As a result of the agricultural and industrial revolutions, the approach to farming and cultivation has changed radically, shifting the focus, as indeed in the rest of the sectors, from quality to quantity and profit, the consequences of which are self-evident.
HOW CAN FARMING ORGANICALLY RESCUE THE AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY?
In fact, with the upsurge of intensive agriculture, the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and many other products, there are two main direct and tangible implications:
on the one hand, the quality of products continues to decline hastily, with more emphasis and importance being given to quantity and aesthetics of the products;
on the other hand, the environment suffers, to no small extent. Intensive agriculture, in fact, is the main cause of the loss of biodiversity and the exhaustion of soils, both from a nutritional and a wildlife and ecosystem point of view.
The result is therefore a product that is often harmful, qualitatively inferior and responsible, in part, for the dreadful environmental situation in which we continue to lull ourselves.
Needless to say, and just as this trend has affected the market for food, fiber, and all cultivable goods in general, so too is cannabis a victim of this system: to date, very few producers focus on the healthiness and sustainability of their inflorescences and, indeed, the market is flooded with thousands of tons of harmful cannabis, full of heavy metals, traces of pesticides and systemic herbicides, and generally of very poor quality.
It is in the cannabis sector, however, especially in America, that the importance of sustainability and organicity is being increasingly emphasized, and from the perspective of both the international market and small private growers, a change in direction, demanded and demanded by consumers, is evident.
WHAT IS AN ORGANIC CROP?
Organic farming is a far-reaching agricultural production method, a system designed to optimize the productivity and coexistence of different communities within the agro-ecosystem, including soil organisms, plants, livestock and people. Thus, the main objective is to develop sustainable and environmentally harmonious enterprises that ensure healthy and qualitatively superior products. This is possible by starting from a simple premise: cultivation does not mean simply giving fertilizer to a plant, but nourishing the soil, the bacteria and fungi that dwell in it, and the insects that protect it; by caring for the entire ecosystem and fostering a symbiotic and synergistic relationship among all inhabitants, plants will only grow lush and healthy and will in turn contribute to improving the surrounding environment.
To achieve this goal, the principles of organic farming must be carefully observed:
- protect the environment
- decrease pollution
- preserve long-term soil fertility
- maintain biological diversity within the system
- recycle materials and resources
- prepare organic products (fermented, decocted, composted)
- prevent pests or fight them with biological control.
Being a very broad cultivation trend, it has within it many subcurrents, some of which are quite literally diametrically opposed, others differing in small details. Needless to say, not all of them are suitable for large industrial production, some are too expensive, and some are even infeasible when it comes to outdoor cultivation.
Nevertheless, it is also true that although they are all methods rooted in the past, now is the time for their comeback, and there are many experiments, studies and analyses that will allow us to have a more and more complete and overall view, so as to come to the identification of the method that guarantees the best results.
ORGANIC HEMP FARMING: THE DIFFERENT TECHNIQUES
Moving specifically into the subject of hemp farming, we are increasingly hearing about Recycled Organic Living Soil: this method consists precisely of always using the same soil, amending it from crop to crop and recycling it.
Frequent amendments, synergistic ecosystem action and other small measures will allow the soil to improve its cultivo characteristics crop after crop, contrary to intensive agriculture. In turn, ROLS is divided into several strands: some simpler and recommended for less experienced growers, such as Super Soil, which consists of amending the soil with dry organic additives and having it composted; others more special, requiring study and knowledge, such as permaculture.
Gluing all strands together is No-Till: in fact, since there is so much microbial and fungal life in the soil, plowing is largely discouraged. Rather, it is much more effective to add mulch states between crops.
While ROLS is a very accessible and easy-to-learn technique that does not require excessive study or knowledge, the world of regenerative agriculture is much more complex. It does not originate from a precise theorization, but is developed and derived from Australian permaculture, organic and biodynamic agriculture.
Nevertheless, its principles have been theorized in writing: thanks to the NGO Deafal, through the “Charter of Principles and Values of Organic and Regenerative Agriculture,” we know that it aims to regenerate soil, biodiversity and ecosystems, the relationship between living things and knowledge.
This is done through small measures, such as: crop rotation, reduced tillage, total soil cover, and waste reduction. Since this is also a very broad strand, several cultivation methods that can be traced back to it coexist: in particular, as far as cannabis is concerned, we can distinguish Korean Natural Farming and Jaddam.
KNF was devised by Dr. Cho in the 1960s in response to the excessive use of pesticides in South Korea. At the core of this farming practice we find the “nutrient cycle theory,” oriented on the use of “inputs” according to plant growth stages. In essence, the KNF technique involves practices that enhance bacterial and fungal life by increasing microbial diversity in the soil using inputs from the surrounding environment in their raw form. These inputs, obtained through fermentation of organic matter following different recipes, are diluted in Actively Areated Compost Tea which, through oxygenation, allows the proliferation of probiotics and , in general, lots of beneficial fungi and bacteria. The most important inputs include Fruit Fermented Juice (FFJ), Indigenous Microorganisms (IMO), Lactic Acid Bacteria (LAB), and Oriental Herbal Nutrients (OHN).
Jadam, on the other hand, was created by Cho’s son with the goal of achieving the most organic and economical cultivation technique possible. It too is based on the use of inputs but, unlike KNF, only one is used here: the Jadam Liquid Fertilizer. Through the putrefaction of organic material, achieved by anaerobic fermentation, a hypernutrient organic fertilizer is obtained to be diluted in water.
SUMMING UP ORGANIC FARMING
As can be seen, organic farming is a vast field that contains within it many different strands, but putting aside all the differences, the common thread is apparent: the importance of caring for the soil and the ecosystem within it. In fact, what makes this method so effective is the synergy between different life forms working together. Mycorrhizae, trichoderma, beneficial fungi, bacteria and even many species of insects support and sustain the plant, protecting and strengthening the roots, driving away pests and exchanging, mutually, nutrients and enzymes that are essential for life.
Thus, organic farming turns out to be the only way forward to obtain healthy and quality products, responding simultaneously to environmental emergencies and the need to restore soils destroyed by decades of intensive agriculture. As if that were not enough, it has been proven analytically and empirically that organically grown cannabis has significantly higher percentages of terpenes, flavonoids and essential oils than other inflorescences. So, to wrap up: don’t panic, it’s organic.