5 Principles of Organic Farming Explained

Principles of organic farming are; environmental justice, biological control, soil conservation, water conservation, and economic sustainability.

This article discusses the principles of organic farming, as follows;



1). Environmental Justice (as one of the Principles of Organic Farming)

Environmental justice, or ecological justice, has to do with efforts to ensure fairness in the use of natural resources, so as to mitigate negative environmental impacts.

‘Fair use’ of natural resources is a challenging concept due to its socioeconomic implications [2]. It is geared toward eliminating the unfair consequences of poor environmental practices that are experienced by the most vulnerable populations in society.

With respect to organic farming, the principle of environmental justice is holistic, as it covers all methods of organic farming, and exploits all links between organic agricultural practice and sustainable development.

For environmental justice to be observed in agriculture, care must be taken to ensure that all materials and techniques do not disrupt the natural equilibrium of the ecosystem.


2). Biological Control

Biological control is simply the use of biological processes, materials and organisms to control agricultural problems.

It may also be referred to as ‘bio-control’ or ‘organic protection’, and is aimed at reducing the introduction of synthetic, potentially-harmful materials into the environment.

Agricultural problems that can be addressed through biological control include; weeds, diseases and insects [3]. In place of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, cover crops, organic mulch, predatory organisms and organic fertilizer (manure, compost) can be used.

Biological control facilitates effective cycling of natural resources in the energy pyramid of the ecosystem, while reducing the risk of environmental degradation and resource depletion.

Principles of Organic Farming: Biological Control (Credit: gailhampshire 2019 .CC BY 2.0.)
Principles of Organic Farming: Biological Control (Credit: gailhampshire 2019 .CC BY 2.0.)


3). Soil Conservation (as one of the Principles of Organic Farming)

Soil conservation is a major aim of organic farming.

This is predictable, since the health of the soil directly influences the quality and scale of agricultural production, as well as the long-term sustainability of agriculture.

The effort to conserve soil is unique, in that it involves other methods and principles of organic farming. Practices that help achieve soil conservation include sustainable agricultural practices like crop rotation, conservation tillage, composting, contour farming, organic mulching and biodynamic farming.

These practices help reduce the risk of soil erosion, and pollution, while increasing biodiversity, soil organic matter, porosity, water retention, and fertility.

In organic farming, soil conservation involves reducing the contact between soil and chemicals like pesticides and herbicides which might be toxic.

Soil conservation measures are effective at various scales of organic farming [5], and can be alternated to suit the specific conditions of any given scenario.

Principles of Organic Farming: Soil Conservation (Credit: CIAT 2010 .CC BY-SA 2.0.)
Principles of Organic Farming: Soil Conservation (Credit: CIAT 2010 .CC BY-SA 2.0.)


4). Water Conservation

Implementation of several other principles of organic farming, leads to water conservation.

One of such principles is soil conservation.

Soil conservation practices like conservation tillage, improve the moisture retention capacity of soil [4], and hence reduces the amount of water that is consumed on farms.

By minimizing the use of chemical fertilizers, water conservation is achieved, because the risk of leaching and pollution of nearby water reserves and groundwater resources, is mitigated. The same effect results from biological control, which reduces the risk of water pollution by herbicides and pesticides.

Water-related environmental impacts like flooding, erosion and stormwater pollution are significantly controlled when organic farming is implemented.

Renewable energy development and sustainable farming are both closely linked to water conservation, and can be integrated into organic farming schemes.

Water dams for hydroelectricity generation are effective when operated in well-conserved agricultural areas [7]. Such infrastructure can also support organic farming by serving as sources of irrigation water.

Water conservation reduces energy waste, which improves the economy and environment, and reduces the prevalence of societal problems like hunger and food insecurity [6].


5). Economic Sustainability (as one of the Principles of Organic Farming)

When all other principles, methods and types of organic farming are carefully implemented, the final outcome is economic sustainability.

Organic farming is well aligned with many of the sustainable development goals and with the concept of circular economy, because it lays emphasis on resource management through recycling and environmental conservation [1].

Excessive expenses incurred by energy wastage can be reduced (in the agricultural sector) through organic farming, which optimizes both energy efficiency an energy conservation rates.

As part of recycling efforts, organic farms can integrate waste-to-energy systems into their schemes, which convert agricultural waste to bioenergy which can be used for electricity generation through the operation of biofuel-fired power plants..

Organic farming establishes economic sustainability also by reducing costs associated with climate change and other forms of environmental degradation. When organic methods of agriculture are implemented, the cost of carbon tax and environmental remediation are generally reduced.

Lastly, organic farming makes the economy sustainable by encouraging high-quality production with minimal resource consumption. The effects of these are most obvious in the agricultural sector, and in agro-dependent economies, although they may impact all sectors of the economy.



Principles of organic farming are;

1. Environmental Justice

2. Biological Control

3. Soil Conservation

4. Water Conservation

5. Economic Sustainability



1). Helgason, K.; Iversen, K.; Julca, A. (2021). “Circular agriculture for sustainable rural development THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF CONVENTIONAL AGRICULTURE.” Available at: https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.11433.93282. (Accessed 12 October 2022).

2). Jack, J.; Jack, B.; Odubo, T. R. (2016). “Natural Resource Exploitation and Socio-Economic. Development in Nigeria: Challenges and Prospects.” International Conference on Natural Resources and Africa’s Development (ICNRAD 2016). Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309779244_Natural_Resource_Exploitation_and_Socio-Economic_Development_in_Nigeria_Challenges_and_Prospects. (Accessed 12 October 2022).

3). Lahlali, R.; Ezrari, S.; Radouane, N.; Kenfaoui, J.; Esmaeel, Q.; Hamss, H. E.; Belabess, Z.; Barka, E. A. (2022). “Biological Control of Plant Pathogens: A Global Perspective.” Microorganisms 10(3). Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms10030596. (Accessed 12 October 2022).

4). Liu, Y.; Gao, M.; Wu, W.; Tanveer, S. K.; Wen, X.; Liao, Y. (2013). “The effects of conservation tillage practices on the soil water-holding capacity of a non-irrigated apple orchard in the Loess Plateau, China.” Soil and Tillage Research 130:7–12. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.still.2013.01.012. (Accessed 12 October 2022).

5). Sanathara, M.; Vibhute, B. (2021). “A Review of Organic Farming towads Soil Conservation.” Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/353972553_A_Review_of_Organic_Farming_towads_Soil_Conservation. (Accessed 11 October 2022).

6). Sivaranjani, S.; Rakshit, A. (2019). “Organic Farming in Protecting Water Quality.” Organic Farming (pp.1-9). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-04657-6_1. (Accessed 11 October 2022).

7). Tilmant, A.; Goor, Q.; Pinte, D. (2009). “Agricultural-to-hydropower water transfers: sharing water and benefits in hydropower-irrigation systems.” Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 13(7):1091-1101. Available at: https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-13-1091-2009. (Accessed 12 October 2022).

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