Organic Herbs Farming for Profit in India

A step by step guide for organic herbs farming, cultivation practices

Today, we learn the organic herbs farming along with cultivation practices for maximum profits. You can apply this information for commercial organic herbs farming and production process.

Organic herbs have been formed by natural means on unpolluted land by adding organic material without the use of chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or herbicides. Organic herbs farming are one of several approaches to sustainable agricultural practices. Many of the techniques used in organic farming such as intercropping; mulching and integration of crops and livestock are practiced under different agricultural systems. Organic agriculture unique is that under different laws and certification programs about all synthetic inputs are prohibited and soil crop rotations are mandatory. Properly managed organic herb farming reduces and eliminates water pollution and helps conserve water and soil on a particular farm.

Herbs can also be grown for their essential oils or as raw material for making herbal products. Organic herbs can be used for medicinal purposes. Most organic herbs are thought to be healthy food like cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and garlic.

Organic Mint Farming.
Organic Mint Farming.

Different systems of organic farming:

Biodynamic farming

In this farming method preparations made from fermented manure, minerals and herbs are used to restore and enhance the nutrition, quality, and flavor of the food being raised.

Do nothing farming method

This method focuses on a minimum of mechanical cultivation and labor for grain crops.

Holistic management

Holistic Management process is a whole farm planning system that helps farmers better manage agricultural resources that gain sustainable environmental, economic, and social benefits.

Permaculture

It is a system of agriculture centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.

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Soil requirement for growing organic herbs:

Most of the herbs prefer well-drained, friable soils. This allows the roots to receive the water they require without the danger of rot and promotes a strong root system. There is a selection of soil amendments to be added if the soil in a specific area is not desirable to promote good herb growth. Herb farming in the outdoors the soil must be prepared ahead of time by eliminating vegetation and analyzing soil for pH level and amount of fertilizer required for proper growing conditions. In commercial industries, additional soil sterilization is used to eliminate regular soil-derived crop diseases, pests, and for the control of weeds. Additionally, crop rotation is very important to diminish the possibility of common crop diseases.

Soil management for herbs farming:

Organic herb farming uses crop rotation, cover cropping, reduced tillage, and application of compost to develop soil fertility. It depends on the natural breakdown of organic matter to replace some nutrients taken from the soil by previous crops. Soil pH level for herbs requires 6.3 to 6.8 for optimum growth, but lavender prefers a pH of 6.5 to 7.0. Prepare the soil to a depth of eight inches. If it is heavy or has a poor drainage system, amends it with composted organic matter.

Organic Levander Farming.
Organic Levander Farming.

Plants require minerals such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to produce properly. Symbiotic relations with fungi are needed for them to grow well. Intercropping, with wider spacing between plants, is done to prevent infestation by pests and to increase soil nutrients. Organic farmers use manure, fertilizers such as plant fibers and fallen down leaves and several minerals such as rock phosphate, a naturally occurring form of potash which give potassium. Bacteria and fungi break down plant and animal waste matter into productive increase soil nutrients. They supply fertile soil and healthier crops.

Soil conservation method on organic herbs cultivation:

Organically managed soil has higher quality and water retention. Organic herbs farming can build up soil organic matter better than conventional farming, however, few studies suggest organic yields are typically lower than conventional yields.

Some of the organically farming herbs:

  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Parsley
  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Bay
  • Rosemary
  • Chives
  • Mint
  • Tarragon
  • Lemon Balm

Site selection and planting for organic herb farming:

In general, field-grown herbs can be produced using similar cultivation techniques used for standard or organic herbs crops. Though, specific cultural requirements can vary depending on the herb. As a rule, herbs are easy to grow, tolerating a wide range of soils and increasing conditions. Preferably, choose a warm, sunny site with good soil drainage and few weed problems.

Raised beds with plastic mulch and drip irrigation increase yields and generate a cleaner product. Some herbs can be direct-seeded, while others must be transplanted. Depending on the herb and the targeted market, multiple crops from sequentially seeded or transplanted crops can be required. The use of row covers or low tunnels could help extend the season.

