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  Section: Medicinal Plants / Cultivation
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Conversion From Conventional to Organic Farming

⇒ Eco-Friendly Farming
  ⇒ Evolution of Sustainable Agriculture
⇒ Organic Farming
⇒ Biological Farming
⇒ Nature Farming
⇒ Regenerative Agriculture
⇒ Permaculture
⇒ Alternate Agriculture
⇒ Ecological Agriculture
⇒ Ecological Farming Systems
  ⇒ Objectives of Ecological Farming
  ⇒ Prospects
  ⇒ Integrated Intensive Farming System (IIFS)
  ⇒ Low External Input Supply Agriculture (LEISA)
    ⇒ Low-Input Agriculture
    ⇒ Criteria for LEISA
    ⇒ Ecological Criteria
    ⇒ Economic Criteria
    ⇒ Social Criteria
⇒ Biodynamic Agriculture
  ⇒ Organic Farming vs. Biodynamic Farming
  ⇒ Principles of Biodynamic Farming
  ⇒ Rules for Using Biodynamic Agriculture
⇒ Organic Agriculture System
  ⇒ The Major Aims of Organic Farming
  ⇒ Concept of Organic Farming
  ⇒ Difference Between Organic and Conventional Farming
  ⇒ History of Organic Farming
  ⇒ Needs of Organic Farming
    ⇒ Needs for Organic Inputs
  ⇒ In Partnership With Nature
⇒ Basic Standards and General Principles for Organic Agriculture
  ⇒ Crop and Soil Management
  ⇒ Choice of Crops and Varieties
  ⇒ Crop Rotations
  ⇒ Nutrient Management
  ⇒ Management of Pests, Diseases and Weeds
  ⇒ Wild Products
  ⇒ Pollution Control
  ⇒ Soil and Water Conservation
    ⇒ Landscape
⇒ Principle Requirements and Pre-Conditions
⇒ Conversion From Conventional to Organic Farming
  ⇒ Farms With Plant Production and Livestock
  ⇒ Initiating Organic Farming
    ⇒ Medicinal Plants-The First Crops for Organic Farming
⇒ Important Tips for Cultivation of Medicinal Plants
⇒ Multi Tier Agriculture System for Cultivation of Medicinal Plants
    ⇒ Benefits of Multi-Tier Agriculture System (MTAS)
    ⇒ Selection of Shade Crops
    ⇒ Irrigation
    ⇒ Disease and Protection
    ⇒ Benefits for Farmers and the World
⇒ Indigenous Agricultural Practices for Cultivation of Medicinal Plants
  ⇒ Rationality of Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge/ Practices

Conversion from Conventional to Organic Farming
. The approach is to fit an organic system into any given local situation. It will thus be clear that organic farming systems cannot be introduced in one day. The period needed to develop an organic agriculture system is called the conversion period.

. When traditional agricultural methods fulfill the principles of these standards no conversion period is required. When claiming virgin land for organic agriculture, no conversion period is required.

. The whole farm, including livestock, should be converted according to the standards over a period of time. This time is defined by the certification programme.

. If a farm is not converted all at once, it should be done on a field by field basis, whereby the full standards are followed from the start of conversion on the relevant fields. The area of landing being managed to the full standards will therefore progressively increase.

. The composition of a farm unit can vary widely according to geographical conditions, ownership structure, time span, etc.

Farms with Plant Production and Livestock
The entire operation should be seen as a whole. It is not recommended to separate the conversion of individual fields or individual livestock productions, unless this is on the basis of imposed public restrictions or can be justified according to local conditions. Farming with plant production/livestock and using remote areas (outlaying fields, alpine pastures, etc). When organic farmland and remote areas are operated under the same management, the remote areas in general should be included in the conversion plan as well. Areas which:
  1. Requires disproportionately long transportation of farmyard manure,
  2. Have very different climatic conditions,
  3. In any other way have difficult access in relation to the other operations,
  4. May, with restrictions, be operated conventionally, provided that the associated prohibited aids are not kept within the operation area for which certification is applied.
  5. Operation of individual, separate farms. If a farmer of farming community operates two or more farms within a local area, all the farms should be converted according to the organic standards.
  6. The time taken for conversion of the whole farm should not exceed one complete rotation.

