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What is Permaculture and Organic Farming?

What is Permaculture and Organic Farming?


  • Permaculture refers to agricultural principles centered around utilising the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.
  • The term permaculture was developed by David Holmgren, then a graduate student, and his professor, Bill Mollison, in 1978.
  • The word ‘permaculture’ originally referred to ‘permanent agriculture’, but was expanded later on to ‘permanent culture, understood as social aspects which are integral to a sustainable system.
  • According to Mollison, `permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature.
  • It has many branches that include, but are not limited to ecological design, integrated water resources management, regenerative habitat, etc.

Organic Farming

  • As per the definition by the study team of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on organic farming, ‘organic farming is a system which avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilisers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives, etc.,) and to the maximum extent feasible, relies upon crop rotations, crop residues, animal manures, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological system of nutrient mobilisation and plant protection.

Advantages of Organic Farming

  1. The use of organic manure improves water movement in the soil and, in time, adds structure to the soil.
  2. Organic feed increases the presence of beneficial microbes, thereby making the soil more fertile.
  3. Plants can absorb nutrients in slow and gradual manner from organic fertilisers. On the other hand, inorganic fertilisers, they are lost from the soil quickly and one may have to apply them several times during the growing season.                  What is Permaculture and Organic Farming?
  4. Organic pesticides are low cost, easily degradable, rapidly decompose and are safe for humans. The pesticide residues are also low in agricultural output.
  5. Organic regulations ban or severely restrict the use of food additives, processing aids (substances used during processing, but not added directly to food) and fortifying agents commonly used in non-organic foods, including preservatives, artificial sweeteners, colourings and flavourings and monosodium glutamate.
  6. Organic farming practices are designed to benefit the environment by reducing pollution and conserving water and soil quality.

Disadvantages of Organic Farming

  1. Farming practices are expensive in organic farming.
  2. Unlike inorganic fertilisers which are in concentrated form, organic fertilisers have very low nutrient percentages. It is not possible to apply a particular essential nutrient at desired levels to correct the deficiencies, whereas application of desired nutrients at desired levels is easy with regard to inorganic fertilisers.
  3. Plants cannot absorb organic fertilisers as such. Plants and microbes have to transform the organic fertilisers into inorganic form so that plants can absorb the nutrients readily.
  4. As the yield is less in organic farming, the cost of food is very high.                  What is Permaculture and Organic Farming?
  5. The researchers concluded that organically and inorganically produced foodstuffs are not significantly different in their nutrient content.
  6. Since organic fruits and vegetables are not treated with waxes or preservatives, they may spoil faster.


Environment & Biodiversity

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