The Potential Of Vegan-Organic Agriculture

Introduction

Vegan organic farming is an approach to growing plant foods that encompasses respect for animals, human health, and the environment. It is also known as “stock free” and “plant-based” farming. This is the system of farming that goes beyond organic farming by eliminating the use of animal droppings and slaughterhouses by-products.   Like organic farming, no form of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides is accepted. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) are also avoided. Vegan farming breaks the link between animal farming and organic crop production by improving soil structure and maintaining soil fertility through plant-based techniques.

(Veganic Agriculture Network, 2019)
This method of farming demonstrates a sustainable way to farming as it produces their source of fertility directly on-farm, and this also reduces dependency on fossil fuel. It uses plant-based materials on it soils, and this improves soil structure, increase organic matter, add humus, boost the activities of microorganism which promote long-term soil fertility.

Vegan Organic Farming

Vegan organic farming is purely plant-based farming that does not use any input of animal origin (blood meal, bone meal, fish products, feces, or other animal origin matter) in the cultivation of food crops and other crops.

It excludes the use of animal-based input in the essence of growing plants with plants. (Schmutz and Foresi, 2017). This system avoids chemicals and GMO’s and livestock manures. Soil fertility is maintained by green manure, crop rotation, cover cropping, vegetable compost, mulching, minerals, and other environmentally sustainable methods to ensure long-term fertility.

Advantages of Vegan Organic Farming

This system of farming reduces fertilizer usage, as protein crops like pulse and other legumes are native nitrogen fixers.

Crop rotation provides significant benefit to the next crop, therefore reducing input cost and increasing yield.
Growing protein crops can offer a positive alternative livelihood for the farmers with lower and more stable input costs.
Vegan organic farms produce foods that are of better quality. Organically grown peaches contain higher polyphenol content and test better compared to conventionally grown peaches.
Vegan organic farming creates a better work environment, the employees and farmers are not exposed to synthetic agricultural chemicals in the course of their duty.

Environmental Benefits

Vegan organic farming reduces greenhouse emissions. eg. Eliminating tractors, sprayers, animal manure used, maybe an answer to carbon emission problems. (Goodland & Anhang, 2009).
It preserves habitat and species.
It conserves water.

Disadvantages of Vegan Organic Farming

The farming system is a bit tedious because weeding is done manually.
Vegan organic foods are expensive.
Vegan organic farming requires more work especially in weed control and cultivation techniques.
It requires specific knowledge of ecology to succeed. Especially in the area of vegetable composting, straw mulching, the type of cover crop to use, and when to plant in order to improve soil fertility.

Comparing the type of manure used in vegan organic farming with a mixed organic farm

In Mixed organic farming, most of the manure used in growing crops are by-products of animals, fish, bacteria and plants. These include fish meal, bone meal, animal feces, mixed compost, organic fertilizers, and pesticides, etc.
Whereas vegan organic farming does not accept the use of manure from any animal origin, instead, it uses ecological farming practices like cover cropping, crop rotation, legumes as nitrogen fixers, plant compost and minerals for improving soil fertility. No form of fertilizer and pesticides is accepted (Videle, 2018).

Greenhouse gases emission

According to Kadapotti et al., (2014) eliminating animal agriculture will cure many greenhouse gas emission problems, the transition to plant-based agriculture could be the answer for feeding the world with the least environmental degradation.
In the United States, 8.6% of the greenhouse gas emission is related to agriculture, and 61% of this is attributed to livestock raising, manure management, N2O emission from grassland and urea fertilizer.
Since vegan-organic farming forbids the use of animal manure and fertilizers, it is more environmental friendly compare to mixed organic farming that uses animal manures, and by-products for soil fertility.

The Potential Benefits of wide adoption of Vegan organic farming in UK

Wepking et al., (2019) reported that manure from antibiotic‐treated cattle affects terrestrial ecosystem function via the soil microbiome, causing decreased ecosystem carbon use efficiency, and altered nitrogen cycling. Therefore adopting vegan organic farming keeps the soil and environment safe since it does not use of animal manure for soil fertility.

The Benefits of Vegan organic farming practices

Vegan farming practices offer wide range of benefits to soil, biodiversity, water bodies, health, and the environment. Some of the benefits are explained below:

Soil

Cover cropping is one of the vegan farming practices improves soil fertility and structure, suppresses weed, fix nitrogen, reduce nitrate leaching (Campiglia et al., 2015), reduced surface runoff (Hartwig and Ammon, 2002) and also increase the soil microbial activities (Mendes et al., 1999).

Weed control

The benefit of cover crops in vegan farming cannot be overemphasized, as it also suppresses weed thought the type of cover crop, planting, and termination date must be taken into consideration.
Research shows that the physical barrier of cover crop residue on the soil surface is of utmost importance and there is a significant relationship between the amount of cover crop biomass termination and the level of weed control by the cover crop (Webster et al., 2013).

