Ecological Benefits of Organic Farming

Posted: (last modified May 24,2023 20:20 ) by

Organic farming is the practice of being closer to nature. It is a system of agriculture that relies on natural inputs and sustainable farming practices to produce crops and livestock.

While organic farming primarily focuses on promoting human health and animal welfare, this approach to farming can also have several ecological benefits. Organic farmers prioritize soil health, biodiversity, and ecological sustainability and often use farming techniques like crop rotation, composting, and biological pest management to achieve these goals.

Ecological Benefits of Organic Farming

Image Credits: commons.wikimedia.org

The world faces many significant environmental challenges, such as pollution, global warming, and green gas emissions. Organic farming saves the environment from soil degradation, water scarcity, and biodiversity loss. In recent years, there has been growing recognition that conventional farming practices, which rely heavily on synthetic inputs and monoculture cropping, contribute to these environmental problems. As a result, many farmers and researchers are turning to organic farming to promote more sustainable and ecologically responsible agricultural practices.

Organic farming is deemed more sustainable and reliable as it maintains the following key ecosystem elements.

Soil Health

Soil is the most essential and most affected element of farming processes. Maintaining soil quality is a challenging task for both conventional and organic farmers. “Current Science[1], a journal, conducted a study on farms in Karnataka (India) to compare the effects of organic and conventional farming on soil fertility, nutrient content, and microbial activities.

The study found that organic farms had higher soil quality, higher available nutrients, and higher microbial activity than conventional farms.

There are several indicators that experts look for in healthy soil. Soil organic matter (SOM) is considered the most vital indicator as it measures the organic components of soil, which directly influences its water-holding capacity and nutrient availability. Studies and general observations indicate that organic farms tend to have soil resources with more organic activity than conventional farms. This helps the soil maintain its own pH level and carbon sequestration.

Enhanced Biodiversity

A farm is an ecosystem on its own. The floras as well as the faunas of a place work together to bring out the best in each other. Organic farming understands that. In many ways organic farming relies on and utilizes the biodiversity around the farm to enhance its crop.

Earthworms, for example, produce a highly fertile manure called the black soil. These organisms can easily die if the pH scale of the soil is imbalanced due to chemicals such as fertilizers. They thrive on organic farms and produce plenty of manure that is mixed in the soil. As a result, the crop grows healthier and richer.

Organic farming also uses inter-dependable plants which can grow together providing safety and nutrients to each other.

A recent meta-analysis by V. Kavitha and K. Chandran [2] indicates that there is on average 30% higher species richness on organically managed farmland compared to conventionally managed farmland.

Healthy Population

It is no longer in doubt that organic products lead to healthier and more nutritious diets, which helps people live healthier life. This is by far the most important contribution of organic farming.

Studies suggest that people who choose organic food products are less exposed to pesticides and fertilizers, thus lowering their risk of developing health issues, as indicated by meta-analysis of AIM [3]

According to Nishit Mamgain, co-founder of Sanesa Natural Farms, a popular organic food brand based in Gurugram, India, there is a steady growth awareness about the health benefits of Organic food and its ecological benefits. This reflects in the growth of organic food market in India.

Water conservation

Conventional farming uses water as a free and available resource. Farmers have gained a reputation for excessively exploiting groundwater resources and employing chemical-intensive farming practices, leading to the contamination of both groundwater and adjacent water bodies.

A study on the river Yamuna concluded that it was heavily contaminated with pesticides and other pollutants from agricultural sources, which get into the river system through several agricultural states of north India. The study was published in the journal "Science of the Total Environment" in 2018[4]. The study called for better enforcement of environmental regulations and for the adoption of more sustainable farming practices to reduce pollution, such as organic farming.

Organic farming does not use any kind of pesticides and fertilizers which can mix with the water. As an extra step, organic farming uses water as a valuable resource and only within the limits.

Organic farmers use irrigation methods that save a lot of water. Such farms often use rain water harvesting to use in their farms.

Energy Conservation and Less Greenhouse emissions

A study published in the journal "Journal of Cleaner Production" in 2017[5] investigated the environmental impacts of organic farming in the Indian state of Uttarakhand and found that organic farming had lower environmental impacts in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, and water use, while also producing comparable yields to that of conventional farming.

This result is derived due to several factors. The manufacturing process of fertilizers and pesticides results in significant greenhouse gas emissions, which is substantially reduced in organic farming. Furthermore, the conservation of energy and reduction in fuel usage for irrigation and machinery contribute to a decrease in greenhouse gas emissions associated with organic farming.

Waste Management

All the organic waste created in homes and in cultivation can be used to create manure. This is the organic manure that is used in natural farming.

There are so many creative ways in which waste can be used as valuable manure in farming. Biogas plants use cattle’s waste to make fuel gas and manure for farming. This manure is highly rich in nitrogen and far better than conventional chemical fertilizers. This valuable idea has been adopted in many parts of India. Nirmala Sitaraman, the finance minister of India, announced Gobardhan scheme, which is aimed at establishing 200-300 more such plants all over India

Click here to learn more about the Indian government’s commitment to encourage natural farming

References: 

[1] https://www.currentscience.ac.in/Volumes/98/09/1190.pdf []
[2] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/321505056_Organic_farming_in_conserving_bio_diversity_in_India-A_review []
[3] https://www.acpjournals.org/doi/10.7326/0003-4819-157-5-201209040-00007 []
[4] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/350504750_Occurrence_of_emerging_contaminants_in_highly_anthropogenically_influenced_river_Yamuna_in_India []
[5] https://www.sanesa.in/post/union-budget-india-organic-farming-boost []




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