Organics vs. conventional

  03/11/2018 at 00:15 am

How is organic farming different from conventional farming?

Organic farming starts with the preparation of healthy, living soils that are full of life, including friendly bacteria and fungi that help plants to grow, and larger organisms such as worms to aerate and fertilise the soil.

Organic farming uses no chemical pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, which can be damaging to human health and the environment. There is also no use of Genetically Modified Organisms allowed in organic farming.

It is sometimes not easy to control pests and diseases in organic farming.  The main strategy is based on building healthy soils that create heathy plants that are resistant to pests and diseases.

Organic farmers also employ a range of other practices to manage problems:

  • encouraging native predators such as birds
  • introducing predator species such as aphid-eating wasps
  • rotating crops to discourage diseases
  • applying organic based pesticides and fungicides
  • creating physical barriers (like nets) to keep pests out; and,  
  • lots of hard work to manage weeds and other issues.

 

Chemical farming, by contrast, uses chemical-based pesticides, fungicides and herbicides to control pests and diseases. Genetically Modified crops can also be used.

These chemicals can build up in the soil and damage the ability of soil to support biological life normally found naturally in healthy soils.

As a result, the soils found in chemical farming can become lifeless, often simply used to hold plants up while they are fed chemical based fertilisers to make them grow. 

In Australia, we have real issues with agricultural chemical use and its impacts on farmers, human and environmental health.

According to Alpha Environmental, environmental and contaminated land consultants, there are 7 startling facts about pesticide use in Australia:   

There are 80 pesticides banned overseas are still used in Australia and many on crops for human consumption. These includes carcinogens, hormone disruptors, and chemicals that the World Health Organisation has classified as highly hazardous or extremely dangerous.

Organophosphate chemicals are still allowed in Australia, but are banned in the EU and parts of the US. They are designed to disrupt the neurological system of insects and can have similar effects on humans.

  • Organophosphate insecticides are ranked as some of the most dangerous and persistent chemicals known to humankind
  • Australian law states that pesticides need to be proven unsafe before they are banned, unlike most other countries which stipulate that a pesticide must be proven safe before it can be sold.
  • Pesticides are one of the most common sources of water pollution.
  • Due to the overuse of herbicides and pesticides, many of these chemicals no longer work as pests and weeds build up resistance.
  • Broad spectrum pesticides are cheap, costing just $1.50 per hectare to apply. They kill all insect life, and destroy the natural predation of pests by beneficial insects, thereby increasing the problem.

 

Benefits of organic farming

There is no doubt that organic farming can often be more labor intensive that chemical farming, as producers need to work with the environment, rather than against it.

However, the benefits are many and varied. Organic farming is better for the health of producers, consumer and the environment. Supporting organic farming helps to sequester carbon in the soil and keep it out of the atmosphere.

Our Brisbane certified organic home delivery service, our Sunshine Coast certified organic home delivery service and our Gold Coast certified organic home delivery service allow customers to support organic producers (like us!) to continue to provide clean and healthy food and other products.

 

By Len Costantini