Farming: Organic

Authored by: Brenda Frick

Encyclopedia of Environmental Management

Print publication date:  December  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439829271
eBook ISBN: 9781351235860
Adobe ISBN:

10.1081/E-EEM-120046230

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Abstract

Organic farming offers potential environmental benefits in terms of increased diversity, improved nutrient management and soil quality, reduced energy consumption, and reduced off-target losses of pesticides and nutrients. Organic farming strives to produce healthy food while maintaining or improving the health of the agroecosystem. Organic farmers emphasize a systems approach that manages, respects, and encourages natural, biological processes. Crop pests are managed through good husbandry practices such as crop rotation, residue management, cultivar selection, crop competition, soil fertility management, and, where necessary, judicious use of biological and mechanical controls. Animal pests are managed through selection of appropriate breeds, rotation of animals through fields, culling of weak individuals from the breeding stock, and, where necessary, judicious use of biological and homeopathic treatments. Standards for organic certification focus on the production process, rather than the product. They emphasize natural processes rather than synthetic products in crop and livestock production, a program for soil building, and diversity throughout the farm system. Organically produced crops and livestock are kept separate from others during their journey from producer to consumer. An audit trail tracks the history of a given product and helps to assure quality and consumer confidence.

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