Programmes
Organic Farming
 

Organic farming is a form of agriculture, which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. As far as possible organic farmers rely on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manures and mechanical cultivation to maintain soil productivity and tilth to supply plant nutrients, and to control weeds, insects and other pests. Approximately 31 million hectares (75 million acres) worldwide are now grown organically.

In April 1995, the NOSB (National Organic Standards Board) defined "organic" as follows: "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 on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony."



“Organic' is a labeling term that denotes products produced under the authority of the Organic Foods Production Act. 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."


"Organic agriculture practices cannot ensure that products are completely free of residues; however, methods are used to minimize pollution from air, soil, and water."


"Organic food handlers, processors, and retailers adhere to standards that maintain the integrity of organic agricultural products. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals, and people.


Methods of organic farming vary. However, organic approaches share common goals and practices. In addition to the exclusion of synthetic agrichemicals, these include protection of the soil (from erosion, nutrient depletion, and structural breakdown), promotion of biodiversity. Within this framework, individual farmers develop their own organic production systems, determined by factors such as climate, market conditions, and local agricultural regulations.


 

METHODS

Enhancing soil health is the cornerstone of organic farming .A variety of methods are employed, including crop rotation, green manure, cover cropping, application of compost, and mulching. Organic farmers also use certain processed fertilizers such as seed meal, and various mineral powders such as rock phosphate and greensand, a naturally occurring form of potash.

Pest control targets animal pests (including insects), weeds and disease. Organic pest control involves the cumulative effect of many techniques, including, allowing for an acceptable level of pest damage, encouraging or even introducing beneficial organisms, careful crop selection and crop rotation, and mechanical controls such as row covers and traps. These techniques generally provide benefits in addition to pest control—soil protection and improvement, fertilization, pollination, water conservation, season extension, etc.—and these benefits are both complementary and cumulative in overall effect on farm health. Effective organic pest control requires a thorough understanding of pest life cycles and interactions. Weeds are controlled mechanically, thermically and through the use of mulches.


 

PESTICIDES

Organic farming standards do not allow the use of synthetic pesticides, but they do allow the use of certain so-called natural pesticides, such as those derived from plants. Organic advocates state that natural pesticides are a last resort, while growing healthier, disease-resistant plants, using cover crops and crop rotation, and encouraging beneficial insects and birds are the primary methods of pest control. The most common organic pesticides, accepted for restricted use by most organic standards, include BT, pyrethrum, and rotenone. Some organic pesticides, such as rotenone, have high toxicity to fish and aquatic creatures with some toxicity to mammals including humans.


 

The Environment

The environmental argument, from the pro-organic view, holds that conventional agriculture is rapidly depleting natural resources, particularly fossil fuels and fresh water, and polluting soil, water and air. There are large quantities of agricultural chemicals in use (synthetic pesticides and fertilizers), water wastage through high-volume irrigation, heavy use of petrochemicals for farm machinery and long-distance transport, high densities of various waste products from concentrated operations.

Organic farming may also have a detrimental effect on the environment. Conventional agricultural methods allow agriculturists to precisely apply only necessary fertilizers to soil, in order to minimize expenditures on fertilizers and to minimize waste pollutants.


 

FOOD QUALITY

Healthy soils equal healthy food equals healthy people is a basic tenet of many organic farming systems. But the claims of nutritional superiority of food grown by organic methods over conventional grown food are the subject of much controversy. Without conclusive evidence either way, some organic supporters believe that the overall nutritional and health-promoting value of food is compromised by chemical-farming methods. This involves areas like micronutrients and trace elements, plant physiology, the way plants grow and the process of human nutrition.

Further, there is some concern that due to the limited methods available to organic farmers for combating quality problems while adhering to organic standards, some organic food does not generally achieve comparable safety and quality standards as "conventionally" grown products.


