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E. Somasundaram, D. Udhaya Nandhini, M. Meyyappan
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Principles of Organic Farming is a practical oriented text to organic crop management that provides background information as well as details of ecology-improving practices. This book is meant to give the reader a holistic appreciation of the principles and importance of organic farming and to suggest ecologically sound practices that help to develop and maintain sustainable agriculture. This book represents a current and updated look at what we know about organic farming practices and systems, primarily from the Indian perspectives. This book is intended as a professional basic textbook for undergraduate level students and will specifically meet out the requirement of the students of organic farming being taught in all the agricultural universities across the globe. In addition, the purpose of this work is to spread the basic concepts of organic farming in order to; guide the production systems towards a sustainable agriculture and ecologically safe, obtain harmless products of higher quality, contribute to food security, generating income through the access to markets and improve working conditions of farmers and their neighborhoods. This book provides attention of one and all concerned to promote organic farming as a measure to provide the elites to posterity and to save our farm land that inherited from forefathers from being degraded and made in to wastelands through our excessive interventions.

0 Start Pages

Preface The quantitative sufficiency of food in our country has led into think the maintenance of soil health and crop husbandry techniques, which maintain the nature’s balance. Organic agriculture (OA) can be seen as pioneering efforts to create sustainable development based on other principles than mainstream agriculture. Practices of organic farming are resilient and becoming increasingly important due to pressing needs to protect the air, soils, and water; to improve socioeconomic conditions of farmers, farm workers, and rural communities; and to provide healthy, safe, and nutritious horticultural products to a rapidly increasing world population. Organic agriculture has always been India’s inherent advantage and strength. The shift in the global consumption patterns, health awareness among the consumers and the increasing significance of sustainability is now putting Indian organic products to the forefront both internationally as well as in the domestic market. Principles of Organic Farming is a practical oriented text to organic crop management that provides background information as well as details of ecology-improving practices. This book is meant to give the reader a holistic appreciation of the importance of organic farming and to suggest ecologically sound practices that help to develop and maintain sustainable agriculture. This book represents a current look at what we know about organic farming practices and systems, primarily from the Indian perspectives. This book is intended as a professional basic textbook for undergraduate level students and will specifically meet out the requirement of the students of Organic Farming being taught at many of the universities. In addition, the purpose of this work is to spread the basic concepts of organic farming in order to; guide the production systems towards a sustainable agriculture and ecologically safe, obtain harmless products of higher quality, contribute to food security, generating income through the access to markets and improve working conditions of farmers and their neighbourhoods. This book provides attention of one and all concerned to promote organic farming as a measure to provide the elutes to posterity and to save our farm land that inherited from forefathers from being degraded and made in to wastelands through our excessive interventions. The authors thank Dr. K. Ramasamy, then Vice-Chancellor, Tamil Nadu Agricultural University for providing necessary guidelines for bringing out this book. The authors thank their family members for their help, physical and moral support for their sincere efforts in bringing out this book in time.

1 Exordium

Organic farming system in India is not new and is being followed from ancient time. It is a method of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (biofertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for sustainable production. Presently the farming situation urges need to develop farming techniques, which are sustainable from environmental, production, and socio-economic points of view. Modern agricultural production throughout the world does not appear to be sustainable in the long run. Sustainable agricultural development “is the management and conservation of the natural resource base and the orientation of technological and institutional change in such a manner to assure the attainment and continued satisfaction of human needs for the present and future generations”. Such sustainable development in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors, conserves land, water, plant and animal genetic resources, is environmentally non-degrading, technically appropriate, economically viable and socially acceptable. Consequently these concerns imparted a way to organic farming. It is the need of the day to understand the prospects and problems of organic farming to launch a successful and flawless organic production programme in the farm environment. There are many explanations and definitions for organic agriculture but all converge to state that it is a system that relies on ecosystem management rather than external agricultural inputs. It is a system that begins to consider potential environmental and social impacts by eliminating the use of synthetic inputs, such as fertilizers and pesticides, veterinary drugs, genetically modified seeds and breeds, immunity booster preservatives, additives and irradiation. These are replaced with site-specific management practices that maintain and increase long-term soil fertility and prevent pest and diseases.

