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You are Here :: Organic Farming


What is organic farming?

Organic farming system in India is not new and is being followed from ancient time. It is a method of farming system which primarily aimed at cultivating the land and raising crops in such a way, as to keep the soil alive and in good health by use of organic wastes (crop, animal and farm wastes, aquatic wastes) and other biological materials along with beneficial microbes (biofertilizers) to release nutrients to crops for increased sustainable production in an eco friendly pollution free environment.

FAO suggested that “Organic agriculture is a unique production management system which promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity, and this is accomplished by using on-farm agronomic, biological and mechanical methods in exclusion of all synthetic off-farm inputs.

Need for organic farming!

With the increase in population our compulsion would be not only to stabilize agricultural production but to increase it further in sustainable manner. The scientists have realized that the ‘Green Revolution’ with high input use has reached a plateau and is now sustained with diminishing return of falling dividends. Thus, a natural balance needs to be maintained at all cost for existence of life and property. The obvious choice for that would be more relevant in the present era, when these agrochemicals which are produced from fossil fuel and are not renewable and are diminishing in availability. It may also cost heavily on our foreign exchange in future.

The key characteristics of organic farming include 
1.Protecting the long term fertility of soils by maintaining organic matter levels, encouraging soil biological activity, and careful mechanical intervention;

2.Providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by the action of soil micro-organisms;

3.Nitrogen self-sufficiency through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation, as well as effective recycling of organic materials including crop residues and livestock manures;

4.Weed, disease and pest control relying primarily on crop rotations, natural predators, diversity, organic manuring, resistant varieties and limited (preferably minimal) thermal, biological and chemical intervention;

5.The extensive management of livestock, paying full regard to their evolutionary adaptations, behavioural needs and animal welfare issues with respect to nutrition, housing, health, breeding and rearing;

6.Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the wider environment and the conservation of wildlife and natural habitats.

Principles in Organic Farming
The four principles of organic agriculture are as follows:

Principle of health
Organic Agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal, human and planet as one and indivisible.

This principle points out that the health of individuals and communities cannot be separated from the health of ecosystems - healthy soils produce healthy crops that foster the health of animals and people.

Health is the wholeness and integrity of living systems. It is not simply the absence of illness, but the maintenance of physical, mental, social and ecological well-being. Immunity, resilience and regeneration are key characteristics of health.

The role of organic agriculture, whether in farming, processing, distribution, or consumption, is to sustain and enhance the health of ecosystems and organisms from the smallest in the soil to human beings. In particular, organic agriculture is intended to produce high quality, nutritious food that contributes to preventive health care and well-being. In view of this it should avoid the use of fertilizers, pesticides, animal drugs and food additives that may have adverse health effects.

Principle of ecology
Organic Agriculture should be based on living ecological systems and cycles, work with them, emulate them and help sustain them.

This principle roots organic agriculture within living ecological systems. It states that production is to be based on ecological processes, and recycling. Nourishment and well-being are achieved through the ecology of the specific production environment. For example, in the case of crops this is the living soil; for animals it is the farm ecosystem; for fish and marine organisms, the aquatic environment.

Organic farming, pastoral and wild harvest systems should fit the cycles and ecological balances in nature. These cycles are universal but their operation is site-specific. Organic management must be adapted to local conditions, ecology, culture and scale. Inputs should be reduced by reuse, recycling and efficient management of materials and energy in order to maintain and improve environmental quality and conserve resources.

Organic agriculture should attain ecological balance through the design of farming systems, establishment of habitats and maintenance of genetic and agricultural diversity. Those who produce, process, trade, or consume organic products should protect and benefit the common environment including landscapes, climate, habitats, biodiversity, air and water.

Principle of fairness
Organic Agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities.

Fairness is characterized by equity, respect, justice and stewardship of the shared world, both among people and in their relations to other living beings.

