Names of Allah

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Organic Farming in Pakistan

Articles:

Page One
Organic Products, Social Qualities With Equal And Fair Trade Its Constrain And Future
Impact Of Biotechnology In Reducing Poverty And Hunger In Pakistan
Composting As An Organic Fertiliser
Producing Pesticide Free Fruits And Vegetables
Genetic Engineering, Biotechnology, Floriculture And Its Future In Pakistan

Page Two
Gender Issue In Rural Development Of Sindh In Pakistan
Poultry Farming Practice In Sindh-Pakistan
Chiku or Sapodilla The Neglected Fruit of Sindh
The Characteristics Of Rabbit Farming




Organic Products, Social Qualities With Equal And Fair Trade Its Constrain And Future

Why organic farming is necessary.

In Pakistan most of large farms are run by absentee land lords, in this case land is cared by the workers, who have no feeling of ownership amount of production, margin of profit. On other hand small land owners, who are present on the farms have constraints of purchasing large amount of inputs associated with risk are forced to diversify their investments. To cover risks they usually reduce farm inputs but are not able to reduce environmental degradation like soil erosion, pollution, excess water input, water logging drainage, control of perennial weeds etc. Organic farmer pays more to the labours also controls his farm as well as off farm environmental costs. They cut production cash costs by putting family labour eliminate inorganic fertilisers, pesticide and herbicides and reduce soil erosion. Conventional food may contain carcinogens, chemicals that cause diseases including cancer. Additive in processing may further activate carcinogens. This food may contain nitrates and other preservative or nitrosamine which are potent carcinogen. Conventional farmer spent more on input of fertilisers, pesticide and these wastes goes to the environment specially ground water. This type of farming enters into industrial production processing and distribution system the whole chain of which adds some more chemicals. The cost of this industrial model for agriculture are phenomenal and extremely wide reaching, yet unrecognised as industrial production making use of more chemicals and machine produces food cheaper, better in cosmetic look and yet poisoned by chemicals. Organic farming has potential of niche markets for local high valued, non-conventional, indigenous and local agricultural products like medicinal herbs, traditional agriculture and non-timber tree products. Farmers trends to switch to organic farming is correlated closely with the size of conversion grants. The subsides for conventionally produced food currently limit the growth of organic agriculture to the size of market that is willing to pay higher price to the consumer. Although organic products and its market outlet are limited but premium prices may boost the market.

World picture of organic farming.

In 1989, subsidies were introduced in several European countries, like Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Austria, Switzerland, to encourage conversion to organic farming, which changed 376,000 hectares of land by 10,000 farmers into organic farming. In Germany where subsidies are available for two years so 7.9% of farm of farm and 3.6% land changed to organic farming.
In 1989 Europe is able to increase 200,000 hectares to 900,000 hectares organic farming. In Iran total 20,000 ha with production of 107,000 kg per year well adopted to social structure of family oriented activity. It is based on manual work, production and processing based on indigenous methods and animal manure is the main source of plant nutrition. In EU countries the number of organic farmer have increase from 6,000 in 1985 to 48,000 today. Italy have 30,000 certified organic farmers. In Scandinavian countries 8% are certified organic farmers. Australia has 10%, U.K 5% organic farmer. The total farm area in Pakistan 19.7 million hectares, which is 28% of the total area of the country. The average size farms in 1972 was 5.2 hectares. In Pakistan only few farmers are organic farmers. Ministry of Agriculture, fisheries and food in U.K pay support of 50 per ha per year for 5 years to convert to organic farming. Expected growth rate of organic farming in the World is 20-30% but organic agriculture will never be able to feed the rapidly growing world population due to low labour out put inspite of high yields. Due to over use of chemicals, land is depleted of organic matter and average production per ha decreases. Food produced in excess to demand serves to reduce commodity prices, received by farmer's but hungry people ill afford high priced organic food.

Organic agriculture.

Organic approach is to minimise the adverse impacts on the environments, by avoiding the use of materials from non-renewable resources, recycling where possible, use minimum amount of pesticides, avoiding the use of resources which cause pollution, relying on crop rotation, using crop residue recycling animal manure, legumes, and green manure, biological pest control, minimum tilth to be used to maintain soil productivity, to minimise the energy costs of production and transportation materials, to keep soil more fertile. Organic methods improve soil health, increase population of healthy worms, fungi and other soil organisms. Organic agriculture saves the land from losses due to erosion and soil degradation, improve soil fertility and enhances moisture conservation. Diverse varieties only be used under unfavourable conditions.
Organic farming is based on less inputs, better market demand due to having environmental and social concerns. It also based on local resources and technologies that provide farmer better independence and more control over their means of production. Environmental impacts of organic farming are:
  • Improvement of soil biological activity.
  • Improvement of physical characteristics of soil.
  • Reducing nitrate leaching.
  • Increasing and improving wild life habitant.

Organic farming in Pakistan.

Its objective are to develop low capital less labour intensive, high yielding, better quality and healthy organic farming. Reducing the cost of production to minimum to achieve self sufficiency in all inputs. It is recognised as a long-term solution to the problem caused by nitrate pollution. Organic agriculture in the beginnings shows lower yields than conventional cropping but as its input are lower than conventional agriculture and labour in Pakistan is cheap, in long when organic agricultural methods have improved soil characteristics, soil fauna and established worm activity and large production of vermicasts, the yields will surpass the conventional methods.

Nutritional criteria of organic products.

People's choice of food is based not only on prices, taste, but also takes in to account, moral, religious and dietary reasons. Some even think in terms of exploitation of human and natural resources and degradation of environments. The organic food on the whole is nutrition and meets anatomical and physiological requirements of human. It also helps in interaction of food clean like production, processing, packaging and trading within the environment and the social structures.

Organic practising.

The organic farmers used garlic pyrethrum and neem to control pest and diseases, also use predators like Encarsia Formosa used to control green house, white fly and phytoseinlus persimilis a predator mite used for two-spotted mite control also get composts are a wonder producing by recycling garden and kitchen wastes. Mulch is magic and not help in suppressing weed but gives plants raised all macro and micro-nutrients, in chelated forms and vermicasts rich in nutrients and antibiotics. Biomass use as organic matter and also does the same. Crop rotations and inter cropping is designed to improve soil fertility. Organic matter composts and manures improve the soil health and thereby plant health to the extent that pests attack on crop is reduced and damage is negligible.

Animals and organic farming.

The organic farmer must work hard to integrate animals in to the farming system:
  • The non-agricultural public must understand that organic animal husbandry is fundamentally better the kind of animal production they constantly criticise.
  • Some livestock farmers also find difficulty to justify conversion to organic production, due to high restructuring cost and lack of premium prices to compensate for yield reduction and also reducing in the area for organic production rotational constraints.

Market trends.

Organic products have premium market which make not available to the whole population due to prices constraints. The prices of organic products is increased by factor such as: small scale production, widely dispersed farm, separate packing facilities more expensive recycled packaging and pricing policies of shops. Some consumers are ready to pay more for food that has superior quality. Consumer demand for organic products is gradually increasing due to concern about the environments and health implications of industrial agriculture although there is no relation between consumer and producer but the poor financial performance of organic farming reflects the financial problems of small farmers in some cases due to lack of access to premium market helps. Such difficulties have forced out from the business the small organic farmers. It is possible that organic farmers market their products directly but it requires more labour and organisation. Organic food are supplied to supermarket also provide home delivery. Seasonal production and regional markets remain an important objective in organic farming. We have to maintain National Organic Standards Board to decide the criteria of what is organic? International movements (IFOAM) has formulated basic standards to define organic production. Food containing products of gene technology should be labelled, so consumer have an option, Bioethics influences the marketability of products derived from biotechnology. It is the consumers who decide on the prospects of biotechnological markets. Organic food should be labelled that consumer products not derived from genetically engineered varieties. Organic product must boost-out agribusiness, chemical-biotech corporation and giant supermarket chain. The most developed markets for organic food are Northern World.
There are 300 organic trade marks on the market. Organic label is common in 15 countries. Organic trade should strengthening the local communities for better social and environmental accountability, food security, conserving natural resources, control biological and cultural diversity.

Fair trade.

Healthy food and fair trade organisations accept the principal of external monitoring by labelling. Organisation are awarded label of approval. The Fair Trade based on equal partnership between the Southern producers, Northern importers, labelling organisation, fair trade shops and consumers these organisation work with the producer organisation. They produce to improve the ecological sustainability of production. It also provide protection to the new comers in this field, this will be helpful to the farmer's organisation to secure working capital, long term loan for investments, market information, communication, management, and technical support and assistance, but it also required guarantee that labelled products meet fair trade criteria. Fair trade can lead to environmental benefits.
Fair trade need fair and real cost covering prices for farmers all over the world but its products must be upto international standards in terms of quality and quality and must be accountable to the labelling organisation. International fair-trades help strengthening local economics. National fair-trades designed their own label and define the condition under which producers, trade and industry acquire the right to use the fair trade label in their commercial promotion. The fair trade rules exist for coffee, cocoa, banana, honey, sugar but royalties are imposed to cover operating cost when one uses these fair trade label. Certification either from fair-trade or organic Agriculture Movement produce confidence and trust. This protects the consumer's rights. Fair trade must provide social fairness, ecological responsibilities as pre-conditions, for sustainable production. It contribute to improve the living standard of economically disadvantaged small farmers to strengthening their self-governing organisation. Certifying organisation has devised special criteria for quality assurance, in-co-operaiton with the inspection organisation IMO (Institute for Market Ecology) and in accordance with IFOAM's accreditation programme.
Fair trade may have problem due to lack of management skill, private interest could be more than co-operative interest, market diversification into conventional, fair trade and organic market. Organic certification is slow, laborious and costly process and is a challenge to small producers. The price premium above the market price is insufficient, while inflexibilities inherent in fair trade model eroded a substantial part of the price premium. Fair trade movement is able to seriously challenge the social dumping that involves the exploitation of cheap labour and child labour.

Constraints.

