(What Is Organic Gardening)
There can be varied answers to the question: “What is organic farming?”
It is my desire that this page may at least give you an overview of what organic farming is about. I hope that the explanation on organic farming may also shed some light on what organic gardening is about.
According to Wikipedia, organic farming is an alternative agricultural system which originated early in the 20th century.
Organic farming relies heavily on organic fertilizers such as compost manure, mulching, green manure, and bone meal. The cornerstone of organic farming is the enhancing of soil health. Other organic farming techniques include crop rotation and companion planting. Biological pest control, mixed cropping, and the fostering of insect predators are encouraged instead of pesticides. In organic farming, a thorough understanding of pest life cycles and their interactions is important for effective organic pest control.
The use of naturally occurring substances is encouraged. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, genetically modified organisms (GMO), nanomaterials, human sewage sludge, plant growth regulators, hormones, and antibiotic use in livestock husbandry are generally prohibited.
Organic farming advocates on sustainability, openness or transparency, self-sufficiency, autonomy or independence, health, food security, and food safety.
Organic Farming Concerns That Need to Be Addressed
Below are some concerns that I may need to address as I move along. These are concerns from other farmers or gardeners that I’ve gathered along the way. They may yet need to be validated or proven. Here they are:
- Labor cost is very high when it comes to organic farming. It is very labor intensive.Though other costs are a bit cheaper compared to conventional farming, they require a lot of planning and work such as obtaining materials.
- Organic farming produces lesser food per area of land compared to conventional methods. Half of the world’s population would starve to death if all farmers would do organic farming.
- If organic production requires so much more farmland, then we should be cutting down forests to convert them to farms.
- Organic farming is environmentally damaging than conventional farming.Many farms cannot produce organically as the soil is so poor. Without synthetic fertilizers, it is not worthwhile to farm.
- Organic produce is more expensive compared to non-organic produce.
- Organic fertilizers are very expensive compared to synthetic fertilizers. They produce less yields.
Do organic farming methods help the environment?
The short answer I have is a big YES, despite some claims that organic farming can be more damaging to the environment compared to conventional farming.
My faith dictates that organic farming is as close to what God has intended it to be. If organic farming is too expensive and if the soil is too poor, there must be many other reasons that have caused them.
The interference of our current system leaning toward the conventional method and the past generations of synthetic farming have greatly affected organic farming. If I could recall, organic farming used to be the farming method until it was replaced by a more profit-oriented farming method. This interference causes the entire eco-system to crumble, which eventually lead to the degradation of human health.
Most commercial farms are mono-crops. They are farms that consists hectares (or acres) of one kind of crop. An example of a mono-crop farm would be 10 hectares of bananas. Mono-crop farming is prone to pest infestation. To combat pests, herbicides and pesticides are used. Unfortunately, these pesticides go to the soil and to the food chain. In worst case scenario, these can also enter the waterways. Afterwhich, algal blooms may occur — which is the rapid increase or accumulation of algae in the waterways — be it in freshwater or marine water systems. With that in mind, eutrophication is another possibility to occur, which is the excessive richness of nutrients in the waterways causing a dense growth of plant life and the death of animal life from lack of oxygen. Thus leads to the gradual inability to sustain life.
Despite large-scale efforts to reduce nutrient enrichment through Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water Acts in the 1970s, cultural eutrophication and concomitant HABs continue to be the leading cause of water pollution for many freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems. This problem is rapidly growing in the developing world. 
Organic farming is supposed to be holistic in the sense that farms follow the principles of companion planting. Organic farming also used natural predators to control pests. It is also supposed to keep the soil rich, alive, and healthy.
Cornell University Works to Improve Organic Farming Method
Organic fruits and vegetables are beneficial to human health. Because of this, organic food consumption and demand continue to grow. As a result, Cornell University is devoting more of its resources through research in improving organic agriculture including soil health, seed availability, dairy health and crop production.
Cornell University hopes to accomplish the following through their research and extension projects:
- to better understand how farm practices and pest management strategies are integrated for successful organic farming;
- to study on organic grain and vegetable crop rotation systems for more effective growing and disease-prevention methods;
- to determine how tillage and manipulating the crops’ source of nitrogen affect growth and quality of crops;
- to improve organic seed quality and farm profitability;
- to enhance the ability of universities to support organic farmers; and
- to develop a list of best practices for dairies interested in producing hormone-free and organic dairy products.
Cornell is also active in the Northeast Organic Network (NEON). NEON is composed of farmers, researchers, land-grant university personnel, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies. They work together to improve organic farmers’ access to research and technical support. NEON is producing farmer resources on organic practices. That is to enhance production and consumption of locally grown organic food in the Northeast.
- Smith, V. H. & Schindler, D. W. Eutrophication science: where do we go from here? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 24, 201-207 (2009).