Organic farming is a method of farming which involves the use of ecologically friendly techniques to raise crops and animals. Many nations offer organic certification to farmers who follow organic farming guidelines, and farmers can also practice organic methods without pursuing certification. This farming method is viewed as an alternative to conventional agriculture, in which a wide variety of means are utilized in farming.
When farmers work organically, they avoid the use of synthetic chemicals for everything from soil management to pest control. Instead, they rely on techniques like crop rotation and composting to keep soils healthy, natural pest control rather than sprays to eliminate agricultural pests, and non-chemical means to control infections and disease. Organic farming eschews the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in animals, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are usually not grown on organic farms. Full organic standards vary from nation to nation, with departments of agriculture usually maintaining current standards in publicly available databases.
This type of farming has been practiced in one way or another for centuries, but organic farming arose as its own movement in the 1930s, as industrialized agriculture started to become more common. The development of advanced chemicals and other artificial tools to support farming led many farmers to turn to these techniques to save money and compete in the market, and some farmers also felt that the modernization represented an improvement. Others wanted to stick with more traditional ecological techniques, developing organic farming and other offshoots such as biodynamic farming.
Some people claim that a number of benefits are involved in organic farming, ranging from a higher nutritional value in crops grown in complete, complex soil to healthier environments around farms which use organic methods. Some of the claims about organic farming are difficult to substantiate, such as claims that organically produced milk is better than conventionally produced milk, while others are more easy to prove, such as the claim that not using antibiotics can reduce the development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Goods produced on an organic farm tend to be more expensive, because organic farming is more labor intensive and the tools for farming organically tend to be more expensive. Simply getting organic certification is very costly, as it requires a number of inspections and tests to analyze farming methods and the conditions on the farm to confirm that it adheres to organic standards. Some people feel that the cost is worth the benefit, and are willing to pay a premium for organic goods.