Jaindl's organic market is growing five to eight percent annually; its turkey is sold through Whole Foods. Most fundamental are that organic farming requires different equipment and other costly up-front investments—and it requires more labor, mainly to tackle weeds. USDA organic certification also requires crop rotation , which limits the crops farmers can produce in a given year, whereas a conventional producer can select a crop that appears to be most profitable that year and plant it.
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And funding for organic research pales in comparison to conventional support, which means organic farmers have fewer tools available to them, such as improved crop varieties and strategies for battling weeds or disease, as well as fewer experts to consult. Illinois, for example, has one; California, the largest agricultural state—and the state with the highest number of organic farms—has none. A study of 1, farmers transitioning to organic agriculture pointed to mentoring and one-on-one technical assistance as both critical and hard to come by.
A tractor passes over organically grown strawberries with an attachment that vaccums unwanted insects at Driscoll's near Watsonville, California. The technology, piloted by the company in the s, is used by both conventional and organic growers. Driscoll's produces about 20 percent of the U. The transition period to organic farming itself can be a money-losing proposition. Farmers need to keep their land free of most chemicals for a full three years before they can be certified as organic.
Transitioning to organic adds a burden to the pressures already facing U. And real estate development is gobbling up farmland, particularly around urban areas. A number of companies with a stake in the organic movement have stepped up to help farmers confront the myriad challenges they face. It commits to buying crops from growers before they embark on the organic transition. Near Thermal, in California's Coachella Valley, a worker, paid by the crate, harvests organically grown lemons.
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These green, early-season lemons will turn yellow in a ripening facilty before being sent to market. Native pollinators and perennial wheat at General Mills? Near Paicines, California, broccolette, a cross between broccoli and Chinese kale, is grown for Earthbound Farms, one of the country's largest organic producers.
Workers are followed through the field by a trailer, where the greens are boxed for transport to a nearby packaging facility. Earlier this year, it announced a plan to convert a 34,acre conventional wheat farm in neighboring South Dakota to organic production.
Organically grown green oak leaf lettuce is harvested for Earthbound Farms near Hollister, California. The process begins before dawn and concludes by midday to keep the greens as fresh as possible. The harvester, preceded by workers on foot who scan for debris, cuts the lettuce within an inch of the ground with a bandsaw-like blade. The greens are air blown to remove soil or other contaminants before being put on a refrigerated truck. The machine can harvest 10, pounds per hour with a crew of 12, a process that used to take an entire day with a crew of An early adopter of organic agriculture as well as heirloom grains, Quinn has hosted researchers and farmers from around the world who come to observe his operation.
He started organic on 20 acres in , used his last chemicals two years later, and has turned his farm from something of an experiment into a 4,acre commercial success. It took a while, he says, to find his successors, those willing to manage the more unpredictable aspects. Fasteson moved here from a conventional farm, where he grew tired of sitting in a tractor.
Quinn compares organic farming to a game of chess. In Kutztown, Pennsylvania, crop experiments with corn and soybeans at the Rodale Institute compare the productivity of organic and conventional agriculture. The Farming Systems Trial, begun in , has shown that after an initial decline in yields for the first few years, organic systems can match or surpass conventional systems. The conventional systems may perform better in a favorable year, but organic often does better under challenging weather conditions.
Based in Pennsylvania, the institute is home to a long-running side-by-side experiment in organic and conventional agriculture. The Farming Systems Trial , which has grown corn and soybeans since , has shown that after an initial decline during the three-year transition, yields on the organic plots have matched or exceeded the conventional-crop yields—and performed even better during drought years.
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Rodale says the trial has also demonstrated that organic farming uses less energy, produces fewer greenhouse gases, and builds soil health rather than depletes it. A study was conducted in rice fields of Surinam to examine the effects of pesticides, pentachlorophenol NaPCP on birds.
NaPCP was sprayed for the purpose of killing Pomacea snails. Pentachlorophenol and endrin levels in these birds suggested that ingestion of contaminated food was the probable cause of sickness and mortality Vermeer et al. The increase in concentration of pesticides due to its persistent and non-biodegradable nature in the tissues of organisms at each successive level of food chain is known as biomagnification. Due to this phenomenon, organisms at the higher levels of food chain experience greater harm as compared to those at lower levels.
Several studies have been undertaken that demonstrate enhanced amount of toxic compounds with increase in trophic levels. For example, out of 36 species collected from three lakes of northeastern Louisiana USA that were found to contain residues of 13 organochlorines, tertiary consumers such as green-backed heron Butorides striatus , and snakes etc. Some of the adverse effects of pesticides on non-target organisms such as fish, amphibians and humans discussed in the above section have also occurred as a result of biomagnifications of the toxic compounds.
For example, reproductive failure and population decline in the fish-eating birds e. The extent of biomagnifications increases with increase in persistence and lipophilic fat-loving characteristics of the particular pesticide.
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As a result of this, organochlorines are known to have higher biomaginification rate and are more persistent in a wider range of organisms as compared to organophsphates Favari et al. It is important to do the risk assessments associated with the pesticides on the basis of their bioaccumulation and biomagnifications before considering them for agricultural purposes. There are a relatively few pesticide resistance management tactics that have been proposed risk-free and have a reasonable chance of success under a variety of different circumstances.
