Organic Farming In India – Principles, Types, And Statistics

Introduction to an organic farming in India

Organic farming is one of the crop production systems that ignore the use of synthetic compounds such as pesticides, growth regulators, fertilizers, and livestock food additives. Organic agriculture is a sustainable production method, which has specific advantages for small-scale farmers. In the last few years, several farmers have shown a lack of interest in farming, and people who used to cultivate are moving to other areas. Organic farming is one of the ways to promote either food security or self-sufficiency.

A Step by Step Guide to an Organic Farming in India, Principles and Statistics

Organic farming in India is an agricultural method that mainly focuses on growing crops to uphold the soil alive and maintain its good health using animal and farm waste, aquatic waste, organic waste, waste crops and other organic materials. Organic farming in India is an agricultural process which uses organic manure and plant or animal waste. Organic farming has been started to respond to the environmental suffering caused by synthetic fertilizers and chemical pesticides. It is a new system of agriculture that maintains, repairs and improves the ecological balance. Organic farming uses green manures, cow dung, organic inputs, etc. It is a system of farming that mainly focuses to keep the soil alive, maintaining its good health, cultivating the land, and raising the crops. This whole thing should be done to maintain a pollution-free environment and in an ecological manner.

Guide to an Organic Farming in India
Guide to an Organic Farming in India

Organic agriculture mainly contributes to food security and poverty mitigation by a combination of several features such as;

  • Increasing yields especially in low-input areas;
  • Conserving natural resources and biodiversity on the farm and in the surrounding area;
  • Reducing costs and increasing income;
  • Producing varieties and safe food;
  • Being sustainable in the long term.

Soil Management of Organic Farming in India

Organic farming can keep soil quality. The chemical use is directly affecting the sustainability of soil and decreasing its potency. To improve the soil organic carbon productivity in the future the only solution is applying organic manure.

Soil management is the main method of organic farming in India. After cultivation, soil loses its nutrients and the fertility level goes down. The process in which soil boosts with all the necessary nutrients is called soil management. Organic farming uses natural ways to improve the fertility of the soil. Mainly it uses bacteria available from animal waste. These bacteria help in making the soil more fertile and productive. You can use organic manure as an alternative renewable resource for nutrient supply. A massive gap exists between the utilized quantity and available quantity.

Organic farming will deliver agronomic and environmental benefits both through tactical management and structural change of the farming system. The benefits of organic farming mainly include developing countries (Increase of biodiversity, energy reduction, environment protection and reduction of CO2 emissions) and for developing countries like India (increase in crop yields, efficient use of resources, environment and biodiversity safeguarding, etc.). Crop rotation, inter-cropping and minimal tillage are used to improve soil fertility and water holding capacity.

Crop Rotation in Organic Farming Practices in India

Crop rotation is the backbone of organic farming practices. To keep the soil healthy and allow the natural microbial systems working, crop rotation is more efficient. Crop rotation is the sequence of different crops cultivated on the same land. Follow 3 to 4 years rotation plan. All high nutrient demanding crops must precede and follow legume dominated crop combination. Rotation of non-pest host and pest host crops mainly helps in controlling soil-borne diseases and pests. Crop rotation also help in controlling weeds. It is an efficient method to improve the fertility and productivity of the soil. Crop rotation is helps improve soil structure through different kinds of root systems. Legumes must be used regularly in rotation with vegetable and cereal crops. Green manure crops must also find a place in planning rotations. High nutrient demanding crops must always be followed by legume crops and returned to the soil. Some major important benefits of crop rotations are;

  • Not all type of plants have the same nutritive needs
  • Soil structure is improved through different kinds of roots
  • Pest build-up is avoided
  • Crop rotation helps against the buildup of weeds.

Advantages of Organic Farming in India

Advantages of Organic Farming in India.
Advantages of Organic Farming in India
  • Economical- In India, organic farming is very economical and it doesn’t use expensive fertilizers, pesticides, HYV seeds for the plantation of crops.
  • Good return on Investment- With the use of local and cheaper inputs, a farmer can get a good return on investment.
  • High Demand– In India and worldwide, there is a massive demand for organic products therefore the farmer can earn more income through export.
  • Nutritional-Organic products are more tasty, nutritional, and good for health compared to chemical and fertilizer used products.
  • Environment-Friendly- Organic farming in India is environment friendly. It does not use chemicals and fertilizers.

