Cultivations - history, production, trade
The word cultivation means a set of techniques and procedures used in agriculture for the cultivation of a plant and the production of fruit and vegetables.
Among the different kind of cultivations there are: the traditional farming, the biodynamic farming, the hydroponics, the organic farming and the integrated farming.
Traditional farming is a cultivation method for which a lot of technical means, such as fertilizers, agrochemicals and machines, chemical products and human labour are necessary. The purpose of traditional farming is basically to try to obtain the maximum output from cultivations, therefore to obtain considerable harvestings quickly. For this reason all the natural difficulties are tackled employing chemical fertilizers and synthetic pesticides.
Hidroponics is a cultivation technique without soil that instead uses different under layers different from soil: in hydroponic cultivations, the plant is watered automatically with a nutritive solution composed of water, fertilizers and other inorganic compounds that are necessary for the mineral nutrition of the plant in an easy, clean, cheap way and above all without damaging the environment, allowing controlled productions both as to quality and to hygiene throughout all the year. Hydroponic cultivation without soil substitute the soil with a physical environment where the parameters are easier to control, promising the protection of roots from atmospheric agents: in some hydroponic techniques, the substrate is completely replaced by a thin liquid film in which roots can develop. Hydroponics has many advantages, among which the fact that we remove the contact of the plant with pathogen agents of the soil: for this reasons plants cultivated with hydroponic cultivation are in general more thriving and provide higher productions because of a better control of the nourishing state. Hydroponics is also eco-friendly, as it permits to save up to 40% of water, compared to the traditional farming, and does not require the employment of pesticides, while weed killers are not used at all. There are different categories of hydroponics: they usually differ for the presence and the type of substrate, or according to the watering method used to provide the nourishing solution to the plant (subirrigation or drip irrigation), as well as depending on the employment or not of the recirculating nutritive solution after drainage (open or closed cycle).
Biodynamic farming is a cultivation method based on the world vision developed by the Swiss philosopher Rudolf Steiner: he studied different subjects, among which agriculture, stating a series of general principles that would have been developed into the biodynamic doctrine.
The aim of this philosophy was to help nature in order to obtain a more and more fertile soil, for the benefit of future generations, and quality food that nourishes human beings and gives them health: the goals of biodynamic farming consist in keeping soil fertile, plants in good health using completely natural substances that give life, as in this method chemical and toxic substances are not permitted. The main points treated by Steiner concerned the preparation of a manure of maximum output: in order to improve the quality of the soil and the quality of the harvesting, substances of natural origins especially treated and called "preparations" should be employed. This preparations ate divided in preparations for heaps, obtained starting from couch grass, and spray compost.
Biodynamic farming and its principles have been hold valid from a scientific point of view and they have possible positive effects on problems such as pollution and exploitation of the Earth resources: for this reason nowadays, biodynamic farming is performed in more than 40 countries all over the world, in all the climatic areas and has been recognized as one of the most sustainable biological existing approaches.
Integrated farming is a farming system of production with a low environmental impact which provides for the employment of all the factors of farming production with the aim to reduce to the minimum the necessity of technical means that have an impact on the environment and on the health of consumers: in particular, the concept of integrated fight is applied for the protection of cultivations of fruit and vegetables, by drastically reducing the employment of agrochemicals, taking different precautions. Aim of the integrated farming is to keep the dangerous organism within a threshold beyond which the same organism causes damages: integrated farming implies the employment of varieties that are more resistant to attacks of insects, the employment of crop rotation and a particular attention to the elimination of infected plants. Furthermore, integrated farming does not use a lot or does not use at all agrochemicals, and in any case they are not dangerous or harmful for human beings. The fight against harmful insects can however be done through pheromones, whose aim is to sexually confuse insects, or through autocidal control, such as the sterile insect technique (SIT). Also the biological fight is particularly used. It is the introduction of another insect that is a natural predator of the harmful insect that has to be controlled. Integrated farming farming is considered the most evolved way to have a sustainable agriculture, as it optimized the resources and the available technical means to obtain the quantity of production necessary according to the demand of fruit and vegetable products on the national and international market. On the other hand the limits of the integrated farming are major costs of production, the necessity of a qualified technical assistance, and an objective difficulty to certify the fruit and vegetable product obtained under integrated farming. In fact, even though the integrated farming is recognized and regulated by the European Union, nowadays it is regulated only regionally.
Organic farming is a system of cultivation and a method of production that considers the farming company as a complex agricultural ecosystem whose aim is to obtain high quality food products from a nutritional point of view, by employing products already present in nature, therefore without using synthetic chemical products, respecting the environment where the company and the consumer live. The production philosophy of an organic company is oriented to the quality of the product as well as to the predilection of local plants and to the recovery of typical productions that are dying out.
Organic products are usually healthier than other, because of the agronomic techniques adopted and in particular for not employing synthetic chemical substances. Therefore organic farming has become a phenomenon of large consumption, conquering new market areas and entering all selling channels.
The kind of labels for fruit and vegetable products from organic farming are three: 95% organic, 70% organic and conversion product.
In Italy and Europe organic farming farming is regulated by a EU regulation, the Reg. EEC No 2092/91 establishing what is necessary to do or is possible to use to certify and sell a fruit and vegetable product as coming from organic farming. On the package label of fruit and vegetable products cultivated under organic farming there must necessarily be written “product from organic farming” and the related European logo provided for by the EC Regulation 331/2000..