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Selection of herbs for organic farming:

Herbs can be annuals, biennials or perennials, depending on the variety of herb growing and the climate in which it is grown. Choose herbs so that you have a variety of shapes, textures, scents and leaf forms.

Organic production of annual herb crops:

Annual herb crops can be raised organically in the field much the same as annual vegetables. Though, today most commercial production of annual culinary herbs such as basil, cilantro, parsley, and lemon balm occurs in hydroponic greenhouse systems. At this time organic farm hydroponics is neither well defined nor certified by most certifiers. Most field transplants approach from plugs, although some herbs are direct-seeded.

Caring for herbs:

  • Most herbs do not need highly fertile soils. Work soil well by loosening it with a garden spade or fork, and mix in some finished compost before planting.
  • Once planted, herbs need no fertilizer and occasional weeding.
  • Water herbs when the soil is dry 3 inches down into the soil, and then water thoroughly.
  • To encourage new growth and extend the harvest, pinch off any flowers as they start to show.
  • Apply a straw mulch to protect the roots of perennial herbs that remain in place over the winter season. Some tender perennials will not survive the winter outside (potentially rosemary) and should be dug up in the fall, potted and grown inside for the winter.

Organic weed management in herb farming:

Organic farming promotes weed management suppression. In the organic farming rotation of annual crops is done which means that a single crop cannot be developed in the same place without a different, intervening crop. Organic crop rotations frequently involve crops with dissimilar life cycles to discourage weeds related to a particular crop.

Some of the developed methods to suppress the growth or germination of common weeds;

Tillage – Turning over the soil between crops to incorporate crop residues; remove existing weeds and arrange a seedbed for planting;

Mowing and cutting – Removing tops of weeds;

Thermal weeding – Killing weeds by using heat.

Mulching – Blocking weed growth with plastic films.

Rotation of Crops– This is done from year to year to interrupt pest reproduction cycles.

Organic production of herbs:

Organic farming relies on methods which combine both scientific knowledge of ecology and modern knowledge with traditional farming practices based on naturally happening biological processes. It is a farming method that sustains the health of soils, ecosystems, and people. The principal methods of organic farming contain crop rotation, green manure and compost, mechanical cultivation and biological pest control.

Farmers are faced with a myriad of production challenges where the most common problems are pests, which consist of insects, diseases, and weeds. They integrate cultural, biological, mechanical, physical and chemical practices to manage pests and diseases.

Cultural practices

These practices rely on a strategy to create the crop or habitat unacceptable to pests by interfering with their oviposition preferences, host plant discrimination or location by both adults and immature. Those can be achieved with practices such as crop isolation, mixed cropping, and crop rotation systems. The timing of sowing and planting herbs can be used to allow young plants to establish a tolerant stage before an attack occurs and to reduce the susceptible period of attack. Management of trap and nursery crops and surrounding environment is included to divert insect attack away from the crop.

Mechanical and physical control

Mechanical and physical control include tillage, mowing, cutting, mulching, and organic soil coverage and barriers. Tillage turning the soil between crops to incorporate crop residues & soil amendments. It destroys weeds and disrupts the pest and disease life cycle.

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Biological control

Biological control in organic plant protection is controlling insect pests and diseases using other organisms which rely on predation, parasitism, and herbivory or other natural mechanisms. Natural enemies of insect pests, recognized as biological control agents, are predators, parasitoids, and pathogens. For weeds biological control, agents are seed predators, herbivores and plant pathogens, as for plant diseases biological agents are antagonists. In organic farming, biological agents can be imported to locations where they don’t naturally happen, or farmers can make a supplemental release of natural enemies, boosting the naturally occurring population.

