Organic farming is a mode of cultivation that recalls nature, rejecting the use of products obtained by chemical synthesis.
The biological method became necessary because conventional agriculture began to develop a range of products capable of helping farmers but with strong repercussions on the environment: herbicides, fertilizers, phytosanitary products, pesticides and fungicides. Many of them are petroleum-derived compounds and substances designed to kill microorganisms, plants, spores or insects. The consequences of this industrial agriculture are devastating, both in terms of its environmental impact and its impact on human and animal health.
The careless use of these treatments has proven to be harmful both to the environment and to humans, which is why more and more farmers have decided to adopt a different philosophy, returning to methods more natural and respectful of the ecosystem. Cultivating with organic methods means taking care of the soil and the various natural resources, first of all water and air, avoiding overexploitation.
In organic farming, only organic products are used, but above all it is a question of recreating a balanced and fertile environment, which, thanks to the biodiversity and the presence of useful organisms and microorganisms, can be ideal for plant development.
The organic garden
The cornerstones of organic farming
A step beyond organic
Those who cultivate the garden for home consumption have many reasons for choosing an organic farming method: first of all, they must know that the use of harmful substances such as glyphosate falls directly on those who eat the vegetables and above all to those who cultivate them. If toxic pesticides or herbicides are used in the garden, the person working there will be the first to pay for them, as they spend a lot of time in contact with the treated plants.
Second, chemical treatments are often systemic: they are poisons that penetrate plant tissues, they cannot be eliminated. If you want to grow healthy vegetables yourself, you cannot treat them with such substances.
For this reason, those who care about their health and that of their family members cannot help but choose to grow their garden organically.
A few rules for growing your garden organically:
- Use only manure of natural origin : manure and compost, for example, are an excellent composting solution.
- Do not use chemical pesticides or fungicides. You can counter adversity with macerated vegetables of your own production, or when you choose to buy an insecticide, you can check on the packaging that it is authorized in organic products.
- Use certified organic seeds and plants. Growers can also decide to save their seed from year to year. If you want to buy seeds, you can also find certified seeds online (for example here).
The cornerstones of organic farming
The first fundamental point that characterizes organic farming is the attention paid to soil fertility. , which must be maintained with proper tillage and fertilization. The principle is to observe what happens in nature, to reproduce it in your garden: in the forest the leaves fall and remain in the soil enriching it, in the same way that composting must be done by the farmer. To avoid killing beneficial microorganisms in the soil, try to prevent the lawn from tipping over, limiting yourself to a treatment that breaks and moves.
The soil must not only be rich in nutrients, but also well structured and draining: good soil management This is the best prevention of fungal diseases.
Another cornerstone is The biodiversity : A multitude of different plants and life forms creates a stable ecosystem in which pests are unlikely to proliferate. Monoculture, on the other hand, inevitably attracts pathologies and predatory insects from the cultivated crop.
The choice of varieties sowing should favor those who resist adversity, it is often useful to rediscover ancient vegetables, which were grown when insecticides and fungicides were not available. crop rotation and crop rotation are two other important practices to keep the garden fertile and drive away any adversity.
When the environment is healthy, plants rarely get sick, however, some problems still occur. Because of this there is natural care authorized in organic farming.
The healthiest and most natural products are vegetable macerations that can be self-produced by the grower. They are generally less effective than commercially available insecticides, but if used early they can still protect crops. There are also organic insecticides: for example, pyrethrum, neem oil, bacillus thuringiensis, Spinosad. There are also fungicide treatments against diseases allowed by organic: copper and sulfur are the substances most used for this purpose.
Biological defenses also include other techniques, such as the capture of parasites by food or sexual traps, the use of insects and beneficial microorganisms (spores or entomopathogenic bacteria).
Officially organic farming is regulated by legislation, the basic guidelines can be found in Regulations (EC) No 834/2007, No 889/2008 and No 271/2010. These laws establish when it is possible to say “organic farmers” and what criteria must be met, so the use of the organic logo (the leaf made of stars on a green field) is bound by these rules. For a crop to be legally organic, it must be certified by approved inspection bodies.
The question of certification concerns professional farms: today the interest in fruit and vegetables grown with natural methods is constantly growing and the ecological discourse in the food sector has also become a commercial factor.
Those who grow their vegetable garden organically do not have to worry about soil certification, but if they want to be consistent, they should ensure that every product they use is authorized by the organic method.
One step further than organic
While it is true that organic farming is a guarantee compared to conventional farming, there are still certain authorized products that have a certain degree of toxicity. Among insecticides, for example, pyrethrum should be used with care: it can kill bees and other beneficial insects, and if it gets into the water, it can cause problems for fish. Copper and sulfur used for the treatment of diseases, if used in large quantities, remain in the soil and exhibit phytotoxicity.
There are alternative farming methods that have more restrictive practices than conventional organic farming, for example, in biodynamic farming they try to avoid the use of poisons altogether.
Without being a fundamentalist, it should be noted that the fact that a treatment is authorized in organic farming does not guarantee that it is exempt from consequences for the environment and health.