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Organic farming: what are the benefits.

43 million hectares of organic farming in the world

two million organic producers in 2013

global organic market at $ 80 billion
increased fivefold in the last 15 years

These are the numbers of organics in the world

(source: FiBL)

The road is traced: the gradual conversion of the land to a more sustainable cultivation technique continues.

What are the advantages?

  • healthier product
  • appeal to the eye of the consumer
  • greater return in terms of farmers’ income
  • environmental sustainability
  • more “natural” and effective management with new technologies IoT (Internet of Things)

fagiolini

HIGHER QUALITY

The nutritionists confirm that consumption of organic products decreases the risk of ingesting toxic pesticides and cadmium, a particularly harmful chemical element.

Organic fruits and vegetables also have a higher content of polyphenols (from 18% to 69% more), important for health as they have antioxidant useful for cancer prevention. The polyphenols, in fact, are produced from the plant when it reacts, in a natural way, to a state of stress.
In conventional crops, on the contrary, the chemical protection of pesticides does not stimulate the plant to produce those defense molecules (against mold and fungi, for example) which contain the valuable polyphenols.

ORGANIC APPEAL

Organic products are increasingly demanded by the market.
Germany is the largest European market and in 2014 increased by 4.8% .The sales of organic food and drink rose from 7,55 to 7,91 billion euro
In France, compared to 2013, sales in 2014 rose by 10% for a turnover of 5 billion euro. Nine out of ten consumers choose organic products occasionally, six out of ten at least once a month. This why farmers are converting to organic farming (a 4% increase of the area cultivated according bio criteria).
In Denmark they are now organic a carrot on four and a liter of milk in four (29% of sales). It is also the country that exports the largest quantity of organic products with a turnover in 2014 amounted to 204 million euro.
In 2014 the Swedish organic market marked a real boom: it has increased by 38%, reaching a market share of 5.6%, equivalent to a turnover of approximately 1.6 billion euro.
After years of stagnation, Great Britain is now showing signs of slow recovery. In 2014, with growth of 4%, the organic food industry achieved sales of 1.86 billion pounds (2.53 billion euro).
In the USA, sales of organic products has increased a lot. In 2014 the US organic market grew 11%, reaching a value of 35.9 billion dollars (31.6 billion euro).

GREATER RETURN

In the USA, organic agriculture earns farmers more than conventional farming, thanks to the prices that some consumers are willing to pay. It is 22 to 35 percent more profitable (source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – 2015).

In England and Wales, organic farming vs conventional farming:

organic_conventional

Organic and conventional Farm Business Income (£/ha, full samples, 2014/15)

 ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

Recent studies have shown that soils, conducted according to the techniques of organic agriculture, retain more carbon in the soil than soils exploited in the conventional manner, and therefore they release less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is important bearing in mind that agriculture, or rather, the management of organic matter naturally present or added with fertilization, seems to be responsible for a quarter of total greenhouse gas emissions.

Not only. The intensive agriculture has contributed to:

– Pollution of rivers, lakes and aquifers
A USGS study published in January 2015, for instance, showed that two-thirds of the country’s 62 principal aquifers showed increases in chlorides, nitrates, or total dissolved solids;

Loss of fertility
The industrial farming practices have resulted in the erosion of the surface level of the land around the world, as well as other harmful effects such as salinization, acidification and compaction.
The consequences: in 150 years we lost half of the surface layer of soil, with an acceleration of the phenomenon in the last 40 years. Now 30% of arable land is unproductive (source: FAO)

Decrease in yield
The loss of soil fertility is directly linked to the reduction of productivity: a decrease of 50% of organic matter causes a decrease of 25% of crops.

Reduction of biodiversity
In the last 100 years it has increased the risk of extinction mainly because of the use of pollutants and habitat destruction done to make room for cultivated areas. All this now threatens 12% of bird species and 25% of mammal species (IUCN source).

Organic farming protects soils and biodiversity thanks to
– the use of organic fertilizers and the prohibition on using pesticides and chemical fertilizers that allow the proliferation of microorganisms in the soil necessary for a fertile soil;
– crop rotation;
– the practice of choosing local varieties of plants.
Even in the energy consumption level, organic farming is more sustainable: it uses energy more efficiently and to a much lesser extent (45% less than using conventional farming).

BIO WITH WIRELESS SENSORS AND THE INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT)

The management of an organic crop is more difficult because of the prohibition on using pesticides and chemical fertilizers. However today reliable tools are available to control, in a targeted manner and in real time what happens in the field to support timely decisions.

AURORAS specializes in the creation of innovative technology for more sustainable agriculture: wireless sensors located in the vineyard / field / greenhouse or integrated platforms of the Internet of Things (IoT) which detect the micro-climatic conditions and physio-pathological of the plant. They can also trigger desired actions automatically.

For each type of crop and requirement, AURORAS projects the most appropriate wireless sensor system:

SAVE for viticulture

SAVE_filari_2

SAVE CROP for agriculture

GREEN HOUSE for greenhouses

The adoption of the IoT monitoring systems (Internet of Things) and wireless sensors is also useful to contain the organic production costs, higher than those of conventional farming. Thanks to the continuous information that you can receive by wireless sensors, you can intervene when needed and in the right quantity with irrigation, fertilization or organic preventive treatments.
In addition, systems with wireless sensors are characterized by a low consumption and they are generally equipped with solar panel.

To enable the transmission over long distances, AURORAS uses LoRa technology.

To know more on the application of wireless sensors in agriculture, you can read this post.

Details can be read for the EC wireless sensor, the moisture wireless sensor and the leaf wetness wireless sensor.





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