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Skip to main content Skip to table of contents. Encyclopedia of Agrophysics Edition. Contents Search. Reference work entry First Online: 28 August How to cite. Definition Organic farming is based on the concept of sustainability, in which the inherent fertility and biological activity of the soil is returned such that, with careful management, the soil can remain consistently productive over long periods of time Lampkin, This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Organic Farming as an Essential Tool of the Multifunctional Agriculture

Anon, University of Aberystwyth and Elm Farm. Google Scholar. Berry, E. Comparison of alternative farming systems II. Earthworm population density and species diversity. American Journal of Alternative Agriculture , 8 , 21— Defra, Understanding soil fertility in organically farmed soils. Defra project OF Droogers, P. Biodynamics vs. Soil Science Society of America Journal , 60 , — Water accessibility to plant roots in different soil structures occurring in the same soil type.

Plant and Soil , , 83— Edwards, C.

Managing for Soil Health on an Organic Farm - A Farmer's Perspective

Biology and Ecology of Earthworms. London: Chapman and Hall. Gerhardt, R. A comparative analysis of the effects of organic and conventional farming systems on soil structure. Biological Agriculture and Horticulture , 14 , — Jensen, L. Effects of soil compaction on N-mineralisation and microbial —C and —N.

Field measurements. Soil and Tillage Research , 38 , — Lampkin, N. Organic Farming. Ipswich: Farming. Pulleman, M. Effects of organic versus conventional arable farming on soil structure and organic matter dynamics in a marine loam in the Netherlands. Synthetic fertilizers enhanced the total sugars, reducing sugars and total phenol contents slightly.

The cooking quality of organically produced tubers did not differ from that of conventional tubers Tables 7 and 8 and Figures 1 0 and As stated in references [ 3 , 53 ], higher levels of K were found in organic tomatoes. There is a higher population of micro-organisms in organically managed soil. These micro-organisms produce many compounds that combine with soil minerals and make them more available to plant roots [ 54 ], which might have ultimately enhanced the mineral content of tubers.

Biochemical parameters of tubers were not significantly affected in taro and dwarf white yam. However, in taro, organic cormels had higher dry matter, starch and total sugars; conventional cormels had higher phenol, fibre and ash contents. Mineral content of cormels of taro also remained unaffected due to the production systems, though there was a slight increase in P, K, Ca and Mg contents in organic cormels Figure Increased aeration, porosity and water-holding capacity of soils have been observed under organic management [ 51 , 55 , 56 ].

Moreover, changes in organic matter contribute to changes in soil biological and physical properties [ 9 ]. The higher organic C and organic matter contents under organic management in these crops might have resulted in the formation of stable soil aggregates leading to a slight decrease in bulk density and increase in water-holding capacity [ 3 ]. There was significant improvement in pH in organic farming 0. Higher organic C status of organic plots might be attributed to considerable addition of organic manures particularly green manure cowpea.

Higher available P in organic plots may be due to solubilization of native P by organic acids during decomposition of organic manures and increased mineralization of P from the added organic manures [ 3 , 12 ].

Introduction

The higher content of available K in organic plots may be due to the higher content of K in the organic manures, especially green manure and ash Table 2 , greater mining of K from the sub-surface layers by the extensive root system of green manure crop of cowpea, and dissolution of K from the inaccessible K minerals in the soil by organic acids during green manure decomposition [ 3 , 12 ].

The soil pH is the most important determinant of soil nutrient availability. As reported in reference [ 59 ], the rise in soil pH to neutral range under organic management in these crops might have enhanced the availability of major, secondary and micro-nutrients to some extent. Moreover, organic manures used in the study, FYM, green manure cowpea and neem cake that contain major, secondary and micro-nutrients might also have contributed to this [ 3 , 12 ]. Comparison of physical parameters of soil under organic vs conventional management in EFY and yams.

