There are several compelling principles that characterize certified organic farming. They include biodiversity, integration, sustainability, natural plant
nutrition, natural pest management, and integrity. Most organic operations will reflect all of these to a greater or lesser degree. Since each farm is a distinct entity, there is a large degree of variation.
As a general rule, diverse ecosystems in nature have a higher degree of stability than those with only a few species. The same is essentially true for agroecosystems. Farms with a diverse mix of crops have a better chance of supporting beneficial organisms that assist in pollination and pest management. Diversity above ground also suggests diversity in the soil, providing better nutrient cycling, disease suppression, tilth, and nitrogen fixation.
Good organic farmers mimic the biodiversity of nature through practices like intercropping, companion planting, establishment of beneficial habitats, and crop rotation (sometimes referred to as companion planting across time). The effort to increase biodiversity works hand-in-hand with enterprise diversity, which is often (but not necessarily) an objective on organic farms.
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