  • The barrier in trade are: restrictive trade policies perverse subsidies and bureaucratic regulations, integrating environmental factors are used to design better export strategies.
  • Farmer's rights and protection of traditional plant varieties. Also trade related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) under aegis of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATI), must include farmer privilege. Small farmer have little access to information on World market prices, lack of transparency and politically inspired distortion, small farmer usually receive low prices for their produce. Farmer have insufficient information on improved technologies and scientific understanding of the process involved in their farming system, in efficient extension service. Under present unstable market conditions, procedure is not adopted according to the need of farmer's organisation.
  • The factor responsible for market development are government fair and the sole of major super markets.
  • Government price policies, monopolies on market of agriculture produce, causing low agricultural income.
  • Organic agriculture requires time and well trained extension workers. Since organic farming is a new practice it needs competent and reliable management.
  • Major problem is lack of public awareness of organic food.
  • Development of viable producer and consumer linkages.
  • Poverty alleviation, sustainable development, food security, agrarian reforms and appropriate technologies better farm management is needed.
  • Due to lack of marketing structure, organic products are sold at the market rate of conventional produce. Artificial price structure bring disadvantage to consumer as well as producer.
  • Organic farms spent more on labour for spreading manure. Organic farmer suffers due to high labour cost and labour scarcity.

Future.

  • In future we have to check the economic market and policies in which organic products produce and marketed and check in the financial results which fluctuate by the resources, farm business, better management, labour availability.
  • In future Government design better Trade regulation which are socially fair, ecologically sound and better standards for green and fair trade.
  • Future we have to establish promotion and training programmes to foster export opportunities for organic products.
  • Future attention should be given to meet the guarantee system that will ensure organic quality and allow consumer to develop their preferences for organic products with feeling of trust.
  • In future we have to develop a practical and sophisticated monitoring procedure that is applicable to different farming structures and maintain international standards.
  • In future need proper organic standards, rules and regulation.



Impact Of Biotechnology In Reducing Poverty And Hunger In Pakistan

In 1197 Pakistan population was 137.8 millions. The incidence of poverty in Pakistan is estimated between 30-35% of the population. The poverty line is sent with reference to daily caloric intake of 2,550 calories per adult, as recommended by the Planning commission. The incidence of poverty declined from 46.0% of the population in 1984-85 to 37.4% in 1987-88 and 34.0% in 1990-91. In 1990-91, the incidence of poverty was higher in rural area (36.9%) then in urban area (28.0%).
Poverty line were set at Rs.296 (US$8.40) for monthly per capita consumption expenditure in rural areas and Rs.334 (US$9.50) for monthly per capita consumption expenditure in urban area, poverty based on this method was 31.6% of population below the poverty line 1991. And poverty in rural areas was 33.5% then in urban area is 27.0%.
In Pakistan 65% population live in the rural areas their main profession is agriculture or agricultural related work. In 1981, 26.2% of population above 10 years was literate. While in 1981 literacy rate at the age group 15-24 for males was 54.6%. In urban area it was 35.8%, in rural area it was 64.2%, while for female illiteracy rate was 75.1% for urban area it was 51.9% in the rural area it was 87.9%.
The rural poverty in Pakistan has been artificially created. The responsibility lies on the Federal Government's Price control Board. At the time of independence in 1947, agriculture was the dominating sector, contributing 53% of Gross Domestic Products (GDP). In 1987, 40 years after the formation of Pakistan, it contributed only 25% of GDP, still providing employment to more than 50% of the country's total labour-force. Agriculture and Agro-based industries accounts for 80% of country's total labour-force. The present prices of what in 1995 at Rs.160 per 40 kgs, is about 46.34% of 1975 prices in terms of real prices. Between 1975 Pak Rupee Visa-Vis US Dollar has depreciated from Rs.9.90 to Rs.31.00 per US$1.00. the US Dollar in turn has also depreciated to 0.3329 of 1975 its value. This justifies the price of wheat to do increased by 10 times fixed by the Government to that of 1975 or Rs.396.5 per 40 kgs, against Rs.160 as fixed by the Government.

Consequences of price control.

  • Consequences of low prices of agricultural commodities are:
  • Low margins of profit to the farming community.
  • Low capacity of develop the land further.
  • Lack of interest in spending on inputs like, water management, ground water development, irrigation techniques for saving water, applying optimum fertiliser, procuring better seeds, optimum use of plant protection measures, capital cost on structures for efficient farming, precious land levelling introducing new corps and etc.
  • Lack of inputs further reduces ability to spend on input and low level of yields are maintained. The yield of all agricultural commodities including fruits, vegetables, grasses are 1/3rd of those in advanced countries.
  • Low salaries to farm labour.
  • Low ability of farmer to improve his lot, as well as that of his family.
  • He cannot support his family and has to economics on food in-take, wear cheap clothes, move bare-footed.
  • The low standards of food further cause diseases in the family and high mortality as well as low life expectancy.
  • The farm family is not able to earn required calories of food. For rural Sindh the present average is 1600 kilo calories for females and 2000 kilo calories for males falling short by 20%, which is acquired by browsing of wild plant food like berries, young leaves of peas and beans, stolen vegetables and sugar cane and doing extra jobs at home or out side for some one.
  • The food of most of rural labour force, tenant farmers and small owner cultivar has been reduced to cereals taken with tea or occasionally with peas and beans.
  • Animal protein is taken hardly once a month.
  • Milk is produced for sale and poor of above classes hardly take it.
  • The research of past 20 years has shown that if at least _ kg milk is not taken by children under 14 years, they become mentally retarded and stupid and this is common occurrence in Sindh of to-day i.e., new population from poor class is low in I.Q and is mentally retarded.

Why prices are controlled?

  • Prices are controlled to provide cheap labour to the industry. The industry exports manufactured good at international prices and over and above that they earn bonus. Thus the industry makes high margin of profits, and they keep expanding and putting new industries from the profits. The city labour can fight for the wages but they are provided cheap grains, vegetables, meat, milk and fruit. They are also provided free medical assistance, the bill being about Rs.500 per month per worker's family. Leave salary, gratuity and leave fare assistance takes him to his home village on vacation or provide extra money for family if he stays in the town he works in. He raised no voice and if he does, wages are increased slightly and industrialist is allowed to make profits.
  • As against this 100% of land owners are bankrupt and almost all of them take loans from banks for raising crops annually.
  • Loans for industry are allowed against urban property and are allowed at 75% of value of property. Loans against land are paid on unit basis. A land of 40 units is sold at Rs.40,000 - 50,000 per acre but the land owner can get only Rs.3,000 for development from banks i.e., 10% or less of value. By these policies government have create a poverty in the rural areas of Pakistan.
By these policies government have create a poverty in the rural areas of Pakistan.
In 2025 due to new technologies and new trade laws like GATT, WATO, International Property Right, these International laws will change the shape of Pakistan government policies.
By the next century we have transgenic crops with better yields and more nutrition and would be able to grow under adverse condition. This will definitely bring change in Pakistan agriculture and it will help in reducing the poverty by creating more markets and jobs. It will provide cheap food to every one but since Pakistan population growing at the rate of 2.8% paper year, by the year 2025 it will be 232.9 millions, while per capita the cropping area will be reduced to 0.7 hectare. The existing land will also suffer due to shortage of water which will reduced from 3,833 cubic meters to 1,643 cubic meters, per capita as a result even when the land is available, it can not be put under agriculture due to shortage of water. At the same time cropped land will further be reduced, due to increase in salinity and water logging. IN 1993 the extent of water logging and salinity in Pakistan at 0-5 feet or 0-152 cms water table depth was 4,923,000 hectares while in Sindh it was 3,633,000 hectares. In 1993 extent of water logging and salinity at 0-10 feet or 0-305 cms water table depth was 9,186,000 hectares while in Sindh it was 5,054,000 hectares.
It means only small portion of land will be left suitable for agriculture having proper irrigation even this cultivated land will further be forced by CO2 emission which in 1992 was 0.6 metric tons and climatic change and global warming also bring the change in cropping pattern. Switching over to new cropping pattern in a slow process.
It means Pakistan depend upon import of food. If we see the global picture, the average production of cereals in the World in 1990-91 was 1,925,044,000 metric tonnes. It changed only by 18% change since 1980-82. In 1990-92 the average yield of cereals in the World was 2,757 kilograms per hectare, while it was only 22% change, since 1980-82. If we see a World picture of cereal production and yields in the past ten years, the change is only 18-22%. Global population is project6ed to reach 10 billion by the year 2025, so global agricultural production must expand 2.5 - 3.0 times to provide and adequate diet to the World people.
The World per capita food production has dropped due to increases in agricultural labour, reduced area under cultivaiton and shortage of irrigation water. Advanced technologies and mechanisation, advance crop breeding practices need more input of fertilisers and pesticides. The World food producing does not grow as fast as population increase.
This picture shows that biotechnology alone can not feed the World we also need other methods of production simultaneously discussed this issue with the top agriculturist in Pakistan and according to them in year 2025 the scientist may develop high potency vitamin and nutritional tablets to cover malnutrition but no one knows that a kind of gene may be evolved which would produce crop without the help of soil, or may be a kind of gene is evolved which results into a well balanced diet. We may then need another types of raw materials, other than agriculture based.



Composting As An Organic Fertiliser

Abstract

Our purpose to produce compost is to develop ecologically sound solution to utilise wastes, by cheapest methods and provide environmental friendly way to produce valuable fertiliser for crop production.
Panhwar fruit farm is located 25°-37'N and 68°-36'E of Hyderabad, where we start using our own compost on 100 acres (42 hectares) fruit orchards. We made compost by putting following things together. There are:
1 cubic meter = 35.2 cubic feet - sawdust.
Urea = 1 kg.
Triple phosphate = 1 kg.
Potassium sulphate = 1 kg.
CuSO4 = 200 grams.
ZnSO4 = 250 grams.
FeSO4 = 250 grams.
MnSO4 = 150 grams.
Boron = 150 grams.

