Farming is one of the most ancient occupations and activities known to man. From time immemorial, farming has always been at the forefront of human existence and dominance on earth. Interestingly, from generation to generation, organic agriculture has been playing an integral role in human sustenance.
For thousands of years, organic agriculture has been providing food for the ever-increasing human population. Not only has organic agriculture been effective, but it also delivers the best nutrient to man.
As the human population increases, agriculture has been reengineered to cater for the increasing population with industrialization reducing the total land space available for farming.
In human’s bid to achieve food security for the increasing population, organic farming gave way for conventional farming. Population increase pressured science to step in and produce many synthetic chemicals and gene manipulation techniques to maximize the plant’s potential.
Food production has increased tremendously over the years towards the achievement of food security. However, degradation population in the natural environment also increased.
With the human population at over 7 billion, it’s important to address the most sustainable way to feed the world while keeping the natural environment clean.
In this post, we will be discussing organic agriculture and how it is outperforming conventional agriculture over different talking points. You surely want to read till the end.
Organic agriculture is a system of farming that cultivates and grow healthy plants and animals without additives in the form of chemicals. According to the Rodale Institute, organic agriculture is a production system that regenerates the health of soil, ecosystem and the people.
Organic agriculture depends on natural process, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions rather than the use of synthetic inputs like chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
Conventional farming or agriculture, on the other hand, is a system of agriculture that relies on the use of chemicals and genetically modified organisms for its cultivation. This system requires high energy and often leaves the environment degraded. A crop is classified as synthetic if its growth was supported by a chemical.
Even though output increase in the short term with conventional agricultural practice, it is not sustainable for the environment and its harvest poses a threat to humanity. Conventional agriculture sacrifices the environment and natural habitat for its effectiveness.
What is Organic Agriculture?
Organic agriculture as a system of agriculture preserves environmental resources while using natural processes and sustainable farm practices to get optimum plant yield. Organic farming combines innovation and traditional farm practices to deliver bountiful yields.
Without chemicals or genetically modified organisms, organic farming relies on composts, manure and rotational farm practices to grow healthy and quality farm produce.
Organic farming is a low energy farming system that does not require extra energy in the form of chemicals for its growth. With global warming and the earth losing key components of nature, organic agriculture is sustainable and suitable for the environment.
Organic farming eliminates environmental degradation and release of harmful materials in the environment.
Rather than farmers using fertilizers and other chemical components, they follow proven farm practices including crop rotation, plant diversity and others to get the best yield from the same soil.
World population is increasing, harvest from lands are reducing, there’s limited land space; something had to be done! Human needed to find a way to increase food output to cater to its increasing population.
Conventional farming started with a good motive of achieving food security without deep though to its impact on human and the environment.
In 1971, then US secretary of agriculture Earl Butz uttered these unsympathetic words, “Before we go back to organic agriculture in this country, somebody must decide which 50 million Americans we are going to let starve or go hungry”.
Conventional farming is a farming system that relies on the use of chemical, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms and synthetic catalyst to improve plant/animal growth and performance.
Conventional farming has quite a number of definitions and it’s important to note that a plant is classified as synthetic if any chemical components are used in maintaining the plant.
Interestingly, conventional farming was developed to make farming more efficient and effective in order to increase farm yield. However, it failed to address environmental sustainability and suitability to human.
NUTRITION, HEALTHY AND QUALITY OF CROPS
Organically grown farm products provide more nutrient than conventionally grown products. The process of organic farming ensures that the right plant is planted on the right soil. With organic manure and other farm composts, plants germinate well without additives and chemicals.
Due to the absence of chemicals, insecticides and use of genetically modified organisms, organic agriculture produces more healthy and fresh fruits. Due to the heavy dependence on chemicals and other additives, conventional agriculture does not produce high-quality yields.
Organic agriculture reduces the risk of allergies, being overweight and diseases. Conventional agriculture on the other hand only increases the risks of diseases and health hazard.
