Introduction

Organic farming (OF) has developed as a reaction to negative effects of modern industrialized agriculture in the twentieth century. These effects, mostly caused by use of agrochemicals, are contamination of individual components of the environment, decrease in soil fertility, decrease in plant vitality and immunity, decrease in bio diversity, and lowered quality of food with negative effect on human health. Another reason for OF development was intensive animal industry which brought cruelty to animals, increased use of medicaments, use of low quality feed, bad health condition of animals, and their reduced life span (Figure 1). The final impact of industrialized agriculture is rural depopulation. OF methods, as an alternative to conventional agricultural routines, were mostly developed by farmers themselves, then verified in practice and afterward proved by means of science and research. Nowadays, OF is defined by law and gov ernment issued trademarks for organic foodstuffs. OF is financially supported within rural development programs (agroenvironmental and food quality programs). Both organically farmed acreage and the organic food market are growing continuously.

Multifunctional agriculture

Economic efficiency

Relying on local resources

Economic aims

Long-term security of yield

Self-provided workforce

Regional self-sufficiency in foodstuffs

Fulfilling local needs

Social aims

Ecological aims

Biodiversity

Functioning ecosystems

Saving rural communities

Stability

Figure 1 The importance of OF, where OF complies with all demands required by contemporary invariable (multifunctional agriculture). Adapted from Altieri MA (1994) Biodiversity and Pest Management in Agroecosystems. New York: Haworth Press.

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