The population is growing at an immense rate, so is the need to produce more food. With increasing concern over healthier food choices, one might wonder the type of farming method to be used to feed the world.
Now that is just one part of the problem. Farming techniques can increase the yield, but there seems to be one more concern. There is an increasing debate over farming techniques that are best suited for growing crops. Organic is the new trend these days, and one might consider organic farming to be the right choice; however, in this blog, we will determine what will the best farming technique in today’s era.
Organic Farming vs. Conservation Farming
We all understand that organic farming refers to naturally producing crops without the use of pesticides or industrial grade fertilizers. Now that is true in every sense; however, there is more to a farming technique than the supplements used to sustain a good yield.
Both farming methods – organic and conservation strive to maintain a balance between growing food demands and crop production. Both ways rotate crops to keep the soil fertile and use water retention techniques by planting cover crops. When it comes to meeting global food requirements and efficient farming techniques, organic farming and conservation farming have a pretty similar performance. However, the main difference between the two is environmental friendliness.
Organic farming uses the plowing or tilling method to plant seeds into the soil. One might wonder how can an ancient farming method be harmful to the environment, well it is just the scientific advancements that shed new light and perspective on conserving earth’s atmosphere.
It is a widespread concept that global warming is deteriorating earth’s atmosphere and is a significant contributing factor in climate change. The greenhouse gas emissions trap earth’s heat, causing a chain-reaction and increasing temperatures. Climate change has already increased agricultural risk and reduced yields in many countries. The last thing we need right now is a factor that further contributes to declining agriculture.
According to an ecological professor at Cornell University, more than 25 million acres of soil erodes each year. This means that we lose more than 10.1 hectares of agricultural land annually. That amount of loss is almost 40 times higher than the restoration rate of agricultural land. At the current rate, the world would soon be lacking fertile soil to grow natural food. Losing fertile land at such a rate not only reduces the income for farmers but also reduces output for the population of the world. It would also encourage increased production of processed food that ultimately brings more harm than good.
Organic farming involves a planting crop cover technique to mitigate the risks of soil erosion. This technique includes planting specific vegetation along with the primary food crop to increase water retention in the soil. Planting crop cover also restricts the soil from being blown or washed away. However, the real problem starts when farmers need to get rid of weeds without using herbicides.
In organic farming, farmers need to plow the land and pull the weeds by hand or equipment. According to experts, once critical factor for soil erosion is this churning of the area that disrupts the soil cover and loosens what would have been a tightly packed soil.
Now here are two major issues associated with tilling:
Release of CO2
Tilling or plowing the fields causes carbon dioxide to be released into the atmosphere. The carbon footprint left by organic farming is much higher compared to conservation agriculture, which retains CO2 in the ground. By retaining carbon dioxide, the soil experiences less erosion and can be used for a longer period.
Compared to rising food requirement, organic farming would fail to achieve long-term objectives. In conservative agriculture, plants and seeds are plowed using a different method, i.e., by drilling a hole into the ground and plant the crop. The process eliminates the need of churning up the soil.
Farmers using the traditional techniques leave the soil intact that in turn helps in carbon dioxide retention, leaving very little or no carbon footprint on our atmosphere. Secondly, since the soil remains intact, it tackles the erosion problem – i.e., the soil is not washed or blown away.
In comparison to organic farming that, on an average, erodes more than 25 million acres of fertile land, conservational farming practices help in preserving the soil for future use. Conservation farming method is also one of the most widely used farming methods, with more than 100 million crops grown using the method. To deal with the weed problem, farmers use an active manipulation of organic matter.
Use of Fossil Fuel
It is a well-established fact that our atmosphere has suffered devastatingly due to greenhouse gas emissions by burning fossil fuel. As we progress, there is an increasing concern over the use of alternative power sources and green energy to eliminate the carbon footprint left by the consumption of fossil fuel.
In organic farming, farmers use tractors or plowing trucks to prepare large fields for plantation. It requires hours of trucking and burning of fossil fuel that is directly harmful to our atmosphere. Therefore, not only does organic farming leave a carbon footprint by tilling the land, but also pollutes the environment by using fuel-powered plows. To top it off, it accelerates the erosion of fertile areas, which would evidently result in fewer agricultural yields in future. When compared to conservation farming, organic farming fails to deliver a promising outlook for the growing scarcity of food.
Based on the facts presented above, it is clear that conservation farming is a better solution than organic agriculture. Conservative farming methods help in preserving the soil that is imperative to support a growing population. Since the process does not require plowing, it eliminates the need to use fuel-powered plowing trucks. Moreover, when compared to organic agriculture, conservation farming leaves a very insignificant carbon footprint on our environment.
Farmers practice conservation agriculture (CA) around the world, but it’s only now starting to get a lot of press as an eco-friendly approach to agriculture and is slowly being considered as the greenest farming even over organic farming.
In addition to using an environment friendly farming method, it is crucial that we educate ourselves and combat food wastage by embracing ugly produce. Only then the entire population would be able to overcome challenges such as poverty, hunger and food scarcity.