We all need food, nobody can live without it. Agroecology and Organic agriculture have to do with food production, as well as conventional agriculture. As far as the demand is concerned, natural, organic production of food has been experiencing a constant growth for the past four or five decades, and the trend is ever-increasing. Mostly everybody knows or has heard about organic agriculture and its benefits, although not so much about agroecology; therefore, almost everybody has a general idea about what it is. But here I would like to write about the multiple benefits of this way of producing food in a more in depth approach.
As opposed to the conventional methods of agriculture that are based upon chemical synthesis commodities or products like fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and so on; agroecology or organic agriculture are based on natural commodities that are non-polluting, practically harmless, cheaper (much cheaper indeed), easily made at the farm or even at home, as in the case of urban agroecology or organic agriculture.
Benefits of agroecology and organic agriculture:
Following is a list of some main benefits of both agroecology and organic agriculture:
This is increasingly more important, due to the moral need we all have to do something to stop, or lower the effects of climate change at a worldwide level. This year alone (2017), we are all aware of the negative and disastrous impact of climate change (which I prefer to call climate crisis) effects caused by hurricanes Irma, María, Ophelia and others, plus the wildfires in California, not to mention strong earthquakes in México, Chile, Colombia, just to name a few phenomena in the American Continent.
Uses compost as a source for plant nutrition
The utilization of the different kinds of compost not only eliminates the need for expensive, dangerous and polluting chemical synthesis fertilizers, but it is also beneficial to the quality and fertility of soils, which include vast populations of macro and microorganisms that help degrade (breakdown) organic matter from debris and make its nutrients available for absorption by plant root systems. I will discuss this in a different post because of the wide variety of composting methods, the huge diversity of organisms present in healthy soils and its utmost importance for agriculture.
Uses natural pesticides
Natural pesticides used in organic agriculture, mainly insecticides, fungicides and herbicides, most of which can easily be prepared at home using plants you usually have in the refrigerator or kitchen, or can be gathered for free outdoors, that are practically harmless to humans and domestic animals. The homemade pesticides will be a subject of different posts as well, in view of their big importance, wide variety and easy preparation methods.
The seeds used in organic agriculture can be saved by keeping the best plants from one season’s harvest to the next growing season, reducing or eliminating the need to buy them every year. It is important here to recommend that the seeds used not be GMO’s, and preferably non hybrid seeds.
Different plant species grown together
Both agroecology and organic agriculture combine plants that when grown together, benefit each other or repel several pests. This will also be discussed in a different post due to the extensive subject, which includes ways to attract and keep beneficial insects to the agroecology or organic agriculture fields or gardens.
Use of harmless products
The products that are used in agroecology and organic agriculture don’t pose any harm or threat to beneficial insects, like bees, mantis, lady bugs, wasps and many other pest controllers other than insects, like frogs, toads, lizards, snakes, birds and many others.
Working at your agroecological or organic garden or field provides you a means of relaxing and contemplation, gives you high quality time to be with yourself and your family, and lets you forget about your daily worries of day-to-day routines, which has beneficial effects upon your general physical and mental health and stability.
Health benefits for growers and consumers
Organically grown produce benefits the health of growers by not being exposed to the use of harmful commodities and supplies. Additionally, consumers are also benefited because the naturally grown, organic produce they consume doesn’t have any potentially dangerous traces of chemical synthesis products.
Learning from nature
When you begin working on agroecology or organic agriculture, or if you are shifting from commercial conventional agriculture to agroecology or organic agriculture, there is a learning period, where mistakes may be present for lack of practice and/or knowledge. Don’t worry or be discouraged, this is just something that usually happens in any new venture, not only in agriculture, just keep on learning by closely observing the results of your work and by trying to find out what the cause of the wrongdoing was, and correct it. If you keep a positive attitude and an interest on learning, it will be highly beneficial, rewarding and fun (later on you’ll laugh about it). And remember, no matter what the mistake or wrongdoing was, it will most certainly not be a dangerous situation, even if you accidentally drink hot pepper, onion or garlic tea (used as insecticides and fungicides).
Usually when you begin organically growing your produce, productivity will not match that of conventional agriculture. This is mainly the outcome of the soil unbalance resulting from having been exposed to chemical synthesis based agriculture, which negatively affects natural fertility, organic matter content, macro and microorganisms populations, salinity, among several other different circumstances and soil conditions. After three or four years of doing organic agriculture, you will develop enough expertise, the soil will recover its natural balance of organic matter, fertility and productivity and yields will be similar or even higher than those of conventional agriculture… and a great plus: you’ll get top quality produce that will be unmatched by conventional agriculture, an incredible satisfaction and a feeling of food self-sufficiency.
By eliminating the need to buy expensive GMO or hybrid seeds, and chemical synthesis fertilizers and pesticides, the production cost of organic agriculture is significantly lower than conventional agriculture, even if you decide to buy organic seeds for the first season, and every year buy compost or natural pesticides instead of making them yourself.
Last, but not least, safety measures are a must. Whenever working on your agroecology or organic garden or farm, you and everyone else working there must observe safety measures to prevent potentially harmful or dangerous situations. The main and most common safety measures are:
- Use appropriate clothing like overalls or work garments, rubber or work boots, gloves, hat or cap for sun protection, mouth and nose filters, goggles.
- Keep children away while spraying, composting, etc.
- Do not eat, drink or smoke while working.
- Do not allow pets near you, to avoid distractions or dangerous situations, or exposing them to natural commodities being used.
- You should have a first aid kit nearby.
- Tag all the supplies clearly to avoid confusions.
- Keep all necessary tools at hand to avoid going back and forth, and clean them thoroughly or wash them when finished.
- When you are done working, take a shower and change cloths.
- Always use common sense.
- Anything else you can think of, depending on your particular circumstances.
Keep in mind that your own and everybody else’s safety is always number one consideration.
Agroecology and organic agriculture in any of their variations, which will be discussed in an upcoming blog, are not only environmentally friendly, but they can actually have an important contribution to restoring damaged, ravaged areas and improving them for the benefit and welfare of younger and future generations of not only humans, but all living beings as a whole. We are all connected, we all need all and every living species on the Planet. That’s the only way to maintain the natural balance and stability that will guarantee a common future as a living Planet.
From all the different issues mentioned above, it can be concluded that agroecology or organic agriculture, if safety measures are carefully observed, are not only harmless to growers, consumers and the environment, but they are also cheaper. These are the main reasons that are at the foundation of the increasing demand for naturally grown, organic produce worldwide.
If you have any doubts, suggestions or questions, feel free to get in touch. I will be more than happy to answer and help you in this wonderful world of growing your own food or producing for others.
With my best regards for you all: