Organic foods seem to be the trend in recent times. However, it isn’t just a trend; it has been proposed by many experts as the future of agriculture. This is because the process involved in producing these foods has been adjudged to be sustainable and extremely environmental friendly.
One of the mainstays of organic farming is the use of organic fertilizers. These fertilizers when compared to the inorganic fertilizers seem to be a healthier way of improving soil fertility and increasing crop yield. In fact, their advantages are quite numerous. For example, neem based minero-organic fertilizers contain a wide range of nutrients which include primary and secondary nutrients as well as micro-nutrients and organic matter. These nutrients have beneficial acid neutralizing and pesticidal effects.
But before we go further let’s properly define organic farming
Organic farming is defined as the technique of naturally producing crops and vegetables as well as rearing of animals without harming the environment which comprise people, animals as well as other micro organisms
Simply put organic farming is the use of eco-friendly farming practices that work together with nature. The farmer avoids the use of inorganic pesticides, use of antibiotics, vaccines, herbicides as well as artificial hormones.
Some of the advantages of organic farming include:
- Improvement of the soil structure and fertility.
- Protection from pollution of the rivers and other water bodies.
- It is safe and environmental friendly.
- It is extremely beneficial to humans and animals on the long term
- Promotes the recycling and reuse local resources.
- Production of tasty and highly nutritious food crops at affordable prices.
- Controls pests, diseases and weeds using effective non chemical methods.
- It is protective and puts into consideration the natural rights and welfares of farm animals.
- It is an affordable yet modern system of farming.
- It isn’t just healthy, it is quite lucrative to farmers but at local and commercial levels
The next question you might be asking is – how do I go about organic farming?
You might have been a farmer for a while and you want to convert to organic farming. Or you’re just starting out as a farmer and you want your processes to be strictly organic.
Either way, the pathway is quite similar. The first step in organic farming is to prepare your land.
You can improve the fertility and structure of the soil by adding organic manure such as poultry dropping, farmyard manure. It is best you get your organic manure from livestock that I’ve been organically raised. Also, you shouldn’t use manure from animals that eat meat.
Composting is an essential component of organic farming and it is needed during land preparation. It involves the use of green waste such as leaves and food waste; animal wastes and human wastes. These materials are left to decay into humus over a period of weeks. Worms and fungi help to break down these organic materials. After decomposing these organic matter can be ploughed into the soil prior to planting. They can also be added into the soil during planting to improve crop growth and yield
Apart from organic manureand composting, certain processed fertilizers can be used such as seed meal. Other beneficial and eco-friendly fertilizing agents include green sand and rock phosphate
The next step after preparing your land is to plant your seeds.
You could plant your seeds on the farm or you could transplant the seedlings from a nursery. Planting is best done on elevated beds. It is necessary to use good quality seeds when planting.
Also, the seedlings used should be purchased from farms that cultivate organically. This is to ensure the whole process stays organic.
Generally, planting a variety of crops especially vegetables tend to attract beneficial insects. Additionally, intercropping can help to increase soil nutrients.
The plants should be watered in the morning. This is the best time to water because watering in the evening may leave the soil damp hence making the plants susceptible to fungal diseases. You can use drip irrigation as a means of watering the plant.
Weeds are a major problem when planting. In organic farming, mulching can help to reduce weeds. Usually this is applied when planting the seeds. Organic mulch is preferable to other kinds of materials. Also, crop rotation which includes cover crops that suppress weeds can be cultivated.
Pest attack is another problem in organic farming as it is with other types of farming. However, there are natural ways to combat pest attacks. Natural predators like frogs, toads and birds can be beneficial in combating pests. Another organic weapon against pest is the bacteria called Bacillus thurigiensis, it disrupt the digestion of leaf eaters and caterpillars. Also, crop rotation which is an important part of organic farming can also help to disrupt the reproductive cycle of these pests
Additionally, garlic, insecticidal soaps and horticultural soaps can be used to ward off pests. Some pesticides of natural origin like strychnine and nicotine sulfate can be used to control pests
On other hand, livestock can be raised using organic practises. In fact, crop farming and livestock farming can be carried out together organically. In this case, there’s a symbiotic relationship in which the animals supply the farmland with organic manure while the pasture available can be used as animal feed.
In organic farming, drugs or other growth stimulating chemicals shouldn’t be used to enhance livestock growth. However, drugs can be used to treat these animals when they are sick.
Whether you are planting grains, tubers or rearing livestock, you can always ensure that your products are 100% organic by sticking to the appropriate organic practises that have been elaborated in this article.
Also, you don’t have to worry about the sales of your product because there’s already a target market for organic products in the country. As the awareness on the benefits of organic foods continue to increase it is expected that the market for such products would also increase.