WHY ORGANIC FARMSWant to live and earn on organic farms? Want to share your life with other like-minded people? Green Oaks is the right place for the nature lovers.
How does organic farming improve soil and water quality?
Using biological forms of fertilizer such as compost, animal manures, and legume cover crops, builds soil organic matter, even when routine tillage is used for weed control.
Building soil organic matter increases soil water retention and nurtures more active soil microbial communities that retain nitrogen in the soil longer and transform it into non-leachable gaseous forms.
There is a small but telling body of research in the US that suggests that improved soil quality influences the ability of crops to withstand or repel insect attack and plant disease.
According the 2015 Organic Production Survey released by USDA's National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), the organic sector grew from $3.2B in 2008 to $6.2B in 2015, demonstrating that there is increased demand for organic products and opportunities for growth.
Milk and eggs were the top two commodities sold in 2015, valued at $1.2B and $0.7B, respectively, followed by broiler chickens valued at $0.4B.
Two sectors, vegatables grown in the open and fruits, tree nuts, and berries, together accounted for 42% of sales.
Among crops, apples, lettuce, and grapes were the top-selling commodities, with $302M, $262M, and $210M in 2015 sales, respectively.
Organic farming refers to agricultural production systems that do not use genetically modified (GM) seed, synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Some of the essential characteristics of organic systems include design and implementation of an organic system plan that describes the practices used in producing crops and livestock products; a detailed recordkeeping system that tracks all products from the field to point of sale; and maintenance of buffer zones to prevent inadvertent contamination by synthetic farm chemicals from adjacent conventional fields.
Organic farmers use biological methods and management practices such as diversified crop rotations that improve soil quality. Organic farming increases soil organic matter, which enhances the soil's ability to absorb and store carbon, cycle nutrients, and absorb water. Increased soil organic matter contributes to greater resilience under stresses such as drought and flooding.
A high percentage of organic farms use production practices with environmental benefits such as water management practices, no-till or minimum tillage, habitat maintenance for beneficial insects and vertebrates, and biological pest control. These ecologically protective practices contribute to enhanced ecosystem services and benefit water quality, soil health, and biodiversity.
Conventional farming often uses minimal crop rotations, growing the same single crop year after year on the same land. This practice, known as mono cropping causes the depletion of nutrients and minerals. In order to continue growing crops in this depleted soil, nutrients and minerals must be added back in the form of hydrocarbon based fertilizers and mined minerals such as phosphate. Conventional GM farming is dependent on earth-based non-renewable resources. Monocultures and the resulting poor health open the way for infestations of insects, diseases and weeds. Healthy bio-diverse soil keeps these infestations in check. The lack of biodiversity requires synthetic pesticides and herbicides to be used, further destroying the national soil biology.
The cost of organic food is higher than that of conventional food because the organic price tag more closely reflects the true cost of growing the food: substituting labor and intensive management for chemicals. These costs may include cleanup of polluted water and remediation of pesticide contamination.
Power of We
If there's one thing farmers are good at, it's lending a hand. What some companies call "corporate responsibility" we call being good neighbors. Because whether it's planting a garden or protecting our children from toxic chemicals, we'll do a much better job if we do it together.