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2 Scenario of Organic Farming

Agriculture in India is not of recent origin, but has a long history dating back to Neolithic age (7500–6500 B.C). It changed the life style of early man from nomadic hunter of wild berries and roots to cultivator of land. Agriculture is benefited from the wisdom and teachings of great saints. The wisdom gained and practices adopted have been passed down through generations. The traditional farmers have developed the nature friendly farming systems and practices such as mixed farming, mixed cropping, crop rotation etc. The great epics of ancient India convey the depth of knowledge possessed by the older generations of the farmers of India. The modern society has lost sight of the importance of the traditional knowledge, which had been subjected to a process of refinement through generations of experience. The ecological considerations shown by the traditional farmers in their farming activities are now a days is reflected in the resurgence of organic agriculture. Historical Perspective of Organic Farming The available ancient literature includes the four Vedas, nine Brahnanas, Aranyakas, Sutra literature, Susruta Samhita, Charaka Samhita, Upanishads, the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata, eighteen Puranas, Buddhist and Jain literature, and texts such as Krishi-Parashara, Kautilya’s, Artha-sastra, Panini’s Ashtadhyahi, Sangam literature of Tamils, Manusmirit, Varahamihira’s Brahat Samhita, Amarkosha, Kashyapiya-Krishisukti and Surapala’s Vriskshayurveda. This literature was most likely to have been composed between 6000 B.C. and 1000 A.D. The information related to the biodiversity and agriculture (including animal husbandry) is available in these texts. Rig-Veda is the most ancient literary work of India. It believed that Gods were the foremost among agriculturists. According to ‘Amarakosha’, Aryans were agriculturists. Manu and Kautilya prescribed agriculture, cattle rearing and commerce as essential subjects, which the king must learn. According to Patanjali the economy of the country depended on agriculture and cattle-breeding. Plenty of information is available in ‘Puranas’, which reveals that ancient Indians had intimate knowledge on all agricultural operations. Some of the well known ancient classics of India are namely, Kautilya’s‘Arthashastra’; Panini’s ‘Astadhyayi’; Patanjali’s ‘Mahabhasya’; Varahamihira’s ‘Brahat Samhita’; Amarsimha’s ‘Amarkosha’ and Encyclopedic works of Manasollasa. These classics testify the knowledge and wisdom of the people of ancient period. Technical book dealing exclusively with agriculture was Sage Parashara’s ‘Krishiparashara’ in 1000 A.D. Other important texts are Agni Purana and Krishi Sukti attributed to Kashyap (500 A.D.).

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3 Government Initiatives and Research Institutes

The Tenth Five Year Plan (GoI 2002), for 2002 through 2007, has put emphasis on natural resource management through rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharging measures and controlling groundwater exploitation, watershed development, treatment of waterlogged areas. With regard to application of agricultural inputs like fertilizer and pesticides, the Plan stated that factors such as imbalanced use of nitrogenous (N), phosphatic (P) and postassic (K) fertilisers, increased deficiency of micronutrients and decreased soil organic carbon would be addressed through a holistic agri-environmental approach stressing Integrated Plant Nutrient and Pest Management. Further, the Tenth Plan document recognizes organic farming as a ‘thrust area’ in the sustainable use and management of resources in agriculture. The trajectory of Indian agriculture and its associated environmental problems has brought about recognition that future agricultural growth and productivity will have to occur simultaneously with environmental sustainability. The environmental challenges, especially in terms of land degradation and groundwater depletion, water logging and excessive use of chemical inputs are posing problems for the future of Indian agriculture. To address the problems, policies have laid emphasis on promoting sustainable agriculture including organic farming. Differential approaches and policy instruments, however, will be required to address these problems. The shift from input-intensive to sustainable, particularly organic farming is a difficult task as it involves a number of policy measures dealing with a variety of issues ranging from the transfer of information and technology to the development of markets. Another difficult task, and perhaps more difficult, relates to marginal and small farmers – which comprise a substantial part of Indian agriculture. Although these marginal and small farmers have been considered organic by ‘default’, severe resource constraints make a shift to the modern sense of organic farming prohibitive. The Indian government has been undertaking measures to promote organic farming with the aim to improve soil fertility and help to double the farmers’ incomes by the year 2022. The Prime Minister had visited Sikkim—which is India’s first organic state—and encouraged other states to replicate the “Sikkim model”. Some of the policy initiatives to promote organic farming and exports include development of an organic regulation for exports by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), removal of quantitative restriction on organic food exports, providing subsidies to farmers under the Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) in partnership with the state governments, and other schemes such as the Mission Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region. Despite these initiatives, a recent survey-based study covering 418 organic farmers across different states of India suggests that a move to organic farming methods may not be that easy and organic farmers are not getting the expected premium price for their produce.

