Organic Farming Manual

Miracle Farm Blueprint

This guide teaches you how to make the best worm farm that money can buy; and you don't have to spend much money to get a really good quality worm farm! While worms may not seem very impressive, you'd be amazed at what these worms can do. If you want to grow your own food, the best soil that you will ever get is soil that worms have thoroughly turned over. No matter what the soil in your area looks like, you will always be able to get the highest quality soil to grow plants in. You will have the most protein-rich, nutritious, and potent soil that you've ever seen. The all-natural soil that is worm-tended is far better than what you will get from organic growers; all that it takes is the process that nature invented. That's really all you need to get the best organic vegetables! Read more...

Miracle Farm Blueprint Overview


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Organic Farming and Bioengineering

Several European countries, including the Czech Republic, France, and the United Kingdom, have introduced programs to encourage organic farming. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, however, a mere 2 percent of European crops were raised organically. Some scientists believe that environmental improvement could be generated if crops were developed that could ward off the insects that attack them, or that provide their own nitrogen, as the leguminous plants (peas and beans) do. Nevertheless, the European environmental movement has strongly opposed genetically modified foods, in part citing risks to health and the environment.

Development of Modern Agriculture

Farming practices have undergone many changes, but until the nineteenth century most farms and ranches were family-owned, and people primarily practiced subsistence agriculture. Just as in almost all other industries, the arrival of the Industrial Revolution dramatically changed the agriculture industry. Inventions such the cotton gin in 1793, the mechanical reaper in 1833, and the steel plow in 1837 led the way to mechanization of most farms and ranches. The Industrial Revolution produced significant societal changes, as people involved in agricultural production left the farms to work in city factories. Fewer and fewer people were required to produce more and more agricultural crops for an increasing number of consumers. As the population continued to grow, it became necessary to select and produce higher-yielding crops. The Green Revolution of the twentieth century helped make this possible. Agricultural scientists developed new, higher-yielding varieties of numerous crops,...

Federal Drought Response in the United States

Post-Dust Bowl droughts still caused hardships, but the brunt of the environmental, economic, and social consequences of drought were considerably lessened. Fewer dust storms ravaged the Plains. New crop varieties and better farming practices decreased crop losses during drought years. Government programs and better knowledge have enabled families and communities to cope better with drought.

Breeding for Wildness Rather than Domestication

Publication of Die Organische Chemie in ihre Anwendung auf Agrikultur und Physiologie (1840 Organic Chemistry in Its Applications to Agriculture and Physiology, 1840) by Justus von Liebig introduced agricultural chemistry to a wide audience and began what became known as scientific agriculture. Charles Darwin's book on evolution was published in 1859, and Gregor Mendel's work on genetics was published in 1866. Germany began a system of government-operated experiment stations in the 1870's. These combined laboratory experimentation with farm experimentation. In the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture was established in 1862, as were the land-grant colleges located in each of the states. Several states developed agricultural experiment stations in the late 1800's, and the federal government estab-

Sources for Further Study

Washington, D.C. Island Press, 1987. A classic diatribe against the effects of conventional agriculture and agricultural practices on soil erosion and environmental quality. Laflen, John M., Junliang Tian, and Chi-Hua Huang, eds. Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming. Boca Raton, Fla. CRC Press, 2000. Consists of the proceedings from an important conference on soil erosion and dryland farming, and addresses the two topics as they relate to mainland China, the most erodible place on earth. Topics such as dryland farming systems and soil water management, environmental quality and sustainability, and erosion control techniques are examined.

Degradation and fragmentation of ecosystems

Urbanization has become a major force on insect diversity. Quite simply, wildlands, and even agricultural land, are lost when buildings are erected. This is not to say that urbanization is unchallenged by insect diversity conservation. One of the current major opportunities is to ecologically landscape urban areas so as to maintain biological diversity.

Destructive and Beneficial Foxes

Foxes may cause serious problems for farmers. Losses may be heavy in small farm flocks of chickens, ducks, and geese. Damage by foxes can be difficult to detect because the prey is usually carried from the kill site to a den, or uneaten parts are buried. Foxes will also scavenge carcasses, making the actual cause of death difficult to determine.

Control Measures

The first line of defense against salmonellae in the food supply is control on the farm. Large-scale and intensified farming practices that confine many animals or fowl in close quarters has significantly contributed to the increase in salmonellae seen in the food supply. Salmonella inadvertently introduced into a herd or flock quickly spreads since the confined conditions expose the stock Copyright 2003 by Marcel Dekker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Genetically Modified Foods

By the mid-1990's, more than one thousand genetically modified crop plants were approved for field trials. The goals for altering food crop plants by genetic engineering fall into three main categories to create plants that can adapt to specific environmental conditions to make better use of agricultural land, increase yields, or reduce losses to increase nutritional value or flavor and to alter harvesting, transport, storage, or processing properties for the food industry. Many genetically modified crops are sources of ingredients for processed foods and animal feed.

Resurrecting Biblical Wheats

In 1971, I decided to look at all the food plants in the mountains of Vaucluse, where my father's family had its origin. From childhood memories, I knew that a kind of porridge was a popular peasant dish there in winter. I started looking for the cereal used for that purpose and found to my surprise that it was the neolithic Stone Age einkorn, Triticum monococcum. The crop was still being grown there, as well as in some localities in the Southern Alps, as a subsistence cereal of which the unground grain was used to prepare this special porridge. This was unknown to my learned friends in French agricultural research.

Threat to Sustainability

See also Acid precipitation Agricultural revolution Agriculture modern problems Agriculture traditional Agriculture world food supplies Erosion and erosion control Green Revolution Plant domestication and breeding Rain forests and the atmosphere Sustainable agriculture Sustainable forestry.

Exploitation of Heterosis

A mean yield of 1.66 metric tons per hectare. In 1994 it took only 32 million hectares (79 million acres) to produce 280 million metric tons of grain, with a mean yield of 8.69 metric tons per hectare. In the United States in 1996, twenty-one vegetable crops occupied 1,576,494 hectares (3.9 million acres), with a mean of 63 percent of the crop in hybrids. Heterosis saved an estimated 220,337 hectares (544,459 acres) of agricultural land per year, feeding 18 percent more people without an increase in land use. From 1986 to 1995, the best rice hybrids showed a 17 percent yield advantage over the best inbred-rice varieties at the International Rice Research Institute.

Species Introductions

Urban areas represent increasingly large and interconnected patches on regional landscapes and are particularly important ports for the spread of exotic species into surrounding ecosystems. Urban centers are the origin or destination for commercial transport of a wide variety of materials, including forest and agricultural products. Urban areas are characterized by a wide variety of exotic species, especially ornamental plants and their associated exotic insects and pathogens. Exotic or native ornamental species usually are stressed by soil compaction, air and water pollutants, elevated urban temperatures, etc. Arriving exotics often have little difficulty finding suitable hosts and becoming established in urban centers and subsequently spreading into surrounding ecosystems.

Conservation Biology

Principles of metapopulation dynamics may be particularly important for conservation and restoration of populations of entomophagous predators and parasites in landscapes managed for ecosystem commodities (e.g., forestry and agricultural products). Predators and parasitoids are recognized as important natural agents of crop pest regulation but as a group appear to be particularly vulnerable to habitat fragmentation (Kruess and Tscharntke 1994, Schowalter 1995) and pesticide application (Sherratt and Jepson 1993). Hassell et al. (1991) and Sherratt and Jepson (1993) suggested that predator and parasite persistence in agroecosystems depends on the metapopulation dynamics of their prey, as well as on the frequency and distribution of pesticide use, and that connectivity between patches characterized by locally unstable predator-prey interactions could allow their mutual persistence. M. Thomas et al. (1992) found that creation of islands of grassland habitats in agricultural landscapes...

Lysenko Oparin and the Heresy of Morgano Weismannite genetics

The All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences was under Lysenko's leadership during its session in August 1948, which destroyed genetics for more than a generation in the U.S.S.R. Stalin had appointed thirty-five new members to the Academy, whose names were published in Pravda on July 28, 1948, to assure the vote would go according to his instructions. The Presidium of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences passed resolutions that called for the removal from the Scientists' Council those who supported

Endangered Species on the Cloning List

Cohol in 1866 however, DNA analysis has shown that there was extensive damage to the genetic material of this specimen, making successful cloning unlikely. In Spain, the recently extinct bucardo, a mountain goat, has been the subject of cloning experiments. Scientists at the Agricultural Research Service in Zaragoza prepared frozen tissue from the last surviving animal of this species of mountain goat, which had been relegated to extinction due to loss of its natural habitat and poaching. In 1999, successful interspecies transfer of embryos of the bucardo using a domestic goat as a surrogate mother raised hopes that the bucardo might be cloned using this same surrogate species.

List Of Illustrations Charts And Tables

Africa's Agricultural Products Asian Countries with More than 15 Percent Arable Land, Leading Agricultural Crops of (table) . . . . I-93 Australia, Selected Agricultural Products of Central America, Selected Agricultural Products of (map) I-208 Europe, Selected Agricultural Products of North America, Selected Agricultural Products of (map) III-715 South America, Selected Agricultural Products of (map) III-966

Importance to Food Production

Agroecology The Science of Sustainable Agriculture. 2d ed. Boulder, Colo. Westview Press, 1995. An excellent treatment of the ecological basis of agriculture. Altieri describes methods for restoring soil fertility as well as soil conservation, biological control of pests, and other aspects of organic farming.

Microbiology and Mycology

Physiology and agronomy received less attention than several other botanical specialties during the first half of the nineteenth century, though Henri Dutrochet showed that plant respiration and animal respiration are essentially the same. In the second half of the century, Julius von Sachs and John BennetLawes made these specialties more conspicuous. Sachs was a brilliant experimentalist, teacher, and author of textbooks, making him the founder of modern plant physiology. Lawes used private resources to found modern agricultural research in Britain at a time when the U.S. Congress was establishing land grant colleges and state agricultural and forestry research stations. By the end of the century, American scientists were doing as much or more agricultural research as the rest of the world combined. Vasily Vasilievich Dokuchaev developed soil science (agronomy) as an aid to Russian agriculture.

Erosion And Erosion Control

Erosion control is vital because soil loss from agricultural land is a major contributor to nonpoint-source pollution and desertification and represents one of the most serious threats to world food security. In the United States alone, some 2 billion tons of soil erode from cropland on an annual basis. About 60 percent, or 1.2 billion tons, is lost through water erosion, while the remainder is lost through wind erosion. This is equivalent to losing 0.3 meter (1 foot) of topsoil from 2 million acres of cropland each year. Although soil is a renewable resource, soil formation occurs at rates of just a few inches per hundred years, much too slowly to keep up with erosive forces. The loss of soil fertility is in-

Land and Workers

Highest percentage of land suitable for farming 36 percent. (In North America, the comparable figure is 22 percent.) Overall, 80 percent of the land in Europe is usable in some way, either as agricultural land or as forestland. Smaller farms are more extensive in the southern countries of the EU than in the northern countries. Some 60 percent of all farms in the EU are less than 5 hectares (12.5 acres) in size. Many of these small farms are either part-time or subsistence farms. Farms that are more than 50 hectares in size (125 acres, a small farm by U.S. standards) constitute only 6 percent of all farms but produce most of the crops.

Dietary lipids

The main emphasis of this chapter is on lipids in the human diet, their metabolism in the healthy body and their relationship to disease processes. Lipid metabolism in other animals will be touched on, however, for two main reasons. First, a great deal of the food we eat is supplied by farm animals and the types of lipids we consume from this source are determined by the animals' own metabolism, their diets and by farming practices. Second, rigorously controlled studies of human metabolism are difficult and expensive to achieve and scientists are, therefore, frequently obliged to make inferences about the metabolic effects of lipids in man from research with experimental animals, generally laboratory rodents.

Habitat Destruction

Many aquatic species rely on mangrove forest habitats as breeding areas. Over 50 percent of the commercial species of fish and shrimp in the tropics depend on these areas, as well as many different species of birds. In addition, these special forest habitats, which exist along shallow intertidal coasts, are very important because they control erosion produced by storms. In order to produce more rice, agricultural products, firewood, and construction materials, many of the mangrove forests are being destroyed. In some countries, over 30 percent of these habitats have been lost or destroyed. by many scientists. Prior to the relatively recent growth in the science of ecology and the general interest in it, man had little concern about the effects of the exploitation of natural resources such as forests, of synthetic chemical pollutants such as dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane (DDT), or even of the rapid growth of the human population size. With an increasing knowledge and understanding...

Plant Nutrition

Food is an essential commodity that separates prosperous nations from struggling ones. For instance, North Korean agriculture met that entire country's food needs until about a decade ago. The country's farmers were highly efficient and productive. Its food crisis began with the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had provided North Korea with chemicals and petroleum. This loss of support was followed by three years of drought, hailstorms, and floods. Today, North Korea is a starving country with a failed farming system.

Tef Pioneers

Both the Debre Zeit Agricultural Research Centre of Alemaya University of Agriculture and the Institute of Agricultural Research at Holleta Research Station near Addis Ababa have produced high-yield strains. Some of these get so heavy with grain that the stalk collapses.* Research is now under way to develop varieties with short, stiff straw to create high-yielding tefs that can benefit from heavy fertilizer use and irrigation without collapsing. The Institute for Agricultural Research has also done research on tef with encouraging results at Debre Zeit. It has developed a variety, DZ 01-946, which has given yields of 1.78 tons per hectare.

Antigenic Shift

It is assumed that an antigenic shift occurs when gene segments are exchanged between different influenza strains as follows there are two major reservoirs of influenza A viruses, humans and certain (aquatic) bird species whereby, in the latter, influenza viruses occur with 13 hemagglutinin types and nine neuraminidase types in nearly all possible combinations. Mixed infections with avian and human virus strains are observed in pigs, made possible by certain farming practices, e.g., in Asia where duck and or pig husbandry are practiced together with fish breeding. This makes it possible for different viral strains to infect the same host and for two strains to infect the same host cell, which can result in a recombination of gene elements from different influenza A strains. Table 8.5 shows antigenic changes in hemagglutinin and neuraminidase observed in the human influenza A virus since the 1930s.

Ecosystem Modeling

Quantification of feeding rates (top), interaction strengths as per capita effects (bottom), and impact of these interactions on soil food web stability in conventional agriculture at Lovinkhoeve Experimental Farm, The Netherlands. From de Ruiter et al. (1995) with permission from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Research centres

The role of certain specialised research centres around the world such as the Iowa State University, the Agricultural Centre LA Coast in Louisiana, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the Forestry Division of the Agricultural Research Organization - Ilanot in Israel, is important. One of the most important is the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) which is involved in the assessment of the economic losses of degraded land in India. Through multi-disciplinary research programmes, the Institute aims to tap the uncommon and unprecedented opportunities to gain a holistic understanding of crop biology. Another internationally recognised Indian centre of excellence in salinity research is the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (CSSRI) of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in Karnal, which released a new salt tolerant rice variety (CSR-30) and a new salt tolerant mustard variety (CS-54).

Natural disasters

Traditional farming efforts usually focus on modifying the environment to suit the crop in saline agriculture, an alternative is to allow the environment to select the crops, to match salt tolerant plants with desirable characteristics to the available saline resources. If saline water is available, the introduction of salt tolerant plants in poor regions can improve food or fuel supplies, increase employment, help stem desertification, and contribute to soil reclamation. ''Agricultural land affected by sea water ingress (or influx) and crop affected to a large extent, and soil salinity alkalinity.

Plant Breeding

Plant breeding is accelerated evolution guided by humans rather than nature. Breeders replace natural selection with human selection in order to modify plants genetically to meet our needs. The primary goal of plant-breeding programs is commonly improved yield, with disease resistance, pest resistance, and stress tolerance contributing to yield. With new sources of agricultural land dwindling and the human population continuing to grow, efforts must concentrate on improving the amount of food harvested per acre and developing crops that can grow on low-quality land (Fig. 14.5).

Habitat Loss

Haiti's southwestern peninsula in scrub forest and agricultural land thousand plant species, of which 80 percent grow nowhere else in the world. Because of conversion to grassland through farming methods, only about one-fifth of the original species survive. In Australia there are 1,140 rare or threatened plants, and logging, clearing for grazing animals and crops, building developments, and mining have threatened many native species.

Forest Management

Thousands of years ago, forests and woodlands covered almost 15 billion acres of the earth. Approximately 16 percent of the forests have been cleared and converted to pasture, agricultural land, cities, and nonproductive land. The remaining 11.4 billion acres of forests cover about 30 percent of the earth's land surface. Clearing forests has severe environmental consequences. It reduces the overall productivity of the land, and nutrients and biomass stored in trees and leaf litter are lost. Soil once covered with plants, leaves, and snags becomes prone to erosion and drying. When forests are cleared, habitats are destroyed and biodiversity is greatly diminished. Destruction of forests causes water to drain off the land instead of being released into the atmosphere by transpiration or percolation into groundwater. This can cause major changes in the hydrologic cycle and ultimately in the earth's climate. Because forests remove a large amount of carbon dioxide from the air, the clearing...

High Yield Grains

Throughout the world, large portions of agricultural land are devoted to the production of wheat (Triticum sativum). Wheat is the staple of forty-three countries and 35 percent of the people of the world. It also provides 20 percent of the total food calories for the world's population.

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