This principle emphasizes that those involved in organic agriculture should conduct human relationships in a manner that ensures fairness at all levels and to all parties - farmers, workers, processors, distributors, traders and consumers. Organic agriculture should provide everyone involved with a good quality of life, and contribute to food sovereignty and reduction of poverty. It aims to produce a sufficient supply of good quality food and other products. This principle insists that animals should be provided with the conditions and opportunities of life that accord with their physiology, natural behavior and well-being.

Natural and environmental resources that are used for production and consumption should be managed in a way that is socially and ecologically just and should be held in trust for future generations. Fairness requires systems of production, distribution and trade that are open and equitable and account for real environmental and social costs.

Principle of care
Organic Agriculture should be managed in a precautionary and responsible manner to protect the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.

Organic agriculture is a living and dynamic system that responds to internal and external demands and conditions. Practitioners of organic agriculture can enhance efficiency and increase productivity, but this should not be at the risk of jeopardizing health and well-being. Consequently, new technologies need to be assessed and existing methods reviewed. Given the incomplete understanding of ecosystems and agriculture, care must be taken.

This principle states that precaution and responsibility are the key concerns in management, development and technology choices in organic agriculture. Science is necessary to ensure that organic agriculture is healthy, safe and ecologically sound.

However, scientific knowledge alone is not sufficient. Practical experience, accumulated wisdom and traditional and indigenous knowledge offer valid solutions, tested by time. Organic agriculture should prevent significant risks by adopting appropriate technologies and rejecting unpredictable ones, such as genetic engineering. Decisions should reflect the values and needs of all who might be affected, through transparent and participatory processes.

Basic Steps of Organic Farming

Organic farming approach involves following five principles:
1.Conversion of land from conventional management to organic management

2.Management of the entire surrounding system to ensure biodiversity and sustainability of the system.

3.Crop production with the use of alternative sources of nutrients such as crop rotation, residue management, organic manures and biological inputs.

4.Management of weeds and pests by better management practices, physical and cultural means and by biological control system

5.Maintenance of live stock in tandem with organic concept and make them an integral part of the entire system

Organic Methods of Pest and Disease Management

Vegetable pests: Type-1 (Leaf eating caterpillars and borers)
Shoot borer, Fruit borer, Stem borer, Hairy caterpillar (on drum stick) and army worm of vegetable crops.

Control measures
1. Andrographis paniculata (siriyanangai) decoction 3 to 5 % or Sida spinosa (Arivalmani Poondu) decoction 5 %          

  For preparation of these decoctions, one of the above mentioned plants is taken and cut into small pieces excluding roots. One kg of this is mixed with four litres of water and placed in a mud pot. This is boiled and reduced to one litre. On cooling, 500 ml of this extract is mixed with 100 ml of soap solution and 9.4 litres of water and sprayed on the top.

2.Neem Kernel extracts 500 to 2000 ml per tank (10 litres capacity)

3-5 kgs of neem kernel is required for an acre. Remove the outer seed coat and use only the kernel. If the seeds are fresh, 3 kgs of kernel is sufficient. If the seeds are old 5 kgs are required. Pound the kernel gently and tie it loosely with a cotton cloth. Soak this overnight in a vessel containing 10 litres of water. After this, it is filtered. On filtering, 6-7 litres of extract can be obtained. 500-1000 ml of this extract should be diluted with 9 ½ or 9 litres of water. Before spraying khadi soap solution @ 10 ml/litre should be added to help the extract stick well to the leaf surface. This concentration of the extract can be increased or decreased depending on the intensity of pest attack.

3.Garlic, Chilli, Ginger extract 500 to 1000 ml per tank (10 litres capacity)

This is a mixture of three plant extracts. 18 grammes of garlic is taken, the outer skin is removed and made into paste. A paste of 9 grammes of green chilli and 9 grammes of ginger is made. All the three pastes are dissolved in 1 litre of water. This mixture is stirred well and filtered before spraying.500 ml of this extract is made with 100 ml of soap solution and 9.4 litres of water and sprayed on the top.     