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4 Biodiversity and Organic Farming

The word biodiversity refers to the variety of living organisms (flora and fauna). Biodiversity or Biological diversity is defined as the variability among all living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and ecological complexes of which they are part. Wilson, 1988 defined ‘Biological diversity’ or ‘biodiversity’ as that part of nature which includes the differences in genes among the individuals of a species, the variety and richness of all the plant and animal species at different scales in space i.e. local, regional, country wise and global, andvarious types of ecosystems- both terrestrial and aquatic-within a defined area. The diversity of agro-ecosystems Biological diversity deals with the degree of nature’s variety in the biosphere. This variety can be observed at three levels i.e., genetic, species and ecosystem. a) Genetic Diversity Genetic diversity refers to the variation at the level of individual genes. Tremendous amount of genetic diversity exists within individual species. This genetic variability is responsible for the different characters in species. Genetic diversity is the raw material from which new species arise through evolution. Today, the genetic diversity is made use to breed new crop varieties, disease resistant crops. Organic producers, on the other hand, are looking for varieties that are suited to their local climatic and soil conditions and are not susceptible to disease and pest attack. Research has shown that in general these characteristics are more likely to be found in the older native cultivars. For example, conventional wheat grown in an organic system will have reduced protein content, whereas the selection of a variety suitable for the particular growing conditions will provide higher protein, and thus higher baking quality wheat to be grown. Research has also indicated that yields and disease resistance are better in native cultivars as opposed to modern varieties for vegetables (tomato, cucumber and melon) grown in an organic system.

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5 Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)

The increasing awareness of the deleterious effects of indiscriminate use of artificial inputs in agriculture such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides hasled to the adoption of organic farming as an alternative method for conventional farming. Farmers are adopting organic farming due to the advantages like, It is self-sustaining and socially and ecologically superior over the conventional farming. It makes use of cost effective management practices involving the use of farm inputs produced within the farm. It is less expensive. It is environment friendly as there is no pollution of soil and water. It enriches the soil and the local ecology. The produce is free of contamination from chemical residues has better taste, flavour and nutritional value. Seeds have more vitality and are good for successive generations. Growing markets for safe food

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6 Organic Sources of Plant Nutrients & Its Management

Soil is a living system and soil fertility is the key to agricultural productivity. Any input that destroys this living system and undermines soil health basically undermines the agricultural productivity. The maintenance of the fertility of soil is the primary step in any permanent system of agriculture. Fertile land and sufficient water are vital for sustaining agriculture and livelihoods. Fertility of a soil is defined by its ability to provide all essential nutrients in adequate quantities and in the proper balance for the growth of plants – independent of direct application of nutrients – when other growth factors like light, temperature and water are favorable. This ability does not depend on the nutrient content of the soil only, but on its efficiency in transforming nutrients within the farm’s nutrient circle. In transformation of nutrients soil organisms play a key role. They break down biomass from crop residues, green manures and mulch and contribute to build up of soil organic matter, including humus, the soil’s most important nutrient reservoir. They also play an essential role in transferring nutrients from the soil organic matter to the mineral stage, which is available to plants. Soil organisms also protect plants from disease and make the soil crumbly. A fertile soil is easy to work, absorbs rainwater well, and is robust against siltation and erosion. It filters rain water and supplies us with clean drinking water. It neutralizes (buffers) acids, which pass through contaminated air to the soil surface, and decomposes pollutants such as pesticides rapidly. And last but not least a fertile soil is an efficient storage for nutrients and CO2. In this way a fertile soil prevents the eutrophication of rivers, lakes and oceans and contributes to the reduction of global warming. In the context of biological agriculture soil fertility is thus primarily the result of biological processes, not of chemical nutrients. A fertile soil is in active exchange with the plants, restructures itself and is capable of regeneration. The biological properties can be observed in the soil’s conversion activity, in the presence and the visible traces of the organisms in it. The communities of microorganisms are robust and active at the right moment. In the self-regulating ecological equilibrium animals, plants and microorganisms all work for each other. It is the responsibility of farmers to understand soil ecology to the point that they can create or restore the conditions for a robust balance in the soil. If a soil does not regularly bring good yields, farmers should investigate the reasons for it.