At present, deficiency of secondary and micro-nutrients Zn, S, B, Mo, Fe, Mn and Cu is a rampant soil problem affecting crop productivity and profitability of farming in India [ 5 , 12 ]. This is mainly due to the continuous use of high analysis fertilizers, which do not provide secondary and micro-nutrients. Based on research conducted for a decade in these crops, it has been proved beyond doubt that organic farming helps to reinstate soil productivity. Organic agriculture that envisages elimination of synthetic chemical fertilizers through strict use of organic manures helps to refurbish the soil health, by improving organic matter, neutralizing soil acidity, supplying almost all essential nutrients in the available form and ultimately conserving soil fertility [ 3 , 5 , 12 ].

Comparison of physical parameters of soil under organic vs conventional management in taro. Comparison of chemical parameters of soil under organic vs conventional management in EFY and yams. Per cent increase or decrease in chemical properties of soil under organic management in EFY and yams. In these studies, the organic resources used to replace chemical fertilizers were FYM, green manure, neem cake and ash. The decomposition of these organic manures to release available plant nutrients involves intense microbial activity over chemical fertilizer-applied conventional plots.

This might have resulted in higher microbial population and dehydrogenase enzyme activity in the organic plots. Several earlier workers also noticed increased microbial population in cultivated organically managed soil [ 3 , 9 , 60 ]. Comparison of chemical parameters of soil under organic vs conventional management in dwarf white yam and taro. The SQI of conventional 1. Comparison of biological parameters of soil under organic vs conventional management in EFY and yams. Soil quality is the capacity of a soil to function within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries to sustain plant and animal productivity in order to maintain or enhance water and air quality and support human health and habitation [ 61 ].

Thus, the indicator properties could be changed mainly through SOM building practices brought about by the strict use of organic manures especially green manuring continuously for five years under organic management. This framework emphasizes that soil quality assessment is a tool that can be used to evaluate the effects of land management on soil function. Organic farming resulted in higher corm yield Organically produced corms had significantly higher dry matter and Mg contents and significantly lower oxalate content.

The chemical properties of the soil, especially K, was seen to be favoured under organic farming Table Agronomic, nutritional and economic implications of organic management in EFY under validation trials. OFT were laid out in seven sites with three practices, conventional, traditional and organic, in Thiruvananthapuram and Kollam districts of Kerala to validate the on-station-developed organic farming technologies in yams greater yam, lesser yam and dwarf white yam and taro Figure In all sites, tuber yield under organic management was on a par with conventional practice in these crops Figure In general, there was significant improvement in pH, organic C and available K status under organic management in the sites.

Soil microbial population was also improved under organic practice in these sites.

Organic Agriculture

Use of organically produced seed materials, seed treatment in cow-dung, neem cake, bio-inoculant slurry, FYM incubated with bio-inoculants, green manuring, use of neem cake, bio-fertilizers and ash formed the strategies for organic production Figure Its block diagram Figure 19 explains the flow of the inputs and the modifications made on it while it passes through the different layers before the output is generated. Input layer of the network is composed of 12 neurons represented by I1, I2, The activities of neurons in the input layer represent the raw information that is fed into the network.

Inputs added to the neurons of the input layer are given in Table As linear activation function is operating in the input layer of the network, the input I and output O of the input layer are the same:. The hidden neurons H H12 are connected by synapse to the input neurons. Let V m , p be the weight of the arc between m th input neuron and the p th hidden neuron. The input to the hidden neuron is the weighted sum of the outputs of the input neurons to get I Hp , i. In the hidden neurons, sigmoidal function is operating and thus the output of the p th hidden neuron is given by.

Input to the output neurons is the weighted sum of the outputs of the hidden neurons. Input to the q th output neuron I Oq is calculated as follows:. W n,q is the weight of the arc between n th hidden neuron and q th output neuron. Sigmoidal function is operating in the output neurons also, and the output of the q th neuron is given by. Three years data Table 16 on various aspects of cultivation of EFY were used for training the system. Weight matrix obtained between input and hidden layers and between hidden and output layers is stored in the database and is used for making predictions with other input data-sets.