Scientific results

The following are the scientific results:
Advantages of composting are multifold and digestion of bulky organic matter to almost to one third its original volume but increase in nutrient level of nitrogen, phosphate and potash to multiple fold. The product is readily available to the plants in their most acceptable form and is easy to transport, store and apply. Due to its stability in dry conditions and use by plants, simply when wet. It does not leach down and micro-nutrients in its are readily taken by root in chelated form.
Compost can also be partially dissolved in water and solution containing ingredient can be mixed with water for foliar feed of the plants. Almost any non-synthetic organic matter can be converted into compost by addition of the ingredient discussed above in quantities to produce a balanced product.

Our approach to composting

Although composting consist of transforming organic matter rich into carbohydrates and deficient in nitrogen to be converted into new and stable product by involvement of an aerobic bacteria which consume carbohydrates in the process of their metabolism and converting nitrogen into stable product and micronutrients like copper, zinc, manganese, iron into their chelate organic form for ready application to soil as well as its use as propagation media. The common raw materials for farm composting are: crop residue, grass clipping, leaves, newspaper, peatmose, straw and wood chips and saw dust. Factors affecting the composting process include oxygen, aeration, nutrients (C:N ratio), moisture, porosity, structure; texture, and particle size, pH, temperature and time. It is suggested to use two parts leaves and one part grass clipping result into fast decomposition with no odour produce. The best compost consisted of three times as much plant matter as manure.
The various types of composting include:
  • Thermucphillic composting.
  • Vermicompositing.

Composting experience at Panhwar Fruit Farm

In Pakistan usually people use flood irrigation, which create temporarily anaerobic conditions after every application, which is frequent in our hot and dry weather, resulting into reduction in yield. We therefore, planned to irrigate indirectly by planting the trees on ridges about 2 meter wide and 25-30 cm high and applying water in furrows. Furrow width varies between 2.4 - 4.0 meters depending upon the type of fruit tree. We dump grass grown in the furrow under the trees on the ridges as mulch and put irrigation water in the furrow. It seeps horizontally in the ridges and while evaporating it moistens mulch which in presence of air and moisture is attacked by fungus, bacteria, insects their predators earthworms and in three month, when a new layer of grasses growing in the furrow is dumped on the ridge. This is compost in its most acceptable form.
The pan-evaporation is approximately 30 cm per month from 15th April to end August. Winter are mild, but evaporation of 4-6 cms is common in January the coldest month. Average annual rainfall is 15 cms, which occurs in July-August and is spread over 7 days. Rainfall of 12.5 cm can occur in 24 hours once in 10 years. Annual evaporation is 2.3 meters.

We find following Scientific Results

  • Compost increases the rate of infiltratin. It increases the water holding capacity many times. It increases soil aeration. It form humic acid which act as stimulant plant growth. It is an excellent soil conditioner which helps in reducing the soil born plant diseases. It promote the growth of bacteriophages which destroy harmful bacteria. The outer side of compost heap provides ideal condition for beneficial insect multiplication.
  • Compost helps in maintaining soil strucutre, it retain air, moisture and nutrient for the crops grown. It also help in controlling soil erosion. It promotes the growth of myeorrhizae associated fungi. These fungi are essential for the growth of certain species. Composting high carbon manure bedding mixtures lower the carbon/nitrogen ratio to accpetble levels for rapid application. The use of compost in potting mixes and in seedlings beds also helped to reduce the need to apply soil fungicides in the production of certain horticultural crops.
  • It acts as better buffer solution as it forms organic acid in presence of humus, which lowers the pH and all insoluble nutrients becomes easily soluble in acidic soil. If plants are treated with liquid extract of compost, it prevents attack by fungi like blight and mildew. If helps in neutralisation of soil toxins. If soil have more aluminium in hinder in the absorption of phosphorus but due to compost it forms organic acid which in turn forms stable compound with iron and aluminium, so aluminium does not harm to the plants.

Conclusion

Composting practice at our farm brings fruit plants into fruiting within 24-36 months which other wise comes to production in the 5th year. This is because plants are healthy and there is less attack of diseases.



Producing Pesticide Free Fruits And Vegetables

There is demand world over for pesticide free food, but the information on the various natural pesticides is lacking and therefore, these methods are little used in Pakistan and other developing countries. In the developed countries, the methods being labour intensive are costly and only marginally competitive. A number of articles have been written on Neem products as pesticides, but extracting Azadirachtin in powder form has failed in Pakistan, inspite of the claims to the contrary, as processing technique have not been fully understood. The process of extraction is known theoretically, but has not made any headway, although there is great scope for its export too.
The other species growth in Pakistan in abundance have never been tried. Even neem known to work for control of many insects, pests, fungi, nematodes and viral diseases is used in a very primitive manner and by processes which are not practical, except on a small scale for kitchen garden or plots less than an acre. A solution has to be found for its commercial scale applications and extraction on much larger scale. If the market price is guaranteed by the government, private sector can achieve results easily.
Many fruits and vegetable crops have properties of controlling many insects and diseases and such crops though commonly grown commercially have a certain percentage of products rejected as unmarketable. This part of crops could easily be collected and sold to plants, if they are established on small scale in the rural areas near the farms. Such fruits and vegetbales are:
  • Custard apple (Annona reticulata).
  • Basil (Sweet Basil) and Holy Basil.
  • Chillies (Capsicum frutes), (Fam. Sollanacea).
  • Garlic (Allium Sativum) (F. Lilacae).
  • Ginger (Zingber officiate) (fm. Zingiberatase).
  • Neem.
  • Papaya (Carcia papaya).
  • Tobacco (Nictana tabacum, Nicotana, Rustica).
  • Nicotana glutnosa (Fam. Ziberacease).
These plants have pesticide properties in their seeds, leaves, stalks, un-ripe fruit, bulbs rhizomes etc., and act by different modes of action. Each one control different pests like; aphids, caterpillars, green bugs, fruit flies, leaf minors, red spiders, ants, slugs, house flies, mites, white flies, bacteria, scab, bowl-worm, thrips, anthracnose, hoppers, scales, termites, thrips, mosaic virus, powder mildew etc. Table attached gives names of some of these agricultural species and their pesticide properties.

Insect-controlling Plants.

Plants of pest control should posses the following characteristics:
  • Be effective at the rate of max 3-5% plant material based on dry weight.
  • Be easy to grow, require little space and time for cultivation and procurement.
  • Be perennial.
  • Recover quickly after the material is harvested.
  • Not to became weed or a host to plant pathogen or insect pest.
  • Possess complementary economic uses.
  • Pose no hazard to non-target organisms, wild life, humans or environment.
  • Be easy to harvest.
  • Preparation should be simple, to too time consuming or requiring too high a technical input.
  • Application should not be phytotoxic or decrease the quality of crop, e.g., taste or texture.
Species
Plant parts with insect controlling properties
Mode of action
Target pest
Soursop
Custard apple
(Annona reticulata)
Seeds, leaves, unripe fruit. Contact and stomach problem, ovicidal, insecticidal, repellent, antifeedent and antinematode. Aphid, caterpillars, Green bug, Mediterranean fruit fly.
Basil.
Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilium), Holy Basil (Ocimum Sanctum).
Leaves and stem. Repellent, insecticidal, fungitoxic and mollu scicidol. Fruit fly, leaf miners, red spider and mites.
Chillies. Fruit Stomach position insecticidal, repellent, antifeedent, fumigant-viroid. Ants, aphid, caterpillars and slugs.
Garlic.
Allium Sativum (Fam. Lilaceqe).
Bulbs. Insecticidal, repellent, antifeedent, fungicidal, nematocidal and effective against ticks. Aphids, house flies, mites, white fly, bacteria, cucumber and scab.
Ginger.
Zingber officiale (Fam. Zingiberacae).
Rhizome. Repellent, insecticidal, nematocidal and fungicidal. American bowl worms, aphid, thrips, white fly, and mango anthracnose.
Neem. Seeds and leaves. Insecticidal, repellent, antifeedant acaricidal, growth inhibiting nematocidal, fungicidal, anti-viral. Neem compounds act mainly as stomach poison and systemic. American boll-worms, ants, deserts, locust, leaf hoppers, leaf miners, mites, scales, termites, thrips, white fly.
Papaya.
Carcia papaya.
Leaves, seed, unripe and fruit. Flower thrips and fruit fly. Mosaic virus and powdery mildew.
Tobacco.
Nicotana tabacum, Nicotana Rustica, Nicotana glutnosa, and Fam. Solanaceae.
Leaves and stalk. Insecticida, repellent, fungicidal, acaricidal contact, and stomach. Aphids, caterpillars, leaf miners, mites and thrips.
Tumeric.
Curcum domstica (Fam. Zigiberaceoe).
Rhizome. Repellent, insecticidal and antifungal. Aphids, caterpillars, mites and rice leaf hoppers.





