The most widely recognized alternative farming system. Modern organic farming evolved as an alternative to chemical agriculture in the 1940s, largely in response to the publications of J.I. Rodale in the U.S., Lady Eve Balfour in England, and Sir Albert Howard in India.
In 1980, U.S.D.A. released a landmark report on organic farming. The report defined organic
Organic farming is a production system, which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock feed additives. To the maximum extent feasible, organic farming systems rely upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, off-farm organic wastes, mechanical cultivation, mineral-bearing rocks, and aspects of biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients, and to control insects, weeds, and other pests.
Biological farming has become synonymous with farmers using the Reams fertility system as the basis for crop production. Eco-agriculture is the term used to describe this system by the monthly Acres, U.S.A. The Reams system is based on the LaMotte-Morgan soil test and the use or rock phosphate, calcium carbonate, and compost to achieve nutrient ratios of 7:1 calcium to magnesium, 2:1 phosphorus to potassium, and so on. Biological farming allows the use of selected chemical fertilizers (avoiding disruptive materials such as anhydrous ammonia and potassium chloride) and adopts low-inputs approaches to use of herbicides and insecticides.
Diagnostic instruments to monitor plant and soil conditions are frequently used in biological farming. These include refract meters to monitor sugar content (Brix) in plant tissue sap; electrical conductivity meters to monitor ERGS (or energy released per gram of soil); ORPS meters (or oxygen reduction potential of soil); and radionics. Based on data gathered, foliar sprays containing bio-stimulants and soluble nutrients are applied. The Pandol Brothers, a large commercial fruit and vegetable operation in California, reduced their annual pesticide bill from US $500,000 to US $50,000 per year after adopting a Biological Fertility Program.
Nature Farming was developed in Japan in the 1930s by Mokichi Okada, who later formed the Mokichi Okada Association (MOA). Nature farming parallels organic farming in many ways but includes special emphasis on soil health through composts rather than organic fertilizer, when possible. Kyusei Nature Farming, a branch group, emphasizes use of microbial preparations in addition to traditional Nature Farming is most active in the Pacific Rim, California and Hawaii.
In addition to these methods-based approaches to sustainable farming, regenerative agriculture and
permaculture are widely recognized. However, these latter systems, like sustainable agriculture,
are more conceptually oriented than methods-based.
In regenerative agriculture bunds on nature's own inherent capacity to cope with pests, enhance
soil fertility, and increase productivity. It implies a continuing ability to re-create the resources
that the system requires. In practice, regenerative agriculture uses low-input and organic farming
systems as a framework to achieve these goals.
Permaculture is a contraction of permanent agriculture. The term was coined by Bill Mollison, an
Australian forest ecologist, in 1978. Permaculture is concerned with designing ecological human
habitats and food production systems, and follows specific guidelines and principles in the design
of these systems. To the extent that permaculture is not a production system, per se, but rather a
land use planning philosophy, it is not limited to a specific method of production. Thus, practically
any site-specific ecological farming system is amenable to permaculture.