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Have you ever heard of organic agriculture and want to know more?
We decided to share a guide on this agricultural practice, in the hope of satisfying most of your questions.
Let's find out together what it is!
What is organic agriculture
Organic farming is a much broader and more complex method of agricultural and livestock production than the simple decision not to use pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones in their activities.
Organic agriculture is in fact a holistic system designed for optimize the productivity and suitability of the different communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. The main goal of organic and organic production is development of sustainable and harmonious businesses with the environment.
What are the principles of organic agriculture
THE general principles of organic production can be summarized as follows:
- protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, reduce pollution, optimize biological productivity and promote a healthy state of health;
- maintaining long-term soil fertility by optimizing the conditions for biological activity within the soil;
- maintain biological diversity within the system;
- recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible within the company;
- provide attentive care that promotes health and meets the behavioral needs of livestock;
- prepare organic products, placing the emphasis on careful processing and handling methods, in order to maintain the biological integrity and vital qualities of the products at all stages of production;
- rely on renewable resources in locally organized agricultural systems.
In short, organic agriculture promotes the use of crop rotations, with organic residues and nutrients produced on the farm that are recycled into the soil.
Cover crops and composted fertilizer are used to maintain organic matter and soil fertility. Insect prevention and disease control methods are practiced, including the aforementioned crop rotation, genetic improvement and resistant varieties.
As for the use of biological pesticides, those approved include "natural" products or products that respect organic standards. Even cereals, forages and protein supplements fed to livestock must be grown organically.
It should also be noted that organic standards generally prohibit products of genetic engineering and animal cloning, synthetic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, synthetic food adjuvants and their ingredients, as well as ionizing radiation.
Prohibited products and practices must not be used on certified organic farms for at least three years prior to harvesting the certified organic products. Livestock must be raised organically and fed 100% organic ingredients.
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The growth of organic agriculture
The world market of organic food has been growing at a particularly lively pace for over 15 years and it is expected that in the next few years the growth in retail sales in this sector will be stable in double figures in all the main Western markets.
As a result, the demand for organic farming should also grow quite dynamically, making this sector a preferential destination for investments.
Why buy organically grown products?
Consumers buy foods from organic agriculture for many different reasons. For example, many want to buy food products that are free of chemical pesticides or grown without conventional fertilizers. Some just like to try new and different products. The taste of products, concerns for the environment and the desire to avoid food from genetically modified organisms are however among the many other reasons why some consumers prefer to buy organic food products.
As for the opposite side, that of farmers, the main determinants that should inspire compliance with the principles of organic agriculture are concerns for the environment and for working with agricultural chemicals in conventional agricultural systems.
There is also an obvious energy saving problem. Many agricultural chemicals require energy-intensive production processes that are highly dependent on fossil fuels.
What does it mean that a product is certified organic?
"Certified organic" is a term attributed to products that are made according to organic farming standards and certified by one of the certification bodies.
There are several certification bodies operating in Italy. A farmer who wishes to be certified organic must contact a certification body that requires an independent inspection of his farm to verify that his agricultural activity meets organic standards.
Farmers, intermediaries and sellers are also required to maintain the biological integrity of the product and to maintain a documentary record for the purposes of control by bodies and authorities.
In short, when considering obtaining organic certification, knowing the requisites and accreditations necessary in the market in which one's products will be sold becomes the first step to take in order to take advantage of the added values of this agricultural sector.
In order to know more about organic and organic agriculture, we recommend all those interested to consult the website of the Ministry of Agricultural and Forestry Policies (politicheagricole.it) in the section dedicated to Quality and Safety and, hence, to Products. biological.
Within this section it will be possible to consult information material on organic and organic farming activities and ask any questions on even more specific aspects of these eco-sustainable initiatives.