Vegetable pests: Type-2 (Sucking borers)
Aphids, Green plant hoppers, mealy bugs and white fly

Control measures
1. Andrographis paniculata (siriyanangai) decoction 3 to 5 % or Sida spinosa (Arivalmani Poondu) decoction 5 %

2. Neem Kernel extract 500 to 2000 ml per tank (10 litres capacity)

3. Garlic, Chilli, Ginger extract 500 to 1000 ml per tank (10 litres capacity) (Preparation mentioned in vegetable pest type-1)

Vegetable pests: Type-3 (Beetles and bugs):
Leaf beetle (pumpkin beetle), pod sucking bug, Epilachina beetles of vegetables

Control measures
1. Cow dung extract: Take 1 kg and mix it with 10 litres of water. Filter the extract with a gunny cloth. Add 5 litres of water to the filtrate and again filter it with the same cloth. The filtrate will be a very clear solution.  Spray the filtrate on the plants. 

2. Andrographis paniculata (siriyanangai) decoction 3 to 5 % or Sida spinosa (Arivalmani Poondu) decoction 5 %

3. Neem Kernel extract 500 to 2000 ml per tank (10 litres capacity) (Preparation mentioned in vegetable pest type-1)

Vegetable diseases:
Tomato wilt, Fusarium wilt in Chilli, Cercospora leaf spot, Yellow mosaic viral disease, alternaria leaf spot and fruit rot of all vegetable crops

Control methods
1.General methods a. 10 % cow’s urine is sprayed once in 10 days thrice.
b. Half litre cow’s urine along with ½ litre sour butter milk is mixed with 9 litres of water. This is sparyed once in 7 days twice.
c. Cow’s urine and water is mixed in the ratio 1:2. The seeds or roots of seedlings are soaked  in this for half an hour before sowing or transplanting .
d. 40 kgs of neem cake per acre is applied as basal manure for vegetable crops to prevent diseases.
e. If there is a disease attack in the nursery, then add 10 % cow’s urine extract along with the water that is used to irrigate the nursery. 

2. Fumigation combined with other organic methods
10 % cow’s urine extract should be sprayed for crops affected by diseases. On the same day or the next day, fumigation should be done in the evening. Embelica ribes (Vaividanga) is powdered well (200 grammes/acre). It is then put in a wide mouthed pot with burning charcoal and carried in the field in a direction opposite to the wind. On the 7th day after fumigation, 300 ml of Acorus calamus (Vasambu) extract along with one litre of cow’s urine is mixed with 8.7 litres of water (measurement for one tank) and sprayed on the crop. Vasambu powder in 2 litres of water and then filtering the same. This method prevents wilting in chilli.

Non chemical other pest control methods
1. Light trap
Light traps can be used to monitor and trap the adults thereby reducing the population. Some common light traps that could be used are hurricane lamp, trap with electrical bulb etc., The adult moths have an inherient capacity to get attracted to the light. It should be set up in the field after 5.30 p.m. A large plate or vessel fitted with kerosene mixed water is kept near the light trap. The attracted moths falls in this water and die.

2. Yellow sticky trap
Castor oil smeared yellow colour empty tins or plates are kept in the field. White flies get trapped on these sticky traps. These are wiped out every day and castor oil is applied again.

3. Bird perches:
Install ‘T’ shaped bird perches which are long dried twigs @15-20 per acre. These attract birds for resting and the resting birds devour the larvae in the field.

4. Hand picking method:
This method of pest is useful if the crop is in a small area. Pour a small amount of kerosene in a polythene bag and pick up the larvae during evening hours and put it in the bag. The pests can be controlled this way without the use of any chemicals. This should be done when the pest numbers are low
Hand picking of larva:
Wild grasses and weeds should be removed from the field bunds and field, since, these are the favourite egg laying spots of the pests.

5. Neem as pest repellent:
Take neem leaves or Neem cake or Neem kernels and pound it well and place it in a pot. Add twice the volume of water and tie the mouth of the pot with a cloth. Leave it as such for three days. Then, place the pots on all the 4 corners of a field. In the evening, open the mouth of the pots. The foul smell emanating from the neem products prevents entry of pests into the field.

