Eco-friendly farming: The basic principles of organic agriculture

Organic agriculture has recently been attracting more and more attention. There are several reasons for this. The most important of them is probably to improve the environmental situation on the planet, because the essence of organic agriculture is not to use chemical products. 

Among the chemical industry products that are effective and actively used in agriculture are pesticides, insecticides and mineral fertilizers. All of them are replaced by organic products in organic growing.
In this article we will look at the basic principles of organic farming and what you should consider doing it.

What we have to give up:

Organic agriculture is not easy work and is full of bans. However, if you are not afraid of difficulties, here is a list of what you have to give up:
  • Chemicals to protect plants as well as chemical medicines for their treatment;
  • Mineral fertilizers;
  • Purchased seeds that have been treated with chemicals before being sold.
Note: If we are talking about fertilization, we will still need to apply nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and, if necessary, other chemical elements to the soil for good performance. Organic farming isn't about abandoning fertilizer and tillage of the soil and plants, it's just about the way we get these elements.
But how to achieve a rich harvest and the health of the plants?

Crop rotation

Crop rotation is one of the fundamental practices of organic farming. It involves changing crops in the same place every growing season.
The benefits of crop rotation are undeniable. It reduces pests and diseases in the soil, prevents soil erosion due to the different root systems of plants, increases soil nutrition (for example, legumes increase nitrogen levels in the soil), and increases yields.

However, crop rotation cannot be done without a system. There are certain rules of which crops are best planted next. Here are a number of the most popular ones:
  • Cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin, pattypan squash should be followed by cauliflower, onions, garlic, legume, corn;
  • Tomato - cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin, pattypan squash, cauliflower, herbs, carrot, green manures;
  • Onion, garlic - cauliflower, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin, pattypan squash, potatoes, legumes, green manures;
  • Potatoes - cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin, pattypan squash, cauliflower, onion, garlic, legumes, green manures;
  • Peppers, eggplant - cauliflower, cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin, pattypan squash, onions, garlic, legumes, herbs, carrots, green manures.

Green manures

Green manures can be a highly effective natural fertilizer for your vegetable garden or crop beds. These fast-growing plants are sown in vacant plots or beds alongside your main crops. Once they have grown to a sufficient size, the lush green foliage is cut and buried directly in the soil. 

Legumes, cereals, aster, buckwheat, amaranth and other plants, are considered to be green manures. 
This technique allows for nitrogen enrichment of the soil and significantly reduces the growth of weeds, while also preventing the spread of fungal and bacterial diseases. 
Additionally, green manures are actively used in crop rotation.

Natural fertilizers

As most conventional (mineral) fertilizers are banned, organic fertilizers come to the rescue. The organic fertilizers used include manure, compost, biohumus, sapropel, wood ash, silt, natural waste, and fecal matter.

Weed control measures

Controlling weeds can be a time-consuming task, especially if you do it by hand. However, if you're looking for an easier option, mulching is an excellent choice.
You can use a variety of materials for mulch, including hay, tree bark, cardboard, pebbles, grass clippings and more.

Using, for example, hay or bark will not only rid your garden of weeds and retain moisture (which is especially important on hot summer days), but will give your garden an attractive appearance.

Pest control measures

First of all, bio-insecticides can be used for pest control and prevention. These products can be found in specialty stores. But you can also use sticky traps, barrier control methods and plant companion plants that will deter pests. This will not guarantee you no pests, but it will greatly reduce the chance of infestation. 
And another available method would be to inoculate with beneficial insects. Ladybugs, for example, are effective in controlling aphids.

Cons of organic agriculture

Pros of organic farming are undeniable. But every coin has two sides, so this type of agriculture has its cons:
  • Lesser yields, especially in the first few years.
  • Higher production costs due to the use of manual labor and special requirements;
  • In the case of intensive pest reproduction, there is a noticeable loss of harvest;
  • Poor handling and predictability.
In addition, it is worth mentioning that there are risks of growing crops that are unsafe to eat. If you plan to use your own fertilizer (compost or natural waste), you cannot accurately determine the quantity of chemical elements being added to the soil, potentially leading to over-fertilization. Therefore, we recommend using purchased organic fertilizers and following the instructions provided.

In agriculture, everyone comes from their own interests, needs and abilities. You are free to choose whether organic farming suits you or if you prefer conventional methods. But what is indisputable is that organic farming is a complex, but terribly interesting process of growing plants. And if you decide to do it, we give you our green thumbs up and wish you success! 💚