Organic Farming: An International History (Cabi Publishing)

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Book Organic Farming: An International History (Cabi Publishing)

Composted manure that has been turned 5 times in 15 days and reached temperatures between 55— Compost adds organic matter, providing a wide range of nutrients for plants, and adds beneficial microbes to the soil. In comparison, synthetic fertilizers are already in mineralized form and can be taken up by plants directly. Soil is maintained by planting and then tilling in cover crops , which help protect the soil from erosion off-season and provide additional organic matter.

The tilling in of nitrogen-fixing cover crops, such as clover or alfalfa , also adds nitrogen to the soil. Cover crops are commonly planted before or after the cash crop season or in conjunction with crop rotation and can also be planted between the rows of some crops, such as tree fruits. Organic pesticides are derived from naturally occurring sources.

These include living organisms such as the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis , which is used to control caterpillar pests, or plant derivatives such as pyrethrins from the dried flower heads of Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium or neem oil from the seeds of Azadirachta indica. Mineral-based inorganic pesticides such as sulfur and copper are also allowed. In addition to pesticides, organic pest control integrates biological, cultural, and genetic controls to minimize pest damage.

Biological control utilizes the natural enemies of pests, such as predatory insects e.

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Pest cycles can be disrupted with cultural controls, of which crop rotation is the most widely used. Finally, traditional plant breeding has produced numerous crop varieties that are resistant to specific pests.

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The use of such varieties and the planting of genetically diverse crops provide genetic control against pests and many plant diseases. Organic farming. Article Media.

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Info Print Print. Table Of Contents. Submit Feedback. Thank you for your feedback. Written By: Raoul Adamchak. See Article History. Start Your Free Trial Today. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Fertilizer , natural or artificial substance containing the chemical elements that improve growth and productiveness of plants. Fertilizers enhance the natural fertility of the soil or replace the chemical elements taken from the soil by previous crops. Cover crop , Fast-growing crop, such as rye, buckwheat, cowpea, or vetch, planted to prevent soil erosion, increase nutrients in the soil, and provide organic matter.

Cover crops are grown either in the season during which cash crops are not grown or between the rows of some crops e. Pesticide , any toxic substance used to kill animals, fungi, or plants that cause economic damage to crop or ornamental plants or are hazardous to the health of domestic animals or humans. All pesticides interfere with normal metabolic processes in the pest organism and often are classified according to the type….