Source of information:
Organic methods of pests and disease management, Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems, Chennai

Conventional Vs Organic Farming
Organic and conventional agriculture belonged to two different paradigms. The fundamental difference between the two competing agricultural paradigms as follows

Conventional Farming Organic Farming
Centralization Decentralization
Dependence Independence
Competition Community
Domination of nature Harmony with nature
Specialisation Diversity
Exploitation Restraint

In contrast, several agro-ecologically based researchers stress more the fluid transition between conventional, integrated and organic farming, as an outcome of different assessments of economic, ecological and social goals. Consequently, technique strategies such as integrated pest management of balanced nutrient supply might improve conventional agriculture to such as an extent that it may appear unnecessary to strictly ban pesticides and mineral fertilizers as required by organic standards.

However, there is scientific that organic agriculture differs from conventional agriculture not only gradually but fundamentally. Implementing organic methods consequently seems to provide a new quality in how the agro-ecosystem works. This functioning cannot be explained by summing up single ecological measures. Organic farming seems to improve soil fertility in a way and to an extent which cannot be achieved by conventional farming even if the later consistently respects some ecologically principles.

Organic agriculture is one of several to sustainable agriculture and many of the techniques used (e.g. inter-cropping, rotation of crops, double digging,, mulching, integration of crops and livestock) are practiced under various agricultural systems. What makes organic agriculture unique, as regulated under various laws and certification programmes, is that:
1) almost all synthetic inputs are prohibited and 2) Soil building crop rotations are mandated.

The basic rules of organic production are that natural inputs are approved and synthetic inputs are prohibited, but there are exceptions in both cases.

Certain natural inputs determined by the various certification programmes to be harmful to human health or the environment are prohibited (e.g. arsenic). As well, certain synthetic inputs determined to be essential and consistent with organic farming philosophy, are allowed (e.g. insect pheromones). Lists of specific approved synthetic inputs and prohibited natural inputs are maintained by all the certification programmes and such a list is under negotiation in codex. Many certification programmes require additional environmental protection measures in adoption to these two requirements. While many farmers in the developing world do not use synthetic inputs, this alone is not sufficient to classify their operations as organic.

Modern Farming
Today's chemical farms have little use for the skilled husbandry which was once the guiding principle of working the land. The emphasis today is solely on productivity - high input in exchange for high returns and productivity (mostly diminishing now however for farmers worldwide). Four important considerations - what happens to the land, the food it produces, the people who eat it and the communities which lose out - are overlooked.

