Organic or ecological farming has, as a principal objective, the cultivation in a manner that maintains a live and healthy atmosphere by using organic waste and obtaining nutrients from such waste for the farming process. The idea is to reuse as many materials as possible and improve production in a sustainable and ecologically-friendly manner free of contamination. Organic standards generally prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms, animal cloning, synthetic plagues, synthetic fertilizers, sewage, synthetic drugs, processed ingredients, and other non-natural elements.
Certified farms should not use products or prohibited practices for at least three years before an organic harvest. Cattle should be raised organically and fed using foods that are 100% natural. Canadian regulations, for example, include principles and best practices that include:
- The protection of the environment and minimizing the degeneration of soil and farmland. Reduction of erosion, diminishment of contamination, and the optimization of biological productivity.
- Maintaining long-term fertile soil optimized by the biological activity within the soil.
- Recycling the maximum amount of materials and resources.
- Maintaining a biologically diverse ecosystem.
- Providing herds with a high level of attention that creates good health and satisfaction.
- Preparing organic products, emphasizing the meticulous processes and manipulation methods with the objective of maintaining organic integrity and vital product quality in all phases of production.
The use of fungicides, pesticides, and herbicides has a negative effect on the environment where soil and land are contaminated. Therefore, the avoidance of these chemicals allows for an ecosystem to circumvent alteration and maintain biodiversity. As an example of the high and negative impact that chemicals have on the environment and the ecosystem, one simply needs to look at the high mortality rate of bees. The impact is significant as bees are natural pollinators and have a direct influence on crops. Additionally, within the practices of maintaining fertile soil and lands is the rotation of crops, which is important to avoid damaging the land and losing vital nutrients. Organic production also positively influences the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases as the process helps retain carbon dioxide in the soil.
However, the production of organic foods is more expensive and has a lower yield. First, the selection of seeds is slower than using transgenic versions. This part is of vital importance because the seed is the central element in farming. Farmers can obtain seeds from reputable distributors, such as commercial seed suppliers in Australia, that guarantee a high-quality product. Another reason that organic farming is more expensive is that crops are more vulnerable to plagues and weeds. The vulnerability causes a reduction in yield. The non-use of preservatives or additives in organic crops also makes the crop more vulnerable to environmental contamination. Furthermore, demand is lower, overall production costs are higher, the post-harvest costs are higher, and the marketing and distribution chain is more inefficient because of lower quantities.
Regardless of higher costs, all types of products and crops that use this type of process are seen worldwide. Such products include cereals, meats, fruits, vegetables, flowers, baby food, soups, sauces, corn, wool, and cosmetics, among many others. Over 170 countries possess processes for this type of agriculture. In 2016, over 43 million hectares of land were cultivated for organic products worldwide. However, many differences exist within the development and treatment of the lands and production standards for organic farming between continents and countries. The regions with the most land designated for organic farming are Oceania, with 27.3 million hectares, and Europe, with 13.5 million hectares. Latin America has 7.1 million hectares, followed by Asia with 4.9. Lastly, North America and Africa come in with 3.1 million and 1.8 million hectares respectively.
Such hectares will increase as more individuals begin creating organic gardens in their properties. This movement has gained traction in the last decade as individuals want to know the origins of what they put in their bodies. People are beginning to move to places with larger spaces to perform this type of activity.Regardless of the geographical location, anyone can join the organic movement by demanding organic products or harvesting their own ingredients. Even the smallest garden will positively influence the environment.