Chemical control

Chemical control of organic standards is designed to allow the use of naturally occurring substances that are pyrethrin and rotenone. Most farmers avoid the use of broad-spectrum synthetic pesticides, which severely disrupt natural control and promote the number of secondary pests that are spider mites, brown planthoppers, and Rhizoctonia. There are few synthetic substances allowed in organic farming, such as fixed coppers (copper hydroxide, copper oxide, copper oxychloride, and copper sulfate), hydrated lime, hydrogen peroxide, lime sulfur, and potassium bicarbonate.

Herbal pesticides:

Herbal pesticides can kill all types of insects and pests. They are capable of killing all sorts of pests and insects that can cause some sort of harm to you or your goods. There is always a better technique to get rid of the pests. Below are some of the pests that kill through herbal pesticides method.

Termite control

You can control the growth and breeding of termite through this process. The odorless pest control method has been found effective in treating and stopping the growth of termites.

Ant control

You can want the organic pesticide method to kill the ants in and around the locality. It has been found effective in curing the ant growth in both residential and commercial area.

Mosquito control

Now it is simple to control the growth and breeding of mosquitoes. You can do it every through the herbal pest control method. The odorless pest control will repel the mosquitoes from the vicinity and you can roam around free.

Bedbug control

It is always a very effective measure to treat the control and growth of bedbug in any particular location.

Rodent control

The rats and rodents in and around favorite location could be controlled with the herbal method. We use organic pesticides to kill and prevent the growth of rodents in all location.

Ticks control

We use an organic method to control and growth of ticks process in and around both residential and commercial locations.

Herbal pest control:

Non-chemical or herbal pesticides (pest control products) are derived from naturally happening plants and herbs and are processed to control pests. Chemical Pesticides act very quickly but are harsh to living beings. Organic or Herbal pest control methods, do not harm the environment. A  Citronella -based repellant for mosquitoes poses fewer health risks than commercially obtainable mosquito coils, mats or liquids that contain synthetic allethrins.

Herbal pest control methods, however, need laborious preparation and there is not enough awareness about them. These herbal pest control products reduce the pest population, without harming the nontargeted occupants of the farming area. It has no negative result on the health of humans and pets and their environment.

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Herbal pesticides quickly break down in the environment and are said to have low residual produce (they do not persist in our environment for very long). If treated with respect, they are less toxic to humans, pets and other mammals. However, it should be realized that just because a chemical is naturally derived does not automatically ensure that it is safe for humans.

Some examples of Herbal Pest control products could be the use of Canola oil which works successfully against ants and yet non-toxic to humans. Another simple example is the role of Garlic oil in repelling birds and regular pests and also it degrades readily. Use of lemongrass in controlling mosquitoes is another most example; it leaves a very pleasant fragrance wherever it is applied. Black pepper can be used to repel mammals. Cedarwood oil is also used to preserve wood and control termites and borers. Similarly, Neem extract is one more example as an herbal product for pest control.

Another generally used herbal product by professional pest controllers is Natural Pyrethrin. It is a popular herbal pesticide and is well known for its quick knockdown effect against a wide range of household crawling and flying insects. It acts as a nervous system of the pest. It has an important advantage over other pesticides as it has low mammalian toxicity.

Harvesting your herbs:

  • Harvest herbs before flowering. Each type of herb will bloom at a special point during the season so keep an eye out for the buds. This will happen several times throughout the growing season if you are careful not to over-harvest.
  • Each herb has an optimum time for harvesting time. When growing plants for their aromatic leaves (such as rosemary, thyme, sage, and savory), optimal harvesting is between the development of flower buds and half opening. For more tender annuals (such as salad burnet, basil, cilantro, parsley, and fennel), the best time to harvest is early spring when leaves are young and fleshy.
  • Annual herbs can be cut back to 4 to 6 inches high with each harvest, as long as you leave at least one pair of leaves. Perennials must be treated kindly, never removing more than one-third of the plant.
  • The best time to harvest herbs is in the morning, as this is when the oils and moisture are most concentrated in the leaves. The topmost leaves of herb plants are the most flavorful.

That’s all folks about organic herbs farming and cultivation practices. Keep growing herbs!.

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