A Conversation with Science and the Future for Agricola – Basic Guide Part 2
Have you been seeing more and more organic products around you lately? This is due to a growing segment of agriculture that is becoming more and more prevalent lately – organic gardening and farming. In our previous post about a conversation with Agricola, we talked about what this kind of farming is, and how farmers can make a move towards it.
Today, we will be continuing this topic further, and talking about its scope and future – both in terms of organic farming itself and Agricola. From the discussion about science and the future for Agricola to how organic farming is a thriving agricultural segment; you can find it all in the post. Without any more delay on our part, let us get started!
A Conversation with Agricola – Part 2 – Science and the (Hopeful) Future
Organic Farming – A Booming Agricultural Sector
As per a recent article by USDA, Organic is not just a label but an emerging agricultural unit that is sure to prosper more and more shortly. There are USDA certifications that can help you get the organic designation. With these certified organic labels, farmers get access to strong marketing tools. With these, it is easy to make sure that your products meet customer standards.
Let us talk about a 2019 Organic Survey to know the future of this agricultural segment. In this survey that was released, there was a special study about the 2017 Census of Agriculture. If you look at this study closely, you can see that between 2016-2019, there has been an increase in the number of certified farms in the states by 17%.
Further, if you talk about the sales of organic products, this change is an increase of 31% (from 2016 to 2019). In 2019, these sales reached an all-time high and were USD 9.9 billion. Owing to this growth both in organic farms and products, their availability is tremendously increasing each day. All of this proves that organic is a thriving agricultural unit that has major scope.
How Is Organic Farming the Need of The Hour?
As per various researchers and agriculturalists, if something is the backbone of human existence, it has to be agriculture. If any civilization or country wants to prosper, a healthy and sustainable agricultural system is the key. Therefore, it is crucial to focus on promoting agricultural practices that are chemical-free, organic, and stress-free.
Not only does organic farming provide quality food for society but it also has an impact on various other things. For instance, it minimizes the dependence of farmers on chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Along with this, it also cuts down the emission of greenhouse gases to combat climatic changes and protect carbon-based life forms.
What Is the Effect of Organic Farming on Climate?
Be it cancer research or climatic changes, USDA research data has information about all. After seeing how organic is the need of the hour, let us see how inculcating it in life can affect climate and the changes related to it. When talking about greenhouse gases and their emissions, industries, and automobiles are thought to be their major contributors.
However, another thing that plays a role in it is inorganic agriculture. It has quite an impact on climate change. In this kind of agriculture, the use of fertilizers that contain urea is prominent. This releases a powerful greenhouse gas (nitrous oxide). And, one kilogram of this gas can cause damage that is equal to 298 grams of carbon dioxide.
When this kind of agriculture is replaced by organic agriculture, it lowers the emission of greenhouse gasses. Also, it has additional benefits like biodiversity and various other environmental services. Thus, if you are a Farmer or Gardener who is planning to modify and adapt to climate change, organic agriculture is the key to it.
Lower greenhouse gas emissions for crop production and enhanced carbon sequestration, coupled with additional benefits of biodiversity and other environmental services, make organic agriculture a farming method with many advantages and considerable potential for mitigating and adapting to climate change.
What Were the Major Challenges in The Organic Farming Revolution?
These days, you can easily find out why organic isn’t working and how it can with the help of various resources available in databases like Agricola. However, it was not always the same. The road to the successful incorporation of organic farming by various farms has not been easy. One of the major issues it has faced is the supply chain., which even today is not that strong.
However, governments are currently working to build a strong cold supply chain for easy and sustainable organic farming. Another major issue farmers are facing when it comes to organic is awareness about it among them. They have little to no idea about the latest trends that emerge in organic farming.
While Agricola and its index and glossary list are helping a lot with it today, it was not always the same. Also, there were not many books related to organic farming. Some of them who were there were far off base.
- Now, why do you suppose the writers of these organic gardening books are so far off base?
The answer is simple. Back then, there were not many researchers, and most of the points included in their books were not research-backed. For instance, earlier, people had no idea about contract farming, and limited resources to learn about it. However, now a simple search about it can let you know that it involves organic farming, and boosting sustainability in it.
That being said, these resources are still not available to people who live in remote parts of the world and have no access to any agricultural databases. Certification is the next concern farmers faced earlier. Without this, it is tough to market organic products as non-certified products do not get the best and most premium prices.
While certification was a cost-intensive process earlier due to organic farmers being scattered, now the government is taking measures to make it easier for them. Also, gradually, local farming communities are collaborating for effective certification. If things keep going this way, shortly, the organic industry can even trickle down to every section of society.
Where Can Farmers Get Organic Training and Transition Assistance?
Organic farming, instead of making use of chemical fertilizers, harmful pesticides, and other practices that hurt the environment, maintains and improves the natural balance of the environment. It does this with the use of organic fertilizers. As a result, this kind of farming method produces toxin-free food and products for consumers along with making sure that the soil is well maintained.
USDA aims to help farmers who wish to maintain their soil fertility, produce non-toxic food, and contribute to ecological balance. For this environmentally-responsible farming that promotes long-term economic development, they make organic certification available, achievable, and inexpensive for everyone.
First, let us discuss their training resources. Their National Organic Program under the Agricultural Marketing Service has all the tools you will need to get certified as a transitioning producer. Also, it helps organic producers know about the USDA organic requirements. Some of their training resources include
- Sound and Sensible Certification
- Organic Educational Toolkit
- National Organic Program Handbook
- Organic Farming Handbook
For producers wanting to transition from conventional to organic production, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA) also has conservation webinars. These will introduce you to the latest research and recommended practices for organic farming and on-farm conservation. It also has nearly 40 recorded sessions on all these related topics.
USDA even has a website for new farmers wanting to get into organic farming. Apart from these programs, there are various other training resources that you can explore for organic production and handling. Similarly, you can find various other resources that provide information on the transition to organic farming from conventional farming.
In all this, the most crucial point that farmers are made aware of is soil testing and laboratory analysis. While this may seem like an extra cost to most farmers, it is not. As it is impossible to judge the quality of your soil and the nutrients in it just by looking at it, this is where a soil test comes into the picture.
Be it a Calcium deficiency or a magnesium deficiency, with it, you can know about all. This way, you also save on the cost of organic fertilizers as you buy only what is needed, and do not over-fertilize your soil and damage it. Also, since your soil now is well nourished, it produces the best yield that can be used for better health and even sold at premium prices.
Final Thoughts – Science and The Future for Agricola
Lastly, let us sum up the growing trend of organic farming by relating it to the future of Agricola. Since organic is a developing and emerging field, Agricola is not going anywhere. The resources available on it will keep on adding up in the future, and continue to help farmers learn about organic farming and its prevalent practices. If you are new to organic farming and gardening, it can be your go-to solution, as well for all your queries.