Organic Works With Nature
Organic farming depends on renewable natural resources. Recycling nutrients, taking good care of soil health and maintaining biodiversity are at the heart of organic food production.
Instead of using synthetic fertilizers, which take large amounts of fossil fuel energy to produce and transport, organic farming strives to recycle nutrients on the farm. There’s an amazing free source of one important plant nutrient all around us; the air we breathe is 78% nitrogen! Plants in the legume family have a long-standing relationship with a soil bacterium that specializes in capturing that nitrogen. The bacteria live in nodules on the legume roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen into a form the legume can use. In exchange, the bacteria receive energy from the plant. Organic farmers grow lots of legumes such as clover, alfalfa and peas, as part of their crop rotation, then use the nitrogen-rich legume material as “fertilizer” for non-legume crops.
Organic farmers also recycle nutrients by applying animal manure and compost to the soil, and sometimes they recycle animal and plant by-products from industry like fish waste or poultry feathers. The Canadian Organic Standards list all the permitted substances. Organic farmers must stick to the list to maintain certification.
Taking good care of the soil is critical for organic farming. Without healthy soil life, the nutrients from all these sources of organic matter would never be broken down into forms that plants can use. In fact, the Canadian Organic Standard specifies that organic farmers must maintain or increase levels of soil organic matter, maintain optimal biological activity and protect the soil from degradation. This embodies the principle of Care, protecting the health and well-being of current and future generations and the environment.
If you are concerned about protecting natural resources for future generations, you can feel good about choosing Organic: Food with Principles. Guaranteed.
Did You Know?
Alfalfa has been called the Queen of forages.
Alfalfa is able to produce high yields of nutritious and delicious forage (food for livestock) under a wide range of soil and climate conditions. Alfalfa is also the Queen of nitrogen fixation. Through a symbiotic relationship with rhizobium bacteria, legumes like alfalfa are able to “fix” or capture nitrogen from the atmosphere. Scientists measured the amount of nitrogen fixed by legumes across Canada. They found that each year, on average, alfalfa fixed 218 kg N/ha; soybean fixed 118 kg N/ha; and hay (mix of clover and grasses) fixed 79 kg N/ha.
Did You Know?
By working with nature and recycling nutrients, organic farms are more resilient.
Healthy soil and biodiversity make organic farms more ecologically resilient in the face of environmental challenges. For example, yields are more easily maintained during drought years. But organic farms are also more economically resilient because they use mainly recycled on-farm nutrients rather than depending on the supply and pricing of synthetic fertilizers.