This system learns about the EFY production system when the independent variables like weather parameters, soil and nutritional parameters of the system as well as the corresponding dependent variables of the system like com yield, canopy size, etc. Once it learns about a particular system pattern, it can predict the outputs corresponding to another set of independent variables of a similar pattern. The system can be trained for various independent—dependent variable patterns so that dependent variables for another set of same independent variables can be predicted accurately.

When more and more inputs are used for training as well as prediction, the system learns more and its precision increases. In India, the availability of organic manures is a major constraint. It is estimated that to feed 1. To meet this demand, it will be necessary to harness 30—35 million tonnes of NPK from fertilizer carriers and an additional 10 million tonnes from organic and biofertilizer sources [ 63 ]. Organic manures are bulky high cost of handling and transportation , of low analysis, slowly available and variable in composition. The availability of cattle dung for organic farming will be further limited as this is a major source of fuel in rural households.

Apart from these, green manuring and recycling of farm wastes as manures have not become popular as these are more time and space consuming and their impacts on productivity are not rapidly discernible. At present, certification procedures are cumbersome and expensive [ 24 , 64 ]. Some of the future lines of action for promotion of organic farming have been identified [ 24 , 64 , 65 ].

Proper delineation and identification of prospective areas and crops like tuber crops may be helpful for effective promotion of organic farming. The package of practices recommendations for organic farming has to be popularized. The extent of availability of potential organic sources needs to be ascertained along with measures that may be helpful in improving the convenience of their use.

Environmental impact, especially water and air quality effects, of organic farming needs to be assessed. Weed management options particularly under climate change by nonchemical and biological methods are limited and need evaluation. The benefits accruing through organic farming on crop yield, quality, market preference and price advantage may be properly understood and promoted among the farmers and consumers [ 24 ]. In order to attain sustainable food-cum-livelihood-cum-environmental security in India, we may require an array of alternatives to chemical intensive agriculture.

Instead of seriously debating on organic vs conventional agriculture it is better to examine critically the costs and benefits of the different alternative management options. It has been conclusively proved in tuber crops that organic management is an alternative viable option for sustainable and safe food production with less soil degradation and environmental pollution. Tuber crops, especially EFY and yams are prospective candidates for organic farming. EFY is the most responsive, followed by greater yam, white yam, lesser yam and taro. Generation of sufficient biomass, addition of crop residues, green manuring, farm waste recycling, fortification of manures through proper composting, adoption of crop rotations involving legumes, establishment of biogas plants and development of agro-forestry for alternate source of fuels are some of the strategies that will help promote organic farming of tuber crops.

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Organic Farming, Effect on the Soil Physical Environment | SpringerLink

Our readership spans scientists, professors, researchers, librarians, and students, as well as business professionals. Downloaded: Abstract Alternative soil management practices like organic farming assume significance in the context of climate change for safe food production.

Keywords Eco-friendly farming root crops yield quality soil health learning system. Introduction Worldwide concerns regarding food safety, environmental degradation and threats to human health have aroused interest in alternative sustainable agricultural systems [ 1 ]. Why organic agriculture? Tuber crops: Underground crops with hidden treasures Tropical tuber crops, including cassava, yams greater yam, white yam and lesser yam , sweet potato and aroids EFY, taro and tannia , form the most important staple or subsidiary food for about million global population [ 24 ].

Prospects of organic farming in tropical tuber crops Organic farming is a viable strategy targeting on sustainable production and soil, environmental and human health hand in hand. Table 1. Organic production potential of tropical tuber crops. Source: Reference [ 29 ]. Issues in organic tuber production Practical applications and operational methodologies in organic farming, especially in tuber crops, are not available due to lack of comprehensive research in this field. Strategies for organic tuber production Building up of soil fertility of the land : Before the establishment of an organic management system, the fertility status of the land must be improved by growing green manure crops like cowpea twice or thrice in a year and incorporation of the green leaf matter at the appropriate pre-flowering stage.