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7 Organic Crop Protection

From an ecological perspective all organisms are part of nature, irrespective of what they do. To a farmer, all organisms that reduce the yields of their crops are considered pests, diseases or weeds. Insects, birds or other animals are also pests whenever they cause damage to crops or stored produce. Fungi, bacteria and viruses are also recognized as disease causing organisms when they lead to conditions that interrupt or modify the vital functions of growing plants or stored produce. All unwanted plants that grow within crops and compete with them for nutrients, water and sunlight are considered weeds. Such plants can also be hosts for pests and diseases.Presence of these organisms in crop fields is not a problem until their numbers increase beyond a level where they attack, and cause substantial reductionin field crop yields or quality of harvested and stored produce. The organic approach to plant pest, plant disease and weed management makes reference to the four principles of organic agriculture: the principle of health, the principle of ecology, the principle of fairness, and the principle of care. Generally, organic farmers aim at sustaining and enhancing the health of their soils, plants, animals, humankind and—in the widest sense—the planet. The health of individuals and communities cannot be separated fromthe health of ecosystems. Therefore, by providing healthy soils and a diversified natural environment, farmers are able to produce healthy crops that foster the health of animals and people. Healthy plants are also able to resist and tolerate physiological disruption and damage from disease-causing organisms and pests. Thus, organic farmers aim at optimizing the growing conditions for their crops to make them strong and competitive. At the same time they encourage natural control mechanisms to prevent pests, diseases and weeds to develop in a way that they cannot damage the crops. They, therefore, give priority to preventive measures to prevent and limit the spread of infections, instead of relying on direct control measures. Direct control measures are mainly applied when pathogens have already developed.

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8 ITK’s in Organic Farming

Agricultural scientists and policy makers have understood that continuation of modern agriculture might lead to severe ecological and economic problems. We are also convinced that modern agriculture may not be able to meet the requirements of the ever increasing population in the future. So, we are searching for alternative technologies. Several alternatives have been proposed such as low external input agriculture, sustainable agriculture, organic farming, biodynamic farming etc. However, they require, some times little or considerable external inputs whose availability may be uncertain in future. Hence for the developing countries, the other alternative viz., traditional methods have special advantages over modern agricultural techniques. Also the capital and technological skill requirements in the use of traditional technologies are generally low and their adoption often requires little restructure of the traditional societies. The traditional technologies are nothing but indigenous technical knowledge. By adopting such indigenous knowledge, our ancestors did not face any problem of large-scale pest out break or economic crisis unlike the today’s farmers.

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9 Organic Crop Production Techniques

Organic farming is a crop production method respecting the rules of the nature, targeted to produce nutritive, healthy and pollution free food. It maximizes the use of on -farm resources and minimizes the use of off – farm inputs. The general guidelines on organic production of crops are prepared based on National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) launched by Government of India. These guidelines enable the growers to attain more or less the same level of the productivity of conventional farming within a few years and at the same time maintain the fertility of the soil and protect the ecological balance.

252 - 269 (18 Pages)
10 Integrated Organic Farming System

Farming system approach addresses itself to each of the farmer enterprises; inter relationship among enterprises and between the farm and environment. Thus farming system research has the objective of increasing productivity of various enterprises in the farm. Farming system approach introduces a change in farming technique for high production from a farm as a whole with the integration of all the enterprises. The farm produce other than the economic products for which the crop is grown can be better utilized for productive purposes in the farming system approach. A judicious mix of cropping system with associated enterprises like dairy, poultry, piggery, fishery, sericulture etc. suited to the given agro-climatic conditions and socio economic status of farmers would bring prosperity to the farmer. Combination of Integrated farming system (IFS) along with organic farming so called integrated organic farming system (IOFS)appear to be the possible solution to the continuous increase of demand for food production, stability of income and improvement of nutrition for the small and marginal farmers with limited resources. Integration of different enterprises with crop activity as base will provide ways to recycle products and waste materials of one component as input through another linked component and reduce the cost of production of the products which will finally raise the total income of the farm. This becomes quite essential as crop cultivation is subjected to a high degree of risk and provides only seasonal, irregular and uncertain income and employment to the farmers. With a view to mitigate the risk and uncertainty in agriculture, IOFS serves as an informal insurance. Production of agricultural crops, vary in response to changes of the seasons. In the recent period stable income of agricultural crops has become unstable. Redressing these by integrating crops with agro-based industries like livestock farming is essential. An integrated organic farming system applies the concept of “Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture” (LEISA) and this system develops the livestock business and the crop business in one location or area using local resources to optimize inputs. Designing a farming system to tie together principles of sustainability and productivity is complex. Organic farmers must consider how the various components of their system - rotations, pest and weed management, and soil health - will maintain both productivity and profitability. This section outlines the major principles incorporated into organic farming systems.

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11 Organic Certification and Legislation of Organic Food

In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants. Requirements vary from country to country, and generally involve a set of production standards for growing, storage, processing, packaging and shipping organic certification ensures: Avoidance of synthetic chemical inputs (e.g. Fertilizer, pesticides, antibiotics, food additives, etc) and genetically modified organisms; Use of farmland that has been free from chemicals for a number of years (often, three or more); Keeping detailed written production and sales records (audit trail); Maintaining strict physical separation of organic products from non-certified products and Undergoing periodical on-site inspections. In some countries, certification is overseen by the government, and commercial use of the term organic is legally restricted. Certified organic producers are also subject to the same agricultural, food safety and other government regulations that apply to non-certified producers.

