Differences Between Organic And Natural Farming
Mar 18, 2023
Although organic farming has become a big movement, it must not be confused with natural farming. Are you wondering if the advantages of organic farming and natural farming are similar? First of all, let us understand the principles of natural and organic farming. Ever wondered how so many trees in forests grow fruits, flowers without any help from chemical or organic fertilisers? The answer is “Mother Nature”. This is exactly what natural farming does, it follows the law of nature. It is an ecological farming approach that grows crops without external inputs such as chemical fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides. It promotes biodiversity, soil health, plant and animal health, while minimising human interventions. On the other hand, though organic farming avoids the use of synthetic chemicals, it has more specific guidelines to be followed to be certified as organic. This kind of farming involves using natural inputs like compost, cover crops and natural pest control methods. Organic farming also emphasises the importance of soil health and biodiversity.
Though both the methods of farming appear to have some commonalities, they are two different approaches.
Differences between Organic and Natural farming
|No external fertilisers
|Organic fertilisers are allowed
|No ploughing, tilling and weeding No pesticides, No herbicides, No pruning
|Basic agro practices like ploughing, tilling, weeding are performed
|Apart from natural manure, natural farming encourages decomposition of organic matter by microbes and earthworms
|Manures like compost, vermicompost are used on farmlands
|Guidelines & regulations to be followed for certification purpose
|Lost cost farming method
|Expensive due to requirement of bulk manure
Subhash Palekar Natural Farming: The most sustainable and widely accepted natural farming method
There are many natural farming methods across the world. In India, Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (Earlier known as Zero Budget Natural Farming) is the most popular model of natural farming in India, implemented by states such as Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. Developed by Padma Shree awardee Subhash Palekar, this farming method has been adopted in over 700 villages under Centre’s Rashtirya Krishi Vikas Yojana and has benefited many farmers. Considered as an eco-friendly and sustainable approach to agriculture for the future, Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) is accepted by millions of global followers.
The many advantages of natural farming can be seen in Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) system:
- Plants get 98% of nutrients from air, water and sunlight.
- Cow dung and cow urine from indigenous cows are used for manure formulation.
- Usage of indigenous seeds
- The bio culture Jeevamruth (desi cow urine & dung concoctions) enhance soil health.
- Pest management through botanical extracts.
- Less water. Less electricity
- Weeds are essential and are used as living or dead mulch layers.
- Live mulching and straw mulching help humus formation, suppress weeds and maintain water requirements to crops.
- Intercropping acts as a barrier to insect pests and diseases.
- Polycrops (growing short duration and long duration crops together) facilitate health and resilience of soil, and mitigate diseases. The cost of the main crop will be borne by the income generated by the short duration crops and hence there is low cost involved.
- Contours and bunds reduce water borne erosion of land.
- Encourages indigenous earthworm species in deeper soil to enhance soil fertility.
- The dung and urine of indigenous cow are recommended as they contain beneficial micro organisms.
The success stories of implementing SPNF indicate
- A renewed sense of confidence among farmers.
- Conservation of biodiversity and ecosystem.
- Increase in soil fertility and availability of nutrients.
- Reduction of methane emissions through multiple aeration.
- Humus through decomposition of agricultural waste produced best results.
- Minimised labour and production costs.
A farming method that believes in growing crops in harmony with nature, Subhash Palekar Natural Farming (SPNF) has the potential to increase productivity, improve economic viability, improve farmers’ livelihood, reduce pollution, conserve the environment and fulfil the healthy food requirement of the growing population.