Organic Farming Of Medicinal Plants

Introduction to Organic Farming of Medicinal Plants

The Medicinal plant is a plant that is used to maintain health, whether in modern medicine or traditional medicine. The term “Medicinal plant” comprises several types of plants used in herbalism. Due to the presence of natural compounds in Medicinal plants, it can deliver a major source of molecules with Medicinal properties.

A Step by Step Guide to Organic Farming of Medicinal Plants (Herbs)

Organic farming increases soil organic carbon, microbial population / enzymatic activity of the soil, and available phosphorus content and thus making it supportable for organic crop production.  Application of different organic amendments in combinations and a collective manner can supply the nutrient requirement of organic Medicinal plants cropping system. The used weed control approaches in the organic cropping system are frequently the combination of husbandry or cultural techniques with direct mechanical and thermal methods. Pests are usually not an important problem in an organic system, since healthy plants living in good soil with balanced nutrition are better able to resist disease and pest attacks. Though, commercial production of biopesticides comprising different bacteria, viruses, and fungi has been undertaken to control certain pests, insects, and diseases in organic crop production systems. Best Medicinal Plants are Fenugreek, Fennel, Coriander, Ginger, Aloe vera, Tulsi, Mint, Lemongrass, Kale, Fennel, and Garlic.

Medicinal plants mainly demand intensive management. Different species each need their separate conditions of cultivation. The World Health Organization mostly suggests the use of crop rotation to reduce the problems with plant diseases and pests. Cultivation could also be traditional or may make use of conservation agriculture practices to maintain organic matter within the soil and to conserve water, for example with no-till farming systems. In several aromatic and Medicinal plants, plant characteristics vary widely with cropping strategy and soil type, so proper care should be taken to get satisfactory yields.

Guide to Organic Farming of Medicinal Plants.

Medicinal plants Like Tulsi, Neem, Turmeric, Aloe and Ginger cure many common ailments. These Medicinal plants are considered as home remedies in several parts of the country. In some parts of the world, several herbs are used to honour their kings and showing it as a representation of luck. Nowadays, after finding the role of herbs in medicine, so many consumers started the plantation of Tulsi and other Medicinal plants in their gardens.

Medicinal plants play a major role in the development of human cultures around the whole world. Additionally, some kind of plants are treated as a significant source of nutrition and as a result of that they are suggested for their beneficial values. Some of these plants include green tea, walnuts, ginger, aloe, pepper and turmeric etc. Ate am time some plants and their derivatives are considered as a significant source for active ingredients which are used in toothpaste and aspirin etc.

In addition to the Medicinal uses of these medical plants, herbs are also used in food, perfume, tea, natural dye, pest control and so on. Now a day’s in pharmaceutical manufacturing Medicinal herbs are important sources.

In the present day, medical plants are started to considering as an essential source in treating/preventing various kind of disease. Each plant contains several important ingredients that can be used in the medical field and can be elaborate in the development of different kind of drugs.  A lot of undeveloped countries or even developed countries are using herbal medicine in personal health condition, maintain human wellbeing, and treating a certain type of disease like a cough.  These plants include Ginger, Gingko, Ginseng, Echinacea, Garlic and others.

Below are some of the reasons that make the large-scale cultivation of Medicinal plants inevitable;

In nature, there remains a wide variation between the plants about their active principles. It is easy to grow and fulfill the commitment of large-scale demand through cultivated sources instead of from natural sources, which mostly based on nature for their availability and regeneration.

The development of roads into remote areas and the increase of the population have resulted in deforestation and the ultimate loss of natural plant resources.

In several cases, the significant plant parts used are roots or the complete plant, results in destructive extractive/collection methods, which results in the loss of several ecotypes and species.

Even though our forests are the main resources for Medicinal plants as many of them appear in wild, the importance of conservation has not been spelled out. Any long-term approach contains the conservation of biodiversity and support to the communities which are exclusively dependent on forests for their livelihood.

Since the government of India provides policy support for encouraging the Indian system of medicine, the pharma industries look for an organized supply of quality raw materials in greater quantities.

