Organic farmers do it differently
“Organic” refers to a way of growing and processing food and fiber. It’s an ecological system that relies on healthy, rich soil to produce strong plants that resist pests and diseases.
Organic farmers don’t use toxic, persistent pesticides or chemical fertilizers, which have been known to contaminate soil, air, drinking water and food. Instead, organic farmers enrich their soils and control pests by rotating crops, planting cover crops, releasing beneficial insects and adding composted manure and plant wastes to the soil.
Organic farmers feed their livestock only organic feed, hay and pasture. These farmers don’t use antibiotics or synthetic hormones. They keep their livestock healthy and productive through good nutrition and low-stress living conditions. Many organic farmers also use homeopathic and herbal treatments to keep livestock healthy.
Some organic practices
Crop rotation. Alternating the types of crops grown in each field prevents soil depletion. It also controls pests by eliminating pest breeding grounds built year after year with a continuous crop.
Planting cover crops, such as clover, adds nutrients to the soil, prevents weeds and increases organic matter in the soil. Soil with high organic matter resists erosion and holds water better, requiring less irrigation. Studies have shown that organic crops fare better than non-organic crops in times of drought and stress.
Releasing beneficial insects that prey on pests helps to eliminate the need for chemical insecticides.
Adding composted manure and plant wastes helps the soil retain moisture and nutrients. Just as falling leaves return nutrients to forest soil, composting replenishes the soil.
Preventing animal illness through good nutrition and low-stress living conditions are keys to successful organic livestock farming.
Organic growers follow strict guidelines for safe and hygienic food production. Like all food producers, they must comply with local, state and federal health standards. Pasteurization, selected use of chlorine and other food-safety practices are part of organic production.
National organic regulations also require organic farmers to maintain strict plans detailing the ways they build soil fertility, including the application of manure. No other agricultural regulations in the U.S. impose such strict control on manure use.