A step by step guide for organic vegetable farming and profits
The primary goal of organic vegetable production is to optimize the health and production of interdependent communities of soil, plant, animal, and people. Organic vegetable farming in India is not new and is being followed from ancient time. It is a process of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising vegetable crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and by use of organic wastes that are crop wastes, animal wastes, farm wastes, and other biological materials with beneficial microbes that are biofertilizers to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable creation in an eco friendly pollution-free environment.
Organic vegetable farming is a method which largely excludes or avoid the use of synthetic inputs (example are fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives and etc) to the maximum extent feasible relies upon crop rotations, animal manures, mineral grade rock additives and biological of nutrient mobilization and plant protection.
Objectives of organic farming in vegetable crops:
Let us discuss organic farming in vegetable crops;
- To create the food of high nutritional quality in sufficient quantity.
- To encourage biological cycles within farming systems by involving the use of microorganisms, soil flora, and fauna, plants, and animals.
- To keep and increase the long-term fertility of soil and biodiversity.
- To use renewable resources in organized production systems.
- To work as much as probable within a closed system with regard to organic matter and nutrient elements and draw upon local resources.
- To avoid all forms of pollution that can result from Agricultural techniques.
- To decrease the use of fossil energy in agricultural practice to the minimum.
Characteristics of organic farming systems in vegetables:
Management of Organic vegetable farming is focused on the whole farm system and its interactions with climate, environment, social as well as economic conditions, rather than considering the farm as comprises of individual enterprises.
The goal of soil fertility management is to keep or improve the condition of the soil and minimize soil erosion. This is prepared by using sound crop rotations, green manures and cover crops, plant and animal matter, and fertilizers or soil amendments allowable according to the National List. Soil testing must be used to determine pH and levels of phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
The key characteristics of organic farming include;
- Protecting the long-term fertility of soils by keeping organic matter levels, soil biological activity, and careful mechanical intervention.
- Nitrogen self-sufficiency during the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, with effective recycling of organic materials, including vegetable crop residues and livestock wastes.
- Weed control, pests and disease control relying mostly on crop rotation, natural predators, organic manuring, and limited thermal intervention, biological and chemical intervention.
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- Supplementing crop nutrients, where necessary, by using nutrient sources which are made obtainable to the plants indirectly but the action of soil microorganisms and chemical reactions of the soil.
- Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats.
Nutrient management options for organic vegetables:
Nutrient management is a key factor for organic farming systems. In organic farming systems there is no place for synthetic chemicals then use of chemical fertilizers is abandoned, in organic farming, nutrient management depends on biologically derived nutrients through recycling of on-farm inputs. As a strategy, the quantity of biomass removed for human food and fiber, cattle feed or firewood from an organic farm must be replaced with any other bio-waste on the farm. Use of organics in vegetable production must be practiced. It does not involve the use of any particular organic source of material or the utilize of single organic farming practice.
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The various types of organic farming (natural farming, ley farming, nonchemical farming, etc.) can be followed by adopting a selection of methods of organic farming. Depending upon the resource base of an ecosystem, time and cost factors, some methods may attain predominance in a given situation. Sometimes, a particular requirement such as pest control can get pre-dominance over other aspects of organic farming (for instance, control of bollworm in hybrid cotton is of greatest importance than other factors to increase the cotton yields). A particular method of organic farming to control pests can be emphasized. Thus, each eco-system and each crop can require a different set of methods of organic farming based on priority.
Sometimes, a mixture of many methods can have to be developed based on critical analysis of resources available at hand, cost of materials, the convenience of their use and favorable situation for decomposition.
Latent needs of organic vegetable crops in India:
Let us discuss the need for organic farming of vegetable crops in India;
- Most of the vegetable crops are eaten fresh or used for health care; hence any contamination or chemical residue can lead to various kinds of health hazards.
- In India majority of the vegetable growers are very poor, small and marginal farmers.
- Decrease in land productivity due to the ever-growing use of chemical fertilizers.
- There are not several scientific breakthroughs in improving the quality and production of vegetable crops.
- The ever-increasing cost of production in chemical farming including investments in manufacturing fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation, etc despite massive government subsidies is a major cause of concern, which is very low in organic farming.
- High environment pollution.
- Due to globalization, which affects all industry, there is needed to be competent and compete with the best in the World urges us to provide the adequate weigh ages to Organic farming of vegetable crops.
- Organic farming of vegetable crops produces income through International exports or by saving production costs.
- Organic farming able to secure a place of India on International markets by producing high-value vegetable crops.
- Excessive use of chemical fertilizers as well as pesticides not only increases the cost of production but poses a threat to the environmental quality, ecological stability and sustainability of production. We have gained quantity however at expense of quality.