Genetic Engineering, Biotechnology, Floriculture And Its Future In Pakistan

General

In Pakistan the floriculture is not very well developed. We mostly have fresh flower market, which is all most flooded with roses, because roses are used in all types of ceremonies, as well as in perfume industry and in many Auravedic and Greek medicine preparations. While other flowers which are entering in fresh flower business are orchids, tulip, lily, Jasmine and gladioli, while others are less important.
Pakistan has successfully involved in biotechnology, tissue culture, cutting of floriculture as a result we are now in a position to export these flowers to the developed world. But in order to compete the world we have to study economic trend of shortage and over supply of some flower species in particular season as a result of this the prices of commodities become too low to grow them economically. In order to enter in the world floriculture business, we must consider these points.
The flowers in the world market may be rejected on the followings ground:
  • Slight malformation.
  • Slight bruising.
  • Slight damage caused by diseases or animal parasites.
  • Weaker, less rigid stem.
  • Small marks caused by treatment with pesticide.
Floriculture which dominate the world market.
Cut flower.
  • Roses.
  • Carnations.
  • Chrysanthemums.
  • Orchids.
  • Gladioli.
  • Tulips.
  • Freesias.
  • Gerberas.
  • Narcissus.
  • Cypsophila.
  • Iris.
  • Lilies.
  • Alstroemeria.
  • Amaryllis.
  • Anthurium.
  • Lilac.
  • Dendrobium.
  • Protea.
  • Birds of paradise.
  • Heliconia.
  • Gypsophila.
  • Gerbera.
  • Antirrhinum (snapdragon).
Future of exotic flowers.
  • Heliconia.
  • Porcelaine rose.
  • Strelitizia.
  • Protea.
  • Red-ginger.
Dracacnas species and varieties are:
  • Dracaena marginata.
  • Dracaena Sanderane.
  • Dracaena deremensis.
  • Dracaena Massangeana.
  • Dracaena Compacta.
  • Dracaena S. florida beauty.
  • Dracaena Rededge.
The micro-propagation is common in Rededge.
Alstroemeria - varieties.
  • Jacqueline.
  • Rosario.
  • Lilac Glory.
  • King cardinal.
  • Carmen.
  • Jubilee.
  • Pink Triumph.
  • Rio.
  • Apple blossom.
  • Red Sunset.
  • Rosita.
  • Yellow King.
  • Red Valley and Cana.
  • Pink perfection.
  • Advendo.
Fresia - leading varieties.
  • Ballerina.
  • Blue heaven.
  • Miranda.
  • Aurora.
  • Athene.
  • Wintergold.
  • Escapade.
  • Cote d├ĽAzur.
  • Clazina.
  • Fantasy.
Lillies - leading varieties.
  • Connecticut King.
  • Enchantment.
  • Sunray.
  • Prominence.
  • Harmony.
  • Uchida.
  • Sterling Star.
  • Mont Blac.
  • Star gazer.
  • Yellow blaze.
Foliage plants.
  • Ficos.
  • Elastica.
  • Dracaena.
Consumer preference according to colour.
50% red, 10% Sonia pink, 10% other softer pink (bridal pink), 5% creams and whites.
Croton (Codiaeum variegatum - pictum). The more important commercially grown species are:
  • Aucubifolium.
  • Van Ostenzee.
  • Gold star.
  • Gold sun.
  • Gold finger.
  • Gemengo.
  • Phillip Gedulding.
  • Sun beam.
  • Juiletta.
  • Norma.
  • Petra.
  • Europa.
  • Excellent.
  • Bravo.
  • Mrs. Iceton.
  • Nervia.
Rooted and unrooted cutting have great potential of import. But micro-propagation in future effect the import of following species from developing countries:
  • Aglaonema spp.
  • Codiaeum spp (crotons).
  • Dracaena spp.
  • Ficus robusta.
  • Maranta Kerchoviana.
  • Philodendron Scandens.
  • Pleomele Spp.
  • Polyscias Spp.
  • Pseuderanthemum Spp.
  • Schefflera actino phylla.
  • Scindapsus aureus.
  • Syngonium Spp.
Bromeliaceae species and varieties are.
  • Acechmea chantinii.
  • Aechmea fasciata.
  • Ananas comosus-Aureovariegatus.
  • Cryptanthus bivittatus.
  • Cryptanttus fosteranus.
  • Cryptanthus Rubescens.
  • Cryptanthus zonatus.
  • Guzymania - Amaranths.
  • Guzmania - Claudine.
  • Guzymania - Grand Prix.
  • Guzmania - Marlebeca.
  • Guzmana - Mini Exodus.
  • Guzmania-Minor.
  • Guzmania-Musaica.
  • Guzmania-Remembrance.
  • Neoregella-Carolinu Flandria.
  • Neoregella Carolnae-myenderffii.
  • Neoregella Cardinae-Perfecta Tricolor.
  • Tillandsia spp.
  • Vriesea poelmanii-hybriden.
  • Vrlesea splendens-favourite.
  • Vriese Vulkana.
All are produce exclusively by micro propagation.
Foliage pot plant.
  • Bromelinds.
  • Chamaedorea-c. erumpens.
  • Croton-croton variegatum, Norma, peter, codiaeum spp.
  • Cordyline.
  • Dieffenbachia - camilla, compacta, Tropic snow, Diexotica.
  • Dracaena - Janet craig, D. marginata (colrma, Tricolor), D-Fielastra.
  • Ficus-Filyrata - Fragrants, Massangeans, Pleomele Reflexa. D - deremensis, war neckii.
  • Maranta - Red and green varieties.
  • Nephrolepsis - P. erubescens, P. wendiandii.
  • Philodendron - cardatum pluto, P. selloum, spider, Swiss chese is a speices of Monstera delicosa.
  • Schefflera - Brassais actinophylla, Barbaricola.
  • Scindapsus - S. aureus, Marbie queen and golden varieties
  • Yucca.
  • A glaonema - silver queen, A. robellni Romana, Simplex, Emerold beauty, A. modestum, A. crispum.
  • Cissus - Cissus rhombifolia, Ellen Danica and Ellanflonia.
  • Gynura G. Sarmentosa.
  • Ivy - English ivy of the Hedera genus, there are more than 100 varieties.
  • Syngonium - Many varieties - Most of them are propagate through tissue meristem culture.
  • Pothos (Scindapsus aureum).
For import all flowers must qualify following criteria.
  • Flower not perfect/damaged.
  • Supply phase incorrect.
  • Sorting-unequal lengths.
  • Stalk-limp, curved.
  • Foliage deviation.
  • Pest-aphids, red spider, thrips etc.
  • Fungi - botrytis, mildew etc.
  • Growth deviation.
The role of genetic engineering and biotechnology in Floriculture.
  • Biotechnology is used to study photo-period, carbon dioxide concentration, growth regulators and water management.
  • Modified atmospheric pressure. Integrated pest management cultural practice in floriculture. Floral preservation depends upon the water salinity, fluoride level, stem submersion time and length. Silver nitrate solution in non-metallic container, increases the shelf life of flowers.
  • Application of cold storage and transportation methods to cut flowers cuttings, seedling, potted plants, bulbs, corns and ornamental plants help to increases their life while. The factors which affects on the quality of storage material are: stage of plant development, temperature, relative humidity, ethylene, and packaging and transport. Many pre-harvest and post-harvest factors like genetic, climatic a environmental (light, temperature, relative humidity, air quality and pressure) and management (soil conditions, nutrient, fertilisation, irrigation, plant protection) affect on post-harvest quality and longevity of cut flowers.
  • Flowers and foliage plants are vulnerable to large post-harvest losses due to more susceptible to mechanical and physical damage, infection of pest and diseases because having moisture, during and after harvest. Biotechnology is used in harvesting, grading, packing, pre-shipping treatments, long distance transportation, long term storage facilities, use of floral preservatives and bud opening solutions development.
  • Tissue culture produce consistently graded plants, which are pathogenic free. Due to restriction of phytosanitary regulation for peatmoss and styrofoam. Biotechnology is used to develop potted media that is light in weight having more water retention ability, which help the flowers to improve its shelf-life.
  • Biotechnology is used to study the floral preservative solution, which act as substrate for providing continuous respiration, removing vascular blockage in the steam, so water should easily supply to the plant, prevents any bacterial infection and control proper petal colour.
  • Biotechnology is need to study the role of ancymidol and ethephon. They act as a growth retardants. More study is needed to find out their role in delaying flowering, so they can be used as post-harvest of flower and to control senescence.
  • Biotechnoloyg is needed to study the role of ion-leakage in the petals and its effect on keeping quality of flowers. It is confirmed by the research that ultraviolet radiation at 280-320 nm (UV-B) induce petal tip blackening of cut red roses and detached petal.
  • At the same time other research on biotechnology used to study the role of ethylene and find that ethylene as low as 30-60 ppb retard the quality of floral crop and its effect in-rolling of carnation petals, fading and wilting of sepal tips, induction of anthocyanin formation. The findings said the most common preservative solution should contain 1-4% sucrose, 50-200 ppm 8-hydroxy-quinoline sulphate (8-HQS) along with other constituents.
  • These findings in floriculture are the backbone of future of floriculture industry.
  • Biotechnology should be used to study senescence of cult flowers, that shows 40% low level of esterified to phospholipids, which results into loss of phospholipids (consist of Palmitic, Stearic, Oleic, Linoleic and Linolenic acid).
  • Biotechnology is used to control changes in carotenoids and anthocyanin during senescing process we must study catecholase activity causing white colour of flowers on senescing.
  • Biotechnology is needed to study the effects of pH on senescing. If lower the pH of the media, then the content of organic acid like aspirate, malate, and tartarte increase the flower colour on senescing.
  • Biotechnology is used to study to control of oxidative-hydrolytic enzymes, hormonal changes, biochemical reaction take place in the membrane and cell wall structure during senescene of flowers.
  • More research is needed to improve the pre-harvest treatment chemicals like silver thiosulfate, N-benzyladenine, Kinetin; Cytokinins, citrates, solution containing sucrose and salts.
  • Biotechnology is used to study the bud opening solution based on 10-12% sucrose +200 ppm 8-hydroxy-quinoline-sulfate + 25 ppm sliver nitrate + 75 ppm aluminium-sulphate + 75 ppm citric acid.
  • Genetic engineering work already in progress on orchids, chrysanthemum and Dianthus. Although herbaceous ornamental work is easy but woody plant species work need more attention. The genetic engineering have a great large number of identical plants and production of new varieties and genotypes faches prime values in the world market.
Genetic engineering works on floriculture under process in the world.
  • Genetic engineering of ethylene insensitivity in Petunia.
  • Genetic engineering of Petunia for delayed leaf senescence.
  • Genetic engineering of Petunia for growth regulator (dwarfism).
  • Fundamental research tool for floriculture biotechnology Petunia Genomics.
  • Cloning and engineering genes for better post-harvest life.
  • Genetic engineering is used to study role of ethylene in floral senescence, adventiouxs root formation, seed germination and scent formation.
  • Chrysan themum but stem is 15-20% shooter than original cultivar - Genetically growth plant have more 10-15% more chlorophyll so it show better growth. These plants are grown under commercial greenhouse conditions.
  • Genetic engineering is used to modify the colour of carnation, roses, daisies flowers.
  • The luminous bouquet glows florescent green (Green fluorescent protein GFP gene) under ultraviolet light.
  • Genetic engineering in floriculture increase production, enhance resistance to insect, diseases and virus, reduce use of pesticide and herbicide.
  • Genetic engineering used to extending vase life, minimise post-harvest losses, creating novel product.
  • In rose delphinidins (blue-green) gene is response for colour - scientist identify pH genes and modifying vascular pH - so in future we see blue colour colours.
  • Orchid - flower colour, prolong shelf life gene chalcone syntheses (CHS) and flavone 3-hydroxylase (F3H), phytoenne and Antisense-Construct they block the enzyme and prevent the process of pigmentation and ethylene synthesis in flower.
Future of genetic engineering.
In Future the Biotechnology will play a role to develop flowers free from following infections and diseases.
A) Live organisms of the animal kingdom, at all stages of their development.
  • 1. Anarsis lineatella Zell.
  • 2. Diarthoronomya chrysanthemi Ahib.
  • 3. Ditylenchus destructor Thorne.
  • 4. Ditylenchus dipsacl (kuhn) Filipjev.
  • 5. Gracilaria azalella Brants.
  • 6. Lampetia equestris F.
  • 7. Laspeyresia molesta.
  • 8. Lirlomyza trifoll (Burgess).
  • 9. Phthorimaea operculella (Zell).
  • 10. Radopholus citrophilus (Huettel, Dickson en Kaplan).
  • 11. Radopholus similis (Cobb) Thorne (Sensu stricto).
  • 12. Rhagoletis cerasi L.
  • 13. Scolytidae (of conifers).
  • 14. Dactulosphaira vitifoliae (Fitch).
B) Bacteria.
  • 1. Corynebacterium insidiosum (McCull) Jensen.
  • 2. Corynebacterium michiganense (E.F. Sm.) Jensen.
  • 3. Erwinia chrysantheml Burikh, et al. (syn. Pectobacterium) parthenii var.
  • dianthicola Hellmers).
  • 4. Pseudomonas caryophylli (Burkh.) Starr et Burkh.
  • 5. Pseudomonas gladioli Severini (syn. P. marginata [McCull]. Stapp)
  • 6. Pseudomonas pisi Sackett.
  • 7. Pseudomonas solanacearum (E.F. Sm.) E.F. Sm.
  • 8. Pseudomonas woodsiii (E.F. Sm.).
  • 9. Xanthomonas vesicatoria (Doldge) Dows.
  • 10. Xanthomones campestris (Doldge) Dows.
  • 11. Xanthomonas compestris pv pruni (E.F. Smith) Dye.
  • 12. Xanthomonas fragariae
C) Fungi.
  • 1. Atropellis spp.
  • 2. Didymella chrysanthemi (Tassi) Garibaldi et. Gulllino (syn.) Mycosphaerella ligulicola Baker et al.)
  • 3. Fusarium oxysporum Schiecht. F. sp. Gladioli (Massey) Snyd. et Hans.
  • 4. Gulgnaridia baccae (Cav.) Jacz.
  • 5. Ovulinia azaleae Weiss.
  • 6. Phlalophora cinerescens (Wr.) van Beyma.
  • 7. Phytophthora fragarlae Hickman.
  • 8. Puccinia horiana P. Henn.
  • 9. Puccinia pelargonii-zonalis Doidge.
  • 10. Sclerotinia bulborum (Wakk.) Rehm.
  • 11. Sclerotinia convoluta Drayt.
  • 12. Septoria gladioli Pass.
  • 13. Stromathia gladioli (Drat.) Whet.
  • 14. Uromyces spp.
  • 15. Verticillium albo-atrum Reinke et Berth.
D) Viruses and virus-like pathogens.
  • 1. Arabis mosaic virus.
  • 2. Beet curly top virus.
  • 3. Beet leaf curl virus.
  • 4. Black raspberry latent virus.
  • 5. Cherry leaf roll virus.
  • 6. Cherry necrotic rusty mottie virus.
  • 7. Chrysanthemum stunt viroid.
  • 8. Little cherry pathogen.
  • 9. Prunus necrotic ringspot virus.
  • 10. Respberry ringspot virus.
  • 11. Stolbur pathogen.
  • 12. Strawberry crinkle virus.
  • 13. Strawberry latent ringspot virus.
  • 14. Strawberry yellow edge virus.
  • 15. Tomato black ring virus.
  • 16. Tomato spotted wilit virus.
Conclusion.
Role of genetic engineering in all fields of life is an important subject. Future of floriculture lies on genetic engineering and biotechnology, which will produce the future flowers free from pathogen, having better colour, better shapes of petals, better pre and post-harvest life with keeping them fresh for long time, short time of growth with desired feature, characteristics and smell. We are sure that future floriculture will bring revolution in perfume business since it is confirmed that now a days many people are allergic to special smell of some flowers. But genetic engineering will over come this problem in future.
Pakistan can easily get into floriculture market of the world. As we have better soil, suitable temperatures and good sun-shine which are the primary needs of any agrobusiness. Although Pakistan is far-behind in advance technologies but we are sure in future we will also come forward in learning and application of genetic engineering and biotechnology and compete the floriculture market in the world and bring revolution in agribusiness and earn foreign exchange. 

