Under the hood of all the street lights and city life in New York is a whole different world of agriculture and farming that contribute significantly to the running of the state. Agriculture takes up a quarter of the state’s land and fuels the engines that keep the economy running while feeding millions of families. It creates lots of jobs and occupies free land to prevent erosion and disasters. Many people don’t put much importance on agriculture because it is in the shadows and carried away from the urban area.
Even though it operates mainly in rural areas and away from the attention that industries like gambling are having, agriculture still contributes $3.6 billion to the state’s economy. The state contains over 35,000 farms that produce a variety of products, including cottage cheese, apples, grapes, milk, and more.
The State of Organic Farming in New York
Among all the different types of agriculture practiced in New York, organic farming is gaining the most attention. It is growing exponentially as many people are becoming more aware of the food they eat. This has significantly increased the demand for organic and locally-grown food.
As of now, there are more than 1000 certified organic farms in New York, making it the third behind California and Wisconsin. These farms are responsible for about 4 percent of the state’s farm acreage.
However, producers can’t just label their foods as organic to make profits. There is a procedure that must be followed in order to achieve the label. All growers producing more than $5000 worth of food who want to label them as organic must be certified. Everyone involved in the growing, packaging, and distribution of organic foods must become certified. On the other hand, if the annual income of the producer is below $5000 per year, then they don’t need to be certified.
If a food is labeled as organic, this means that when producing the food, the grower follows all the federal regulations established by the National Organic Program. It ensures that the foods are grown using good soil, natural fertilizers, and minimum pesticides.
Technology and Organic Farming
It is time to remove the stereotype that technology should not be used in organic farming because it is a characteristic of conventional agriculture. This is a misconception and must be wiped out because technology helps farmers decrease the need for manual work and increase efficiency around the farm and crop yields.
For example, technologies such as red edge band sentinel for detecting vegetation provide growers with data such as crop health, soil moisture levels, and chlorophyll index. This data ensures that farmers can intervene where and when necessary. It also gives growers vital insights to make better business decisions to increase crop yields and profits.
Now, most of the regulations and controls to check for the legitimacy of organic products are made based on the farmers’ accounting records, and the packages are very rarely checked. However, Earth Observation technologies such as red edge band satellites have become critical in providing efficient, fast, and cheap ways to control packages. Also, It becomes difficult to control when farmers practice conventional and organic farming on their land.
How to Practice Organic Farming
Synthetic food preservatives and additives can not be used for organic food processing. However, there may be a few exceptions. As for manure, it is recommended to use natural ones such as cover crops, animal dung, and other types of green manure to increase soil fertility. This will ensure that the soil remains healthy for longer periods.
Pest and disease control should be done only using biological methods and other natural practices like crop rotation. This will help to decrease the number of chemicals used on the farm. It will also increase the biodiversity, and many more plant-beneficial organisms will thrive on the farm.
A farmer that keeps livestock on the farm should practice rotational grazing. This will ensure that the animals spread their dung for manure on land that will be used for planting. Farmers should also decrease or totally eliminate the use of synthetic pesticides and antibiotics or hormones.
Organic foods have been gaining popularity worldwide and have skyrocketed in demand. However, It is also regulated so that producers should not only label their goods as “organic” for marketing purposes but ensure that the best practices are followed.