Table 2. Average nutrient contents of some organic manures. Source: Reference [ 24 ]. A decade of research on organic farming of tropical tuber crops The following research programmes were taken up at ICAR-Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Sreekariyam, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India, during — Organic farming of EFY Varietal response to organic farming in EFY Validation and popularization of organic farming technology in EFY Organic farming of yams Organic farming of taro On-farm validation of organic farming of yams and taro The major objectives were: To develop appropriate technologies for organic production of EFY, yams and taro, which would be safe and of good quality To assess the impact of organic farming in these crops on productivity, tuber quality, soil health and economics 8.

Methodology 8. Study site, experimental design, treatments and test variety Six separate field experiments were conducted at ICAR-Central Tuber Crops Research Institute, Thiruvananthapuram, India, over a decade — to compare organic management over conventional system in EFY, yams and taro in an acid Ultisol pH: 4.


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Table 3. Description of production systems in various organic farming experiments. Plant and soil measurements Pooled analysis of yield data was performed. Development of a learning system A learning system was developed using artificial neural networks ANN to predict the performance of EFY production system [ 41 , 42 ]. Implications 8. Varietal response to organic management Pooled analysis indicated that the elite and local varieties of EFY and taro and all the three species of Dioscorea were on a par under both the systems Figure 1.

Table 4. Source: Reference [ 47 ]. Table 5. Yield and economic advantage of organic farming over other production systems in EFY. Source: Reference [ 12 ]. Table 6. Source: Reference [ 3 ]. Nutritional quality of tubers It is well known that plants absorb nutrients in the form of inorganic ions irrespective of whether the nutrient source is organic or inorganic. Table 7. Comparison of biochemical constituents of organic vs conventional tubers. Source: Reference [ 14 ]. Table 8. Comparison of mineral content of organic vs conventional tubers. Soil quality 8.

Table 9.

Status message

Table Source: Reference [ 11 ]. The package Use of organically produced seed materials, seed treatment in cow-dung, neem cake, bio-inoculant slurry, FYM incubated with bio-inoculants, green manuring, use of neem cake, bio-fertilizers and ash formed the strategies for organic production Figure Structure of the system A three-layered feed-forward back-propagation network FFBPN Figure 18 was designed for this learning system [ 41 ]. Inputs added Neuron of the input layer 1. Temperature o C I1 2.

Rainfall mm I2 3. Planting material kg I3 4. Farmyard manure kg I4 5. Potassium kg I5 6. Phosphorus kg I6 7. Ash kg I7 8. Neem cake kg I8 9. Azospirillum kg I9 Phosphobacteria kg I10 Mycorrhiza kg I11 Green manure kg I Values used for training the learning system. Constraints in promotion of organic farming In India, the availability of organic manures is a major constraint. Future thrust Some of the future lines of action for promotion of organic farming have been identified [ 24 , 64 , 65 ]. Conclusions In order to attain sustainable food-cum-livelihood-cum-environmental security in India, we may require an array of alternatives to chemical intensive agriculture.

More Print chapter. How to cite and reference Link to this chapter Copy to clipboard. Available from:. Over 21, IntechOpen readers like this topic Help us write another book on this subject and reach those readers Suggest a book topic Books open for submissions. More statistics for editors and authors Login to your personal dashboard for more detailed statistics on your publications. Access personal reporting. More About Us. Tuber crop. Tuber yield obtained due to application of organic manure OM alone.

Tracing the Evolution of Organic / Sustainable Agriculture (TESA1945)

White yam intercrop in coconut. Coir pith compost. Green manuring with sunhemp. Organic manures. Farmyard manure.

Press mud compost. Mushroom spent compost. Sawdust compost. Municipal compost. Description of production systems. Dwarf white yam. Production systems. Gross income Rs. Gross costs Rs. Net income Rs.