Organic farming methods

Organic farming methods combine scientific knowledge of ecology and modern technology with traditional farming practices based on naturally occurring biological processes. Organic farming methods are studied in the field of agroecology. While conventional agriculture uses synthetic pesticides and water-soluble synthetically purified fertilizers, organic farmers are restricted by regulations to using natural pesticides and fertilizers. The principal methods of organic farming include crop rotation, green manures and compost, biological pest control, and mechanical cultivation. These measures use the natural environment to enhance agricultural productivity: legumes are planted to fix nitrogen into the soil, natural insect predators are encouraged, crops are rotated to confuse pests and renew soil, and natural materials such as potassium bicarbonate[1] and mulches are used to control disease and weeds. Organic farmers are careful in their selection of plant breeds, and organic researchers produce hardier plants through plant breeding rather than genetic engineering.

Contents

  • 1 Crop diversity
  • 2 Farm size
  • 3 Plant nutrition
    • 3.1 Soil fertility
  • 4 Pest control
  • 5 Livestock
  • 6 Organic farming systems

Crop diversity

Crop diversity is a distinctive characteristic of organic farming. Conventional farming focuses on mass production of one crop in one location, a practice called monoculture. This makes apparent economic sense: the larger the growing area, the lower the per unit cost of fertilizer, pesticides and specialized machinery for a single plant species. The science of agroecology has revealed the benefits of polyculture (multiple crops in the same space), which is often employed in organic farming.[2] Planting a variety of vegetable crops supports a wider range of beneficial insects, soil microorganisms, and other factors that add up to overall farm health, but managing the balance requires expertise and close attention.[citation needed]

Farm size

Farm size in great measure determines the general approach and specific tools and methods. Today, major food corporations are involved in all aspects of organic production on a large scale. However, organic farming originated as a small-scale enterprise, with operations from under 1-acre (4,000 m2) to under 100 acres (0.40 km2). The mixed vegetable organic market garden is often associated with fresh, locally grown produce, farmers' markets and the like, and this type of farm is often under 10 acres (40,000 m2). Farming at this scale is generally labor-intensive, involving more manual labor and less mechanization. The type of crop also determines size: organic grain farms often involve much larger area. Larger organic farms tend to use methods and equipment similar to conventional farms, centered around the tractor.

Plant nutrition

Soil fertility

The central farming activity of fertilization illustrates the differences. Organic farming relies heavily on the natural breakdown of organic matter, using techniques like green manure and composting, to replace nutrients taken from the soil by previous crops. This biological process, driven by microorganisms such as mycorrhiza, allows the natural production of nutrients in the soil throughout the growing season, and has been referred to as feeding the soil to feed the plant. In chemical farming, individual nutrients, like nitrogen, are synthesized in a more or less pure form that plants can use immediately, and applied on a man-made schedule. Each nutrient is defined and addressed separately. Problems that may arise from one action (e.g. too much nitrogen left in the soil) are usually addressed with additional, corrective products and procedures (e.g. using water to wash excess nitrogen out of the soil).
Organic farming uses a variety of methods to improve soil fertility, including crop rotation, cover cropping, and application of compost.

Pest control

Differing approaches to pest control are equally notable. In chemical farming, a specific insecticide may be applied to quickly kill off a particular insect pest (animal). Chemical controls can dramatically reduce pest populations for the short term, yet by unavoidably killing (or starving) natural predator insects and animals, cause an ultimate increase in the pest population. Repeated use of insecticides and herbicides and other pesticides also encourages rapid natural selection of resistant insects, plants and other organisms, necessitating increased use, or requiring new, more powerful controls.
In contrast, organic farming tends to tolerate some pest populations while taking a longer-term approach. Organic pest control involves the cumulative effect of many techniques, including:
Each of these techniques also provides other benefits—soil protection and improvement, fertilization, pollination, water conservation, season extension, etc.—and these benefits are both complementary and cumulative in overall effect on farm health. Effective organic pest control requires a thorough understanding of pest life cycles and interactions.
Organic pest control is similar to integrated pest management in some respects.

Livestock

Raising livestock and poultry, for meat, dairy and eggs, is another traditional, farming activity that complements growing. Organic farms attempt to provide animals with "natural" living conditions and feed. While the USDA does not require any animal welfare requirements be met for a product to be marked as organic, this is a variance from older organic farming practices.[4] Ample, free-ranging outdoor access, for grazing and exercise, is a distinctive feature, and crowding is avoided.[citation needed] Feed is also organically grown, and drugs, including antibiotics, are not ordinarily used (and are prohibited under organic regulatory regimes).[5] Animal health and food quality are thus pursued in a holistic "fresh air, exercise, and good food" approach.
Also, horses and cattle used to be a basic farm feature that provided labor, for hauling and plowing, fertility, through recycling of manure, and fuel, in the form of food for farmers and other animals. While today, small growing operations often do not include livestock, domesticated animals are a desirable part of the organic farming equation, especially for true sustainability, the ability of a farm to function as a self-renewing unit.

