- Retaining water resources
- Maintaining the high quality of these water resources
Wherever possible, organic farmers seek to retain natural water resources, such as streams and wetlands, while actively reducing runoff through:
- Improving soil structure and its water retention capacity through practices such as a multi-annual crop rotation, appropriate plant selection and organic manure use
- Planting and retaining hedges, meadows and natural vegetation to reduce soil erosion
Organic farmers find that reducing runoff and improving the overall quality of the soil in these ways also helps to reduce the need for crop irrigation in drier areas.
In areas where salinity is a potential problem, the retention of more trees and natural vegetation with deeper roots helps keep the water table lower and avoids salt being brought to the surface.
Meanwhile, organic farming systems help to maintain – or even improve – water quality by reducing the amount of chemicals used in agriculture, which can eventually find their way into lakes, rivers, streams and other bodies of water.
Organic farming restricts synthetic fertilisers and chemical synthetic pesticides, as well as growth enhancers and antibiotics for animals, thereby reducing the risk of these chemicals finding their way into lakes, rivers, streams and other bodies of water. The risk of eutrophication – where excessive algae growth is caused by the leakage of nutrients into these bodies of water, reduces the oxygen content and threatens the health of aquatic plants and animals – is also reduced.