Organic farming and growing makes good sense for many farms:
More profitable: during the last 10 years most organic farm systems have been just as profitable as conventional, and in many cases more so.
Organic marketing opportunities: expanding markets with premium prices are available for most organic products, whether supplying wholesale cereals and milk, on farm processing or retail sales such as box schemes
Animal health and welfare: no intensive livestock and minimal use of antibiotics improves welfare and avoids the associated problems of antimicrobial resistance
Farm environment: long term soil health, more wildlife and no personal exposure to agrochemicals
Organic farming and growing is better for the environment and wildlife. This results from both the farming methods used and the positive wildlife management, which is all part of organic farming.
Organic farming involves a system of farm management which is inherently more diverse; mixed arable and livestock, diverse ley and crop mixtures and with multiple enterprises. The practices used by organic farmers include use of manures and green waste compost, legumes to fix nitrogen, fertility building leys and green manures. And of course no use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides and minimal veterinary medicines. Together with a focus on soil health and management there are many benefits for wildlife and the environment.
Wildlife management is important for many organic farms not just out of respect for nature but also because a thriving wildlife really does benefit the farming. Creating beetle banks for insect predators, managing larger hedges for crop and stock shelter, conserving dung beetles and earthworms for soil fertility and permanent pastures for animal health, all contribute to a thriving organic farm.
Many years of research show the advantages of organic farming:
Water protection. Reduced nitrate, phosphate and agrochemical contamination as result of no use of nitrate fertilisers, soluble phosphate fertilisers or agrochemicals
Soil fertility. Higher earthworm and micro-organism numbers and reduced compaction
Increased arable plant species, insect pollinators, birds and earthworms
Climate change. Higher carbon sequestration and reduced green house gas emissions including lower nitrous oxide emissions and no emissions from nitrate fertiliser manufacture
Resource efficiency. Lower use of finite resources including phosphate and fossil energy
Greater crop diversity and, on mixed farms, the presence of livestock, often rare or indigenous breeds.
We all need access to healthy, sustainably produced food. Organic food, farming and growing is based on the concept of a natural system, where crops are grown in soil, with minimal use of inputs and food processing and animals have the highest health and welfare. The way in which food is produced affects the quality of that food and the health of those eating it.
Here’s why organic food is good for you:
Greater nutritional quality in many foods, including antioxidants and more of the healthy fatty acids
Lower pesticide, antibiotic, heavy metal and nitrate residues
The Organic Farm Management Handbook is the only source of information on the costs and performance of organic farming.
This is a ‘must have’ publication for everyone interested in the business of organic farming and growing. This edition provides technical and financial data, information on current support schemes, Brexit permitting, as well as details on organic markets.
The Organic Research Centre runs a collaborative project called Agricology – an independent learning platform bringing together the latest knowledge on agroecological farming systems from across the sector, bridging research and farmer experience (organic and conventional), regardless of labels. See: https://www.agricology.co.uk.
Download Towards Farmer Principles of Health
Read our handy guide to running healthy farming systems.