Definition of organic farming
Organic farming is defined as a system of management and agricultural production combining a high level of biodiversity with environmental practices that preserve natural resources. It also incorporates rigorous standards for animal welfare. It responds to a growing demand for natural products by consumers, while contributing to the preservation of the environment in the context of sustainable rural development.
The term organic farming can only apply to the following categories of products:
- Unprocessed products: vegetables, cereals, fruits, cotton, flowers, animals, eggs, milk …
- Processed products for human consumption: cheese, bread, ready meals …
- Food for animals: organic soy cakes …
- Materials for vegetative reproduction and seeds.
Organic farming: specifications
To obtain and maintain certification in organic farming (to be solicited from an approved organization), the operator must apply strict specifications, adapted to each type of production and respecting the following principles:
- No use of chemical (fertilizer, pesticide …) called “synthetic”, although pesticides and fertilizers called “natural origin” are allowed.
- No use of GMOs.
- Waste recycling and organic waste.
- Crop rotation for soil regeneration.
- Pest control by biological agents.
- Extensive breeding with organic food and priority to alternative medicine and prevention.
- Animal welfare (surface of living spaces, outdoor course, pasture, prohibition of off-ground breeding …).
- Respect for the environment and preservation of natural resources.
- Maintenance and development of biodiversity (cultivation and breeding of various species, maintaining or planting hedges …).
Base on the above definition you can see there are a number of advantages for organic farming but like every thing there are disadvantages , which we will now look at.
Advantages of organic farming
- Differentiation and quality of production. The organic production is completely free of any chemical residue (of synthesis), which supposes an added value for the product.
- Preservation of soil fertility.
The greatest erosion of soil in agriculture occurs for various reasons: natural causes (such as wind, rain, water, frost) and the no less aggressive caused by man. Mainly the lack of ground rest or excessive exploitation, and the overuse of exaggerated doses of chemical fertilizers. Agriculture itself is an activity that erodes soils, and organic farming is the response that seeks to reduce the impact on soil erosion through crop techniques that contemplate the preservation of natural resources.
- Organic farming guarantees crop rotation.
The monocultures are responsible for the high levels of degradation of the arable surfaces and favor the appearance of pests and the decrease of the levels of natural nutrients of the soil. Organic farming is applied by planning through strict and studied crop rotation diagrams, preserving the quality of the soil and the food produced.Rotation in crops: different varieties of crops and plants are combined, avoiding monocultures and achieving synergies between crops. This in turn leads to an increase in the resistance of different plants to climate change, as well as the preservation of the fertility of the land. It can even be said that this system increases crop yields.
- Less pollution of natural resources and the environment.
Traditional agriculture promotes the indiscriminate use of fertilizers and chemical products, degrading the environment through the accumulation of chemical waste, in water, soil and air. Organic farming eliminates the use of chemical products and artificial fertilizers, using alternative and effective techniques that consolidate an activity that takes care of natural resources, and preserves the essential nutrients for the soil and the food produced.
- Preservation of the quality of the food.
Organic farming preserves the nutritional quality of foods through a high level of protein, vitamin, etc. content. The key to the preservation of a high level of nutrition lies in techniques that include the elimination of toxic products, crop rotation, etc.
- Lower energy cost
In organic farming, there is a decrease in the environmental energy cost, in contrast to traditional agriculture, which suffers from an increase in energy due to production.
- Advantages that are not exhausted.
Organic farming does not exhaust its advantages here, it is also self-sufficient, it contributes to the increase of biodiversity, it promotes a rationalization of marketing, it guarantees sustainable development, it empowers family enterprises, it has a positive effect on consumer health. Organic or biological agriculture is an increasingly developed and accepted alternative.
- Animal welfare and care is done in an organic way
Organic livestock is a productive system whose main objective is to obtain healthy quality food, through the optimal and rational use of resources, respecting the environment, animal welfare and without using chemical synthesis substances.
Ecological livestock is closely linked to the land and does not conceive the production of animals without them being able to develop it is an open and natural space, therefore the intensive herds, that is, stables throughout the year, do not make much sense in the ecological production.
