Organic arable farming reduces the environmental health issues created by intensive farming practices. Organic farming methods avoid the destruction of soil and reverse the negative impacts of intensive farming. For example, you will improve environmental health, directly improve the health of your land, and improve your own health – if you eat the products you farm – by following these four arable farming practices:
- Crop rotation
- Planning for biodiversity on the lands farmed
- Feeding the soil and ensuring soil nutrition
- Planting pest and disease resistant crops
Farming organically includes growing varied types of crops, at varied times. (You can use organic farming techniques on a smaller scale in your organic vegetable garden.) Crops need to be selected for their natural resistance to pests, molds and other diseases. Soil needs to be fed animal and green manure (compost materials). It needs to be well aerated (recognize the importance of worms and what worms eat). Crop planting needs to consider biodiversity maintenance and/or building. The goal is to develop a rich, varied environment that supports a variety of organisms and produces nutrients and minerals for healthy crop growth.
Organic farming is opposed to relying on chemicals for pesticides and/or fertilizer. Organic farming relies on natural strategies, such as ladybugs – as opposed to pesticides – which eat aphids, scale, mites and more, to reduce pests (if releasing ladybugs in your farm or garden; use about 10 to 18 ladybugs per 100 square feet of planted crops). Be careful to buy natural, healthy ladybugs (some can be infected with parasites). Organic arable farming also relies on using mixed farming methods versus chemical fertilizers.
Commercial farming operations use herbicides, pesticides and plant growth hormones to grow their fruit and vegetables. Organic arable farming operations use crop and livestock production methods that are more than just choosing not to use certain pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics, coloring, artificial additives, growth hormones and more. Natural weed management practices and natural pest control programs are tactics used on organic farms.
Organic arable farming promotes crop rotations and cover crops, and focuses on balanced ‘host to predator’ relationships. Cover crops, composted manure, and other plant matter, also known as green manure, and animal manure are recycled back to the soil and used to improve and maintain soil fertility. Livestock on organic farms are fed 100% organically grown grains, forages and protein supplements.
The main reasons farmers grow organically are concerns about the effects of chemicals on health, the effects of conventional farming on soil quality and conservation, and the overall effects of chemicals and conventional farming on sustainable, environmental health. Organic farmers are concerned about the environment and the role they play in its health. These farmers view organic farming as part of the solution, rather than the problem, of modern agriculture. Their goals are to:
- Protect the environment
- Minimize soil degradation
- Minimize soil erosion
- Minimize pollution
- Increase and maintain soil fertility
- Improve global biodiversity
- Reduce, reuse and recycle organic materials through composting, replanting, re-design and other environmentally-positive techniques
- Maximize health of livestock, naturally, and minimize disease and issues related to unsound farming practices
- Use renewable and sustainable resources in organic farming and try to market products locally to minimize environmental impacts.
The benefits of organic farming are not only in the healthier foods but also in the reduction of environmental health issues. In addition to these achieving these goals, the benefit to organic arable farming is to produce fruit, vegetables and meats that are much tastier and healthier.