Organic farming systems

There are several organic farming systems. Biodynamic farming is a comprehensive approach, with its own international governing body. The Do Nothing Farming method focuses on a minimum of mechanical cultivation and labor for grain crops. French intensive and biointensive, methods are well-suited to organic principles. Other techniques are permaculture and no-till farming. Finally, newcomers as the Agro-ecologic system [6] focus on a blend of a more large-scale approach with imbedded natural/organic farming techniques. A farm may choose to adopt a particular method, or a mix of techniques.
While fundamentally different, large-scale agriculture and organic farming are not entirely mutually exclusive. For example, Integrated Pest Management is a multifaceted strategy that can include synthetic pesticides as a last resort—both organic and conventional farms use IPM systems for pest control.

Organic farming

Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm. Organic farming excludes or strictly limits the use of manufactured fertilizers, pesticides (which include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides), plant growth regulators such as hormones, livestock antibiotics, food additives, and genetically modified organisms.[1]
Organic agricultural methods are internationally regulated and legally enforced by many nations, based in large part on the standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), an international umbrella organization for organic farming organizations established in 1972. IFOAM defines the overarching goal of organic farming as:
"Organic agriculture is a production system that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.."
Since 1990, the market for organic products has grown from nothing, reaching $55 billion in 2009 according to Organic Monitor (www.organicmonitor.com). This demand has driven a similar increase in organically managed farmland. Approximately 37,000,000 hectares (91,000,000 acres) worldwide are now farmed organically, representing approximately 0.9 percent of total world farmland (2009) (see Willer/Kilcher 2011).

Contents

  • 1 History
  • 2 Methods
    • 2.1 Soil management
    • 2.2 Weed management
    • 2.3 Controlling other organisms
    • 2.4 Genetic modification
  • 3 Standards
    • 3.1 Composting
  • 4 Economics
    • 4.1 Geographic producer distribution
    • 4.2 Growth
    • 4.3 Productivity and profitability
      • 4.3.1 Profitability
      • 4.3.2 Sustainability (African case)
    • 4.4 Employment impact
  • 5 Externalities
    • 5.1 Pesticides
    • 5.2 Food quality and safety
    • 5.3 Clothing quality and safety
    • 5.4 Soil conservation
    • 5.5 Climate change
    • 5.6 Nutrient leaching
    • 5.7 Biodiversity
  • 6 Sales and marketing
    • 6.1 Distributors
    • 6.2 Farmers' markets
  • 7 Capacity building
  • 8 Controversy

History

The organic movement began in the 1930s and 1940s as a reaction to agriculture's growing reliance on synthetic fertilizers. Artificial fertilizers had been created during the 18th century, initially with superphosphates and then ammonia-based fertilizers mass-produced using the Haber-Bosch process developed during World War I. These early fertilizers were cheap, powerful, and easy to transport in bulk. Similar advances occurred in chemical pesticides in the 1940s, leading to the decade being referred to as the 'pesticide era'.[3]
Sir Albert Howard is widely considered to be the father of organic farming.[4] Further work was done by J.I. Rodale in the United States, Lady Eve Balfour in the United Kingdom, and many others across the world.
Organic farming has made up only a fraction of total agricultural output from its beginning until today. Increasing environmental awareness in the general population has transformed the originally supply-driven movement to a demand-driven one. Premium prices and some government subsidies attracted farmers. In the developing world, many producers farm according to traditional methods which are comparable to organic farming but are not certified. In other cases, farmers in the developing world have converted for economic reasons.[5]

Methods

Organic cultivation of mixed vegetables in Capay, California. Note the hedgerow in the background.
"An organic farm, properly speaking, is not one that uses certain methods and substances and avoids others; it is a farm whose structure is formed in imitation of the structure of a natural system that has the integrity, the independence and the benign dependence of an organism"
Wendell Berry, "The Gift of Good Land"

Soil management

Plants need nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as micronutrients and symbiotic relationships with fungi and other organisms to flourish, but getting enough nitrogen, and particularly synchronization so that plants get enough nitrogen at the right time (when plants need it most), is likely the greatest challenge for organic farmers.[6] Crop rotation and green manure ("cover crops") help to provide nitrogen through legumes (more precisely, the Fabaceae family) which fix nitrogen from the atmosphere through symbiosis with rhizobial bacteria. Intercropping, which is sometimes used for insect and disease control, can also increase soil nutrients, but the competition between the legume and the crop can be problematic and wider spacing between crop rows is required. Crop residues can be ploughed back into the soil, and different plants leave different amounts of nitrogen, potentially aiding synchronization.[6] Organic farmers also use animal manure, certain processed fertilizers such as seed meal and various mineral powders such as rock phosphate and greensand, a naturally occurring form of potash which provides potassium. Together these methods help to control erosion. In some cases pH may need to be amended. Natural pH amendments include lime and sulfur, but in the U.S. some compounds such as iron sulfate, aluminum sulfate, magnesium sulfate, and soluble boron products are allowed in organic farming.[7]:43
Mixed farms with both livestock and crops can operate as ley farms, whereby the land gathers fertility through growing nitrogen-fixing forage grasses such as white clover or alfalfa and grows cash crops or cereals when fertility is established. Farms without livestock ("stockless") may find it more difficult to maintain fertility, and may rely more on external inputs such as imported manure as well as grain legumes and green manures, although grain legumes may fix limited nitrogen because they are harvested. Horticultural farms growing fruits and vegetables which operate in protected conditions are often even more reliant upon external inputs.[6]
Biological research on soil and soil organisms has proven beneficial to organic farming. Varieties of bacteria and fungi break down chemicals, plant matter and animal waste into productive soil nutrients. In turn, they produce benefits of healthier yields and more productive soil for future crops.[8] Fields with less or no manure display significantly lower yields, due to decreased soil microbe community, providing a healthier, more arable soil system.[9]

Weed management

Organic weed management promotes weed suppression, rather than weed elimination, by enhancing crop competition and phytotoxic effects on weeds.[10] Organic farmers integrate cultural, biological, mechanical, physical and chemical tactics to manage weeds without synthetic herbicides.
Organic standards require rotation of annual crops,[11] meaning that a single crop cannot be grown in the same location without a different, intervening crop. Organic crop rotations frequently include weed-suppressive cover crops and crops with dissimilar life cycles to discourage weeds associated with a particular crop.[10] Organic farmers strive to increase soil organic matter content, which can support microorganisms that destroy common weed seeds.[12]
Other cultural practices used to enhance crop competitiveness and reduce weed pressure include selection of competitive crop varieties, high-density planting, tight row spacing, and late planting into warm soil to encourage rapid crop germination.[10]
Mechanical and physical weed control practices used on organic farms can be broadly grouped as:[13]
  • Tillage - Turning the soil between crops to incorporate crop residues and soil amendments; remove existing weed growth and prepare a seedbed for planting;
  • Cultivation - Disturbing the soil after seeding;
  • Mowing and cutting - Removing top growth of weeds;
  • Flame weeding and thermal weeding - Using heat to kill weeds; and
  • Mulching - Blocking weed emergence with organic materials, plastic films, or landscape fabric.
Some naturally-sourced chemicals are allowed for herbicidal use. These include certain formulations of acetic acid (concentrated vinegar), corn gluten meal, and essential oils. A few selective bioherbicides based on fungal pathogens have also been developed. At this time, however, organic herbicides and bioherbicides play a minor role in the organic weed control toolbox.[13]
Weeds can be controlled by grazing. For example, geese have been used successfully to weed a range of organic crops including cotton, strawberries, tobacco, and corn,[14] reviving the practice of keeping cotton patch geese, common in the southern U.S. before the 1950s. Similarly, some rice farmers introduce ducks and fish to wet paddy fields to eat both weeds and insects.[15]

Controlling other organisms

Organisms aside from weeds that cause problems on organic farms include arthropods (e.g. insects, mites), nematodes, fungi and bacteria. Organic farmers use a wide range of Integrated Pest Management practices to prevent pests and diseases. These include, but are not limited to, crop rotation and nutrient management; sanitation to remove pest habitat; provision of habitat for beneficial organisms; selection of pest-resistant crops and animals; crop protection using physical barriers, such as row covers; and crop diversification through companion planting or establishment of polycultures.
Organic farmers often depend on biological pest control, the use of beneficial organisms to reduce pest populations. Examples of beneficial insects include minute pirate bugs, big-eyed bugs, and to a lesser extent ladybugs (which tend to fly away), all of which eat a wide range of pests. Lacewings are also effective, but tend to fly away. Praying mantis tend to move more slowly and eat less heavily. Parasitoid wasps tend to be effective for their selected prey, but like all small insects can be less effective outdoors because the wind controls their movement. Predatory mites are effective for controlling other mites.[7]:66-90
When these practices are insufficient to prevent or control pests an organic farmer may apply a pesticide. With some exceptions, naturally-occurring pesticides are allowed for use on organic farms, and synthetic substances are prohibited. Pesticides with different modes of action should be rotated to minimize development of pesticide resistance.
Naturally-derived insecticides allowed for use on organic farms use include Bacillus thuringiensis (a bacterial toxin), pyrethrum (a chrysanthemum extract), spinosad (a bacterial metabolite), neem (a tree extract) and rotenone (a legume root extract). These are sometimes called green pesticides because they are generally, but not necessarily, safer and more environmentally friendly than synthetic pesticides.[7]:92[unreliable source?] Rotenone and pyrethrum are particularly controversial because they work by attacking the nervous system, like most conventional insecticides. Fewer than 10% of organic farmers use these pesticides regularly; one survey found that only 5.3% of vegetable growers in California use rotenone while 1.7% use pyrethrum (Lotter 2003:26).
Naturally-derived fungicides allowed for use on organic farms include the bacteria Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus pumilus; and the fungus Trichoderma harzianum. These are mainly effective for diseases affecting roots. Agricultural Research Service scientists have found that caprylic acid, a naturally-occurring fatty acid in milk and coconuts, as well as other natural plant extracts have antimicrobial characteristics that can help.[16] Compost tea contains a mix of beneficial microbes, which may attack or out-compete certain plant pathogens,[17] but variability among formulations and preparation methods may contribute to inconsistent results or even dangerous growth of toxic microbes in compost teas.[18]
Some naturally-derived pesticides are not allowed for use on organic farms. These include nicotine sulfate, arsenic, and strychnine.[19]
Synthetic pesticides allowed for use on organic farms include insecticidal soaps and horticultural oils for insect management; and Bordeaux mixture, copper hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate for managing fungi.[19]

