Organic farming is a way of growing crops that is focused on maintaining soil health and replenishing nutrients rather than simply maximizing production. In an organic system, crops are grown with minimal synthetic inputs such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Instead, farmers use crop rotations, green manure, compost, and other practices to manage the soil and control weeds. In principle, organic farming has many benefits over conventional agriculture – not only for the earth but also for human beings as well as animals. The switch from conventional to organic methods brings numerous benefits for people who farm as well as those who eat what they grow. Let’s take a look at some of the main advantages of growing food organically.
Organic agriculture is a more environmentally friendly way of growing food. By using no-till methods and rotating crops and livestock, organic farmers help prevent soil erosion and improve soil fertility and structure. Organic systems are more likely to create more favourable habitats for wildlife and pollinators, less dependent on fossil-fuel-based synthetic inputs such as herbicides and pesticides, and less likely to produce environmental pollution. A recent meta-analysis shows that, compared to conventional systems, organic systems show significantly lower impacts on biodiversity, soil organisms, and water quality.
Fresh and nutritious food
Organic practices, such as rotating crops and managing weeds, help build and maintain soil fertility. This makes it easier for plants to access the nutrients they need to grow, which leads to higher yields and more nutritious food. For example, research suggests that organic broccoli has higher levels of beneficial compounds than conventional broccoli, and that organic strawberries have more antioxidants than non-organic strawberries. And while conventional strawberries contain more nutrients than they did a few decades ago, they still aren’t as rich in vitamins and fibre as organically grown strawberries.
Better for your health
Organic food is better for your health in several ways. Firstly, it’s free of pesticides, so you don’t have to worry about consuming harmful chemical residues. It’s also less likely to be contaminated with human pathogens, thanks to the reduced use of synthetic fertilizers and antibiotic-resistant feed-crops. And finally, organic food tends to contain higher levels of certain nutrients, such as vitamins and polyphenols, which are thought to promote good health.
Supports local farming
Organic farms are less dependent on imported fertilizers and other synthetic inputs, so they help reduce the large carbon footprint of conventional agriculture. Organic farms also support local economies and provide livelihoods for more people than conventional industrial-scale farms. For example, organic apple and cherry growers employ around 10 people per 10,000 trees, while conventional growers employ just 2 people per 10,000. Organic livestock producers are also less likely to use imported feed.
Helps preserve biodiversity
Organic farming systems can help protect biodiversity, especially in natural landscapes, by reducing management intensity. Organic systems are less likely to be monocultures and are more likely to include a variety of crops and other plants that support beneficial insects, birds, and other wildlife.
Organic farming methods focus on maintaining soil health and replenishing nutrients. In a fully organic system, crops are grown with minimal synthetic inputs such as pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Organic farmers rely on crop rotations, green manure, compost, and other practices to manage the soil and control weeds. Organic farming is a more environmentally friendly, nutritious, and economically sustainable way of growing food. Organic practices help preserve biodiversity, build soil health, and support local farmers. These benefits come at a cost, but many people feel this is a price worth paying – not just for themselves, but for future generations too.