Organic farms rely on inter-cropping, rotation of crops, mulching, integrated pest management through biopesticides, biofertilizers like farmyard manure, organic compost, etc. Chemical pesticides and fertilizers are not used in organic farms. Organic farms require less fossil fuel energy as machinery is not used in soil preparation and other farm operations.

In conventional farming, regular use of artificial fertilizer, monocropping, and often no crop rotation deteriorates soil health and reduces soil fertility. Nitrates present in the fertilizer are leached into the soil or run off into water sources contaminating these. use of heavy machinery for plowing, harvesting, and post-harvest operations compact the farm floor, destroying the natural soil structure.

Organically farmed soil has significantly higher organic matter content, thicker topsoil depth, less soil erosion, better soil structure than conventional farms. The soils could maintain soil productivity (Reganold et al., 1987; Flieshbach et al., 2007). Analysis of data to estimate the productivity of organic and conventional farms concluded that organic farming systems were more effective in maintaining soil structure and reducing soil loss due to erosion (Reganold, 1988).

Nutritional value, sensory qualities, and food safety of organically and conventionally produced foods were studied. Except for nitrate content, there is no strong evidence that organic and conventional foods differ in various nutrients or contaminants (Bourn et al., 2002).

162 studies, of which 137 examined nutrient quality in crops and 25 livestock products, were analyzed. Conventionally produced crops had a significantly higher nitrogen content, and organic crops had a higher phosphorus content and higher titratable acidity. The scientists also noted no evidence of a difference in nutrient quality between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs. Small differences in nutrient content between the two could be related to differences in production methods (Dangour et al., 2009).

Additional reading:
Nutrition Facts – a guide to good health

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