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Organic Farming and the Steps for Success

Organic Farming and the Steps for Success


Organic Farming and the Steps for Success

Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)

What is Organic Farming?

Organic farming, an agricultural system that uses ecologically based pest controls and biological fertilizers derived largely from animal and plant wastes and nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Modern organic farming was developed as a response to the environmental harm caused by the use of chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in conventional agriculture, and it has numerous ecological benefits. Compared with conventional agriculture, organic farming uses fewer pesticides, reduces soil erosion, decreases nitrate leaching into groundwater and surface water, and recycles animal wastes back into the farm. These benefits are counterbalanced by higher food costs for consumers and generally lower yields. Indeed, yields of organic crops have been found to be about 25 per cent lower overall than conventionally grown crops, although this can vary considerably depending upon the type of crop.

Steps to Organic Farming

1) Crop Selection

  • Choose the property to suit the crop
  • Choose the crop to suit the property
  • Don’t push the climate boundaries
  • Minimise the pest & disease pressures
  • Site selection

2) Soil Fertility

  • Balance – physical, chemical, biological
  • Soil analysis – pH
  • Fertilizer history
  • Crop requirements – nutritional & biological
  • Equipment required

3) Plant Health

  • 80-90% via soil
  • Organic fertiliser, compost, cover crop
  • Do we need to supplement with soluble fertilizers?
  • Foliar spray program.
  • Plant tissue analysis
  • Must provide crop requirements
  • Source of Nutrients – compost, cover crops, organic fertiliser, foliar sprays, trace elements

4) Insect Pests

  • Life cycles of pest & beneficial insects
  • Monitoring
  • Solutions – release of beneficial insects, cover crops, poultry, barriers, rescue chemistry

5) Disease Pressure

  • Life cycle of diseases
  • Crop rotation
  • Monitoring
  • Allowable inputs versus natural measures

6) Weed Management

  • Annual, perennial
  • Management methods
  • Equipment required
  • Crop rotation
  • Cover crop

7) Post-harvest Issues

  • Maintaining fruit quality
  • Extended storage
  • Pest and disease issues

8) Risk Assessment

  • Neighbouring activity
  • Prevailing winds
  • Agreements
  • Buffer zones
  • Support base

9) Equipment needs

  • Weed control dedicated to organic blocks

10) Skills Assessment

  • Farmer & staff