Organic farming vs Conventional farming
Well thats kind of confusing. Conventinal farming is indeed organic. Thats what the oldest methods of farming was. No one had chemicals and we did not know how to farm any other way. but then, what i really mean is the kind of farming practised widely today when i say conventional farming.
This article is constantly updated with links and information. Keep a watch on this page for information on Organic farming and what people are doing every day to improve their produce, make better profit, reduce work and increase yield. Also check out some of the new technologies in conventional farming. This page will never be old. Its always evolving.
Organic farming typically means the method of farming without using chemical fertilizers. It really does not matter what techniques you use to cultivate your produce, as long as they dont use chemical fertilizers or pesticides, you can call it organic.
What the real difference between chemical farming and organic farming? Whats the advantage of one over the other. Which one of them is good and why practice one over the other?
Organic Farming Pros
- Naturally grown food without any chemicals or carinogens as a byproduct
- Easy to grow, native plants suitable for the season as choice
- Fertilizers are organic matter, dried leaves, cow manure or other animal waste, compost
- Safe for farmers and farm workers.
Cons of Organic Farming
- Lesser choice of produce to grow. Only native crops are chosen.
- Lack of documentation and what to do to control, enhance the growth of plants.
- very fewer options when it comes to pest control and the effect is slow
- time consuming and labor-intensive at times especially when chemical formulas are available which can get them done faster, especially when it comes to tasks like weed control.
- inability to produce same quality fruits and vegetables with even grownt , shape and size
Organic Farming is easy in many ways and quite efficient in producing good yield if you know your soil and season. With the combination of the latest technologies organic farming can be made a bit easier too. Drip irrigation can increase yield and reduce water usage with organic farming but applicaton of manure and fertilizers are usually done manually. There are no ready to use water soluble fertilizers when it comes to organic farming.
With no chemical usage, any weedicide from the store is out of question. Manual weeding and mulching with mulching sheets are usually opted for. Leaf mulch and mulching with hay or other organic matter may be considered but with the risk of diseases contracting disease due to the leaves which are mulched.
While organic produce can be quite high if the soil is suitable for the crop, you would have a range of sizes and colors when it comes to the yield. the quality of the fruits will not be uniform. While some fruits can be well shaped, large and well formed, others could be too small or too big, even in the same plant. there is no uniformity in the growth of the plant either. While some plants may grow rapidly, there may be others which grows at a slower pace. This creates a problem for farmers when they are ready for harvest.
On the other side, Organic produces are valued more in the market today. While mandi’s dont care if the produce is organic or not, local stores do stock up on organic produce. While most people dont look for certifications, having a certification actually makes a great difference. getting a certification for organic produce in india is a lot more harder than getting other documents and certifications done. Organic certifications could take up to a year. Fortunately, vendors dont look for a certification from farmers and take their word for it!
in general, Organic farming has its own set of problems but there are benefits. Specially when you are farming in a land which is perfectly suitable for the crop and when its done in the right season, the chances of failure is next to none. What more? The labour could be reduced by 50% and yield could increase to 300-500% and you may save a lot on your fertilizers too!
Organic farming – Soil and season
Organic farming is all about knowing nature rather than knowing how to cultivate crops. You need to know which crop to grow in which kind of soil, how to enhance nutrients in the soil naturally and also maintain the perfect nutriotion levels in the soil. Its also impotant to know whats the season like. You need to know when its expected to rain and when the summers arrive or when the winter starts. This varies from location to location.
Tamil nadu is dry , warm and has limited water resources. but there are parts in Tamil nadu which are extremely rich, where the weather is cool and water is pristine. There are mountains and mountain ranges which cultivate tea and the entire topography changes. Kerala is a state which borders tamil nadu. the weather and soil conditions in kerala is entirely different. Kerala enjoys nearly 181 days of rains every year. Water is abundant. The weather is humid and warm. the soil is rich.
2 states within a 100’s of kilometers in distance and the difference is huge. There is no one fix or formula for organic farming. You need to know what will grow in your farm and you simply cannot copy what another farmer cultivates and copy it , expecting to get the same results. As a matter of fact, sometimes the distance may be less than 10 Kilometers, but everything will change. The soil conditions, water and soil nutrients may be different.
While trial and error may be the only visible option, science comes to rescue. Soil analysis is a key and important part of even organic farming. Knowing what’s in your soil will be the first and most important information you will need. With just that and your soil condition (sandy loam, clay, red soil, black soil etc.) you will have 50% of your information required. What you need more is the water source, Soil PH and water ph., Weather conditions in the past few years (try to get up to 10 Years but even 2-3 would suffice)
Once you have the basic information, you will have to determine which is the right crop to grow. Find heirloom seeds. Hybrids work perfectly well but heirloom seeds are more tolerant to weather conditions and pests in most cases. As a matter of fact, some heirloom seeds are known to outperform hybrid seeds without intervention of chemicals. But most importantly, you need to know what to grow and what will sell. You may be able to grown chow chow well in your area based on all the factors you have found but if there is no market for chow chow in your area, you would have to take it out of your list. Produce what sells, unless you are left with no option at all.
Source your fertilizers and pesticides
When it comes to fertilizers, you will want to have them ready before hand. Pesticides are limited to cow urine and preparation from it. Neem oil, Neem cake are excellent pest controls and prevent a range of diseases. Know how much you need and acquire them before hand. Some fertilizers like panchagavya requires preparation and time. Ensure that they are ready before hand.
There is no difference when it comes to land preparation for organic or conventional farming. Both methods incorporate very similar land preparation, except for fertilizers used. Adding compost and cow manure is the most important part when it comes to organic farming. In conventional farming , these are replaced with chemical fertilizers. Add neem cake for soil and plants which are susceptible to fungal attacks. Some farmers are known to use both organic and chemical fertilizers in their farm and this is not considered organic. Its surely conventional in more ways than other.
Remember that more organic matter will loosen the soil and help roots penetrate further. This improves water and nutrient intake for the plants, which in turn results in better plant growth. The principles are simple. its important that you understand them!
Drip Irrigation may be modern but is efficient and perfect for organic farming too. Use drip irrigation when possible, unless you are growing crops like rice which requires other irrigation methods. Drip irrigation will save water and more importantly, increase the yield.