Importance of Some Herbs with Their Medicinal Values

  • Medical plants/herbs like cinnamon, myrrh, aloe, sandalwood, ginseng, black pepper, red clover, burdock, bayberry, and safflower are used to heal wounds, boils, and sores.
  • Cilantro, Apple Mint, Thyme, Golden Oregano, Basil, Fennel, Chives, Variegated Lemon Balm, Rosemary, and Variegated Sage are the major important Medicinal herbs and can be planted in their kitchen garden. These herbs are easy to grow, look good, smell and taste are amazing and many of them are attract butterflies and bees.
  • Several herbs are used as blood purifiers to change a long-standing condition by removing the metabolic toxins. These herbs are also known as ‘blood cleansers’. And certain herbs increase the immunity of the person, in that way reducing conditions such as fever.
  • Some herbs are also having antibiotic properties. Turmeric is generally used for inhibiting the growth of germs, bacteria, and harmful microbes. Turmeric is commonly used as a home remedy to wounds and heal cut.
  • Cinnamon and Sandalwood are great astringents apart from being aromatic. Sandalwood is particularly used in arresting the discharge of mucus, blood, etc.
  • Some kinds of herbs are used to neutralize the acid produced by the stomach. Herbs like marshmallow leaf and root. These herbs serve as antacids. The healthy gastric acid required for good digestion is retained by such herbs.
  • Indian sages were recognized to have remedies from plants that act against poisons from snake bites.
  • Herbs like Coriander and Cardamom are famous for their appetizing qualities. Other aromatic herbs like cloves, peppermint, and turmeric add a pleasant aroma to the food, so increasing the taste of the meal.
  • Some of the medical plants/herbs like sandalwood, turmeric, and aloe are normally used as antiseptic and are very high in their Medicinal values.
  • Cloves and ginger are mainly using in some syrups and these are having an expectorant property, which promotes the thinning and ejection of mucus from the trachea, lungs, and bronchi. Cardamom, Eucalyptus, Wild cherry, and cloves are also having the same expectorant property.
  • Herbs like Ajwain, Basil, Cardamom, Chrysanthemum, Chamomile, Calamus, Coriander, Fennel, Peppermint, and Spearmint, Cinnamon, Ginger and Turmeric are very useful in promoting good blood circulation. So, they are used as cardiac stimulants.
  • Some Medicinal herbs/plant has disinfectant property, which destroys disease-causing germs. They also obstruct the growth of pathogenic microbes that cause communicable diseases.
  • Herbal medicine practitioners recommend calmative herbs, which offer a soothing effect on the body. They are frequently used as sedatives.
  • Some aromatic plants like Goldenseal, Barberry, Aloe, and Chirayata are used as mild tonics. The bitter taste of such plants decreases toxins in the blood. They are useful in destroying infection as well.
  • A wide variety of herbs including Goldenseal, Aloe, Giloe, and Barberry are used as tonics. They can also be nutritive and rejuvenate healthy along with the diseased individual.
  • Turmeric, marshmallow, honey, and liquorice can effectively treat a fresh cut and wound. They are named as vulnerary herbs.

Major Components of Organic Farming Suggesting to Medicinal Plants

The main components are Farmyard manure and green manure, farm and city waste compost, vermicompost and Vermi-wash, cover crops, crop residue management, mulching, concentrated manures, microbial fertilizers, crop rotations, and crop management. Soil inputs are a major source of organic matter, which offers the humus in the soil after decomposition. The decomposition of organic matter helps in the alteration of the chemical, physical and biological properties of the soil. It provides the substrate to the microbial population in addition to the improved habitat for macrofauna (millipedes, spiders, worms, etc.), which helps in soil aeration. The enhanced physical conditions change the inoculum’s potential (capacity and density) of pathogens and hosts. The enhancement in the chemical and physical properties helps the roots growth and nutrient absorption of crop plants. These conditions made the plant strong and develop the capacity to avoid or tolerate the disease. Finally, better yield masks the effect of the disease.