Land exhaustion The constant use of artificial fertilizer, together with a lack of crop rotation, reduces the soil's fertility year by year.
Fertilizers High yield levels are produced by applying large quantities of artificial fertilizers, instead of by maintaining the natural fertility of the soil.
Nitrate run-off About half of the nitrate in the artificial fertilizer used on crops is dissolved by rain. The dissolved nitrate runs off the fields to contaminate water courses
Soil erosion Where repeated deep ploughing is used to turn over the ground, heavy rains can carry away the topsoil and leave the ground useless for cultivation.
Soil compaction Damage to the structure of soil by compression is a serious problem in areas that are intensively farmed. Conventional tillage may involve a tractor passing over the land six or seven times, and the wheelings can cover up to 90 per cent of a field. Even a single tractor pass can compress the surface enough to reduce the porosity of the soil by 70 per cent, increasing surface run-off and, therefore, water erosion. In the worst cases, the surface run-off may approach 100 percent - none of the water penetrates the surface
Agricultural fuel As crop yields grow, so does the amount of fuel needed to produce them. European farmers now use an average of 12 tons of fuel to farm a square kilometre of land; American farmers use about 5 tons (1987 figures).
Biocide sprays The only controls used against weeds and pests are chemical ones. Most crops receive many doses of different chemicals before they are harvested.
Cruelty to animals On most "modern" farms, all animals are crowded together indoors. Complex systems of machinery are needed to feed them, while constant medication is needed to prevent disease. The cruelty involved in managing, breeding, growing and slaughtering farm animals today is unimaginably repulsive and horrifying.
Animal slurry With so many animals packed together in indoor pens, their manure accumulates at great speed. It is often poured into lagoons which leak into local watercourses, contaminating them with disease-causing organisms and contributing to algae-blooms.
Imported animal feed Many farms are not self-sufficient in animal feed; instead they rely on feed brought into the farm. This often comes from countries which can ill afford to part with it. 
Stubble burning In countries where stubble is burned, large amounts of potentially useful organic matter disappear into the sky in clouds of polluting smoke
Loss of cultivated biodiversity Large and other chemical farms tend to be monocultures growing the same crop and crop variety
Threat to indigenous seeds and animal breeds and species Native cultivars and animal breeds lose out to exotic species and hybrids. Many native animal breeds are today threatened with extinction. The same holds true for many indigenous plant varieties which have disappeared within the space of one generation.
Habitat destruction Agribusiness farming demands that anything which stands in the way of crop production is uprooted and destroyed. The wild animals and plants which were once a common sight around farms are deprived of their natural habitat and die out.
Contaminated food Food, both plant and animal products, leaves the farm contaminated with the chemicals that were used to produce it.
Destruction of traditional knowledge systems and traditions Rural indigenous knowledge and traditions, both agricultural and non-agricultural, is invariably connected to agriculture and agricultural systems.
Control of agriculture inputs and food distribution channel The supply and trading in agricultural inputs and produce is in the hands of a few large corporations. This threatens food security, reducing the leverage and importance of the first and the last part of the supply chain - the farmer and the consumer.
Threat to individual farmers Chemical agriculture is a threat to their livelihoods and changes their lifestyles, unfortunately not for the better.

Scheme in Department of Agriculture
S.No Scheme names and Particulars Eligibility Contact
1 Production and distribution of Green manure seeds -- 25 % subsidy All farmers Assistant Agriculture Officer / Assistant Director of Agriculture at the Block level
2 Production and distribution of Blue green algae Rs.2.75/kg All farmers Assistant Agriculture Officer / Assistant Director of Agriculture at the Block level
3 Production and distribution of parasites to control Black headed caterpillar. Subsidy charge Rs.35/ha All farmers Assistant Agriculture Officer / Assistant Director of Agriculture at the Block level
4 Release of parasite in sugarcane to control internode borer. RS.35.75/ha All farmers Assistant Agriculture Officer / Assistant Director of Agriculture at the Block level
5 Production of NPV for the control of prodenia in cotton. Rs.53/ha All farmers Assistant Agriculture Officer / Assistant Director of Agriculture at the Block level
6 Composting of farm waste through pleurotus. Distribution of kits at free cost (1 kg of pluerotus, 5 kgs of urea and a leafletcontaining      technical information at a cost of rs.140  per kit) All farmers Assistant Agriculture Officer / Assistant Director of Agriculture at the Block level
7 Vermicompost production scheme implemented to conduct demonstration. Supply input at the cost of Rs.1200 All farmers Assistant Agriculture Officer / Assistant Director of Agriculture at the Block level
8 Vermicompost production scheme implemented to conduct training. Rs. 50 for each person participates in training All farmers Assistant Agriculture Officer / Assistant Director of Agriculture at the Block level

Organic Farming Scheme in Department of Horticulture
Many corporate houses require a regular supply of organic foods and all the polyclinics in the major cities demand toxin free fruits and vegetables for inmates. The retailers of metropolitan cities and exporters of vegetable to the Middle East / Far East require small quantities of organic produce on a continuous basis throughout the year. Correspondingly substantial area in Erode, Thirunelvi, Sivagangai, Coimbatore and Madurai districts have been converted into organic horticultural production systems. APEDA has accredited Spices Board and OASIS, an NGO to certify the organic farms

Importing regions such as the EU are insisting on adherence to Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary standards (SPS) and Traceability norms on the import of food products. The WTO also has developed norms for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in line with Europe Gap to ensure food safety. In this context, it is imperative to promote organic farming in places like Nilgiris, Sathyamangalam, Sivagangai, Tirunelveli, Theni etc., so as to enable the farmers to get certified by agencies like INDOCERT, SKAL, and IFOAM. Hence, there is a proposal to provide 1400 ha of organic gardens, 42 vermicompost units and Organic certification (cluster of 50 Ha) during 2005-06.