 

SOIL CONSERVATION

The practice of ploughing to prepare soil for planting is claimed to increase soil damage compared to using herbicides, like glyphosates. In fact, this argument applies primarily to large-scale, chemical-based agriculture, where huge areas are repeatedly tilled and planted with the same crops.

By using artificial fertilizer rather than replacing organic material, the soil structure is progressively destroyed, and becomes increasingly susceptible to wind and water erosion. Use of herbicides to kill weeds, instead of plowing them under, may present a short-term solution to this problem. However, repeated use of herbicides can disturb the soil micro flora and fauna that contribute to the decomposition of the plant residues that help rebuild the soil organic matter content. It can also encourage the build-up of resistances in weeds.


 

RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE

Small-scale organic farming encourages local economies, and provides social and employment alternatives to concentrated, energy-dependent urban living, thus improving the quality of life for everyone. The entry of large-scale businesses into production of organic food undermines the belief that a preference by consumers for organic food will necessarily translate into a substantive change in the nature of agribusiness.


 

SUSTAINABILITY

Although it is common to equate organic farming with sustainable agriculture, the two are not synonymous. Sustainability in agriculture is a broad concept, with considerations on many levels, such as "environmental health, economic profitability, and social and economic equity. With regard to organic farming methods, one goal of sustainability would be to approach as closely as possible a balance between what is taken out of the soil with what is returned to it, without relying on outside inputs.

An organic operation that imports the manure it uses to replace the nutrients taken out of the soil by crops, must factor in the resources required to produce and transport that manure, when calculating sustainability. Organic farming today is a small part of the agricultural landscape, with a relatively minor impact on the environment. As the size of organic farms continues to increase, a new set of large-scale considerations will eventually have to be tackled. Large organic farms that rely on machinery and automation, and purchased inputs, will have similar sustainability issues that large conventional farms do today. While organic agriculture aims to keep pesticide use to a minimum, it is a common misconception that organic agriculture does not use pesticides. Some pesticides used on organic farms contain the heavy metal copper, which can lead to copper accumulation in the soil. Other pesticides that approved for use by organic producers include ryania, sabadilla, and rotenone.


 

THE ORGANIC CONNECTION

Choices in agricultural management can enhance or threaten domesticated and wild biodiversity. Encouraging organic farming within and around protected areas can reverse the trend of negative threats to biodiversity, while allowing local residents to derive livelihoods from their lands. Organic agriculture depends on ecosystem services delivered through proper management of biodiversity. It simultaneously delivers ecosystem services to wider environments, including non-marketable public goods such as environmental health and landscape connectivity. It can meet the production-conservation challenge head-on by :


Promoting market-based incentives that compensate farmers for their environmental stewardship efforts, thus maintaining their economic viability


Restoring marginal and abandoned rural areas by valorizing under-utilized plants and animals (such as in pastures) appreciated by organic consumers


Replacing degrading agricultural practices with approaches that prevent wildlife poisoning and detoxify environments


Reducing protected areas fragmentation by enhancing the habitat value of agricultural landscapes.

Reversing deforestation by growing crops (coffee, cacao) under tree canopy, thus retaining forest structures that harbor endemic and migrant species


Enhancing land carrying-capacity for both wildlife and agricultural production by creating temporal wetlands suitable for nesting and feeding of wetland-dependent and/or migrant species


 

ORGANIC FOOD

Organically grown" food is food grown and processed using no synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. Pesticides derived from natural sources (such as biological pesticides) may be use in producing organically grown food.

Organic food is produce according to certain production standards. For crops, it means they were grown without the use of conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers, human waste, or sewage sludge and that they were processed without ionizing radiation or food additives. For animals, it means they were reared without the routine use of antibiotics and without the use of growth hormones. In most countries, organic produce must not be genetically modified.
Increasingly, organic food production is legally regulated. Currently, the US, the European Union, Japan and many other countries require producers to obtain organic certification in order to market food as organic. There is evidence that organic farms are more sustainable and environmentally sound, among other benefits.


