Organic farming is essentially farming without the addition of artificial chemicals, and demand for organic produce has boomed over recent years. Many retailers now devote significant shelf space to organic produce … because consumers are demanding it! But organic farming benefits producers as well. In fact, it can be more profitable than mainstream agriculture.
Ideal for consultants, farmers or hobby farmers, the Certificate of Organic Farming explores the benefits to the consumer and the environment and the viable economic gains of organic farming. In this organic farming course, you will learn about the history, scope and types of organic farming, and how to handle organic management issues, from marketing and promotion to certification and environmental concerns.
You will also discover integrated farm management systems for organic farming, including biodynamics, rotation design, waste management systems and how to manage weeds, pests, pasture, soil, livestock and crops.
Outcomes achieved by undertaking an organic farming course include:
- Learning about the nature, scope and history of organic farming
- Exploring the types of organic farming
- Gaining an understanding of integrated farm management systems
- Studying rotation design
- Gaining insights into cash crops
- Examining how to manage waste
- Understanding permaculture
- Learning about polyculture
- Exploring biodynamics
- Studying organic management issues
- Gaining insights into certification
- Examining environmental concerns
- Understanding marketing and PR
- Learning about organic soil management and crop nutrition
- Exploring composting
- Studying mulching
- Gaining insights into green manuring
- Examining cover crops
- Understanding organic fertilisers
- Learning about weed management
- Exploring how to select the appropriate techniques of control
- Studying weed identification
Types of Organic Farming
As you’ll learn in our organic farming course, organic farming works with nature, rather than against it. It recognises that nature has many complex processes that interact to control diseases and weeds and regulate the growth of plants. Organic farmers don’t use any chemical herbicides at all, and all kinds of agricultural products are produced organically. These range from fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat to eggs, grains and fibres such as wool and cotton. Here are some of the most effective and widely used organic farming methods.
When several different animals and/or plants are growing together, the nutrients used by one may be replenished by the activity of another, and the waste products of one will often be used by another. Some poly-culture options include:
- Agro-forestry – This is where trees are grown in paddocks to provide shade for animals. Eventually, trees can be harvested and sold for timber, firewood or woodchip.
- Animals grazing in orchards – Free-range poultry, sheep, cows and deer can all be grazed below nut or fruit trees. Farmers can also increase the efficiency of their land by diversifying harvestable product. They just need to ensure that the plants aren’t toxic to the animals and the animals don’t eat or destroy them. For example, poultry and pecans are both harvestable. The trees also provide shelter for birds and the birds eat insects and pests and fertilise the pecan trees.
- Inter-row cropping – This involves establishing the principal crop in rows then planting another crop between them. For example, long-term fruit tree crops can be planted with vegetables between the rows.
Biodynamic farming views the farm as a “total” organism and attempts to develop a sustainable system where all of the components of the living system have a respected and proper place. Some of the principles include:
- Understanding the interrelation of animal and plant production. For example, manure from animals feeds plants and plant growth feeds animals.
- Considering the underlying cause of problems and attempting to deal with the causes rather than dealing with superficial ways of treating problems.
- Produce is better quality when it is “in touch” with all aspects of a natural ecosystem.
- Considering the available human skills and other resources that affect what is chosen to be grown.
- Conservation and environmental awareness.
- Soil quality is maintained by paying attention to fertility and soil life.
- Maintaining botanical diversity leads to reduced problems.
- Crop rotation is important.
- Plant selection is vital, in particular ensuring the seed that has been chosen is well adapted to the site.
- Moon planting is often considered as many growers believe better results can be achieved if consideration is given to lunar cycles.
Permaculture is a system of agriculture based on perennial plant and animal species. The nine key guiding principles of permaculture design are:
- Relative location – placing the components of a design in a position that achieves the desired relationship between them. Everything is connected to everything else.
- Multiple functions – a designer must deal with several different components that influence a function, make distinct decisions about each of the components, and consider that every function is supported by many elements.
- Multiple elements – a design must include many elements (like earth, plants, buildings and water) and every element should serve many functions.
- Elevational planning – The design must be on a three-dimensional basis, with consideration given to it width, length and height and their energy impacts.
- Biological resources – The priority is to use renewable biological resources (like wood for fuel) rather than non-renewable resources (like fossil fuels).
- Energy recycling – Energy use should be minimised, waste energy harvested and the system should be designed to optimise the collection of energy by animals and plants.
- Natural succession – Animal and plant life should always be enriched by ensuring new organisms emerge as old ones die.
- Maximise edges – The edge of two different areas in a system has more things influencing it than other parts of the system.
- Diversity – The design should be a poly-culture (a system where a greater number of species are growing together).
Crop rotation consists of growing different crops in succession in the same field, and it interrupts pest life cycles and keeps their populations in check. In crop rotation cycles, farmers can also sow crops that actually enrich the soil with nutrients, thereby reducing the need for chemical fertilisers.
An important element you will learn about in our organic farming course is the area of certification. In Australia, an industry organisation must be accredited by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) before it can certify organic operations. There are seven organisations currently certified with AQIS.
NASAA certifies producers from small and intermediate to extremely large operations throughout Australia. This includes over 500 operators involved in broadacre, horticulture, mixed farms and livestock. It is one of the few certification agencies worldwide to achieve IFOAM accreditation and is currently the only one in Australia to do so.
Formerly known as the Biological Farmers of Australia (BF) which was formed in 1987, Australian Organic’s objective is to bring together processors and farmers who have a common interest in organic and bio-dynamic systems and production as a means of conserving resources and processing food without the use of synthesised chemicals.
The Demeter trademark has been used in Australia since 1953 to symbolise produce produced using the biodynamic agricultural method. When a certain standard of biodynamic development has been established, farmers may apply to the Bio-Dynamic Research Institute to become certified users of the trademark.
Organic Herb Growers of Australia (OHGA)
The OHGA was established in 1986 to promote the growing and processing of herbs and herbal products. Its members include organic manufacturers, fruit and vegetable growers, mixed farmers and wild harvesters.
Organic Vignerons Association of Australia (OVAA)
The OVAA was established in 1992 following an increasing demand for organic wine, particularly from overseas. It was formed specifically to promote the growing of grapes organically and the production of wine from those grapes.
Organic Food Chain (OFC)
The OFC began through the cooperation of a small group of commercial organic farmers who wanted an organised, highly accountable system of product differentiation and organic accreditation. The OFC includes wholesalers, retailers, brokers, processors and organic farmers.
The TOP Co-operative was formed in the early 1990s in response to calls from Tasmania’s rural sector for a body to support and represent organic growers. Current grower members include producers of grains, dairy products, wine, herbs, fruit and vegetables.
Enhance your ability to create and market a successful agricultural enterprise with an organic farming course like our Certificate of Organic Farming.