Farmyard manure and green manures – The green manuring crops are significant where enough water is available for raising them. Green manuring crops are usually leguminous crops help in the tapping of atmospheric nitrogen and restore nitrogen within the soil and also improve the availability of other nutrients.

Advantages of Cultivation of Medicinal Plants

  • Create employment through the development of ancillary industries and checks migration of rural population to urban areas
  • Comparatively higher net returns compared to horticultural crops and can be integrated into existing farming/cropping systems
  • Bye-products can be effectively utilized for reducing the cost of cultivation and increasing profits
  • Foreign exchange earnings through exports
  • Efficient utilization of work-force Longer shelf life of end products
  • Low incidence of pests and diseases
  • Crops can be grown in marginal, degraded, and problem soils
  • Crops are not damaged by birds
  • Crops and technologies are farmer-friendly and eco-friendly

The Necessity of Organic Farming in Medicinal Plants

In the production of aromatic and Medicinal and plants, India is a global leader. The Food and Agriculture Organization and the National Medicinal Plants Board suggested that all the aromatic and Medicinal plants be cultivated organically. And coming to the products that are organically grown are not only acceptable in the global market but also fetch the best prices than those grown with conventional farming. For instance, in March 2006 the rate of organically grown Psyllium husk was more than 6 times higher than the unclean/conventional produce. Though, the organically produce senna leaf rate was nearly double over the conventional. Likewise, organically produced senna pods rated nearly 40% more over the conventional.  So, the global market in the future is bright for organically grown products. So, in India, it is essential to initiate pace to move from conventional or chemical farming to organic farming in the Medicinal plant sector.

Based on the ecological significance of Medicinal plants, these are very specific for soil, climatic, and water requirement. For introducing in new areas, the soil must have a considerable amount of organic matter, which can offer buffer action in the soil so that plants can withstand properly or else very small quantity of individual ion present in the soil and irrigation water may leave opposing impact on plant growth. Several aromatic and Medicinal plants showed chlorosis, when soil poor in organic matter and having high residual sodium carbonate in irrigation water or soil.

Land Requirement for Organic Farming of Medicinal Plants

History of land use from the previous 3 years must be recorded certainly, when was the last use of synthetic chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers) and when to begin organic farming. Changing land management to organic farming from non-organic/conventional needs a conversion period to support soil fertility status. For Medicinal crops as annual crops require a minimum of 12 months’ time period, while for perennial crops a minimum of 18 months’ time period. There is no conversion period while Medicinal crops were planted in the native land.

Seed Selection for Organic Medicinal Plants Farming

The seeds of the medical plant must become from plants that are organically cultivated or those that have special treatment before planting, which aims this is to less mixing with chemicals. It is strictly banned to use GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds. The seeds are soaked and washed in hot water before sowing to remove the coated layer of the seeds.

Soil Fertility Management for Organic Medicinal Plants

Fertilizer application for Medicinal plants is suggested from natural ingredients. Organic fertilizers will maintain the stability of soil nutrients and avoid the problem of residue. This is completely different from chemical fertilizers which are rapidly absorbed by plants but are supposed to have pharmacological effects. Some kinds of sources of organic materials that can be used for organic fertilizer can come from industrial, agricultural, and household activities. These plants are very specific for nutrition and soil requirements and some of them perform well even degraded and in poor soils. Some of the herbs are performed well in mineral soil and the addition of organic manures exhibits an adverse impact on growth.

The organic material used must be fermented or composted using microbial decomposers and other materials. Manure as an outcome of animal waste decomposition, can provide better availability of nutrients, improve the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the soil, so the plant roots can develop optimally to absorb water and nutrients for production and plant growth.

To increase the quality of organic fertilizer, fermented organic fertilizer can be made in liquid and solid form, and can be mixed with bioactive compounds, humic compounds, and beneficial microbes. POC (liquid organic fertilizer) is a solution to the fermentation of the organic material from plant residues and animal waste, which can provide nutrients quicker, and can be applied regularly.

