Can Organic Farming Feed the World?

What is organic farming? Organic farming can be described as an approach to agriculture where the main aims are to create holistic, nutritional, humane, environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural production systems. Maximum reliance is placed on farm renewable resources and the management of self regulating biological systems and interactions in order to provide exceptional levels of crop, livestock and human nutrition. Protection from pests/diseases, and an acceptable return to the human and other resources employed. Reliance on external inputs whether from chemical or organic is reduced as much as possible. In many European nations, organic agriculture is known as ecological agriculture. This reflects this reliance on ecosystem management rather than external inputs.

The objective of sustainability lies at the heart of organic farming. It is one of the major factors determining the acceptability or otherwise of specific production practices. The term ‘sustainable’ is used in its general sense to encompass not just conservation of non-renewable resources(soil, water, energy, minerals) but also issues of environmental, social and economic sustainability. The term ‘organic’ is best described as referring to the concept of the farm as an whole organism in which all the component parts – the soil minerals, insects, organic matter, microorganisms, plants, animals and man interact to create a workable and stable whole.

The key characteristics of organic farming are:

  • Protecting the long term fertility of soils by increasing organic matter levels, encouraging soil microbe activity.
  • Providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble(natural) nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by soil microorganisms.
  • Nitrogen is provided through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation. I is also provided by recycling of organic materials incorporating crop residues and livestock manure.
  • Weed, disease and pest control relying primarily on crop rotations, organic manuring, plant health, natural predators, bio-diversity, resistant varieties(conventional plant breeding) and only natural biological and chemical intervention.
  • The management of livestock involved considering behavioural needs and animal welfare issues with respect to health, nutrition, housing, breeding and rearing.
  • Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the larger environment and the conservation of native wildlife and natural habitats also need to be considered.

Rachel Carson – Silent Spring

After being introduced to the concepts and book of Rachel Carson at university it showed me that you need to look at the cause of the problem and not just the symptoms.   Silent Spring is a must read for anyone in agriculture or concerned about the effect of chemical on the environment.   You can find it in my book shop.

Free Range Eggs Are Better for You

Most of the eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. That’s the conclusion we have reached following completion of the 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project. Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:• 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

Read the full story at Meet Real Free-Range Eggs

The Silent Killers

Australia health with minerals. Nutrition linked to many diseases including cancer. Ask your doctor how much nutrition research did they learn at university. The mineral link in agriculture is missing, NPK isn’t enough. So much more good information for all Australians.

Sustainable Agriculture: Curing America’s Eating Disorder

The alternative to the longstanding American food policy of “cheap and lots” is to eat locally, eat seasonally and eat organic. Filmmaker Bonnie Bucqueroux and her dog Schmoopsie look at the sustainable agriculture movement, including a visit to Michigan State University’s Student Organic Farm, where Dr. John Biernbaum discusses the options people have to grow their own food or to buy from local growers.