 

TYPE OF ORGANIC FOOD

Organic foods can be either fresh or processed, based on production methods.


 

FRESH FOOD

Fresh, "unprocessed" organic food, such as vegetables and fruits are purchased directly from growers, at farmers' markets, from on-farm stands, supermarkets, through speciality food stores, and through community-supported agriculture (CSA) projects. Unprocessed animal products like organic meat, eggs, dairy, are less commonly available in "fresh" form.


 

PROCESSED FOOD

Processed food accounts for most of the items in a supermarket. Often, within the same store, both organic and conventional versions of products are available, and the price of the organic version is usually higher. Most processed organic food comes from large food conglomerates producing and marketing products like canned goods, frozen vegetables, prepared dishes and other convenience foods.

Processed organic food usually contains only organic ingredients, or where there are a number of ingredients, at least a minimum percentage of the plant and animal ingredients must be organic (95% in Australia). Any non-organically produced ingredients must still meet requirements. It must be free of artificial food additives, and is often processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions (no chemical ripening, no food irradiation, and no genetically modified ingredients, etc.).

They may also be required to be produced using energy-saving technologies and packaged using recyclable or biodegradable materials when possible.


 

STANDARD PREPARATION

Prepare a solution containing known concentrations (Cone Range 0.1-0.5 mg/ml) of kutkoside and picroside I in methanol.


 

SAMPLE PREPARATION

Reflux (Ihr.) known quantity (5 g) of powdered drug with ethanol (100 ml). Filter and reflux (1 hr.) the marc further two times with ethanol (2x100 ml). Filter, evaporate the combined filtrate to dryness, dissolve in methanol (10 ml) and make up the volume to 25 ml with methanol. Prepare further dilutions if necessary.


 

PROCEDURE

Subject known volumes (10 microlitres) of standard and sample preparations to HPLC and record respective peak areas for kutkoside & picroside I in triplicate and accordingly calculate their percentages in the sample.


 

YIELD

The average yield is 450 kg/ha and maximum 612 kg/ha from high dose of forest litter treated field.

 

IDENTIFIED ORGANIC FOODS

At first, organic food comprised mainly fresh vegetables. Early consumers interested in organic food would look for chemical-free, fresh or minimally processed food. Personal definitions of what constituted "organic" were developed through firsthand experience: by talking to farmers, seeing farm conditions, and farming activities. Small farms grew vegetables (and raised livestock) using organic farming practices, with or without certification, and the individual consumer monitored.

Consumer demand for organic foods continues to increase, and high volume sales through mass outlets, like supermarkets, is rapidly replacing the direct farmer connection. For supermarket consumers, food production is not easily observable, and product labeling, like "certified organic", is relied on. Government regulations and third-party inspectors are looked to for assurance. A "certified organic" label is usually the only way for consumers to know that a processed product is "organic".


 

Organic Fruits and Vegetables: Potential Health Benefits and Risks

Growing crops in healthy soils result in food products that offer healthy nutrients. There is mounting evidence that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains may offer more of some nutrients, including vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and less exposure to nitrates and pesticide residues than their counterparts grown using synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.

The health benefits and risks of organic fruits and vegetables are issues of significant importance due to the increasing popularity of organic food. The organic produce, in comparison to conventional produce, tends to contain higher levels of vitamin C and lower levels of nitrates. It has been definitively shown that organic produce contains fewer and lower levels of pesticides than conventional produce, though the long-term health consequences of ingestion of pesticides, and the clinical relevance of fewer and lower levels of pesticides in organic food, has yet to be determined. Organic farming methods can potentially lead to microbiological contamination, but that organic produce does not carry any higher risk of significant microbiological contamination than conventional produce. Taking into account the issues of nutrient content, pesticides, and microbiological safety, the current evidence seems to suggest that organic produce can potentially be more beneficial, but certainly not more harmful, than conventional produce for the health of the consumer. However, very few actual benefits have been demonstrated, and at present, the best recommended diet remains as one that is balanced and rich in fruits and vegetables, regardless of organic or conventional origin.


