Organic products have no pesticides used at all. No chemically engineered ingredients either. No antibiotics or other synthetic chemicals added. And no added hormones or steroids either.
That sounds great, doesn’t it? And yet that’s not all that it’s like. Organic farming is about more than just avoiding pesticides and artificial fertilizers. In fact, many of the organic farmers in this country (and throughout the world) do far more than just avoid pesticides and artificial fertilizers – they avoid all of them.
Here’s how it works. Basically, organic farmers grow plants in their natural environment, without the help of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or other synthetic chemicals and hormones. They don’t use anything that could potentially harm human health or the environment. As a result, their food can be more delicious, safer, and better for the plants themselves. The end result is healthy human health and the preservation of the natural state of the planet.
In addition to avoiding synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, organic farmers also work hard to prevent soil erosion. You see, they grow crops in their natural environment and they protect those plants from soil erosion by using cover crops, weed control, and terrace cover. Cover crops are plants that are grown to block soil erosion, which happens every time that a farmer tills his or her field. Weed control means that farmers keep their fields free of harmful weeds. And terrace cover means that the soil is so rich in nutrients that weeds cannot survive in it.
Soybeans, a popular crop that’s grown all year, are a good example of an agricultural crop that depends largely on cover cropping. Soybeans’ natural nitrogen supply runs out in the growing season, so the crop must be planted again in its entirety the next year, when it is back to its full growing season. In this way, nitrogen fertilizer is used up before the soybeans have a chance to use it up.
By the way, it’s important to note that some states, such as North Dakota, ban the use of certain pesticides known as “restricted use” pesticides on public land. This is because those pesticides may pose a threat to the state’s fisheries. So, even farmers in that state choose to use non-regulated, “humane” herbicides like Garden Hoes. The reason: they want to avoid applying any harmful pesticides to their soybeans, while still ensuring that the crop is safe for consumption.
Of course, farmers are not the only ones who benefit from the non-chemical solution. Consumers benefit, too. By avoiding pesticides and fertilizers, you allow yourself to purchase healthier soybeans, which, in turn, allow you to buy more natural, organic foods. Also, organic foods are just better for you. No pesticides mean less potential damage to your children’s health; no fertilizers mean less risk of heart and kidney disease.
While there certainly can be a place for pesticides in our lives, they’re certainly not necessary. Using non-chemical fertilizers instead will help prevent soil erosion, reduce water pollution and promote overall healthy agriculture. The benefits do not end there, though. As you grow your own food, you’ll learn a lot more about what types of fertilizers work best for your crops, what kinds of pesticides are appropriate, and how to make your own natural fertilizers (and pest control products, if needed).
The organic lobby, on the other hand, is adamant that non-organic farmers simply cannot afford to use non-synthetic fertilizers. After all, it costs more to use those products. In response, organic farmers frequently point out that they must pay market price for brand name products – in many cases, much more than non-organic equivalents. At the same time, the organic lobby has made some pretty convincing arguments against genetically modified organisms, arguing that they pose no real danger to consumers. But, as you might expect, not everyone buys their argument. And those who do may have a valid point.
The bottom line, however, is that no matter what type of fertilizer you use, whether natural or chemical, your plants and crops will thank you for it – without the need for pesticides. That’s because organic fertilizer contains ingredients that are higher in nutrients, which means that they provide a stronger foundation for the plants to grow upon. In many places around the world, such as in the Midwest, farmers do not use pesticides on their soil. Instead, they give their plants specially formulated compost – which also contains high amounts of nutrients that help to ensure that the plants have plenty of food to grow on.
Organic fertilizers kill earthworms, which in turn protects the soil from them. This, in turn, helps to ensure that future generations have a healthy soil to plant their fruits and vegetables upon. So, while it may be true that organic fertilizers kill earthworms (and vice versa), the real issue at hand here is whether or not synthetic chemicals do the same thing. And the fact is that pesticides, whether natural or synthetic, simply don’t have nearly the same impact on the environment as fertilizers do.