For thousands of years farmers have grown crops naturally. It wasn’t until the mid-19th century that non-naturally occurring fertilizers began to be added to farmland. In the 1940’s chemical pesticides were introduced. The standard had always been that food items were organic. With the advent of commercial farming and large corporations creating farming conglomerates to produce massive quantities cheaply man-made chemical fertilizers and mined fertilizers became the norm. Crop production, dairy and livestock agriculture were equally affected with feed crops becoming the most genetically modified crops for feeding to animals. It was the concern of these modifications and introduction of chemicals becoming a large part of our food supply that brought back an interest in organic farming methods.
Organic farming has been gaining footing over the past few decades but only accounts for 1.6% of our current available resources. Organic farming turns away industrialized chemical and mined fertilizers, all manufactured pesticides and genetic modification to produce our food supply. Hormones and antibiotics are shunned for increasing size in livestock or production in dairy. Natural fertilizer sources like animal manure, guano (bat droppings), compost piles, peat (decayed vegetable and animal matter), tilling crop remnants back into the soil and food waste by-products are being reintroduced. Rotating crops to vary plant nutritional needs, leaving ground fallow for a season and other natural methods are being used to enrich soil. Rather than using chemical pesticides natural crop predator deterrents and insects are introduced. Onions planted around a perimeter will repel certain pests. Ladybugs can eradicate aphid infestations.
Something like natural and organic fertilizer differs from chemicals in that they feed the plants while also building the soil. Soils that experience the introduction of organic material remain loose and airy, they hold more moisture and nutrients, they encourage the growth of healthy soil proponents, macrobiotics and other soil organisms. This works together to promote healthy oxygenation and plant root development.
There is a story of an Oregon based dairy farmer who built a collector for cow manure. The collector was used to produce a number of organic by-products. The methane gas was collected and used to power the electrical and machinery needs for this farm and a number of agricultural farmlands in the area. A portion of the manure was siphoned off, diluted and sold to home agriculturalists as liquid manure for home garden crops and household plants. Other manure was collected and provided to nearby farms to till into the soil for fertilizing fields for hay and grain production to feed livestock. This became a successful, profitable venture into organic farming. Nothing was wasted.
Prices remain higher for organically grown foods because they require a little more effort than taking the easy route of conglomerate farming methods. As demand for organic foods grow the demand for farmers to return to organic farming will continue to turn more farmers back onto the route of natural farming methods. There are a number of existing products available for the small home gardener also. Home mulching products have become more effective. A kitchen mulching system now exists to create odor free peat to add to home garden from all kitchen waste. A number of retailers cater to home organic farming methods.