Effects on Environment
Safety for the environment
There are a number of harmful effects that chemical pesticides can have on the environment:
- Chemical pesticides can kill useful insects which eat pests. Just one spray can upset the balance between pests and the useful predators which eat them.
- Artificial chemicals can stay in the environment and in the bodies of animals causing problems for many years.
- Insect pests can very quickly, over a few breeding cycles, become resistant to artificial products and are no longer controlled. This means that increased amounts or stronger chemicals are then needed creating further economic, health and environmental problems. Natural control
There are many ways in which the organic farmer can control pests and diseases.
- Growing healthy crops that suffer less damage from pests and diseases.
- Choosing crops with a natural resistance to specific pests and diseases.
Local varieties are better at resisting local pest and diseases than introduced varieties.
- Timely planting of crops to avoid the period when a pest does most damage.
- Companion planting with other crops that pests will avoid, such as onion or garlic. Companion planting
- Trapping or picking pests from the crop.
- Identifying pest and diseases correctly. This will prevent the farmer from wasting time or accidentally eliminating beneficial insects. It is therefore useful to know life cycles, breeding habits, preferred host plants and predators of pests.
- Using crop rotations to help break pest cycles and prevent a carry over of pests to the next season.
- Providing natural habitats to encourage natural predators that control pests. To do this, the farmer should learn to recognise insects and other animals that eat and control pests. Through careful planning and using all the other techniques available it should be possible to avoid the need for any crop spraying. If pests are still a problem natural products can be used to manage pests, including sprays made from chillies, onions, garlic or neem. Further information can be obtained from HDRA. Even with these natural pesticides, their use should be limited as much as possible and only the safest ones used. It is wise to check with national and international organic standards to see which ones are allowed or recommended. Genetic diversity Within a single crop there can be many differences between plants. They may vary in height or ability to resist diseases, for example. These differences are genetic. Traditional crops grown by farmers contain greater genetic diversity than modern bred crops. Traditional varieties have been selected over many centuries to meet the requirements of farmers. Although many are being replaced by modern varieties, seeds are often still saved locally. Crops which have been bred by modern breeding methods tend to be very similar and if one plant is prone to disease, all the other plants are as well. Although some modern varieties may be very resistant to specific pests and diseases they are often less suited to local conditions than traditional varieties. It can therefore be dangerous to rely too much on any one of them. In organic systems, some variation or ‘genetic diversity’ between the plants within a crop is beneficial. Growing a number of different crops rather than relying on one is also very important. This helps to protect against pests and diseases and acts as insurance against crop failure in unusual weather such as drought or flood. It is important to remember this when choosing which crops to grow.
An organic farmer should try to:
- grow a mixture of crops in the same field (mixed cropping, intercropping, strip cropping)
- grow different varieties of the same crop
- use as many local crop varieties as possible
- save the seed of local and improved crop varieties rather than relying on buying seed from outside the farm every year. Exchange of seed with other farmers can also help to increase diversity, and ensure the survival of the many traditional crop varieties which are being lost as they are replaced by a few modern varieties. Careful use of water In arid lands the careful use of water is as much a part of organic growing as is any other technique. As with other resources, organic farmers should try to use water which is available locally, avoiding using water faster than it is replaced naturally.
There are many ways to use water carefully, including:
- The use of terracing, rain water basins or catchments and careful irrigation
- The addition of organic matter to the soil to improve its ability to hold water
- The use of mulches to hold water in the soil by stopping the soil surface from drying out or becoming too hot Animal husbandry
- Organic cattle farming is a method for raising cattle in a more “natural” way.
- Animals raised this way are allowed to graze on natural foods and have access to the outdoors.
- Feed for animals is grown organically
- Not given antibiotic or hormones
- Animals often have much better living conditions than most large scale cattle farms that are often crowded and prevent cattle from getting much exercise in order to maximize profits.
- Farm yard manure is used for producing organic manure thru vermi-composting, and bio-gas production
- Organic livestock farming practices
Breeds and breeding-
- use of well adapted breeds,
- conserve animal genetic resource biodiversity
- access to pastures
- No growth hormones
- No animal by-products in feed
- Loose and comfortable
Animal health and disease management
- Minimal use of antibiotics
- Manure must be managed to prevent contamination of crops, soil or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals or residues of prohibited substances.
We Middleway Organics acknowledge that certification is important to build consumer confidence and to establish trust amongst consumers. Certification also helps organic farmers gain a fair price for their produce and facilitates the sale of organic products. However, certification can be tedious and expensive, which can be a deterrent for small farmers.
Middleway Organic believes in establishing personal relationships with farmers and understanding their methods of organic farming and only after we are convinced about their methods we sell it.
Middleway Organic ‘seal of trust’ is an additional bond of trust and guaranteed 100% safe and organic.