Organic Agriculture Handbook

EXCERPTS FROM THE FOREWORD

“Organic Agriculture A Handbook”   –   Foreword

by Dr Raymond Auerbach, Director, Rainman Landcare Foundation.

Why is everyone suddenly interested in organic agriculture? For people like the authors of this book who have been involved with organic farming for many years, it is not easy to put one’s finger on just what factors have moved organic farming from being regarded as “fringe” to being quite close to mainstream. In Africa, organic farming is still the traditional way of farming for those who have not indiscriminately adopted western technology. In Europe and the United States politicians and resource managers (especially water managers), have realised that intensive use of water soluble fertilisers and poisons is simply not sustainable – the environmental cost is too high…

…The 1992 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Rio marked a turning point for awareness of the dangers of pollution, and since then, the Global Village has been seeking more seriously for practical ways of adapting our exploitative relationship with nature to something more in line with the Will of an intelligent Creator, with the Laws of the Nature of that Creator. We are given Nitrogen in abundance – it makes up 80 % of the air we breathe, and plants, with the help of associated bacteria, are able to use this nitrogen. Why, then, should farmers use tons of energy-intensive nitrogen fertiliser, much of which winds up in our rivers after it has been washed out of the soil? It is unreasonable, and many consumers and policy makers are coming to recognise this. This is one simple example – there are many others, but also still many problems for organic farmers. International research is now beginning to address these problems, in order to help organic farmers to produce healthy food and animals without damaging the environment. After many years of ridicule from agribusiness and scientists, the tide is turning at last! Organic farming can and will feed the world…

…In the light of this international move towards organic farming, we can conclude that the world is at last waking up to the need to care for Mother Earth. What is heartening is that this awareness is coming from ordinary men and women who choose to support organic farmers by seeking out their products, and who are prepared to go out of their way to ensure that the food which they buy for their families is both healthy to eat and not damaging to the environment. Animal welfare, biological diversity and a long term approach to soil fertility are at the heart of organic farming.

In this book, with its eclectic mix of philosophy, ethics, science and practical advice on how to make the soil, plants and animals healthy, Alan Rosenberg and Thomas Linders (with Steven Barrow and others) have drawn together an impressive and highly useful wealth of knowledge and ideas about organic farming. Such a book tailor-made for South Africa is long overdue, and I have no doubt that this volume will go through many editions, being reworked and updated to become a standard reference work for those wishing to practise organic farming in the region.

Let us hope that this book will help to open the hearts of responsible farmers, and the minds of African policy makers, who have the opportunity to make Africa the world leader in sustainable agricultural production.

 

CONTENTS

Contextual Background
The Soil & its’ Products
A Brief History of Agriculture
The Nature and Properties of Soils
The make-up of soils
Biodynamic Compost
Practical Composting
Soil Conservation
Water
Effective Micro organisms
Vegetables page
Poultry page
Cattle page
Rabbit keeping
Bee keeping
Farm Planning
Organic Certification
Sustainable Agriculture
Bibliography
Suggested Reading
Useful Contacts