Organic Farming and Sustainable Disease Management


Our primary health care should begin on the farm and in our hearts, and not in some laboratory of the biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Gary Hopkins

Limited availability of additional land for crop production, along with declining yield growth of major food crops, have heightened concerns about agricultures ability to feed the world population which is expected to exceed 7.5 billion by the year 2020. India will need about 294 Mt of food grains for a projected population of around 1.3 billion, by 2020. With hardly any scope for horizontal growth, progressive yield enhancement and optimal utilization of natural resources largely through technological interventions are the only means to achieve the demands projected for the coming decades.

Increased use of organic manures without inorganic chemicals in a farming system called organic farming is becoming increasingly relevant for sustaining soil and crop productivity and safeguarding the environment for future generations. It is a strategy that incorporates mainly organic nutrients to attain higher crop productivity, prevent soil degradation, and thereby help to meet the future food supply needs.

Organic farming excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and growth regulators. Organic farmers rely heavily on crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, organic wastes, and mineral-bearing rocks to feed the soil and supply plant nutrients. Insects, weeds, and other pests are managed by mechanical, cultural, biological, and bio-rational controls. Therefore 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 management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. (National Organic Standards Board, USDA).

The primary goal of Organic agriculture includes:

Optimizing the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people. The principal guidelines for organic production are to 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. Growers choose organic methods for a variety of reasons. One of the attractions of organic produce is that it sometimes brings a 10-30% premium in the marketplace. In addition to organic production, IPM (Integrated Pest Management) certification has emerged as a marketing tool for growers for whom organic production is impractical or otherwise unsuitable. The foundation of organic farming is a microbially active soil enriched with organic matter and a balanced mineral diet. Humus building practices and additions of rock minerals help to supply plant nutrients, increase tolerance to insects and diseases, help control weeds, retain soil moisture, and ensure produce quality.

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