Organic Farming in India

Organic Farming

Organic agriculture can be defined as "an integrated farming system that strives for sustainability, the enhancement of soil fertility and biological diversity while, with rare exceptions, prohibiting synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, and growth hormones".

Organic farming is an agricultural system that uses ecologically based pest controls and biological fertilizers, which are derived largely from animal and plant wastes and nitrogen-fixing cover crops. Modern organic farming has been developed over period of time as a response to the environmental harm caused by the use of chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers in conventional agriculture, and it has numerous ecological benefits.


Organic agriculture is defined formally by governments. Farmers must be certified for their produce and products to be labeled “organic,” and there are specific organic standards for crops, animals, and wild-crafted products and for the processing of agricultural products. Organic standards in the European Union (EU) and the United States, for example, prohibit the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, ionizing radiation, sewage sludge, and genetically engineered plants or products. In the EU, organic certification and inspection is carried out by approved organic control bodies according to EU standards. Organic farming has been defined by the National Organic Standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) since 2000, and there are many accredited organic certifiers across the country.

Although most countries have their own programs for organic certification, certifiers in the EU or the United States can inspect and certify growers and processors for other countries. This is especially useful when products grown organically in Mexico, for example, are exported to the United States.

Organic farming methods


Since synthetic fertilizers are not used, building and maintaining a rich, living soil through the addition of organic matter is a priority for organic farmers. Organic matter can be applied through the application of manure, compost, and animal by-products, such as feather meal or blood meal. Due to the potential for harbouring human pathogens, the USDA National Organic Standards mandate that raw manure must be applied no later than 90 or 120 days before harvest, depending on whether the harvested part of the crop is in contact with the ground. Composted manure that has been turned 5 times in 15 days and reached temperatures between 55–77.2 °C (131–171 °F) has no restrictions on application times. Compost adds organic matter, providing a wide range of nutrients for plants, and adds beneficial microbes to the soil. Given that these nutrients are mostly in an unmineralized form that cannot be taken up by plants, soil microbes are needed to break down organic matter and transform nutrients into a bioavailable “mineralized” state. In comparison, synthetic fertilizers are already in mineralized form and can be taken up by plants directly.

Soil is maintained by planting and then tilling in cover crops, which helps to protect the soil from erosion off-season and provides additional organic matter. The tilling in of nitrogen-fixing cover crops, such as clover or alfalfa, also adds nitrogen to the soil. Cover crops are commonly planted before or after the cash crop season or in conjunction with crop rotation and can also be planted between the rows of some crops, such as tree fruits. Researchers and growers are working to develop organic farming “no-till” and reduced-tillage practices in order to further reduce erosion.

Pest control

Organic pesticides are derived from naturally occurring sources. These include living organisms such as the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis, which is used to control caterpillar pests, or plant derivatives such as pyrethrins (from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium) or neem oil (from the seeds of Azadirachta indica). Mineral-based inorganic pesticides such as sulfur and copper are also allowed.

In addition to pesticides, organic pest control integrates biological, cultural, and genetic controls to minimize pest damage. Biological control utilizes the natural enemies of pests, such as predatory insects (e.g., ladybugs) or parasitoids (e.g., certain wasps) to attack insect pests. Pest cycles can be disrupted with cultural controls, of which crop rotation is the most widely used. Finally, traditional plant breeding has produced numerous crop varieties that are resistant to specific pests. The use of such varieties and the planting of genetically diverse crops provide genetic control against pests and many plant diseases.

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We support the Government of India’s Soil Health Management Scheme and Soil Health Card Scheme. We encourage all organic producers to register and get their soil tested. Knowing the quality of your soil, is the first step towards its healing.

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