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12 Post Harvest Management of Organic Produces

Optimal quality organic produce that combines the desired textural properties, sensory shelf-life, and nutritional content results from the careful implementation of recommended production inputs and practices, careful handling at harvest, and appropriate postharvest handling and storage. This section will focus on an overview of general postharvest handling considerations unique to the marketing of registered or certified organic produce. Maturity index for fruits and vegetables The principles dictating at which stage of maturity a fruit or vegetable should be harvested are crucial to its subsequent storage and marketable life and quality. Post-harvest physiologists distinguish three stages in the life span of fruits and vegetables: maturation, ripening and senescence. Maturation is indicative of the fruit being ready for harvest. At this point, the edible part of the fruit or vegetable is fully developed in size, although it may not be ready for immediate consumption. Ripening follows or overlaps maturation, rendering the produce edible, as indicated by taste. Senescence is the last stage, characterized by natural degradation of the fruit or vegetable, as in loss of texture, flavour, etc. (senescence ends at the death of the tissue of the fruit). Some typical maturity indexes are described in following sections.

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13 Problem Soil Reclamation

Regeneration capacity of the soil is enhanced with the sowing of MVS which provides ideal condition for regeneration. It creates green cover / dry leaf cover in the top soil (35-40 cm height) which will facilitate the multiplication of inoculated beneficial microbes in the soil. Multi Varietal seeds sowing techniques MVS contains seeds of three to four crops belonging to each category viz., cereals, pulses oilseeds, nitrogen fixing green manures and spices and condiments. The seeds of above crops may be mixed in different proportion based on their growth habit and seasonal requirement. For example in the summer the following mixture can be practiced with each of 1-1.5 kg each.

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14 Organic Agriculture and Climate Change

Climate change mitigation is urgent, and adaptation to climate change is crucial, particularly in agriculture, where food security is at stake. The gases contributing to the greenhouse effect mainly include carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O) and methane (CH4). These gases have varying global warming potentials, which can be expressed in CO2 equivalents. Agriculture, currently responsible for 2030% of global greenhouse gas emissions (counting direct and indirect agricultural emissions), can however contribute to both climate change mitigation and adaptation. The main mitigation potential lies in the capacity of agricultural soils to sequester CO2 through building organic matter. This potential can be realized by employing sustainable agricultural practices, such as those commonly found within organic farming systems. Examples of these practices are the use of organic fertilizers and crop rotations including legume leys and cover crops. Mitigation is also achieved in organic agriculture through the avoidance of open biomass burning, and the avoidance of synthetic fertilizers, the production of which causes emissions from fossil fuel use. Organic agriculture is associated with higher carbon sequestration as many organic practices help to improve soilquality and carbon sequestration. The most common organic practices that increase soil organic carbon are the use of organic fertilizers (such as the composted waste products from livestock husbandry), crop rotation involving legumes and the planting of cover crops. Organic farming offers several ways to mitigate climate change when compared to conventional agriculture: Primarily, organic farming, through its key practices of organic fertiliser use and crop rotations with forage legumes, tends to increase soil organic carbon levels resulting in carbon sequestration.This contributes to climate change mitigation, as it absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere and stores the additional carbon in the soil. However, depending on soil type and climatic conditions, this process usually comes to a halt after some decades, when soil organic carbon levels have reached a new equilibrium and soils arethus saturated with respect to organic carboncontents. Furthermore, this storage of organiccarbon is reversible and the carbon can again be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide when switching to unsustainable practices.

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15 End Pages

Annexure 1: Certification Agencies In India IMO Control Pvt. Ltd. Mr. Umesh Chandrasekhar Director No. 1314, Double Road Indiranagar 2nd Stage Bangalore-560 038. (Karnataka) Tel.: 080-25285883, 25201546Fax: 080-25272185 Bureau Veritas Certification India Pvt.Ltd. (Formerly Known as BVQI (India) Pvt. Ltd.) Mr. R. K. Sharma Director Marwah Centre, 6th Floor Opp. AnsaIndustrial Estate Krishanlal Marwah Marg Off Saki-Vihar Road Andheri (East) Mumbai-400 072 (Maharashtra) Tel.: 022-56956300, 56956311 Fax No. 022-56956302 / 10 Email:

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