Vermicompost and its Benefits in Organic Farming

Vermicompost is the product of composting in which worms are used to create a varied mixture of decomposing food waste, worm casting and bedding matter. Worm casting, also known as vermicast or worm humus, is the end product of the breaking down of organic material through the use of worms. Various kinds of earthworms, such as red wigglers and white worms are used for this purpose. Vermicompost contains high level of water-soluble nutrients that are useful for organic farming.

Why is vermicast more productive than compost?

Vermicast is more productive for organic agriculture than compost due to the following reasons:

  • It enriches the soil with microorganisms
  • It possesses enzymes and plant growth boosters available only in worm casting soils
  • It is richer in available nutrients
  • It enhances germination, growth rate and crop yield
  • It improves root growth
  • It aids in disease control in organic farming
  • It can hold more water
  • It causes fruits and vegetables to taste better

What are the unique benefits of vermicomposting?

Vermicomposting is advantageous for organic farming as worms do several works such as:

  • Turn the material like a tiny plough
  • Improve aeration by adding oxygen for all the helpful microorganisms
  • Enrich the pile by mixing various organisms and nutrients
  • Convert the pile into a rich soil product by eating the bedding matter and the feed
  • Control pathogen by ingesting
  • Work faster as worms can eat one-half of their weight each day
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Benefits of Crop Rotation

Crop rotation is the systematic way of deciding what to plant in your organic vegetable garden year after year. It is also beneficial for organic farmers who grow crops on large scale. The goal of crop rotation is to manage the fertility of the soil and reduce problems related to insects and pests.

Soil Fertility

Different crops have different nutritional requirements. The soil balance also gets affected differently with different crops. Some crops like tomatoes or corn will drain the soil quickly out of nitrogen and phosphorus. So if you plant the same crop in the same location year after year, that plot of soil will run out of natural nitrogen and phosphorus. If you change the location each year, you can get the previous spot rejuvenated and thereby maintaining the overall balance of your soil. The general rule is to avoid planting similar variety of crop at the same location year after year. It is advisable to occasionally plant nitrogen fixing legumes and other leafy or fruiting crops before you plant nitrogen-draining crops.

Pest Prevention

Crop rotation is also beneficial in fighting certain kinds of pests and other diseases. Crops from the same family tend to attract similar kinds of pests and diseases whereas if you keep rotating the crop, you are avoiding the chances of the pests and diseases to grow stronger and multiply. It is always better to leave at least a year or two before you plant the same kind of vegetable or crop at the same location. Plant families are easily susceptible to pests and diseases.

 

How to make the Simplest Organic Manure

If you think organic farming is expensive, you could not be more wrong. You can make your own power packed organic manure by just using what you consider as trash that needs to be thrown away. With the magic manure, you can produce without much cost or effort is actually powerful to transform any wasteland like desert or landfill or a mining site into a fertile Eden where you can grow food crops. The soil additive is absolutely inexpensive and has no chemical ingredient in it.

It is so simple that you might actually find this funny. You take any porous rock you can find in the neighborhood, add organic waste you find from your kitchen including chicken manure, vegetable peels, leftover food and so on and so forth, mix it all together and you have an amazing soil additive manure ready to prep your wasteland. The addition of a porous rock will enable a controlled release of nutrients while regulating the water supply efficiently. You will see for yourself that in no time the crops will bloom and ripen.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge recently found that the addition of this bio manure would help transform even places loaded with coal waste and metal residues. They found that the yield of those grown in coal waste with added bio manure was higher than from those grown in coal waste with added chemical fertilizers. The chemical elements found in the coal waste get ionized by the bio manure and releases growth nutrients beneficial for the plants. Adding this mixture to the soil will boost the growth of microorganisms responsible for nitrification, a process necessary for plant nutrition.

 

Soil Biodiversity, Land Management and Climate Change

How do you get the most out of soil? How do you maximize the health and fertility of soil? How do you save the planet from the much dreaded climate change and global warming?

Apparently there is a very simple yet crucial world which we have overlooked in our rush to create more and more profit. Beneath our feet, there are numerous organisms which we don’t even bother to see most of the time. They are the little elves who liberate nitrogen for plant growth and lock up carbon in the soil and in general supporting and nourishing the life on this planet.

Researches from the University of Manchester and Lancaster prove that the one surefire

way is by maintaining the soil biodiversity. They suggest that one might consider the entire community of living organisms in the soil which makes the soil food webs in order to maintain the diversity of soil. The organisms in the soil will also aid in predicting the climate change impacts on ecosystems.

The researchers examines the soil life in about 60 sites across four countries, the UK, Sweden, Greece and the Czech Republic and studied the food webs present which played a significant part in maintaining the nutrient cycles in agricultural soil. These organisms involved in the food webs usually spend their entire life cycles or at least parts of it while interacting with substances such as carbon and nitrogen. The study summarizes that there is a solid link between the soil organisms and the way the ecosystem functions.

This is the first time researchers have taken an interest in looking at the entire community of organisms cohabiting in the soil. The study concluded that the organisms found in the soil help capture carbon dioxide, resulting in reducing global warming and controlling climate change. This is a phenomenal finding if we consider the increased troubles we imagine in terms of global warming and climate change.

How Pesticides are Slowly Killing Rural India

Rural India is faciorganic farming, organic farmer, organic farming benefitsng deadly diseases or death itself, thanks to the residue of harmful chemicals like Endosulphan in the soil and water. This often happens wherever these chemicals are used as pesticides or fertilizers in farmlands. The residue is even affecting the babies who are not yet born. The seeds of cancer, kidney malfunction and nervous disorders are already sown even before life begins.  Researches done by the European Union proves that pesticides used on fruits, vegetables and cereals can have extremely harmful effect on fetuses and young kids.

