What is Organic Farming?
Vegetables being grown organically on our farm at the Middle Kingdom Traditional Kung Fu School. We grow an increasing amount of the food for our students and staff on our schools grounds.
Whats is Organic Farming?
Organic farming in a nutshell is an incredibly smart form of agriculture. It uses natural processes for multiple benefits, escaping the need to use chemical applications. With processes like crop rotation, biological pest control and, green manure/compost it can become almost completely self-sustained.Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is a universal term in agriculture, changing the crops planted in the soil every season to limit the impact of the pests and diseases that attack certain crops through the soil. Plants within the same taxonomic group or family generally have the same pest and disease issues. So switching the crops in sequence allows for continual growth and generally eliminates fallow harvests. Without the use of pest control or crop rotation, the soil would become infested with pests and become infertile, damaging the entire harvest until the field is left fallow ( When nothing is planted due to the infestation, allowing the infestation to clear out before planting again for another season).
Biological Pest Control
Biological pest control is a very interesting aspect of organic farming. Its a 3 step process consisting of importation, augmentation and conservation. Before I go in-depth, I'll explain what exactly biological pest control is.
Simply put, its taking natural predators of pests (mites/weeds) and integrating them with the crop. In this way, the crops are protected naturally by the predators integrated and the predators are sustained through the pests not being deterred or killed off by chemical pesticides.
It’s a beautiful circle that requires direct human intervention as most of the predators won't naturally take residence. This is the importation step.
The second step is augmentation, the delivery system in which the insects (usually) are brought in (Sometimes parasitic organisms are mixed in with the insects depending on which type of pest is trying to be eliminated). There are two different ways of delivery a farm can introduce its chosen predators.
An inoculative release is a release of relatively few predators at a specific time in the season, allowing for stricter control. This method is commonly used for greenhouse operations due to the selective control a greenhouse already has; in terms of temperature, humidity, etc.
The second and far less controlled is inundative release. Releasing thousands or millions of predators at a time, usually used for open fields as the predators are not restricted to the greenhouse.
The third and final step is conservation. Setting up habitats and other food sources for larvae allowing for a reproduction cycle to occur and eliminates the need to continually buy larvae or adults predators throughout the season.
Green manure or a cover crop are past harvests that are usually put under the soil to decompose and return the nutrients from the plant to the soil this provides a natural fertilizer that allows for sustainability. Heat and moisture help speed up the decomposition process which is why the uprooted plants or other bio material are put underneath the soil. In humid and hot environments, this step can be skipped and the bio material can be placed on top the soil, eliminating a step in the process.
A good example of a green manure is mustard which is fast growing plant. It is a nitrogen fixing plant, which has nodes in it’s roots containing bacteria that fix nitrogen directly from the air. Plants rich in nitrogen such as the mustard plant are widely used as green manures as nitrogen is a very important element in healthy plant growth and development.
This is organic farming in a nutshell. This way of farming is quite intelligent and comes with a certain charm it allows for individuals to create their own systems, allowing a bit of creativity and helping to preserve the environment of our planet for future generations.
We hope to take a look at other aspects of organic farming in further blog posts. Thanks for reading!