Fertilizers in Organic Farming

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Before I go on about the use of fertilizers in organic farming, you must first understand what organic farming is. The simplest way to describe organic agriculture is agricultural production without the use of synthetic chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, etc). For crop production, organic materials such as compost and manure are used to maintain soil organic matter and as sources of nutrients. Nitrogen-fixing as well as pest resistant plant varieties are utilized. The incorporation of soil management techniques such as mulching, inter-cropping and crop rotation are integral components of an organic farming system.

Organic farming is a farming system that promotes, among other practices, the use of organic fertilizers. Organic matter is an essential component of healthy soils, and all sound farming practices integrate and available organic materials to maintain or improve soil fertility. However, because of organic fertilizers are low in nutrient content, high application rates are needed to meet crop nutrient requirements. In many countries, particularly in developing countries, the availability of organic sources of fertilizers is simply insufficient for crop needs, partly due to competitive uses such as energy production. "The nutrient content, composition and release rate of some organic fertilizers is variable with makes it extremely difficult to ensure a steady supply and the correct balance of all the essential elements for healthy plant growth." (www.wikipedia.org) Nutrient imbalances and declining soil fertility usually show up only several years after conversation to organic farming systems, due to progressively declining residual nutrients in the soil.

The use of some inorganic sources of plant nutrients in organic farming systems is recognized by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and Codex Alimentarius. According to IFOAM, any substances to be added to the list of products authorized for organic...
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