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The three R’s of organic farming

  • By Abdala Wato
  • May 18, 2022
  • 0 Comment

Thanks to organic farming, natural resources are utilized responsibly.

A farmer in Wundanyi, Taita Taveta County, utilizes the three Rs of reducing, reusing, and recycling to practice organic farming. The farmer uses ground rock dust from sulfate-containing rocks as fertilizer to grow his tomatoes and other vegetables. The rock dust adds trace minerals and micro-nutrients to the soil and feeds the beneficial microbes that live in the ground. This best explains ‘reducing’ as a practice since the farmer reduces the application of artificial fertilizers, which could harm our environment when used in excess.

Too much nitrogenous fertilizer leads to the release of harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Asides from that, it leads to the eutrophication of our waterways. The application of mulch best explains reusing as a practice. The dry plant matter is not discarded but put into use to help conserve soil moisture for the still-thriving crops or prevent soil erosion, which would affect the growing crops.

Recycling comes in handy when the farmer uses kitchen refuse, such as peelings of tomatoes, potatoes, onions, pineapples, bananas, and other vegetables and fruits, to make compost manure. These plant products add various essential micro-nutrients to the soil. A close relation to this is the use of bone meal fertilizer. The Bone meal is a mixture of finely and coarsely ground animal bones and slaughterhouse waste products. The fertilizer is rich in phosphorus and calcium. 

Animal bones are recycled to make fertilizer. Bone meal can also feed monogastric animals and is usually rich in phosphorus and protein.

In summary, Organic farming incorporates management activities that ensure the conservation of soil, water, air and control of climate change and biodiversity. Soil building practices such as crop rotations, inter-cropping, cover crops, organic fertilizers, and minimum tillage are central to organic practices. These practices improve soil formation and structure. In turn, the nutrients and retentive abilities of the soil are enhanced. Soil erosion is also controlled.

Groundwater pollution is inhibited by minimum usage or the elimination of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. The application of mulch and cover crops conserves water. The use of organic manure such as compost manure, rock dust, and animal manure contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming. The hidden costs of agriculture to the environment regarding natural resource degradation are reduced.

Abdalla Wato is public health student at South Eastern Kenya University,