Organic agriculture through crop rotation, intercropping, use of resistant varieties is able to yield more resistant crops that are not affected by diseases and outbreaks.
The aim of an organic farming system is to provide to the consumer with fresh, tasty and natural food while respecting natural systems and the environment.
Organic farming is not only saddled with the responsibility of food security but also, food quality that ensures that everyone gets the right daily nutrient requirement for optimal performance.
The nutritional value of food is essentially a function of its vitamin and mineral content, particularly those related to important beneficial functions in animals and humans.
Organic agriculture practices ensure that nutrients are better sustained. It explains why flies are more attracted to organic products due to their suitability for them and human. Flies rarely perch on conventional farm products due to its huge chemical component.
SUSTAINABILITY AND ENVIRONMENTAL FRIENDLINESS
Conventional agriculture consumes more energy, relies on excessive chemical and procedures for its operations. Conventional agriculture causes increased greenhouse gas emissions, soil erosion, water pollution, and threatens human health.
Depleting soil quality instead of building soil quality like organic agriculture is the norm for conventional agriculture.
Short-term benefits are realized with the use of chemical fertilizers and mechanized production methods, every gardener knows that soil health cannot be compromised in the long term. Eventually, soil-depleting practices take their toll as soil structure weakens, microbial life declines and erosion removes valuable topsoil from farmland.
The Rodale study found that overall soil health is maintained with conventional systems, but soil health is improved when using organic farming practices. Organic farming practices improve moisture retention which creates water ‘stores’ which plants can draw on during times of stress due to drought and high winds.
According to the Environmental Working Group and soil scientists at Iowa State University, America’s “Corn Belt” is losing precious topsoil up to 12 times faster than government estimates.
On the other hand, organic agriculture, relies on strategies and procedures used over a thousand year ago to get optimal plant yield without reliance on chemicals, insecticides and genetically modified organisms.
Organic farming consumes less energy and produces less emission that is harmful or toxic to the environment and human. Organic farming improves soil health and is suitable for the ecosystem.
In a time of drought, organic farming performs better than conventional farming.
Conventional agriculture requires a lot of energy and fuel for its operations, further affect the biogas. Nitrogen fertilizer is the single biggest energy cost for conventional farming, representing 41% of overall energy costs. Organic systems used 45% less energy overall than conventional systems. Production efficiency was 28% higher in the organic systems, with the conventional no-till system being the least efficient in terms of energy usage.
The extra energy required for fertilizer production and farm fuel use in conventional systems also contributes to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Conventional systems emit almost 40% more GHG per pound of crop production in comparison to the organic systems.
Not only is organic farming less costly, but it also outperforms conventional agriculture in terms of yields and efficiency.
In a time of drought and adverse weather conditions, organic agriculture produces more output that is more and better than conventional agriculture.
The profitability of Organic Agriculture
There’s no way we are going to discuss how organic agriculture is outperforming conventional agriculture without discussing the profitability of the two agricultural systems.
The bottom line matters to every farmer regardless of the farming system in use. According to the 30 years side by side research done by Rodale Study, organic agriculture delivered about three times the profit of conventional agriculture.
The average return per acre from organic farming supersedes that of conventional farming. Organic farming operates on a lower cost of operation than conventional farming, which is one of the reasons for organic farming having a higher profit.
The cost of synthetic materials and chemicals needed for conventional farming are expenses. Energy cost is also on the high side which makes conventional farming quite expensive. With huge expenses, profitability is low for conventional agriculture.
Organic agriculture continues to stand out because it relies on natural components for substantial yield and growth.
It is super glaring how organic agriculture continues to thrive and organic agriculture will continue to play an integral role in achieving food security. Organic farming over the past 30 years has been outperforming conventional agriculture on all fronts. Organic agriculture is the present and future of agriculture and more participation in it will only speed up the time the world achieves food security.