Sustainable farming has become a major part of agricultural sciences over the last couple of decades. One such type of sustainable farming is soil-less farming that includes hydroponics and aquaponics. These two systems of agriculture are much evolved and focus on sustainability but a controversy whether they are organic or not remains a huge topic for discussion. The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 states, “An organic plan shall contain provisions designed to foster soil fertility, primarily through the management of the organic content of the soil.”
To be organic or not be organic is an everlasting dilemma.
Therefore, in 2010, the National Organic Standards Board recommended that hydroponic systems be considered ineligible for organic certification because they don’t use soil and traditionally rely on synthetic chemicals as the sources of nutrients. Whereas, aquaponics, another innovative front for soil-less farming is considered naturally organic. Here fish (mainly Tilapia, Koi, etc.) and plants are grown in a connected system where the water containing the fish by-products enter a pipe thus reaching the plants. The plants in turn filter the water and the water is transferred back to the tanks. It is deemed organic because the plants use nutrients of organic origin. Both hydroponics and aquaponics are considered milestones towards achieving sustainability.
However, hydroponics is more feasible and cost-effective. Although synthetic materials are used, they are not used on the crop and various accessories of organic origin like biopesticides (or not usage of pesticide at all), natural nutrients, and bases like cocopeat are being introduced in order to fulfill the criteria of being organic. The standards defining the term ‘organic’ still remains confusing as traditional farmers and organizations keep on emphasizing on the factor of soil/bio-waste being a must for fulfilling the requirements.
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Edited by – Shubham Tiwari