Genetic modification

A key characteristic of organic farming is the rejection of genetically engineered plants and animals. On October 19, 1998, participants at IFOAM's 12th Scientific Conference issued the Mar del Plata Declaration, where more than 600 delegates from over 60 countries voted unanimously to exclude the use of genetically modified organisms in food production and agriculture.
Although opposition to the use of any transgenic technologies in organic farming is strong, agricultural researchers Luis Herrera-Estrella and Ariel Alvarez-Morales continue to advocate integration of transgenic technologies into organic farming as the optimal means to sustainable agriculture, particularly in the developing world.[20] Similarly, some organic farmers question the rationale behind the ban on the use of genetically engineered seed because they see it a biological technology consistent with organic principles.[21]
Although GMOs are excluded from organic farming, there is concern that the pollen from genetically modified crops is increasingly penetrating organic and heirloom seed stocks, making it difficult, if not impossible, to keep these genomes from entering the organic food supply. International trade restrictions limit the availability GMOs to certain countries.[citation needed]
The dangers that genetic modification could pose to the environment and/or individual health are hotly contested.[22]

Standards

Standards regulate production methods and in some cases final output for organic agriculture. Standards may be voluntary or legislated. As early as the 1970s private associations certified organic producers. In the 1980s, governments began to produce organic production guidelines. In the 1990s, a trend toward legislated standards began, most notably with the 1991 EU-Eco-regulation developed for European Union,[23] which set standards for 12 countries, and a 1993 UK program. The EU's program was followed by a Japanese program in 2001, and in 2002 the U.S. created the National Organic Program (NOP).[24] As of 2007 over 60 countries regulate organic farming (IFOAM 2007:11). In 2005 IFOAM created the Principles of Organic Agriculture, an international guideline for certification criteria.[25] Typically the agencies accredit certification groups rather than individual farms.
Organic production materials used in and foods are tested independently by the Organic Materials Review Institute.[26]

Composting

Under USDA organic standards, manure must be subjected to proper thermophilic composting and allowed to reach a sterilizing temperature. If raw animal manure is used, 120 days must pass before the crop is harvested if the final product comes into direct contact with the soil. For products which do not come into direct contact with soil, 90 days must pass prior to harvest.[27]

Economics

The economics of organic farming, a subfield of agricultural economics, encompasses the entire process and effects of organic farming in terms of human society, including social costs, opportunity costs, unintended consequences, information asymmetries, and economies of scale. Although the scope of economics is broad, agricultural economics tends to focus on maximizing yields and efficiency at the farm level. Economics takes an anthropocentric approach to the value of the natural world: biodiversity, for example, is considered beneficial only to the extent that it is valued by people and increases profits. Some entities such as the European Union subsidize organic farming, in large part because these countries want to account for the externalities of reduced water use, reduced water contamination, reduced soil erosion, reduced carbon emissions, increased biodiversity, and assorted other benefits that result from organic farming.[citation needed]
Traditional organic farming is labor and knowledge-intensive whereas conventional farming is capital-intensive, requiring more energy and manufactured inputs.[28]
Organic farmers in California have cited marketing as their greatest obstacle.[29]

Geographic producer distribution

The markets for organic products are strongest in North America and Europe, which as of 2001 are estimated to have $6 and $8 billion respectively of the $20 billion global market (Lotter 2003:6). As of 2007 Australasia has 39% of the total organic farmland, including Australia's 1,180,000 hectares (2,900,000 acres) but 97 percent of this land is sprawling rangeland (2007:35). US sales are 20x as much. (2003:7). Europe farms 23 percent of global organic farmland (6.9 million hectares), followed by Latin America with 19 percent (5.8 million hectares). Asia has 9.5 percent while North America has 7.2 percent. Africa has 3 percent.[30]
Besides Australia, the countries with the most organic farmland are Argentina (3.1 million hectares), China (2.3 million hectares), and the United States (1.6 million hectares). Much of Argentina's organic farmland is pasture, like that of Australia (2007:42). Italy, Spain, Germany, Brazil (the world's largest agricultural exporter), Uruguay, and the UK follow the United States in the amount of organic land (2007:26).

Growth

Organic farmland by world region (2000-2008)
As of 2001, the estimated market value of certified organic products was estimated to be $20 billion. By 2002 this was $23 billion and by 2007 more than $46 billion.[31]
In recent years both Europe (2007: 7.8 million hectares, European Union: 7.2 million hectares) and North America (2007: 2.2 million hectares) have experienced strong growth in organic farmland. In the EU it grew by 21% in the period 2005 to 2008.[32] However, this growth has occurred under different conditions. While the European Union has shifted agricultural subsidies to organic farmers due to perceived environmental benefits, the United States has not,[33] continuing to subsidize some but not all traditional commercial crops, such as corn and sugar. As a result of this policy difference, as of 2008 4.1% percent of European Union farmland was organically managed compared to the 0.6 percent in the U.S.[31]
IFOAM's most recent edition of The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics and Emerging Trends 2009 lists the countries which had the most hectares in 2007. The country with the most organic land is Australia with more than 12 million hectares, followed by Argentina, Brazil and the US. In total 32.2 million hectares were under organic management in 2007. For 1999 11 million hectares of organically managed land are reported.[31]
As organic farming becomes a major commercial force in agriculture, it is likely to gain increasing impact on national agricultural policies and confront some of the scaling challenges faced by conventional agriculture.[34]

Productivity and profitability

Various studies find that versus conventional agriculture, organic crops yielded 91%,[35] or 95-100%,[36] along with 50% lower expenditure on fertilizer and energy, and 97% less pesticides,[37] or 100% for corn and soybean, consuming less energy and zero pesticides.[clarification needed] The results were attributed to lower yields in average and good years but higher yields during drought years.[38]
A 2007 study[39] compiling research from 293 different comparisons into a single study to assess the overall efficiency of the two agricultural systems has concluded that
...organic methods could produce enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base. (from the abstract)
Converted organic farms have lower pre-harvest yields than their conventional counterparts in developed countries (92%) but higher than their low-intensity counterparts in developing countries (132%). This is due to relatively lower adoption of fertilizers and pesticides in the developing world compared to the intensive farming of the developed world.[40]
Organic farms withstand severe weather conditions better than conventional farms, sometimes yielding 70-90% more than conventional farms during droughts.[41] Organic farms are more profitable in the drier states of the United States, likely due to their superior drought performance.[42] Organic farms survive hurricane damage much better, retaining 20 to 40% more topsoil and smaller economic losses at highly significant levels than their neighbors.[43]
Contrary to widespread belief, organic farming can build up soil organic matter better than conventional no-till farming, which suggests long-term yield benefits from organic farming.[44] An 18-year study of organic methods on nutrient-depleted soil, concluded that conventional methods were superior for soil fertility and yield in a cold-temperate climate, arguing that much of the benefits from organic farming are derived from imported materials which could not be regarded as "self-sustaining".[45]

Profitability

The decreased cost of synthetic fertilizer and pesticide inputs, along with the higher prices that consumers pay for organic produce, contribute to increased profits. Organic farms have been consistently found to be as or more profitable than conventional farms. Without the price premium, profitability is mixed.[46] Organic production was more profitable in Wisconsin, given price premiums.[47]

Sustainability (African case)

In 2008 the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP) and UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) stated that "organic agriculture can be more conducive to food security in Africa than most conventional production systems, and that it is more likely to be sustainable in the long-term"[48] and that "yields had more than doubled where organic, or near-organic practices had been used" and that soil fertility and drought resistance improved.[49]

Employment impact

Organic methods often require more labor than traditional farming, therefore it provides rural jobs,[50]

Externalities

Agriculture imposes negative externalities (uncompensated costs) upon society through land and other resource use, biodiversity loss, erosion, pesticides, nutrient runoff, water usage, subsidy payments and assorted other problems. Positive externalities include self-reliance, entrepreneurship, respect for nature, and air quality. Organic methods reduce some of these costs.[51] In 2000 uncompensated costs for 1996 reached 2,343 million British pounds or 208 pounds per hectare.[52] In 2005 in the USA concluded that cropland costs the economy approximately 5 to 16 billion dollars ($30 to $96 per hectare), while livestock production costs 714 million dollars.[53] Both studies recommended reducing externalities. The 2000 review included reported pesticide poisonings but did not include speculative chronic health effects of pesticides, and the 2004 review relied on a 1992 estimate of the total impact of pesticides.
It has been proposed that organic agriculture can reduce the level of some negative externalities from (conventional) agriculture. Whether the benefits are private or public depends upon the division of property rights.[54]

Pesticides

A sign outside of an organic apple orchard in Pateros, Washington reminding orchardists not to spray pesticides on these trees.
Most organic farms largely avoid pesticides as opposed to conventional farms.[55] Some pesticides damage the environment or with direct exposure, human health. The five main pesticides used in organic farming are Bt (a bacterial toxin), pyrethrum, rotenone,[56] copper and sulphur.[57] Fewer than 10% of organic vegetable farmers acknowledge using these pesticides regularly[citation needed]; 5.3% of vegetable growers will admit rotenone use; while 1.7% admit pyrethrum use(Lotter 2003:26). Reduction and elimination of chemical pesticide use is technically challenging.[58] Organic pesticides often complement other pest control strategies.
Ecological concerns primarily focus around pesticide use, as 16% of the world's pesticides are used in the production of cotton .[59]
Runoff is one of the most damaging effects of pesticide use. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service tracks the environmental effects of water contamination and concluded, "the Nation's pesticide policies during the last twenty six years have succeeded in reducing overall environmental risk, in spite of slight increases in area planted and weight of pesticides applied. Nevertheless, there are still areas of the country where there is no evidence of progress, and areas where risk levels for protection of drinking water, fish, algae and crustaceans remain high".[60]
[61]

