Chapter 1

Overview of Organic Agriculture

(book excerpts)

Organic agriculture is a system for crops that emphasizes environmental protection and the use of natural farming techniques. It is concerned not only with the end-product, but with the entire system used to produce and deliver the agricultural product. To this end, the entire farm cycle, from production and processing, to handling and delivery, excludes the use of artificial products such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and certain external agricultural inputs such as pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. Organic farmers rely instead on natural farming methods and modern scientific ecological knowledge in order to maximize the long-term health and productivity of the ecosystem, enhance the quality of the products, and protect the environment. Proponents of organic methods believe that it is a more sustainable and less damaging approach to the enrinoment.

Click on the following topics for more information on organic agriculture.

Topics Within This Chapter:

  • Introduction to Organic Agriculture
  • History of Organic Agriculture
  • The Emergence of Organic Farming
  • Post-World War II Era Organic Farming
  • Environmental Movement
  • The System of State Regulation
  • Movement towards Federal Regulation
  • The Organic Foods Production Act
  • National Organic Program
  • National Organic Standards Board
  • National Organic Standards
  • National List
  • Definition of Organic Agriculture
  • Organic Farming Principles
  • Biodiversity
  • Integration of Organic Farming Practices
  • Sustainability
  • Natural Plant Nutrition
  • Natural Pest Management
  • Integrity of Organic Products
  • Organic Farming Management Practices
  • Crop Rotation
  • Green Manures and Cover Crops
  • Manuring and Composting
  • Intercropping and Companion Planting
  • Biological Pest Control
  • Sanitation
  • Tillage
  • Mulching
  • Supplemental Fertilization
  • Biorational Pesticides
  • Buffers and Barriers
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • The Components of Sustainable Agriculture
  • Economic Profitability
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Social Responsibility
  • Upholding Animal Welfare
  • Differences between Sustainable and Organic Agriculture
  • Government Organizations Supporting Sustainable Agriculture
  • Government Programs Supporting Sustainable Agriculture
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program
  • Conservation Stewardship Program
  • Agricultural Conservation Easement and the Regional Conservation Partnership Programs
  • Agricultural Conservation Experience Service Program
  • References