 

SOIL QUALITY AND FERTILITY MANAGEMENT

In organic cropping systems, advance planning of rotations, the addition of organic matter, and suitable tillage practices are necessary to enhance the nutrient management plan and preserve soil and water quality. Because plants vary in their nutrient requirements and in their ability to extract nutrients from the soil, rotating crops with different nutrient needs and root architecture in the field can increase the efficiency of nutrient use and decrease the potential for nutrient leaching or runoff.

For example, plants with shallow fibrous root systems are more efficient at utilizing nutrients mineralized from decomposing plant materials on the soil surface or shallow-incorporated animal-based inputs. Deep-rooted plants such as winter cereals are efficient at extracting nutrients that have moved downward in the soil profile.

Organic production systems rely on biological processes to convert organic forms of nutrients to mineralized, plant-available forms; therefore, nutrients are released slowly over time. Regular additions of organic matter increase the size and stability of soil aggregates and reduces soil erosion. Larger aggregates are not as easily moved by wind or rain, and less crusting means more water can infiltrate the soil rather than move over the surface. In rotations, organic matter can be added by including sods, catch crops, plant mulches, and green manures supplemented by compost or other stable organic materials.

Most cropping systems require tillage to prepare the soil for planting and cultivation during the growing season to control weeds and reduce insects. However, tillage disturbs soil structure and decreases the amount of organic matter in the soil. To minimize negative effects on soil water-holding capacity and soil fertility, and to prevent losses of topsoil that could occur with an excess of mechanical cultivation for weed control, tillage should be employed judiciously. Employing a combination of practices including crop rotation, appropriate tillage and the addition of organic amendments can improve soil quality by:

Maintaining soil fertility

Improving soil tilth (physical condition)

Reducing soil compaction and erosion

Increasing soil water-holding capacity

Suppressing some soil-borne pathogens

Increasing predation of weed seeds by soil microbes

Providing a source of slow-release plant-available nutrients


 

PROSPECTS FOR ORGANIC AGRICULTURE

Industrialized Organic Markets

The future of organic agriculture will depend on the political will and economic forces that will dominate the agriculture sector as a whole. As world agriculture globalizes, few and large private companies will increasingly control world food supply chains.


Access to inspection and certification, as well as the necessity to develop new ways in processing organic food, are major challenges that are likely to be taking up by large and established food companies. More than for other foods, multi-national food companies are expect to certify the organic food supply, both in terms of contracting production and international trading. In particular, the growth of processed organic foods will be facilitating by the capacity of these companies to assemble ingredients from different parts of the world and to guide production to meet their specific needs.

The current tendency for organic convenience food in industrialized countries is expect to increase, especially for tropical beverages, baby food, and frozen vegetables that will dominate imports. Some tropical organic raw materials (e.g. coffee, cocoa, cotton, tea) are likely to have a discreet market share as cash crops.

Sustainable food supply chains

Focusing only on exports is likely to be counter-productive to organic agriculture development. Considering the modest technologies available today for organic agriculture and the relatively vulnerable organic post-harvest and marketing chain, certified organic food has its limits in contributing to world food supply. However, the potential contribution of organic agriculture to developing countries’ food security, especially for subsistence and local markets, can be substantial.

Organic practices use cheap and locally available resources. The productivity of agricultural systems can be improved in the absence of factors over which farmers have little control: mineral fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, improved seeds/breeds, and access to credit. Organic agriculture techniques replace external inputs by ecological services and farmer's management skills. In resource-poor and market-marginalized areas, organic agriculture is an alternative in the search for an environmentally sound solution to the problem of food insecurity. Food supply strategies of most developing countries remain a dis-incentive to the development of organic agriculture. A policy change towards re-valorization of local production and practices, supported by investments in capacity building, will be fundamental in the adoption of organic agriculture in resource-poor areas.


 
 
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