Food quality and safety

Many studies have examined the relative quality and safety benefits of organic and conventional agricultural techniques. The results are diverse. Some find no significant differences. Others disagree. An example of the "no differences" school stated:
No evidence of a difference in content of nutrients and other substances between organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock products was detected for the majority of nutrients assessed in this review suggesting that organically and conventionally produced crops and livestock products are broadly comparable in their nutrient content... There is no good evidence that increased dietary intake, of the nutrients identified in this review to be present in larger amounts in organically than in conventionally produced crops and livestock products, would be of benefit to individuals consuming a normal varied diet, and it is therefore unlikely that these differences in nutrient content are relevant to consumer health.[62]
However, they also found that statistically significant differences between the composition of organic and conventional food were present for a few substances.[citation needed]
"Organic products stand out as having higher levels of secondary plant compounds and vitamin C".[63] The fatty acid profile of organic milk and meat is often nutritionally superior.[citation needed] Organic carbohydrates and minerals are not different from conventional products.[citation needed] Organic foods have more nutritional value.[64] Organic produce has double the flavonoids, an important antioxidant.[65] Organic kiwifruit had more antioxidants.[66]
A review of potential health effects analysed eleven articles, concluding, "because of the limited and highly variable data available, and concerns over the reliability of some reported findings, there is currently no evidence of a health benefit from consuming orga nic compared to conventionally produced foodstuffs. It should be noted that this conclusion relates to the evidence base currently available on the nutrient content of foodstuffs, which contains limitations in the design and in the comparability of studies."[67]
Individual studies have considered a variety of possible impacts, including pesticide residues.[68] Pesticide residues present a second channel for health effects.[69][70] Comments include, "Organic fruits and vegetables can be expected to contain fewer agrochemical residues than conventionally grown alternatives; yet, "the significance of this difference is questionable"[68] and "It is intuitive to assume that children whose diets consist of organic food items would have a lower probability of neurologic health risks", and pesticide exposure brought an increased risk for ADHD in one study.
Nitrate concentrations may be less, but the health impact of nitrates is debated.[citation needed] Lack of data has limited research on the health effects of natural plant pesticides and bacterial pathogens.[68] Consumption of organic milk was associated with a decrease in risk for eczema, although no comparable benefit was found for organic fruits, vegetables, or meat.[71]
The higher cost of organic food (ranging from 45 to 200%) could inhibit consumption of the recommended 5 servings per day of vegetables and fruits, which improve health and reduce cancer regardless of their source.[68]

Clothing quality and safety

Recently, organic clothing has become widely available. Although many consumers of organic clothing merely dislike synthetic chemicals, a significant portion of the organic clothing market comes from those suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, a chronic medical condition characterized by symptoms that the affected person says are adverse effects from exposure to low levels of chemicals.[citation needed]

Soil conservation

In Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, geomorphologist David Montgomery outlines a coming crisis from soil erosion. Agriculture relies on roughly one meter of topsoil, and that is being depleted ten times faster than it is being replaced.[72] No-till farming, which some claim depends upon pesticides, is one way to minimize erosion. However, a recent study by the USDA's Agricultural Research Service has found that manure applications in tilled organic farming are better at building up the soil than no-till.[73][74][75]

Climate change

Organic agriculture emphasizes closed nutrient cycles, biodiversity, and effective soil management providing the capacity to mitigate and even reverse the effects of climate change.[76] Organic agriculture decreases fossil fuel emissions and sequesters carbon in the soil. The elimination of synthetic nitrogen in organic systems decreases fossil fuel consumption by 33 percent and carbon sequestration takes CO2 out of the atmosphere by putting it in the soil in the form of organic matter which is often lost in conventionally managed soils. Carbon sequestration occurs at especially high levels in organic no-till managed soil.[74]
Agriculture has been undervalued and underestimated as a means to combat global climate change. Soil carbon data show that regenerative organic agricultural practices are among the most effective strategies for mitigating CO2emissions.[74]

Nutrient leaching

Excess nutrients in lakes, rivers, and groundwater can cause algal blooms, eutrophication, and subsequent dead zones. In addition, nitrates are harmful to aquatic organisms by themselves. The main contributor to this pollution is nitrate fertilizers whose use is expected to "double or almost triple by 2050".[77] Organically fertilizing fields "significantly [reduces] harmful nitrate leaching" over conventionally fertilized fields: "annual nitrate leaching was 4.4-5.6 times higher in conventional plots than organic plots".[78]
The large dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is caused in large part by agricultural runoff: a combination of fertilizer and livestock manure. Over half of the nitrogen released into the Gulf comes from agriculture. This increases costs for fishermen, as they must travel far from the coast to find fish.[79]
Nitrogen leaching into the Danube River was substantially lower among organic farms. The resulting externalities could be neutralized by charging 1 euro per kg of released nitrogen.[80]
Agricultural runoff and algae blooms are strongly linked in California.[81]

Biodiversity

A wide range of organisms benefit from organic farming, but it is unclear whether organic methods confer greater benefits than conventional integrated agri-environmental programs.[82] Nearly all non-crop, naturally occurring species observed in comparative farm land practice studies show a preference for organic farming both by abundance and diversity.[82][83] An average of 30% more species inhabit organic farms.[84] Birds, butterflies, soil microbes, beetles, earthworms,[85] spiders, vegetation, and mammals are particularly affected. Lack of herbicides and pesticides improve biodiversity fitness and population density.[83] Many weed species attract beneficial insects that improve soil qualities and forage on weed pests.[86] Soil-bound organisms often benefit because of increased bacteria populations due to natural fertilizer such as manure, while experiencing reduced intake of herbicides and pesticides.[82] Increased biodiversity, especially from beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae have been proposed as an explanation for the high yields experienced by some organic plots, especially in light of the differences seen in a 21-year comparison of organic and control fields.[9]
Biodiversity from organic farming provides capital to humans. Species found in organic farms enhance sustainability by reducing human input (e.g. fertilizers, pesticides).[87] Farmers that produce with organic methods reduce risk of poor yields by promoting biodiversity.[citation needed] Common game birds such as the ring-necked pheasant and the northern bobwhite often reside in agriculture landscapes, and benefit recreational hunters.[citation needed]

Sales and marketing

Most sales are concentrated in developed nations. These products are what economists call credence goods in that they rely on uncertain certification. Interest in organic products dropped between 2006 and 2008, and 42% of Americans polled don't trust organic produce.[88] 69% of Americans claim to occasionally buy organic products, down from 73% in 2005. One theory was that consumers were substituting "local" produce for "organic" produce.[89]

Distributors

In the United States, 75% of organic farms are smaller than 2.5 hectares. In California 2% of the farms account for over half of sales.(Lotter 2003:4) Small farms join together in cooperatives such as Organic Valley, Inc. to market their goods more effectively.
Over twenty-five, most cooperative distributors merged or were acquired by large multinationals such as General Mills, Heinz, ConAgra, Kellogg, and others. In 1982 there were 28 consumer cooperative distributors, but as of 2007 only 3 remained.[90] This consolidation has raised concerns among consumers and journalists of potential fraud and degradation in standards. Most sell their organic products through subsidiaries, under other labels.[91]

Farmers' markets

Price premiums are important for the profitability of small organic farmers. Farmers selling directly to consumers at farmers' markets have continued to achieve these higher returns. In the United States the number of farmers' markets tripled from 1,755 in 1994 to 5,274 in 2009.[92]

Capacity building

Organic agriculture can contribute to ecologically sustainable, socio-economic development, especially in poorer countries.[93] The application of organic principles enables employment of local resources (e.g. local seed varieties, manure, etc.) and therefore cost-effectiveness. Local and international markets for organic products show tremendous growth prospects and offer creative producers and exporters excellent opportunities to improve their income and living conditions.[citation needed]
Organic agriculture is knowledge intensive. Globally, capacity building efforts are underway, including localized training material, to limited effect. As of 2007, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements hosted more than 170 free manuals and 75 training opportunities online.[citation needed]

Controversy

Norman Borlaug, father of the "Green Revolution", Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Prof A. Trewavas and other critics contested the notion that organic agricultural systems are more friendly to the environment and more sustainable than conventional farming systems. Borlaug asserts that organic farming practices can at most feed 4 billion people, after expanding cropland dramatically and destroying ecosystems in the process.[94][95][96] The Danish Environmental Protection Agency estimated that phasing out all pesticides would result in an overall yield reduction of about 25%. Environmental and health effects were assumed but hard to assess.[97]
In contrast, the UN Environmental Programme concluded that organic methods greatly increase yields in Africa.[48] A review of over two hundred crop comparisons argued that organic farming could produce enough food to sustain the current human population and that the difference in yields between organic and non-organic methods were small, with non-organic methods yielding slightly more in developed areas and organic methods yielding slightly more in developing areas.[40]
That analysis has been criticised by Alex Avery of the Hudson Institute, who contends that the review claimed many non-organic studies to be organic, misreported organic yields, made false comparisons between yields of organic and non-organic studies which were not comparable, counted high organic yields several times by citing different papers which referenced the same data, and gave equal weight to studies from sources which were not impartial.[98] The Center for Disease Control repudiated a claim by Avery's father, Dennis Avery (also at Hudson) that the risk of E. coli infection was eight times higher when eating organic food. (Avery had cited CDC as a source.) Avery had included problems stemming from non-organic unpasteurized juice in his calculations.[99][100][101]
Urs Niggli, director of the FiBL Institute contends that there is[102] a global campaign against organic farming that mostly derives from Avery's book The truth about organic farming.[99]