Q&A

DEAR NEW FARM:

Please answer the following questions for my school project: 1) What are the advantages of an organic farm? 2) What are the disadvantages? 3) What kind of pests attack your farm? 4) How do you control the pests that attack your farm? 5) What do you grow?

Cerecka Simmons
Pennsylvania

 

DEAR CERECKA:

Organic farming is really a production system that is based on the concept of taking care of the soil. By building “soil health” into your management plan, many of the pest problems seen on conventional farms never become serious problems on an organic farm.

1) Since we grow food without pesticides, that means these chemicals don't get on the food or into the soil or waterways. Organic systems are based on sound biological principles which, by their very nature, make them resilient. Organic farming protects human health and the environment. We like to say "healthy soil = healthy food = healthy people," because it's all connected. These processes carry over from crop and livestock production through the handling phase and into final production.

2) It takes more knowledge of complex systems and how they work together to operate an organic farm. But this isn't necessarily a disadvantage, it just requires a commitment of time to be successful. Observing the intricate dynamics of nature at work is fun, and that's what it takes to be a good organic farmer.

3) Because good organic farmers grow a diversity of crops, no one type of pest typically gains a foothold and becomes a huge problem. Say your favorite food was pizza and you found a whole room full of it. You'd probably stay there until it was all gone, right? But if there was some pizza, some lima beans, some whatever, you'd probably nibble on some pizza and move on. Weeds are the biggest challenge on our farm.

4) We manage insect pests by encouraging a diversity of species. That way the good bugs tend to keep the bad ones in check. We manage weeds through the use of sound crop rotation strategies, cover crops, tillage and cultivation. We also work to keep our soil healthy. And that's where plant roots live and where water and nutrient exchange takes place. Big, strong, healthy plants can better fend off pests and diseases. We also use tools, such as pheromone disrupters hanging in our apple trees, to confuse specific pests such as coddling moth.

5) We grow certified organic corn, soybeans, wheat, oats, rye, apples and a host of vegetable and demonstration crops.

Great questions, Cerecka!

NF

 

DEAR NEW FARM:

Thank you for all your help. I receive an A for my project.

Cerecka

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