Figure 1: Relationship between cover crop biomass and weed suppression (Webster et al., 2013)

Landscape design and management

Research on landscape design and management has become an important focus on agriculture, as conventional farming practices (use of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and mono-cropping) have led to the loss of natural values and degradation of landscape (Van Mansvelt et al. 1998). And the decrease or loss of biodiversity on the agricultural landscape has awakened consciousness of the value of nature for sustainable food production.

In terms of landscape, conventional are bigger in size than vegan organic farms, most commercial farms practice mono-cropping. Whereas, vegan farms are smaller in size, and are mostly vegetable farms with intercropping pattern system, or block systems with crop rotation. Vegan organic farming is more environmentally friendly as it enhances biodiversity and improves soil structure.

Nature conservation and biodiversity

According to FAO, (2017) Agricultural expansion and intensification are responsible for a significant loss in forest cover globally, and this has lead to a decline in biodiversity. The recent intensification of modern agriculture has had a negative impact on biodiversity and the environment. And Vegan Organic farming has been introduced to address these negative impacts. Biodiversity plays an important role in all ecosystems, increasing biomass, nutrient and water cycling through ecosystems and trophic levels thereby affecting the functioning of ecosystems (Cardinale et al., 2012). Ecosystems provide direct and indirect benefits to people (Johnson et al., 2017), for example, direct services such as providing food, through fish, fruits and vegetables, and clean water from freshwater ecosystems, while indirect services include pollination and pest control. Reduced biodiversity can alter ecosystems, and lower efficiency or stability (Cardinale et al., 2012).

Unlike conventional farming where the use of fertilizer, pesticide, herbicides destroys beneficial organism (floral and faunal) and even in the case of organic farming where antibiotic residue in cattle manures find its way into the soil, water bodies and disrupt the ecosystem. Vegan organic farming uses cover crops, mulching, and crop rotation to add nutrient to soil, enhances biodiversity and suppress weed without any adverse effect on the environment and human.

References

  1.  Kadapatti, R. and Bagalkoti, S. (2014) “Small Farms And Agricultural Productivity-A Macro Analysis”. International Journal Of Social Science Studies 2 (3)
  2. Introduction To Veganics – [Veganic Agriculture Network] (2019) available from <http://www.goveganic.net/article19.html> [24 November 2019]
  3. Wepking, C., Badgley, B., Barrett, J., Knowlton, K., Lucas, J., Minick, K., Ray, P., Shawver, S. and Strickland, M. (2019) “Prolonged Exposure To Manure From Livestock‐Administered Antibiotics Decreases Ecosystem Carbon‐Use Efficiency And Alters Nitrogen Cycling”. Ecology Letters 22 (12), 2067-2076
  4. Campiglia, E., Radicetti, E. and Mancinelli, R. (2015) “Cover Crops And Mulches Influence Weed Management And Weed Flora Composition In Strip-Tilled Tomato (Solanum Lycopersicum)”. Weed Research 55 (4), 416-425
  5. Hartwig, N. and Ammon, H. (2002) “Cover Crops And Living Mulches”. Weed Science 50 (6), 688-699
    Mendes, I., Bandick, A., Dick, R. and Bottomley, P. (1999) “Microbial Biomass And Activities In Soil Aggregates Affected By Winter Cover Crops”. Soil Science Society of America Journal 63 (4), 873-881
  6. Food and Agriculture Organisation (2016) Global Forest Resources Assessment, 2015. How are the world’s forests changing? Second edition, Rome, Italy.Cardinale, B., Duffy, J., Gonzalez, A., Hooper, D., Perrings, C., Venail, P., Narwani, A., Mace, G., Tilman, D., Wardle, D., Kinzig, A., Daily, G., Loreau, M., Grace, J., Larigauderie, A., Srivastava, D. and Naeem, S. (2012) “Biodiversity Loss And Its Impact On Humanity”. Nature 486 (7401), 59-67
  7. Johnson, C., Balmford, A., Brook, B., Buettel, J., Galetti, M., Guangchun, L. and Wilmshurst, J. (2017) “Biodiversity Losses And Conservation Responses In The Anthropocene”. Science 356 (6335), 270-275
  8. Webster, T., Scully, B., Grey, T. and Culpepper, A. (2013) “Winter Cover Crops Influence Amaranthus Palmeri Establishment”. Crop Protection 52, 130-135
  9. Van Mansvelt, J., Stobbelaar, D. and Hendriks, K. (1998) “Comparison Of Landscape Features In Organic And Conventional Farming Systems”. Landscape And Urban Planning 41 (3-4), 209-227
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