Benefits of Organic Farming
The benefits of organic farming are manifold. First, organic farming benefits people directly by producing safe, nutritious foods that are free from the potentially harmful chemicals used in synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Second, organic farming also benefits the environment by utilizing methods that help preserve biodiversity and conserve natural resources such as soil, water, and energy.
Given the relatively higher cost of operating organic farms and gardens, more and more people are still turning to the practice of organic farming. Incidentally, more and more people are also consuming organically grown products. Obviously, both are due in large part to the fact that the perceived benefits of producing and consuming organic products far outweigh the disadvantages.
So why do many farmers insist on practicing organic agriculture techniques when conventional methods and practices are currently more profitable?
By working in harmony with nature, organic farming delivers long-term benefits to people and the environment. Compared with conventional agriculture, it preserves soil fertility more effectively. Organic farming also uses methods for controlling pests and diseases that do not harm the environment. By not using synthetic chemicals, organic farming ensures that the local water supply remains safe and clean. By utilizing only readily available resources, organic farmers get to save the money that will otherwise be spent for additional farming inputs.
The benefits of organic farming are highlighted when considered in the context of conventional agriculture’s negative effects. In conventional agriculture, synthetic chemicals from pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides gets easily transported from the soil to the water system, polluting rivers, lakes, and other water courses. Prolonged exposure to synthetic fertilizers depletes the soil’s organic matter content, which in turn reduces the soil’s resistance to erosion. Prolonged use of synthetic fertilizers also makes soils too dependent on the chemicals such that more amounts of fertilizer are needed every year just to harvest the same yield level. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers destroy most microorganisms in the soil—even the beneficial ones—resulting to poor soil structure and deficient nutrient content. Synthetic and health-damaging chemicals tend to stay in the soil, eventually entering the food chain to be consumed by humans.
To effectively deliver the potential benefits of organic farming, farmers rely heavily on sustainable agricultural techniques such as green manure, composting, crop rotation, and natural methods of weed, pest, and fungus control. While employing these techniques, organic farmers also strictly restrict the use of genetically-modified organisms (GMO’s) and synthetic chemicals, thereby ensuring the harvesting of healthy, nutritious produce.
To conserve and enhance soil quality, organic farmers use recycled and composted crop wastes and manure. Organic farmers also practice crop rotation. To control pests, diseases and weeds, organic farmers plan crop sequence and use resistant varieties. Farmers also allow natural predators to control plant pests first before seriously using organic pesticides.
Given these benefits, there are also downsides to organic farming, however. For one thing, organic produce costs considerably more than their commercial counterparts simply because organic farming is costlier to operate. Nonetheless, given the consistently demonstrated environmental benefits of organic crops, at least trying them out is good choice, especially for people who can afford them or who care deeply for the environment and biodiversity.