
much humus into the land as possible, and this includes manure,
compost, seaweed, leaf-mold,
spoiled hay, and
anything of vegetable or animal origin, including blood and bone, that
can go into making a compost heap and compost
bin. The keyword here is recycling.
There is the old adage; "Waste not, want not" and never so true in
Any left over crops or wood should
never be burnt on a property. This is an absolute waste of potential
compost, and it is also a pollution contributor. Why burn it when you
could use it and it isn't costing you anything? Why burn those vine
cuttings and those orchard prunings? Invest in a chipper to reduce the
bulk and add these to your compost heap. Organic farming should be
What happens to your soil when it is
healthy? It is filled with micro-organisms and those beautiful
earthworms that delight the heart of those who care and produce
wonderful vermicompost. Once you go worm
farming and have earthworms in your soil you know
that you are doing something right.
Remember too that organic farm methods
mean you need to rest your soil and to use crop-rotation effectively.
When you have a field at rest plant a cover crop, such as rye grass as
a temporary planting in autumn. This protects the soil from wind and
water erosion and adds organic matter. You can also grow cover
crops such as legumes for soil improvement, called
green manure crops, and are often left in place for six months to a
year. Legumes are especially efficient because they "fix" nitrogen from
the air into the soil.
In England more and more farmers are
replanting hedgerows on their farms as they now realize how important
they are. Many animals and insects use these hedges as part of their
ecosystem, therefore when the hedgerows were removed, these little
animals and insects then lost their natural shelters and an imbalance
on the ecosystem resulted in an influx on insects that were unwelcome.
They are also excellent wind-breakers and hold the soil in place to
prevent soil erosion.
Farming and the
Principle of Fairness
Organic farming believes
in that the land, its people and its animals should be respected and
treated with care and justice. We are custodians of this land, and as
such, the custodianship should be taken seriously. We should ensure
that we never harm or damage the environment in any way. That our aim
should be to ensure that we are doing everything in our power to
produce healthy food for everyone, and that nothing that we do when we
work the land is harmful in any respect to the soil and water that we
use, the animals that we rear and those that consume the end product.
Animal rearing has always
controversial with the implementation of factory farming. Factory
farming is inhumane where animals are kept in confined and overcrowded
spaces, and in poor conditions where they maim each other just to fight
for space and life. Animals have to be reared justly, and given open
spaces to live. It acknowledges that there has to be a link between the
animal and the soil and that their welfare and veterinary care is vital.
Farming and the
Principle of Care
Although this is last on
this list of
principles, I feel that it is probably the most important one. Because
if one didn't care about the environment, the situation of where we are
at the moment and the importance of providing healthy food for a
healthy lifestyle, then we wouldn't embark on any of the above.
We need to care! This is
planet that we have! It is also the only life we have, this is not a
dress-rehearsal. This is the main event.
Some books you may
enjoy on Farming Organically. Feel free to browse.
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