Having introduced and talked about in the previous article of biodynamic agriculture (link), here we are talking about organic farming, where the second descends and is an evolution of the first.
The subject is vast and dotted with dozens of shades, so we’ll try to make a simple synthesis providing the basics without going into too many twists and turns.
The drive towards a lifestyle that is increasingly sustainable, and the desire to eat healthy food and as natural as possible, has led more and more the world of agriculture to new frontiers.
Cultivation techniques that are environmentally friendly and health of consumers.
This way of thinking and proceed led to all the farming techniques that allow us to produce according to the principles of a new agriculture.
Organic farming definition
We start by giving you the most concise definition possible to descend in a more complete and comprehensive one.
Organic farming is an agricultural production system that seeks to provide the consumer with genuine products, respecting the cycle of nature.
The philosophy behind this different way to grow plants and raise animals is not simply related to the intention to offer products without residues of pesticides or chemical fertilizers. It is also to not introduce negative impacts in terms of pollution of water, soil and air.
We remind you, in order to avoid misunderstandings, what are the aforementioned pesticides known as plant protection or agricultural chemicals. They are all those products, synthetic or natural, which are used to combat the major pests of plants such as infectious diseases, pests and weeds.
Now let’s also give a more complete and substantial definition, useful to understand its actuality.
The term “organic” refers to a method of cultivation and breeding that admits only the use of natural substances, that are present in nature, excluding the use of synthetic substances such as chemical fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides.
Organic farming means developing a model of production that avoids the excessive exploitation of natural resources. In particular we talk about soil, water and air, using instead these resources in a model of development that can last over time.
To preserve the natural fertility of soil, organic farmers use organic material, appropriate agricultural techniques, and don’t exploit it intensively.
Regarding housing systems, there is maximum attention to the welfare of the animals, which feed on grass and organic feed and don’t take any antibiotics, hormones or other substances that artificially stimulate growth and milk production. In addition, farms must be ample space for the animals can move around and graze freely.
From the legislative point of view Organic farming is a production method defined in terms of legislation at EU level with a first regulation, Regulation 2092/91 (link) , replaced later by the Reg. 834/07 (link) and 889/08 (link).
Organic farming practices
Usually, they include:
- Crop rotation for efficient use of local resources.
- Limits very restricted in the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics in animal breeding, food additives and processing aids, and other productive factors.
- The ban on the GMOs use, genetically modified organisms.
- The effective use of local resources, such as the use of manure to fertilize the land or growing fodder for the cattle on the farm.
- The choice of plants and animals that are disease resistant and adapt to the local conditions of cultivation / breeding
It s ‘important to know that organic farming is also part of a long chain that includes food processing, distribution and sale.
In order to guarantee to consumers the respect of international rules on organic farming, all components of the ring, from production to distribution, must meet strict restrictions and are subject to audits of the entities verifiers accredited by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
Also all the operators who produce organic products are subject to the control system.
The products in accordance with the European Regulation to be marketed as organic products, must carry the EU organic logo, the authorization code and the name of the certification and code of the inspection.
The labeling scheme aims to give consumers in the Member States of the European Community concerning the biological safety of the products purchased.
Organic farming characteristics
There are many and are identified by Federbio Italia (link):
- Exclusion of synthetic chemicals, which alter profoundly the environment and adversely affect the wholesomeness of the products obtained
- Use of appropriate agricultural techniques, plant resistant to insects and predators against pests
- Increase and maintenance of the natural fertility of the soil, through the use of processing techniques nondestructive
- Adoption of the technique of crop rotation and green manure (natural agricultural practice that grows and then buries some special crops to increase soil fertility)
- Use of natural fertilizers, thereby reducing the use of non-renewable resources
- Do not use radiation to increase the shelf life of the product and its ingredients
- Choice of varieties, seeds and planting material suitable, according to the vocation of the area, as the set of characteristics of the soil and climate of a certain area, optimal for a given species
- Warranty for the animals to a life according to the specific needs of individual species, thus having care of their welfare and strictly limiting the use of antibiotics
- Collection of products at the optimum moment of ripeness
- Certification of the production process to ensure compliance with the rules and laws that the coding of each action along the different supply chains
- Use of sun techniques and additives of natural origin for the preparation and processing of foods.
Organic farming Objectives
Let’s briefly summarize what are the objectives of this agriculture:
- The production of a wide variety of high quality foods
- The protection of the systems and natural cycles, with the maintenance and improvement of soil fertility, health, water, plants and animals and the balance between them
- The maintenance and enhancement of biological diversity
- The guarantee of a responsible use of energy and natural resources, such as water, soil, organic matter and air
- Compliance with strict criteria regarding the welfare of animals and the specific behavioral needs of animals’ species
- The exclusion of products from genetic engineering (the famous GMOs) at all stages of production and processing
- The maintenance of the countryside
- The promotion of systems of production and marketing environmentally responsible and socially equitable
- For sustainable development
To complete the overview of the two agriculture, it is important to mention the existence of the integrated farming. It’s a cultivation system with low environmental impact that arises between conventional farming and organic farming. All this means resorting to chemical only when the risk incurred by crops is very serious. However they choose compounds less polluting and harmful to humans paying attention not to destroy beneficial insects to plants.
The products of integrated production are often identified by specific brands which the manufacturer uses to make them “locate” to the final consumer himself.
What’s the difference between Organic and Biodynamic Farming?
To conclude this short trip between the two agriculture we try to identify the aspects that differentiate or distinguish.
We talked over the certification of organic farming, a brief and dutiful nod to that of biodynamic agriculture. This requires compliance with 77 criteria more restrictive than those required by the biological.
How to recognize a biodynamic product
We had made a brief mention in the previous article talking about the Demeter brand.
It is the only body of biodynamic certification, internationally recognized, is a guarantee for the producer and the consumer.
It ‘s important to know that certification is on the ground, and therefore the Company products, all of them. Further detail: companies that can become biodynamic are those those companies that are already organic for 3 years.
Best biodynamic producers are Germans, Italians (though few people know it) and Australians. Because with biodynamics they can snatch land to desert and give life to the earth. In a historical era in which we are seeing the desertification even in “temperate” areas this is good news!
Biodynamic farming vs. organic farming
Recalling that biodynamics was born well before organic farming and that the latter is, if we want a simplification.
In practice we could say almost in a provocative way:
Organic farming does nothing: does not use pesticides, does not use complements synthesis, thus preserves the soil as it is. Biodynamic farming, instead, does something more: is the systematic rotation of crops that enrich the soil, use biodynamic preparations called ‘enablers’, nourishing the earth to keep it in balance. It’s a bit like homeopathy for soil.
A need that comes directly from the consumer
All alarmism in the food, new sensitivities to foods, are pushing a large part of the population towards the research of natural and genuine products. All rejecting any technological innovation that interfere in the production of food. Hence the increasing attention towards organic agriculture, biodynamic and integrated.
If the argument has sparked your interest, we give you an appointment at one of the upcoming articles in which we will do more than write a small photo tour in the world of organic farming and biodynamic.