Organic farming has been around since the beginning of time and is considerably the best way to farm to this date. This farming method involves growing crops and livestock without using any chemical pesticides, antibiotics, genetically modified organisms or growth hormones to increase harvest. This is the reason why organically produced foods are of the best quality, highly nutritious and tastier than conventional food products. Should the soil’s nutrient content drop, farmers use organic fertilizer such as manure to restore its richness. This again helps sustain a productive and healthy environment to grow crops and rare animals without necessarily using any synthetic fertilizer or pesticides. Discussed below are a few organic farming methods that help maintain soil fertility and maintain/enhance ecological harmony without affecting the ecosystem.
1. Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is an agricultural technique that involves alternating crops growing in each plot/field to help maintain soil fertility. A good example of this is growing maize/corn in a plot for one season and beans or legumes in another. After the harvest season, the crops are alternated (legumes on the maize plot and vice versa). The main reason for practicing crop rotation is that legumes have nodes that release nitrogen into the soil hence enriching it, meaning maize benefit from this.
2. Planting cover crops
Cover crops come in handy in various ways. For one, they protect the soil from erosion, add nutrients, and help by inhibiting weed growth. Most cover crops are deep rooted, meaning they help keep the soil aerated hence facilitating the breakdown of dry plants into organic manure. Cover crops also make it possible for living organisms such as earthworms to thrive, as well as preventing problematic fungi and bacteria from thriving in the field. Cover crops are therefore not only used to enrich the soil, but also to prevent the need to use chemical pesticides to kill pests and weeds.
3. Biological pest control
This farming method is purposeful for eliminating harmful parasites and microbes from thriving in the farm. The method involves introducing beneficial insects such as wasps, soldier beetles, nematodes, and ladybugs to fight bacteria, harmful insects and caterpillars from destroying food. The farmer and these insects benefit symbiotically in that; the insects get food and shelter on the farm while the farmer doesn’t have to worry about harmful nematodes and pests in the farm.
4. Crop buffers
With very few people practicing organic farming, organic farmers usually have to protect their farms from pesticides and other synthetic materials used on farms nearby. One of the best ways of protecting their crops is by having a plant buffer zone to help filter these chemicals. Plants grown and used as buffers are however not sold off as organic foods as they already are exposed to these chemicals. Crop buffers are therefore a convenient way of safeguarding the ecosystem from harmful and potentially toxic farming materials.
While conventional farming methods may promise bounty harvests to farmers, organic foods are widely accepted and valued in the market. With many people switching to organically produced foods, the price of the same is handsome for these farmers. In addition to this, organic foods are safe and the most nutritious of all.