Children with long term exposure to pesticides might develop serious shortcomings with brain development. This fate often reaches the children of poor farmers in rural India more than any other children who do not have bigger risk of exposure to chemicals. Traces of lindane, heptachlor, benzene hexachloride, aldrin and endrin were found even in the breast milk of mothers in these regions. Pediatricians suggest that the toxic effects of pesticides will adversely affect the nervous systems in children. Exposure to pesticides is also considered to be a key reason to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorders in children.

The only possible way out to save our children is to promote and support organic farming. Studies conducted among school children proved that when the kids switched to organic produce, the effect was drastic and immediate in the urine samples collected. The level of pesticides were reduced considerably right after the shift to organic foods.

Pesticide exposure happens even in homes and public and private gardens where any form of chemical pest control is used. Pesticides can enter the body through lungs mouth and even skin. The saddest part is that the group most affected by pesticides is little children.

The Profit Scale in Organic Farming

 

There is a wide misconception among those who intend to do farming that the industrial agriculture system aided with its wide array of pesticides and genetically altered crop varieties yield more and benefit more in terms of profit. There is also this belief that organic farming is not as profit making as industrial farming. However, it can’t be more wrong. Organic farming gives the farmer an opportunity to get more profit, yield and puts the energy spent on farming to efficient use.

The Rodale Institute conducted a study by comparing organic farming with industrial farming over a period of 30 years and found that the organic farming performed much better in terms of yield, profits, energy usage and greenhouse gases.

Profits

The profit is where the mathematics of economics tricks you into believing the untruth. The industrial farming brigade will keep projecting the huge profits they have landed in terms of revenue generated, comfortable hiding the input costs they had to invest for pesticides, fertilizers, oil and so on and so forth. Organic farming on the other hand requires you to spend a very minimal input in terms of fertilizers and pesticides and thus the profit you gain at the end of the day is much higher.

Yield

Yield is another area where the industrial farming people try and give exorbitant rates of success. But the 30 year Rodale study concludes that the organic farming even though it makes a slow progress initially, its yield became equivalent to that of industrial farming after a three year conversion period. It also suggests that over a period of time farmers were found to have increased agricultural productivity by conserving the resources and doing organic farming.

Energy efficiency

The industrial farming has an increased level of energy requirement as a lot of oil is used in transporting and applying the fertilizers and pesticides. On the other hand, the organic system of farming consumes about 45 percent less energy with a higher production efficiency of about 28 percent than industrial farming.

Live Long and Prosper

You wish longevity for someone, but the wish for longevity is fast becoming an irony in the current world where there are a million new diseases out there every day to hunt you down to death. You will sit and wonder why you are infested with these many threats towards longevity. A recent study on fruit flies show that those flies that were fed on organic produce lived longer. Does it ring a bell?

The earlier generation had lesser health issues and had a longer life, the key to it being the healthy diet they were having. They food they ate was organic without being labeled ‘organic’. There was no ready availability of processed food and they ate mostly whole grains, fresh produce cultivated perhaps by their own hands in their own backyards and poultry raised in their own households. To top it all, exercise or staying active was not a forced activity, but a normal way of life. Walking around was the norm. Alcohol was to celebrate happy occasions and was never part of the daily routine.

It only makes sense to see that they had a reduced risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other such diseases which will affect the longevity. There is no conclusive evidence yet, but it does not hurt if you adopt a healthy lifestyle and eat organic instead of the obviously harmful processed junk.

The fruits and vegetables grown with the help of chemical interventions may retain the residues of pesticides, which will eventually make its way to our body systems. Even if these residual exposures to pesticides are just a minimum, it is sufficient to cause multiple health hazards including serious neurological disorders. On the other hand, the organic produce is rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which are missing in these pesticide enhanced produce. Higher iron and calcium levels in organic produce will aid in having stronger bones and muscles, keeping the consumers healthy and active even in old age.

If you feel that buying organic burns a hole in your pocket, imagine the exorbitant bills you have to pay at hospitals while treating multiple lifestyle diseases caused just by eating pesticide laden food, and you will be able to see that the savings didn’t add to much. Make your choices in life wisely. Live long and prosper indeed.

The History of Organic Foods

Organic food refers to any food that is grown without the detrimental interference of synthetic and unnatural methods or materials. The practise of using chemical fertilizers, artificial pesticides, and techniques of farming such as the application of radiation for faster growth gives yield that is not organic in nature. The growing demands of the modern world have led to farming ethics that cause damage to the land as well as the health of its consumers.

In the1940s, Dr. Norman Borlaug, an American agronomist, spearheaded the drive to produce more food in a limited amount of time, marking the start of the era which we now know as the Green Revolution. India soon caught up in the 1960s, with the introduction of genetically modified seeds of wheat. Dr M.S.Swaminathan, known as the father of Green Revolution in India, helped to spread this new wave to farmers across the country. It proposed a beneficial market for farmers, and made India a self-sufficient country in terms of wheat production.

But soon, farmers started realizing its negative effects: these seeds proved to drain the soil of its nutrients and moisture causing irreparable damage to land. By now, the pressure was mounting on the farmers to give larger produce in lesser time and eventually they were forced to abandon their old ways to keep up with the changing times.

Today, with more awareness and insights available, it must be considered that organic farming is beneficial to not just out health but also the well-being of the environment.