Last modified: 20 January 2020
The organic farming constitutes a sector on the rise. High consumer demand for bio products has grown stronger and stronger and it’s a good thing. People are now better informed about pesticides and their effects on health and the environment. But, is that type of agriculture performs as well as the conventional method? This appears to be the case!
Sales growth of organic foods
People want to have better health and to contribute to environmental protection. So, consumers are now turning to organic foods. It’ s the same thing in Europe. In Quebec, more than 1500 companies are offering bio products. Over time, organic market takes an increasing market share. According to surveys conducted by Filière biologique du Québec, the sales of organic foods are rising at a rate of 10 percent per year for over 10 years. Additionally, half of Quebecers consume these foods. The restaurants have also integrated organic foods into the menu. It’s a good thing because the prices will drop and more people will be able to buy them.
Organic farming versus conventional farming
Conversion to organic farming is not easy. The farmers have to become more educated about the good way to do to make this conversion a success. They must be motivated and awared of the impact of the actions taken to human health and the environment but that it’s well worth the effort.
Pests (insects, mites … )
The organic farming is as effective as conventional farming to manage pests. The soil fauna biodiversity allows to control insects pests. However, we cannot rely solely on biodiversity to fight against some pests. There also has to be some prevention by using different techniques such as crop rotation, etc.
Diseases (fungi, bacteria)
In the case of diseases, the organic farming is shown to perform better . It’s the result of the findings made by researchers of the INRA and the University of Rennes who just published Evidence that organic farming promotes pest control ,an article about this subject in the journal Nature Sustainability. The organic crops are less infested by the pathogens.
Chemical weed killers
In conventional farming, it takes about an hour to weed but it takes between 12 and 13 hours in organic farming. However, the addition of lucerne seems to resolve this problem. The weeds help to control pests and diseases by attracting natural enemies of pests. Don’t kill those weeds!
The lucerne, an effective solution against ray-grass
As weeds use water and soil nutrients to grow, the farmers proceed to weeding. For that reason, all herbicides capable of controlling ray-grass no longer exist because they have evolved to be resistant. Anyway, organic agriculture forbids the use of herbicides. The use of the lucerne can be an interesting alternative to pesticides and this approach seems to be working.
Are the crop yields equal?
It is possible to obtain similar yields with organic agriculture while less polluting if you know what to do. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers must be replaced by a better knowledge of soils, biology of plants, etc. Many horticultural productions as well as maple syrup production and grain offer a similar yield to conventional farming. For the others, the yield fall below 25 %. However, the improvement of technical knowledge of this sector will ensure that difference will lower increasingly. For now, the higher economic performance compensates for a lower yield in the fields.
According to MAPAQ (the Quebec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food), the organic agriculture is become a profitable business because of the higher organic foods sales prices and costs saving generated by inputs such as chemical pesticides and fertilizers that have now become useless.
Replacing chemical pesticides and fertilizers by biological means will reduce the footprint of agriculture. Hopefully, there were more and more farmers wishing to convert to organic before it is too late.