Article Summary: With the market size of the organic farming industry expected to increase 9.2% in 2023, organic farming is becoming more popular among farmers looking to produce healthier, more natural foods and to reduce the environmental impact of the agricultural industry. This article covers the most asked questions about organic farming, including the costs, the benefits and the downsides, and how you can switch to organic and get your farm certified. Read on if you’re on the fence or want to understand what makes a farm truly organic.
Used for centuries, organic farming uses no synthetic agricultural chemicals, including fertilisers, pesticides, insecticides or herbicides.
While India is the world’s highest producer of organic products, Australia, with over 3,000 working organic farms, has the highest proportion of organically-farmed land, and it’s growing. IBISworld suggests that the market size of the organic farming industry is expected to increase 9.2% in 2023.
Organic farming is fast becoming a trend among farmers looking to produce healthier, more natural foods and to reduce the environmental impact of the agricultural industry.
In this article, we cover the most asked questions about organic farming: "Is going organic better for the environment?” and “Should I make the switch to organic farming?”.
If you’re on the fence about it or just want to understand what makes a farm truly organic, read this list of organic farming FAQs to help you on your way.
What are the benefits of organic farming?
There are many benefits to organic farming; the most well-known and obvious are the health of the planet and the fight against climate change. But at a cellular level, there are many reasons why. Here are some advantages:
It’s the best way to protect the Earth from climate change because it doesn’t involve planet-warming chemicals or petroleum-based fertilisers. Crops grown organically also help to store carbon, reducing the greenhouse effect.
It protects the soil from chemicals like herbicides and pesticides, providing a higher quality, more fertile soil.
Organic farming produces food higher in nutritional content and preserves condition, colour, taste and aroma, which can dull when agricultural chemicals are used.
It provides a non-toxic working environment for farmers and their staff, reducing long-term health problems like cancer, respiratory illnesses and mental sicknesses.
Animals or crops on an established organic farm can build resistance to pests and diseases by building their immune response naturally.
You’ll get on-site all-natural fertilisers using manure, compost and cover crops to help you increase your farm yield.
What are the downsides of organic farming?
While there are many advantages to this natural farming method, there are also disadvantages to be aware of, mostly around cost, markets, and upkeep.
Depending on your country, there tends to be a lack of available subsidies for organic farmers, meaning that in the event of catastrophic weather conditions or a poor harvest, organic farmers stand to lose their lands or livelihood without a source of income.
It can lead to a high carbon footprint due to reliance on modern-day transportation to move stock and produce.
Even organic farming sometimes requires (organic) pesticides and chemicals. It is still too early to know whether safer, naturally-derived chemicals are more damaging to health and the environment than synthetic (non-organic) pesticides. Lower concentrations of organic chemicals mean that farmers will use more, which may not be a good thing.
It’s hard to be 100% organic all the time. Also, organically-farmed produce may be growing on lands with the presence of synthetic chemicals in the soil.
It’s knowledge-intensive, so you must invest in education and training to keep up with advances and issues before you begin and throughout.
And then, there are the high costs involved…
Why is organic food so expensive?
Organic food is more expensive for several reasons.
Initial set-up costs are high because organic soil is more expensive than regular soil
It typically yields less produce than conventional farming methods due to the intensity of managing an organic farm and compliance.
Additionally, production costs are higher because farmers need more labour and systems in place to ensure they are continuously adhering to organic methods.
How can I turn my conventional farm into an organic one?
While the process of converting to organic can be a bit of a challenge, it is certainly worth it in the long run. Here are a few tips on how to make your farm certified organic.
Research your local regulations
Every state has different laws and regulations governing organic farming. Make sure you understand the rules and regulations that apply to your situation.
Choose an organic certification program
Secondly, you’ll need to decide which organic certification program you would like to pursue. Several certification programs are available in Australia, including the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA) and Australian Certified Organic (ACO). Both of these programs have specific requirements that you must meet to be certified organic.
Assess your farm
You must determine whether your farm meets the organic standards. This includes evaluating your soil, water, fertilisers, pest control, and other factors. You’ll also need to document your farm’s history, as organic certification requires a long-term commitment to organic practices.
You can apply for certification by submitting a detailed application and providing the certification body with the evidence needed to prove your farm meets the organic standards.
Monitor your progress
Regularly monitor your progress to ensure that you are meeting the organic standards. This includes testing the soil to check for any chemical residue and keeping records of any inputs (such as fertilisers and pesticides) used on the farm.
Thinking of turning your farm into an organic one? Pasture.io can help.
Wondering whether or not satellite-backed pasture readings work on organic farms? Yes they do!
Pasture.io helps you record your paddock activities so you can gain greater clarity over your operations while making the best, most compliant decisions for your organic farm. For more information, visit our website or contact the team today for a demo.
Organic farming is a great way to produce healthy and natural foods while reducing the environmental impact of the agricultural industry. If you decide to go down this route, you will join thousands of organic farmers in Australia alone. And by following these tips, you can ensure that your farm is certified organic and start reaping the rewards.
Until we meet again, Happy Farming!
- The Dedicated Team of Pasture.io, 2023-01-19