Maintaining the long-term productivity of farms is the goal of an organic farming method. The National Organic Program, for example, states that the organic farms must maintain the physical, chemical, and biological conditions of soil, as well as minimize soil erosion. Compliance with these requirements must be adhered to. Otherwise, organic farms risk losing their certification. Not to mention, everyone in such a close-knit industry will know that a farm has failed to reach the requirements.
Challenge of Nutrient Management
There is, of course, a significant challenge in managing the nutritional composition of an organic farm. The main challenge is that organic farms are not allowed to use inorganic fertilizers. Everything that touches an organic farm—from the soil to the vitamins that the soil needs must be all organic.
Requirements of Organic Farming
To better manage the nutrients in an organic farm, farmers must ensure the following: soil and crop rotation, manure management, and cover crops. Other requirements are the application of crop residues, supplemental application of organically approved amendments, use of biofertilizers, and use of animal manures.
One of the basic building blocks of an organic system is crop rotation. Basically, it is the practice of growing a sequence of plant species that will take and provide the nutrients that the soil needs to grow the crops. An example of a crop rotation nutrient relationship is first, the use of the farm by crops that are light feeders and low nitrogen users. The next crop cycle should be for heavy feeders while the next cycle should exclusively be for the heavy giver. Then, that heavy giver will be followed by the light feeder and low-nitrogen user.
Using cover crops is another important foundation of organic farming. The practice consists of increasing fertility, eliminating weeds, and controlling pathogens and insects in organic crops. Some effective cover crops are rye, buckwheat, clover, sorghum, and hairy vetch. Non-leguminous cover crops, which are typically made up of grasses and small grains, cannot fix the nitrogen but can retrieve mineralized nitrogen from the soil after the harvest.
Addition of Compost
One of the best ways to enhance soil organic and humic content is to add compost. You can make your own compost at home for organic farming. With compost, you can build a fertile soil structure. The presence of microorganisms in the compost empowers the plants to battle diseases and pests in the environment. It is also a great way to recycle plant residues and manure.