Types of Organic Farming

Organic farming is mainly divided into 2 types namely;

  • Integrated organic farming
  • Pure organic farming

Pure organic farming means avoiding all unnatural chemicals. In this process, all the pesticides and fertilizers come from natural sources such as blood meal or bone meal.

Integrated organic farming includes integration of nutrient management and pest management to achieve economic demands and ecological requirements.

Principles of Organic Farming in India

Organic agriculture requires these below-mentioned principles. These principles contribute to improving organic agriculture for the world.

There are four principles of organic farming are as follows;

Principles of Health – The health of the people, ecosystem and communities. 

Principles of Ecology – The right balance between environment and ecosystem.

Principles of Fairness – Quality of life and good human relationships.

Principles of Care – The consideration is mainly about the environment of the future.

Nutrient Management in Organic Farming

In organic farming, it is most important to constantly work to build a healthy soil that is rich in organic matter and has all the nutrients that the plants need. Some methods like bio-fertilizers green manuring and the addition of manures can be used to build up soil fertility. The main aim of these organic sources is not only to add different nutrients to the soil but also help to avoid weeds and increase soil organic matter to feed soil microorganisms.

Preparation of Liquid Organic Manures

Different nutrient management practices in organic farming are the application of FYM, compost, liquid organic manures, bio-fertilizers, animal manures and organically approved amendments, cropping system management such as green manures (One season in a year), crop rotation, intercropping, and crop residues management as mulch.

Farmyard manure is the basic organic nutrient source available in most of the farms. The nutrients in manure can vary depending on the animal type, health, age, feed ratio, and water content. The several management practices associated with handling manure, manure storage, duration of storage, application amount, and weather can all dramatically alter the nutrient content in manure and thus the number of nutrients available in the soil and for future crop use. Understanding and applying the correct amount of manure to your fields can be accomplished by testing your manure before application.

Organic Manures Role and Application in Organic Farming

Commonly applied and available farmyard manure (FYM) and vermicomposting are usually low in nutrient content, so high application rates are required to achieve crop nutrient requirements. Though in several developing countries including India, the availability of organic manures is not adequate for crop requirements, Green manuring with cowpea, green gram, Sesbania, etc is quite efficient to improve the organic matter content of the soil.

Though the use of green manuring has decreased in the last few decades due to socioeconomic reasons and intensive cropping, several variants of liquid manures are being used by farmers of different states. Few important and widely used liquid manure formulations are given below;

  1. Sanjivak – For the preparation of Sanjivak, mix 100 litres cow urine, 100 kg cow dung, and 500 gm of Jaggery in 300 lit of water in the closed drum. Ferment this mixture for 10 days. After that dilute with 20 times water and sprinkle in one acre either as a soil spray or along with irrigation water.
  2. Jivamrut – For the preparation of Jivamrut, mix cow urine 10 litres, cow dung 10 kg, Jaggary 2 kg, any pulse grain flour 2 kg, and live forest soil about 1 kg in 200 litres water. Ferment this mixture for 5 to 7 days. Stir the solution frequently three times a day. Use in one acre with irrigation water.
  3. Amritpani – Mix 10 kg cow dung with 500 gm honey and mix well to form a creamy paste. After that add 250 gm of cow desi ghee and mix at high speed. Dilute this mixture with 200 litres water. Sprinkle this liquid manure in one acre over soil or with irrigation water. After completion of 30 days, apply the 2nd dose in between the rows of plants or through irrigation water.
  4. Panchgavya – Mix cow urine 3 litres, cow milk 2 litres, fresh cow dung 5 kg, curd 2 litres, cow butter oil 1 kg and ferment this mixture for 7 days with twice stirring per day. And after that dilute 3 lit of Panchgavya in 100 litres water and spray over the soil. 20 litres Panchgavya is required per acre for soil application along with irrigation water.

