Organic Farm Education

What is organic farming?

Organic farming works in harmony with nature. This involves using techniques to achieve good crop yields without harming the natural environment or the people who live and work in it.

The methods and materials that organic farmers use are summarised as follows:

To keep and build good soil structure and fertility:

• recycled and composted crop wastes and animal manures

• the right soil cultivation at the right time

• crop rotation

• green manures and legumes

• mulching on the soil surface

To combat pests, diseases and weeds:

• careful planning and choice of crop

• the use of disease-resistant crops

• good cultivation practices

• crop rotation

• encouraging useful predators that eat pests

• increasing genetic diversity

• using natural pesticides

Organic farming also involves:

• careful use of water resources

• good animal husbandry

A modern approach to farming Organic farming does not mean going back to traditional methods. Many of the farming methods used in the past are still useful today. Organic farming takes the best of these and combines them with modern scientific knowledge. Organic farmers do not let their farms be taken over by nature; they use all the knowledge, techniques, and materials available to work with nature. In this way, the farmer creates a healthy balance between nature and farming, where crops and animals can grow and thrive.

To be a successful organic farmer, the farmer must not see every insect as a pest, every plant out of place as a weed, and the solution to every problem in an artificial chemical spray. The aim is not to eradicate all pests and weeds, but to keep them down to an acceptable level and make the most of the benefits that they may provide. Combined techniques on an organic farm, each technique would not normally be used on its own.

The farmer would use a range of organic methods at the same time to allow them to work together for the maximum benefit. For example, the use of green manures and careful cultivation, together provide better control of weeds than if the techniques were used on their own. Worm castings and chicken manure within the bedding of rice husks are very useful in organic farming in Isan Thailand.

Why farm organically?

Organic farming provides long-term benefits to people and the environment.

Organic farming aims to:

• increase long-term soil fertility.

• control pests and diseases without harming the environment.

• ensure that water stays clean and safe.

• use resources which the farmer already has, so the farmer needs less money to buy farm inputs.

• produce nutritious food, feed for animals and high quality crops to sell at a good price.

Modern agriculture techniques cause many problems such as the following:

• Artificial fertilizers and herbicides are easily washed from the soil and pollute rivers, lakes and water courses.

• The prolonged use of artificial fertilisers results in soils with a low organic matter content which is easily eroded by wind and rain.

• Dependency on fertilizers. Greater amounts are needed every year to produce the same yields of crops.

• Synthetic pesticides can stay in the soil for a long time and enter the food chain where they build up in the bodies of animals and humans, causing health problems.

• Artificial chemicals destroy soil micro-organisms resulting in poor soil structure and aeration and decreasing nutrient availability.

• Pests and diseases become more difficult to control as they become resistant to artificial pesticides. The numbers of natural enemies decrease because of pesticide use and habitat loss.

For more information on organic farming educational classes contact us.