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:
20 thoughts on “Benefits of Agroecology and Organic Agriculture”
Eugenio, thanks for this informative post on all the ins and outs of organic farming/agriculture. I have a question that has been plaguing me for what seems to be forever – organic agriculture seems to eliminate many costs associated with traditional agriculture (GMO seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides etc.) and yet to the consumer, organic produce always seems to be more costly. Are we paying for the glitz and glamor of eating organic or are the hidden costs that drive the costs of organic produce up e.g. certification costs?
Interesting question, and complex indeed. Organic agriculture is cheaper if you are a small scale grower and prepare your own supplies or commodities (seeds included) for your own and your friends or neighbours consumption, which is one of the goals of this website. As for commercial organic agriculture, you have to “prove” to consumers and the government it is organic, and this is done through getting official certifications that allow you the use of “Organic” official seals in your labels, which are very expensive and thus, raising (indirectly) production costs, because as a commercial organic grower, you have to pay yearly fees to certifying companies that are required by the government to perform yearly on site evaluations and laboratory analysis to certify you stay organic year after year.
Thanks for your response. It has always been a nagging question of mine but I guess it makes sense the way you describe. It’s a little sad that by producing food that is healthier for us, the governments make it prohibitively expensive for many.
It’s little wonder that many commercial growers just go the conventional route leaving us with crops that are covered and infused with fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides and who knows what else.
Sadly true Gary, mi amigo:
As for now we are very worried here in México about the possibility of GMO corn to be legally allowed to be grown all over the country. México is the land of origin of corn. If that happens, our thousands of native corn varieties, adapted to different soil conditions, rainfall variations, grown from sea level up to above 3,000 metres (+10,000 ft) would face danger of contamination by GMO corn pollen and destroy their adaptation and quality food features that have been developed through loving and careful selection by centuries (even millennials) by Mexican indians and farmers.
With hope for a better and healthier food for all.
Eugenio, a very informative post.
My heritage is Italian, and we have grown crops organically for generations. My father still tends a half-acre garden and he does it all organically. To me the key is to be able to leverage what he and many others do organically on a larger scale so as you point out, we are good to our environment. I look forward to your future posts.
Thank you so much Claudio, for your comment, my father and grandfather did organic agriculture and livestock as well, just as mostly everybody before the “Green Revolution” in México
Molto grazie signore.
Eugenio, I’m so glad you’re promoting organic agriculture. The world needs people like you.
The benefits, you wrote about, are clearly expressed.
Thank you so much for your cheering comments Vance. I will be adding new information on going organic, which I think is a must now a days as a self defense strategy.
I am all for anything organic. I feel it is the answer to the mess we have made of our planet. Fruits and vegetables taste so much better without the pesticides. Your article is very enlightening, we are putting in a garden this coming year. We have several farmers’ markets in our area so we ready access to high-quality fruit and vegetables here in southern AZ.
Thank you for your comments. I will check your site as well, it seems to have interesting and necessary information. Shortly (maybe today) I will post a new article on my site about easy composting. I hope you stay tuned and that it is helpful to you and everybody else.
I am truly envious of those who have the type of livelihood you do Eugenio. I’ve wanted to grow my own food for some time now. Having that feeling of self reliance is so empowering. I can’t even grow a garden were i live. Here is something interesting, I heard guy who runs a radio network on the internet and grows his own organic food as well, say that if all the big mega agricultural farms suddenly switched from conventional GMO methods to organic production here in the U.S there would be a massive food shortage as they would not be able to grow enough food to feed the country. He went on to say that the only way is for a lot more people to start growing their own organic food for there to be significant change in that regard. That kind of correlates with what you said above about how organic productivity won’t match that of conventional.
Indeed Brad, doing what I do is so rewarding! Working the land and being respectful of mother nature is so fulfilling to our spirit, to our true nature as humans… I could go on about it for a loooooong time, but I guess you feel that way well enough my friend. It empowers you as part of this wholeness that is our unique living planet!
Regarding mega agricultural farms: they have been using anti-natural methods (tilling is not natural, chemicals are not natural, GMO’s are not natural either and so on and so forth) and they have constantly been depleting soil organisms (degraders or break downers), compacting them with heavy machinery, changing their structure, increasing pH values through salinity… All of this has a definite influence in their immediate behaviour and productivity when shifting to organic agriculture. You have to replace their natural fertility and it may take several years depending on their condition -usually three to five years. But in the long term the yields of organically cropped soils will have comparable or even higher productivity to that of conventional agriculture based upon chemical synthesis supplies.
I truly appreciate your comments my friend. I will add a new article within the next day or so, stay tuned.
Hi Eugenio. Thanks for the very informative article. Your replies to posts are equally informative. I was wondering though if you knew anything about “hanging gardens”? While visiting Epcot in Florida (USA) a few years ago, I visited an area where they are growing plants hydroponically and hanging everything from tomatoes to watermelons off of the ground. It is fascinating and I would like to do something similar on the roof of my house in New Mexico if that is possible. I am wondering how I can learn to manage such a garden without becoming an employee at Epcot? Do you have any information on this type of garden?
You can find more info about the Epcot Greenhouse here:
Thanks for visiting William:
In a future post I will write about hanging gardens, green roofs, vertical gardens, wall gardens… there are so many possibilities my friend.
Best regards from México.
Thank you for such an interesting and informative article! I live in a townhouse that is so well shaded that it is impossible to grow much. When we lived in a house many years ago with a large back yard, we did keep a compost bin that we used to fertilize and grow a small vegetable garden. I truly enjoyed it! Your tops would have certainly been helpful back then.
Thank you Anita for your warm comments that are so encouraging. I will keep enhancing my site with more information and images.
Best regards from México.
Hola Eugenio, I really love the theme of this website. There is nothing more important today than the environment, having clean air to breath and food free of pollutants. I am a great supporter of the concept of organic farming and always try to buy organic when I have the choice. I agree it is morally wrong that food grown without the use of chemicals should cost more than manufactured food, why should the environment always pay the price for man’s polluting activities? Your article is really informative and interesting and I look forward to reading and learning more. Best of luck, saludos desde El Reino Unido Amanda
PS I love avocados and as México is the avocado king…. please can you write a post about this industry and how we consumers can support and encourage the organic production of avocados?
Thank you for visiting:
I am convinced that the organic way is THE WAY for the sake of humans and nature as a whole. The cost of organic food raises due to the requirements governments have to allow growers to stamp their respective “Organic” seals in the labels, e.g. if a produce does not meet the requirements (expensive procedure) it can not be labeled organic (even if it is). But if you grow your own you will find it fun, rewarding, healthy exercise and a cheap produce my friend.
As to avocados (Mmmmmm!)I thank you for your suggestion, I will write something in a future blog, but right now I am in the initial steps of the process of building up my website. All my best wishes for you my friend, stay healthy and go organic.
Saludos desde México hasta el Reino Unido.
Gracias Eugenio, he estado leyendo tu información y te felicito, hay tantas cosas que se pueden hacer para procurar a la madre tierra y por el bien de nuestra especie.
Uno de mis sueños es poder establecerme en un lugar donde logre vivir de manera autosustentable, tu tierra es un lugar maravilloso, el lugar ideal para para lograrlo, seguiré ilustrándome con tu experiencia, gracias por compartirla.
Nos vemos pronto, mientras tanto seguiremos en la búsqueda.
Gracias Raúl. Disculpa la tardanza en contestar pero no había visto tu comentario.
Seguimos en contacto mi amigo.