The organic producers are to be trained on GAP, SPS and traceability issues. Currently, there is no institutional mechanism to link the production base with the retail sector. District level collection centers and retail sales centers at Urban areas are proposed to be established under Tamil Nadu Horticultural Produces Co-operative Enterprises, primarily a farmers co-operative, so that a steady flow of organic produce is ensured between the producers and consumers. This model is proposed to be implemented in two production centers during 2005–06 and scaled up to all major horticultural clusters in the next couple of years. The total financial assistance sought in 2005-06 for all initiatives under Organic farming (all components) is Rs 157.6 Lakhs.

Adoption of Organic Farming
Estimated Value Rs.20,000/-ha
Subsidy 50% (i.e) Rs.10, 000/-ha
Maximum subsidy per individual will be for 4 ha

Organic farming can be followed in fruit crops, vegetables, spices & condiments and Cole crops.

Sl.No. Details 50% Subsidy Rs. Farmers contribution Rs. Total Rs.
1 Land preparation 0 2,500 2,500
2 Green manure and seed material 0 500 500
3 Trichoderma viridi, Pseudomonos,Azospirillum, Phosphobacteria, VAM 1,000 0 1,000
4 Vermicompost & organic manure 4,000 0 4,000
5 Neem seed oil cake & pungam cake 4,000 0 4,000
6 Neem oil 500 0 500
7 Poultry manure, farmyardmanure 500 7,000 7,500
Total 10,000 10,000 20,000

Estimated value : Rs.60, 000/unit, 50% subsidy (ie) Rs.30,000/- unit 1 unit means 1000 sq metre. The yearly production should be 25 tonnes.

Scheme guidelines:
1. In order to construct a shed of 40 x 25 ft, cement pillars should be erected at 10ft intervals. The pillars at the centre of the shed should be 16ft high while these at the edges should be 10ft. The pillars should be supported with wooden reapers and it should be laid with coconut fronds. The cost of making this 40 x 25ft shed is Rs.30, 000/-.

2. Constructed with the following dimensions: 2ft length, 4ft breadth & 2ft depth. The tub should be separated at 10ft intervals with a 10t high wall. Hollow bricks can be used to construct the walls, they should be plastered with cement. The base should be plastered with cement with a light slope. The cost to construct a two vermicompost tubs of size 20’ x 4’x2’ = 160 cubic feet. Is Rs.25,000/-

3. Cow dung @ 5 tonnes (Rs.400/tan) is Rs.2,000/-

4. Cost of earthworms & accessories is Rs.2,700/- (10 kg @ Rs.270/kg)

5. Cost of Azospirillum to enrich vermicompost (10 kg 2 Rs.30/kg) is Rs.300 Total       Rs.60, 000/-.

Trainings in Organic Farming
Name of training Organised by

1. Production of Organic Manures
2. Organic Farming
3. Preparation of vermicompost
4. Preparation of compost

Professor and Head
  Department of Environmental Sciences
  Tamil Nadu Agricultural University
  Coimbatore – 641 003
  Phone: 0422 6611252
  Fax: 0422 6611242

1. Production of Biofertilizers
2. Production of Azolla

Professor and Head
Department of Agricultural Microbiology
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University
Coimbatore - 641 003
Phone: 91-422-6611294
Fax: 91-422-2431672


Professor and Head
Horticultural Research Station
Udhagamandalam – 643 001
Phone: (0423) 2442170
e mail: