History of Organic Farming

British Botanist Sir Albert Howard is generally considered to be the father of organic farming. He was an agricultural advisor in india from 1905-1924. His observation and study of indian farming practices convinced him of their superiority over his conventional science in his book An Agricultural Testament in 1943. Sir Howard described the concept, he called The Law of Return which has come to define organic farming. The history of organic farming began with a group of agricultural scientists and framers. The 1st half of the 20th century saw the introduction of internal combustion engine which led to the tractors and other farm machinery. 

Research in plant breeding led to the production of hybrid seeds. Nitrogen fertilizers first synthesized in mid 1800’s became commonly available. There were 30,00,000 tractors by 1950. As a result, fields grew bigger and farm crops became more specialized to make more efficient use of machinery. But in England in the 1920s a few individuals began to speak out against these farming trends. After World War II, large scale irrigation, fertilization and the use of pesticides became a common practice. In particular, two chemicals that had been produced for use in warfare were put to use in farming. Ammonium nitrate, used in ammunition became an abundantly cheap source of nitrogen, new pesticides organo-phosphate nerve gas production, led to the development of powerful insecticide launching an era of widespread pesticides. 

In 1944 an international campaign called Green Revolution was launched in Mexico with a private funding from US. It encouraged the development of hybrid plants, chemical control large scale irrigation and heavy mechanization and farms around the world. During 1950, sustainable agriculture was a topic of scientific interest but research concentrated on developing new chemical approaches. In the US, J.I Rodale began to popularize the term and methods of organic farming particularly to consumers through the promotion of Organic Gardening.

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) began in France in 1972 for the purpose of sharing information on Organic Farming all over the world. IFOAM also hoped to encounter the impact of chemical based agriculture on environment. On these reasons farmers were encouraged to go towards Organic Farming.

Huma Zafar
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I am Huma Zafar a Soil Science Graduate from Arid Agriculture University. I am interested in topics related to agronomy, agri-tech and climate change.