Headmost among these are: monitoring of pest population in field before any pesticide application, alteration of pesticides with different modes of action, restricting number of applications over time and space, creating or exploiting refugia, avoiding unnecessary persistence, targeting pesticide applications against the most vulnerable stages of pest life cycle, using synergists which can enhance the toxicity of given pesticides by inhibiting the detoxification mechanisms.
The most difficult challenge in managing resistance is not the unavailability of appropriate methods but ensuring their adoption by growers and pest control operators Denholm et al. Pest resurgence is a dose-dependent process and there are ways to tackle this problem using correct dosage of effective and recommended pesticides. Resurgence problem occurs due to a number of reasons. Pest resurgence also occurs due to reduced biological control most common with insects , reduced competition most common with weeds; monocots vs.
In the current scenario, optimized use of pesticides is important to reduce environmental contamination while increasing their effectiveness against target pest. This way we can reduce pesticide resistance as well as pest resurgence problems. This has led to the consideration of rational use of pesticides, and the physiological and ecological selectivity of pesticides. Physiological selectivity is characterized by differential toxicity between taxa for a given insecticide.
However, ecological selectivity refers to the modification of operational procedure in order to reduce unnecessary destruction to non-target organisms Dent, Farmers should focus to use insecticides that are more toxic to target species than their natural enemies which could help to reduce resurgence to some extent Dhaliwal et al. One should consider adopting an Integrated Pest Management IPM approach for controlling pests, as these practices are designed to have minimal environment disturbance.
The aim of IPM is not only to reduce indiscriminate pesticide use but also to substitute hazardous chemicals with safe chemistries.
Fertilizers & Pesticides
IPM is a process of achieving long-term, environmentally safe pest control using wide variety of technology and other potential pest management practices. In European arable systems, applied multi-disciplinary research and farmer incentives to encourage the adoption of innovative IPM strategies are essential for development of sustainable maize-based cropping systems. These IPM strategies can contribute immensely to address the European strategic commitment to the environmentally sustainable use of pesticides Vasileiadis et al. The added cost and time to do an IPM approach is sometimes a difficult task for growers, but government and extension services can help in convincing and encouraging growers to go for IPM strategy for eco-friendly and long term pest control.
We have already discussed earlier that continuous use of pesticides leads to pesticide resistance and pest resurgence problem. To avoid these issues we can always go for other potential management options that include cultural and physical control, host plant resistance, biocontrol, and the use of biopesticides etc.
Cultural control for pest management has been adopted by growers throughout the world for a long time due to its environmentally friendly nature and minimal costs Gill et al. Cultural control practices are regular farm operations, which are used to destroy the pests or to prevent them from causing plant damage. Soil solarization McSorley and Gill, ; Gill and McSorley, b and organic mulches Gill and McSorley, a alone and their integration Gill and McSorley, were reported as economical and eco-friendly technique for controlling soil-surface arthropods various insects, and nematodes Gill et al.
More effective cultural control can be achieved by synchronizing existing practices with life cycles of pests. This way the weakest link in their life cycle is subjected to adverse climatic conditions. Large insect populations are killed automatically by farmers when they expose them to adverse climatic conditions through agricultural practices like weeding, ploughing, and hoeing.
Ploughing of agricultural field allows turnover of the upper layer of soil while burying the weeds and residues from last year. Planting dates Goyal and Kanta, a , and barrier crops teosinte Zea spp. Goyal and Kanta, b were found to be effective against maize stem borer Chilo partellus in India. The brown seaweeds Spatoglossum asperum and Sargassum swartzii can be used as manure to protect plants tomato Solanum lycopersicum L. In India, rodents are pests in agriculture, horticulture, forestry, animal husbandry as well as in human dwellings and rural and urban storage facilities.
Cultural methods, such as clean cultivation, proper soil tillage and crop scheduling, barriers, repellents and proofing that reduce the rodent harbourage, food sources and immigration may have long lasting effects Parshad, Managing pest populations using devices which affect them physically or alter their physical environment is called physical control. Exposure to sun rays, steaming, moisture management especially for stored grain pests, and light traps for attracting various kinds of moths, beetles and other pests are different methods used in physical control.
For example steaming woolen winter clothes help in eliminating population of the woolly bear moth, Antherenus vorax waterhouse Dhaliwal et al. Hot water treatment of plant storage products like corns, and bulbs helps to kill many concealed pests such as eelworms and bulb flies. Mechanical control refers to suppression of pest population by manual devices. It includes various practices such as hand picking, trapping and suction devices, clipping, pruning and crushing of infested shoots and floral parts, and exclusion by screens and barriers to keep away house flies Musca domestica , mosquitoes and other pests.
In south-eastern Australia, the common starling Sturnus vulgaris is an established invasive avian pest that is now making incursions into Western Australia which is currently free of this species. Trapping with live-lure birds is suggested to be the most cost-effective and widely implemented starling control technique Campbell et al.