Organic Farming Facts and Principles

Tanja Folnovic

Agronomy Expert

Organic farming is a form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost, and biological pest control. Organic farming uses fertilizers and pesticides, if they are considered natural, but it excludes or strictly limits the use of various methods (synthetic petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides, plant growth regulators, antibiotic use in livestock, genetically modified organisms and nanomaterials) for reasons including sustainability, openness, independence, health, and safety.

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Reasons why organic food is healthier

Organic farming is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony. Organic farming facts:

  • Artificial chemical fertilizers are prohibited – instead farmers develop a healthy, fertile soil by growing and rotating a mixture of crops, adding organic matter such as compost or manure and using clover to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere
  • Pesticides are severely restricted – instead farmers develop nutrient-rich soil to grow strong, healthy crops and encourage wildlife to help control pests and disease
  • Animal welfare is at the heart of the system and a truly free-range life for farm animals is guaranteed
  • A diversity of crops and animals are raised on the farm and rotated around the farm over several seasons, including fallow periods. This mixed farming approach helps break cycles of pests and disease and builds fertility in the soil
  • The routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers is banned – instead the farmers use preventative methods, like moving animals to fresh pasture and keeping smaller herd and flock sizes
  • Genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are banned.

Foods produced by organic farming is organic food. It's produced in a way that complies with organic standards set by national governments and international organizations. Organic food is pure food. It's safer, more nutritious and free of chemical additives.

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USDA organic label

Organic food is produced according to food standards set by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). Anything labelled 'organic' that is for human consumption must meet these standards as a minimum. The standards cover all aspects of food production, from animal welfare and wildlife conservation, to food processing, to packaging. Organic standards ensure that you can be certain that you are buying a genuine organic product that has been produced in line with principles.

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Converting farmland to organic

The principles of organic agriculture

  • The principle of health - organic agriculture is intended to produce high quality, nutritious food that contributes to preventive health care and well-being. In view of this it should avoid the use of fertilizers, pesticides, animal drugs and food additives that may have adverse health effects
  • The principle of ecology - organic agriculture should attain ecological balance through the design of farming systems, establishment of habitats and maintenance of genetic and agricultural diversity
  • The principle of fairness - natural and environmental resources that are used for production and consumption should be managed in a way that is socially and ecologically just and should be held in trust for future generations
  • The principle of care - precaution and responsibility are the key concerns in management, development and technology choices in organic agriculture.

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