Crop rotation

Intercropping means growing two or more dissimilar crops on the same piece of land and the base crop must be in distinct raw arrangement. The recommended best plant population of the base crop is appropriately combined with an appropriate additional plant density of the related crop and there is crop intensification in both spatial dimensions and time. The principals involved in the management of inter-cropping is to get extra yield through an intercrop as a bonus and to avoid the risk of crop failure. Though, crop rotation is a system of growing crops on a piece of land in preplanned succession for the effective use of resources with the least input. Crop rotations manage the soil fertility and conservation of soil loss and soil water. Out of that intercropping and crop rotations are much beneficial for the control of diseases and pests and in the organic farming principles.

The Response of Organic Mulches in Medicinal Plants;

Mulches of any kind of material applied on the soil surface to check the evaporation, regulation of temperature, weed infestation, and conserve the moisture and soil loss. Though, organic mulches have added benefit in addition to the above features that are the conditioning of chemical, physical, and biological properties of soil after decomposition and enhancement the soil health.  Around 60 to 70% of the rainfall lost through evaporation can be decreased by the mulches. In general mulches are two types,

(1) Non- organic mulches i.e. plastic, dust or soil, vertical or sub-soiling etc.

(2) Organic mulches- spent grass, trashes, stubble, straw, green leaves or biomass etc.

The organic mulches may be non-leguminous with a wide C: N ratio and leguminous with a narrow C: N ratio. The leguminous mulches are very beneficial to the annual crops and offer nutrients to the plant by their quick decomposition and are rich in nitrogen. Though, non-leguminous mulches are well suited to the perennials like bushes and trees.

You should not miss this: Hydroponic Garlic Farming.

Techniques for Organic Farming for Medicinal Plants

  1. Zero cultivation /no-till cultivation – Zero cultivation is a way of growing pasture or crops from year to year without troubling the soil through tillage. And coming to no-till, it is also an agricultural technique that increases the amount of water that penetrates the soil and increases organic matter holding and cycling of nutrients in the soil.
  2. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – IPM is a pest control program using a combination of all practices to decrease or eliminate pest damage. This contains biological, natural, and mechanical practices in addition to bio and chemical pesticide applications.
  3. Insect traps, lure, and attractants.
  4. Use of Biological pest control
  5. Use of bio micro inoculants and Organic Compost fertilizer.
  6. Use of Organic Disease and Pest control materials – Herbal preparations to control diseases and pests can simply be made by farmers themselves since we have abundant plants in the country that are appropriate ingredients.
  7. Practice crop rotation and following – Changing crops or crop rotation, grown in certain areas to avoid the buildup of certain diseases and pests affecting certain crops. For example, rotating onions with pepper. Resting the soil for 1 to 2 years to allow natural vegetation and the growth of natural enemies to introduce a balance of nature, while enriching your soil environment for future crop production.
  8. Inter-cropping and growing of pest repellant and herbal plants – Some crops keep away some insect pests. Intercropping tomato with cauliflower and cabbages will help to decrease the diamondback moth attacking cabbages. You will not only decrease your cost of disease and pest control but may also increase income per unit area with the crop combination.
  9. Integrated Weed Management (IWM) – Certain weeds are very difficult to control or remove, like grasses. Planting vines and crawling crops like sweet potato and cover crops will also help suppress weeds.
  10. Solarization and Vermipost
  11. Integrated Nutrient Management
  12. Integrated Farm Management

Medicinal Plants-the First Crops for Organic Farming

Organic cultivation in drylands can be started with Medicinal plants because;

  • The main reason for organic Medicinal plant cultivation is the forest resource of Medicinal plants is decreasing but demand is increasing thus Medicinal plant farming is the only solution to fill this gap.
  • Medicinal plants are for the curing of some diseases and any residue of pesticide can convert it into poison. Therefore, Medicinal plants should only be cultivated in organic farming.
  • Growing near to natural conditions is the best method to maintain quality, which is possible in organic farming. Organic cultivation has one distinctive feature of certification as compared to the other sustainable production systems. 


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