Farmers will probably experience some loss in yields when converting their operation to organic production. There is period of time between the discarding of synthetic inputs and sufficient biological insect populations, nitrogen fixation from legumes) during which pest suppression and fertility problems are typical. The degree of yield loss varies, however, and depends on factors such as the inherent biological attributes of the farm, farmer expertise, and the extent to which synthetic inputs were used under the previous management system. Where soil fertility is low and biological processes have been seriously disrupted, it may take years to restore the ecosystem to the point where organic production is possible. In such cases other sustainable approaches, which allow judicious use of synthetic chemicals, may be more suitable start-up solutions. One strategy to survive the difficult transition period involves converting farms to organic production in partial installments so that the entire operation is not at risk.

This is the period in which organic methods are introduced and the organic system is developed. Techniques have to be learned and labor reorganized. Experience shows that such a period takes from three to five years, depending on the situation. Often, a conversion plan is made, but the conversion can be a difficult time for farmers. Banks often deny credit to farmers who convert to a system where they might have lower yields. It might take a few years before pest predators are at full strength again. Farmers have to learn to observe more than they used to. After conversion, the system should be flexible enough to adapt itself from within to any changes in circumstances. From this point of view, it should be an autonomous system.

Although this concept fully fits in the goals and criteria of organic agriculture systems are not proposed as a miracle solution for all the problems mentioned in Chapter 1. One should not set high hopes on a single concept, especially after experience with the Green Revolution and biotechnology, which were understood by many as miracle solutions.

These are assumptions throughout the organic literature of differences between organic and conventional systems with respect to their effects on soil physical properties, soil insect fauna, nutrient flow within the soil, crop health, and nutritional value of the harvested crop. One finds many principles commonly held by organic farmers such as feed the soil and not the crop, and the need to rotate with deep rooted crops to bring nutrients from deep in the soil profile. There are other perplexing observations such as the decline in yields during the process of conversion from conventional to organic practices. These assumptions, principles and observations cover virtually every aspect of crop and animal management in organic systems. Some are readily understandable, but many deal with physical and biological interactions which have not been researched and are little understood.

Initiating Organic Farming
Drylands are the potential place where organic farming can be started first because in drylands-
  1. Less effect of high input agriculture thus least residue of pesticide and less time required for conversion
  2. Organic manure improve the fertility and water retention capacity of poor soils of drylands
  3. Economic conditions qT dry land's farmers are also comparatively poor and they are not able to purchase high cost input on the other side they can do the labour intensive operations and both are requirements of organic farming.

Medicinal Plants-the First Crops for Organic Farming
Organic farming in drylands can be started with medicinal plants because
  1. The forest resource of medicinal plants is decreasing but demand is increasing thus cultivation is the only solution to fill this gap.
  2. Medicinal plants are for the curing of disease and any residue of pesticide can convert it into poison. Hence medicinal plants should only be cultivated in organic farming
  3. Use of high dose of inputs like fertilizers, irrigation etc may change the composition and quality of medicinal plants. Growing near to natural conditions is the best way to maintain the quality, which is possible in the organic farming.

Therefore, it may be concluded that the fast development of technology for increasing production without given due importance to the agro-ecosystem balance resulted in disturbed natural cycles of carbon, nutrient and food chain of flora and fauna. The results are visible in terms of decreasing yield and increasing unsustainability in agro-ecosystem. The need is to revive natural balance with sustainable farming concept. There are several approaches has been recommended by various scientist, farmers, and forums. Organic farming is one such approach which emphasis on maintaining the cycle of input-output with eco-friendly methods, is becoming widely recognized by researchers and farmers and gaining popularity in the international market. Organic farming has one distinguish feature of certification as compared to the other sustainable production systems. For certification certain rules and standards has to be followed Although it need both time and money but ultimately get due recognition by the mother nature and in the market.


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