- In developing countries like India, particularly in low input traditional organism, managed organic vegetable farming system can increase the crop productivity and restore the natural base.
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Technology packages for organic vegetable farming:
- Timely preparation of soil to a fine tilth with 2 to 3 ploughings to remove all debris, stubbles, stones, etc and to avoid infestation of ants and termites. However, minimum tillage is considered as a very important component of organic farming.
- Use of organic manures as basal dose @ 25 to 38 t/ha through FYM, poultry manures, fish manures, sheep composts, etc. Use of organic cakes from neem, groundnut, Pongamia, and castor develop into imperative.
- Raising of green manure crops like sesbania or dhania and incorporating into the soil, besides using biomass of other vegetable plant species.
- Use of vegetable crop residues is essential in organic vegetable production, which increases the soil organic matter content, maintains soil fertility, and in turn increases the crop yield.
The response of some vegetables to organic farming:
Tomato: Application of oil cakes of margosa, castor, and groundnut (@0.2% is normally is found to reduce the intensity of root gall development. Thamburaj found that organically grown plants were taller with more amounts of branches. The tomato yielded 28.18 t/ha, which was at par with the recommended dose of FYM and NPK (120:100:100 kg/ha).
Brinjal: Highest yield of brinjal was 50 kg N/ha with poultry manure and 50 kg N/ha in the form of urea. By use of neem cake higher yield was obtained in brinjal.
Potato: By application of FYM to supply 100 kg P2O5.ha (about 30 t/ha) not only met P and K needs of the crop but kept the potato yield level at a higher than the combined use of P and K fertilizers.
Okra: Okra best responded to poultry manure @ 20 kg N/ha. There was increased in protein and mineral substance of okra crop by application of FYM as compared to commercial manures. The higher yield of okra was also recorded by application of neem cake. By application of bio-fertilizers with chemical fertilizers increases the availability of NPK in soil and fruit in okra.
Cauliflower: The obtained highest returns of cauliflower by mulching with mango leaves.
Cabbage: Application of animal compost that means cattle manures and chicken manure to mineral soil of cabbage crop was effective in reducing the leaching out of mineral nutrients. The total carbon content was increased with the use of compost prepared with cattle manure. Nitrate content in the soil water increased with the number of chemical fertilizers applied but remained low when only compost was applied.
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Pest management in organic vegetables:
Many organically permitted pesticides degrade rapidly in the environment. Control of a continuing pest problem can require repeated applications. Because insects can become resistant to pesticides that are used frequently, those type of pesticides will become less effective over time. This is not as common with short- residual pesticides as with materials that have a long residual activity. Pests are not likely to increase resistance to materials such as oils and soaps that use physical actions such as suffocation or physically dislodging the pest from the vegetable crop as their mechanism of control.
Here below are some examples of pests that can be controlled by organically approved materials;
- Aphid populations can be reduced with oils, soaps, and pyrethrum or rotenone combinations. If ants are protecting the aphids from predators and parasites, the best control is often getting by controlling the ants and allowing biological control to resume in the crop. Ant colonies could be physically destroyed or treated with boric acid baits.
- Whitefly populations can be suppressed by several applications of soaps and oils. Since the pupal phase is resistant to control, it is important that you make at least two applications close enough together to prevent more pupal stages from occurring. Thorough coverage of the underside of the leaves is very important, as this is where most of the whitefly nymphs will be feeding.
- Leaf miner control can require several applications within a two-week period. Several of the pupae are in the soil and will not be controlled with short-residual materials. Sprays containing azadirachtin, pyrethrins, and rotenone will kill several of the adults and help to limit the population. Sprays for leaf miners will slow the increase of native wasp parasites.
- Leafhopper numbers can be reduced with applications of pyrethrins and rotenone if the nymphs appear into contact with the materials. Adults and eggs that are inserted in the vegetable plant tissues will not be controlled very well with chemicals.
- If flea beetle numbers are high when young plants are in the cotyledon stage, you can reduce damage from adults by applying soaps and pyrethrin or rotenone combinations.
- Stinkbugs can be hard to control, and only the first two instars are susceptible to soap sprays. If allowed to build up in the field to high levels, they cannot be controlled with organically permitted chemical treatments.
- Russet mites can be controlled with sulfur sprays or with dust. Light mineral, vegetable-based, or neem seed oils can be efficient against pest mites. Some damage to crop foliage or fruit can happen when you use oils. It is advisable to treat a test area first before applying the material to the whole field if you have not used the product before on that crop. Hot weather and higher oil concentrations could increase the toxic reaction in the plants.
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