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Posted on Jun 21, 2010

Does Organic Farming Help Prevent Water Contamination?

Did you know that until 50 years ago, organic farming was what was feeding America? It wasn’t until the end of World War II that manufacturers started using war chemicals like ammonium nitrate (used for bombs) to assist the farming market. Organic farming does something that regular farming doesn’t do. It lets crops naturally grow without adding pesticides or fertilizers. Because organic farming reduces the amount of toxic chemicals used in agriculture, it helps to prevent water contamination.

Organic farming doesn’t use synthetic chemicals like regular farming does. Today’s agriculture depends on these chemicals to produce more crops. Unfortunately, substituting fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides as nutrients to crops produces a weaker soil. Synthetic chemicals affect the plant and the ground. By not using these chemicals in organic farming, natural biological processes are used to produce a healthier soil. When the soil has started reproducing the natural nutrients found in the ground, it produces rich and healthy crops.

Not using synthetic chemicals prevents many water contamination incidences from happening. Much of runoff and leaching happens because too many chemicals are added to crops or the chemicals are added during or just before natural precipitation occurs. Chemical runoff is when snow, rain, or flood waters move those toxic chemicals from the ground and into freshwater sources.

Leaching is another way that water contamination can happen in regular farming. If overwhelming amounts of synthetic chemicals are added to the crops, they can also contaminate the ground by leaching into the soil. Chemicals in the soil kill nature’s natural decomposing organics. The soil becomes too acidic because of the chemicals that are used on it. Earthworms and microorganisms that assist the land with aeration and decomposition are destroyed. The soil dramatically changes because of the chemicals and it increases the soil’s need for more fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides. In short, the soil and the crops become dependent on the chemicals that are adding nutrients to the ground.

Organic farming restricts chemicals that can be applied to the land. The farmers understand that the soil has its own nutrients. When organic farming began to become popular, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began working on national standards for organic agriculture. In 1997, the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency proposed allowing waste sludge on organic farming as part of the standard. This would have allowed high-quality biosolids, or sewage sludge, to be used in organic agriculture.

This proposal had many organic experts speaking up. They stated that sludge isn’t used in production now and it shouldn’t be included in the standard. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) also opposed having the sludge portion added into the standards. NOSB is a federal body that is responsible for overseeing and assisting any government decisions that would affect organic farming standards. USDA went with NOSB’s recommendation and removed the suggestion of adding sludge to the organic farming standard.

Organic farming is a natural way that prevents water contamination from occurring. Water contamination is a serious problem because of the large possibility of health risks that could occur to anyone who drinks contaminated water. As private citizens, patronizing organic farming by purchasing food that is produced organically is one way of influencing the agriculture industry to move away from using chemicals for methods of crop control and producing toxic water contamination. That is a long-term solution.

A short-term solution that protects your family now from water contamination from agriculture and numerous other sources is to purchase a reliable water filtration system for your home from a respected leader in the water filter industry like Aquasana. Aquasana water filters prevents synthetic chemicals that can be found in fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides from entering your family’s drinking water.