Organic Farming BAG305
In the past organic farm production was often considered as being only for radicals or hippies. Now it is seen as a viable economic move – with benefits to the farm soil, to the environment, and to the purchasers of the products. An organic approach can contribute toward making a farm more financially viable in several ways:
1. First, it is a low input way of farming. You do not need to invest so much money in expensive chemicals and fertilisers. However, any declines in initial production are balanced against these reduced costs.
2. Second, it is less likely to result in land degradation than many other production methods; hence the long-term cost of sustaining production is less.
3. Thirdly, public demand for organic produce has markedly increased over recent years.
Some of the reasons for the increase in public demand for organic produce are:
- Organically farmed food tastes better, according to many consumers.
- Organic food is produced without GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).
- Organic farming places emphasis on animal welfare.
- Organic systems aim to reduce dependence on non-renewable resources.
- Organic production aims towards sustainability in the environment.
- Food safety scares, such as Mad Cow Disease.
Farms raise animals or plants. At a certain stage of growth, produce is obtained from the animal or plant, sometimes by killing the organism (eg. to obtain meat), and sometimes removing something (eg. eggs, fruit, wool), without killing the organism. In some cases whole plant may need to be raised again from seed or cutting.
For most farm products, there are different ways of producing the "final product" (ie. different production systems).
The following are examples of variables in both conventional and organic farming systems:
- Meat or plants may be grown fast or slow (quality and tenderness of food may be affected by speed of growth).
- Most produce (eg. meat, fruit, wheat, etc) can be grown in a natural situation with minimum human intervention; or a more unnatural situation, with greater human intervention.
- Produce may be grown on a small scale, or on a large scale.
- Systems can be monocultures (producing one thing only) or poly-cultures (where different animals and plants are integrated so that different products are taken from the same enterprise).
- Some systems are more labour intensive; others (eg. mechanised systems) may be more manageable.
- Land-care considerations may restrict the systems available (eg. to prevent land degradation, it may be necessary to use a particular type of system). Generally poly-cultures are less likely to cause land degradation.
Choosing a Production System
Why choose one system rather than another?
- For marketing reasons (eg. being able to say it is organically grown may make a product more marketable).
- Because it suits the property.
- Because it is less expensive.
- Because the farmer has ethical and environmental concerns
ORGANIC FARMING - BAG305
Duration: 100 Hours (you study at your own pace).
- Discuss the scope and nature of organic farming in today’s world.
- Select appropriate organic management systems for different organic farms.
- Understand the environmental, economic and political issues concerning organic farming.
- Explain the role of living organisms and decomposing organic matter in creating and maintaining an appropriate soil condition for successful organic farming.
- Contrive and apply appropriate weed management practices for an organic farm.
- Select and apply appropriate pest and disease management practices for both animal and plant production on an organic farm
- Design an appropriate system for organic production of cattle, sheep and pigs.
- Design an appropriate system for organic production of poultry and other miscellaneous animals.
- Design an appropriate system for organic pasture management.
- Explain the broad-acre organic production of a grain or legume crop
There are ten lessons in this module as follows:
1.Introduction to Organic Farming – scope, nature, history, types of organic farming
2.Integrated Farm Management Systems – rotation design, cash crops, managing
waste, permaculture, polyculture, biodynamics etc
3.Organic Management Issues – certification, environmental concerns, marketing, PR
4.Organic Soil Management and Crop Nutrition –composting, mulching, green
manuring, cover crops, organic fertilisers
5.Weed Management : selecting appropriate techniques of control, weed identification
6.Pest and Disease Management: Animals & Plants
7.Livestock Management I: Beef, Dairy, Sheep and Pigs.
8.Livestock Management II :Poultry, Goats, Alpacas, Ostriches, Deer
9. Pasture: Pasture Varieties, Management Principles, Intensive systems, nitrogen
fixation, correct seed mix, risks with legumes,
10.Crops (eg. Wheat, Plant Fibre, Hay and Silage, Mung Beans, Sesame seed, etc)
WHAT YOU WILL DO IN THIS COURSE
Here are just some examples of the type of things you may do in this course:
- Investigate Organic industry such as, Certifying Organisations, Producers or organic farming groups in your locality or region
- Determine allowable inputs to an organic farm certifying in your area
- Discuss how an organic farm requires more labour than a conventional farm
- Visit an organic farm, either a real visit or virtual visit if that is not possible
- Prepare a plan for an organic farm.
- Describe the conversion process for one of the organic farms
- Investigate organic market potential
- Prepare a compost heap
- Prepare a diagram of a healthy soil food web
- Review 25 weeds
- Determine appropriate weed control within allowable organic farming limits.
- Describe the life cycle of three animal parasites
- Describe habitat requirements of various predatory insects
- Survey one or more farms regarding animal production systems
- How can the animals above be integrated into a vegetable or fruit production system
- Determine organic solutions to different farming problems
- Investigate different pasture management systems.