How to Control Weeds in Organic Farming

Chemical herbicides cannot be used in organic farming. So, weeding can be done only manually. Different cultural practices like flooding, mulching, tillage can be used to control the weeds. Also, the biological method can be used to manage the loss due to weeds. If in case the ground is fallow, a cover crop can be planted to build soil quality and suppress weeds. Weeds growth can also be restricted by using drip irrigation whenever possible, which limits the distribution of water to the plant line.

Pests and Diseases Management in Organic Farming

For careful management and association of plants and animals to prevent disease and pest outbreaks, primarily bio-control agents may be applied but organic pest management is achieved by ecological approaches that establish a pest/predator balance. While the choice of resistant varieties of crops is more dominant, other prevention methods mainly include improving soil health to resist soil pathogens, encouraging natural biological agents for control of disease, insects, rotating crops, modifying habitat to encourage pollinators and natural enemies, and trapping pests in pheromone attractants.

Natural crop production encompasses crop diversity as well as controlling pests, weeds, and diseases. Organic agriculture requires a variety of crops that can support numerous and different types of beneficial soil microorganisms, insects, and also promotes overall soil management for improved farm productivity. Pest and weed management is to be done without the use of synthetic herbicides or pesticides, respectively. Some control measures should be through flame weeding, mulching, use of cover crops, crop rotation, mechanical tillage and hand weeding.

Being ‘organic’, as the term suggests, the use of pesticides, synthetic fungicides, weedicides are banned and natural enemies of the pests are protected. For example, constructing a bird’s nest or planting a tree on the farm would encourage the growth of birds. Birds are natural enemies of insect pests. Hence the pests are dealt with a natural manner. Using genetically engineered organisms are banned to control pests and diseases. For weeds, a manual weeding process should be done. Weeds near the base of the plants are taken out and recycled as mulch in the field. Plant-based repellents, pheromone traps, clay, soft soap, neem seed kernel extracts, mechanical traps, and chromatic traps are permitted for use in the farms. In case of complete necessity, you should consult the certifying agency and the following products must be used;

  • Bordeaux mixture
  • Mineral oils like kerosene
  • Plant and animal preparations

Crop pests have natural enemies such as Coccinellids, Micromus, Syrphidae, spiders, and campoletis. Studies have shown that coccinellids decrease leafhoppers and spiders twice as efficiently in crops like cotton, groundnut, potatoes, maize, and soybean.

Limitations of Organic Farming

Some of the limitations with organic farming includes;

  • Organic manure is not abundantly available and on a plant nutrient basis, it may be more costly compared to chemical fertilizers.
  • Production in organic farming declines particularly in 1st few years, so the farmer must be given premium prices for organic produce.
  • The guidelines for organic processing, production, transportation, and certification are beyond the understanding of ordinary Indian farmers.

The organic product’s marketing is also not properly streamlined. There are several farms in India which are never been chemically cultivated or have converted back to organic farming. These thousands of farmers cultivating a million acres of land are not classified as organic. Their products either sell purely on goodwill or trust as organic through selected outlets and regular specialized markets or sells in the open market along with conventionally grown products at the same price. These farmers may never choose for certification because of the costs involved in addition to the extensive documentation that is required by certifiers.

Certification of Organic Products

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Certified organic products including all types of food products namely honey, tea, spices, coffee, oilseeds, fruits, basmati rice, pulses, processed food, cereals, herbal medicines, and their value-added products are produced in India. In addition to the edible sector, functional food products, organic cotton fiber, garments, cosmetics, and body care products are also produced. Some crops like Pineapple, grapes, ginger, banana, pomegranates, large cardamom, amaranth, sweet fennel, peanut, onion, sugar/jaggery are other commodities which will emerge as important organic commodities produced in India in the next 2 to 3 years.

Certification Mark of Organic Logo Concept of India;

A trademark – “India Organic” will be approved based on compliance with the NSOP (National Standards for Organic Production). Communicating the genuineness along with the origin of the product, this trademark is owned by the Government of India. Only such manufacturers, exporters, and processors whose products are properly certified by the accredited certification and inspection agencies will be approved the license to use the logo. This would be governed by a set of regulations.

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