For livestock to be considered as organic livestock, it is necessary that both the animals and the agricultural area to which it is associated, this is the meadows and pastureland on which they feed, are registered in an authorized control body or “Certification “.
- Water pollution and the environment: with the use of this method of cultivation, the contamination of groundwater and soil is reduced since organic fertilizers of low solubility are used, always used in the appropriate quantities. At the same time, since no pesticides are used, they contribute to improving air quality.
- Nutritive content: products from organic farming contain more nutritious principles than those from conventional farms, although this statement is still to be proven by experts.
- Ecological benefits
Organic farming promotes responsible and sustainable use of natural resources.
- Social benefits.
Organic production incorporates labor by generating genuine jobs related to their production techniques.
- They are tastier
The organic products, being elaborated in a more artisanal and careful way, recover the original tastes and have a better taste. Because the plants are only regenerated and fertilized organically, they grow healthier and develop in a better way, preserving the authentic aroma, color and flavor. Therefore, many consumers prefer organic food, since they retain the true taste of each ingredient and allows them to recover the traditional flavor of food. In addition, organic foods are better preserved than conventional foods.
- They do not contain genetically modified organisms
In organic farming, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are not authorized. The cultivation of GMOs has negative consequences for the environment and research on the long-term consequences of transgenic cultivation is lacking; Currently there are no scientific results that demonstrate that the cultivation of GMOs and transgenic foods are harmless to the environment and human health, and unwanted effects are already known by the intake of genetically modified plants. Read more about the advantages and disadvantages of GMOs
Agriculture with genetically modified organisms leads to genetic uniformity and thus genetic erosion, which means a loss of variety, with large areas of the same crop. Organic farming wants to conserve and promote the genetic variety of species and types, and with it the richness of landscapes of native crops.
- They do not contain synthetic additives
Organic foods do not contain synthetic additives that can cause health problems such as heart failure, osteoporosis, migraines, allergies, hyperactivity, Parkinson’s , etc. It should be noted that organic products, grown without the use of agrochemicals, respecting the rhythms natural and without additives, they are balanced and very rich in nutrients. On the other hand, different studies have shown that it is not essential to incorporate synthetic substances in the cultivation or production of food or in its subsequent conservation. No need to look for products out of season to meet the nutritional needs of our body.
Disadvantages of organic farming
In organic farming not all are advantages, it also has its disadvantages, some for farmers and others for consumers. Let’s see:
- Fear and ignorance of change by farmers, hence the need for information and disclosure to the sector. This is undoubtedly the main drawback.
- Not all farms are suitable for conversion to ecological , due to its location, microclimate, crop variety, etc.
- You do not always get an extra price for the product.
- The increase of biodiversity can bring problems in its management. For example, the design of a hedge plantation or the selection / sowing / clearing of a vegetative cover.
- Disadvantages for the farmer: The current production cost is still very high, the production per hectare is lower than in conventional agriculture. In addition, you have to learn the techniques of this cropping system and pass a transition from one to the other as it takes several years for the soil to be healthy from the chemical remains of the intensive crops.
- Disadvantages for the consumer: The previous problems of organic farmers are reflected in the price to be paid by the consumer, which is usually higher than that of conventional agricultural products.
- Physical appearance: in general, organic foods are of inferior quality, however, what really matters is the nutritional content of the foods that make up our daily diet.
- Conservation or shelf life: its shelf life is somewhat lower in some cases than conventional foods.
- Price: organic foods are a bit more expensive because production systems are slower and labor needs are higher.
- For the environment and the farmer : precisely by not using pesticides or fertilizers, some studies show that the land where organic farming is practiced suffer from low productivity, since they produce around 20% less food than an exploited land. conventional agriculture. This supposes the need to compensate with a bigger cultivated surfacevada (around 25% more than the current one), which would entail destroying large areas of natural ecosystems in order to convert them into agricultural fields. And at the same time it means for the farmer, a higher cost of production to reduce production in the same cultivable area. To take into account also that the change from a conventional to ecological farming system involves many times waiting for long periods until the land is free of chemical products and suitable for organic farming.