Organic Agriculture and its Scalability
A press release titled ‘Organic agriculture is going mainstream, but not the way you think it is’, shows that large scale organic agriculture has stirred a comeback of conventional methods, failing the purpose of organic farming.
To thrive with large land holdings, organic farmers are switching back to conventional methods to achieve sustenance. The challenge here is that there is enough support system and ecosystem built around cultivation using conventional methods, but not the traditional and organic methods. While this is an ungrounded approach, I have come across some interesting techniques used by few other committed farmers who have taken organic farming to a large scale, in its purest form.
Taking organic agriculture to the large scale
For the skeptics, here is a way to make use of large holdings and also enrich the soil — Polyculture. You can try partial organic cultivation with high-yield and cash-rich crops. Most farmers experiment with their existing and tested crop with a partial piece of land towards horticulture using organic methods. Using multiple food grains such as millets, pulses and oilseeds, inter-cropped together with other food grains complements each other’s soil fertility needs organically.
The other popular methodology in crop rotation. Depending on the soil health and climate, you can choose the crops you wish to produce and balance their yields. A popular rotation begins with wheat, followed by barley and mustard and then with wheat again.
Apart from these techniques, some inspiration from small-scale farmers is the use of dried leaves on the cultivation soil which will reduce the frequency of irrigation, not only keeping the complexity and cost low, but also retaining the health of the soil.
One cost-effective way to fence your field is to use creepers and climbers woven with thorny wire fence. These plants again support your farm ecologically.
Do what the small farmers do.
In India, however, the case with small and marginalized farmers seems different. They implement a majority of organic techniques right from using a combination of cow dung and other minerals as manure to cultivating multi-crops, to retain soil health.
Since, most of these small farmers use the yield for personal consumption all round the year, it is executed in the most cost-effective and efficient manner. Hence, their organic methodologies also are built around implementing rainwater harvesting and increasing crop sustenance with low levels of water.
I always take the example of Sikkim for those who are cynical about the success of organic farming. If Sikkim can do it, then we can do it too. Large scale organic farming is real!