Functional aspect of an ecosystem

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Functional aspect of an ecosystem



The functional aspect of an ecosystem can be studied in terms of energy flow,

  • food chain,
  • nutrient or biogeochemical cycles
  •    flow of energy in the ecosystem


  • Along with nutrients, energy is the main source of life. The most important energy source for life on Earth is, of course, the Sun, but other energy inputs are cosmic radiation, the Moon’s tides, and forces from Earth such as gravity and heat. Secondary sources of energy available to ecosystems are currents, waves, currents, and wind. Ecosystems use a higher grade of energy to dissipate a lower grade of energy ie heat.

Green plants are able to combine CO2 and H2O into carbohydrates by absorbing light in pigment cells (containing chlorophyll):

6 CO2 + 12 H2O 2.8MJ C6H12O6 + 6CO2 + 6 H2O

(by air) (by air)

These carbohydrates, in one form or another, constitute the living tissue or biomass of plants. However, not all the energy fixed in this way is retained. Plants also require energy for maintenance activities. This energy consumption is called respiration and can be represented generally as follows:

6CO2 + 12 H2O metabolic enzymes C6H12O6 + 6 H2O + energy

(by air) (by air)

Thus biomass accumulation in green plants (or net primary production) = energy fixed in photosynthesis – energy lost by respiration.

Typically, biological communities consist of what are called “functional groups”. A functional group is a biological category composed of organisms that perform mostly the same type of function in a system; For example, all photosynthetic plants or primary producers form a functional group. membership in the functional group on

depends not so much on who the actual players (species) are, only on what function they perform in the ecosystem.

As discussed solar energy is converted into chemical energy through photosynthesis by plants, which also incorporate many inorganic elements in their protoplasm.


and compounds. These green plants are later grazed on by heterotrophs. All the food that we or other animals consume are produced directly or indirectly by plants. The energy we get from plants by burning wood or eating them is a representation of the solar energy captured by the plants. We depend on the accumulated resources of solar energy



food chain and food web

Very little is wasted in a self-sustaining ecosystem. Herbivores, like grasshoppers, eat the leaves of plants. In return, carnivores like snakes or frogs eat the locusts. Other animals such as hawks may eat these carnivores. When any of these organisms die, the decomposers in turn consume them. After the organisms decompose, their nutrients are eventually taken up and used by green plants. Thus, matter is transferred through the ecosystem. Nutrients are transferred from producers to consumers in a feeding relationship known as a food chain. Every organism that eats or decomposes another is thus a link in that chain.



Food chains are often unstable because changes in the population size of any species can affect the chain in either direction. For example, if a primary consumer depends on a plant species for its food, the loss of that species may result in the death of the consumer. As an example, giant pandas are nearly extinct because they feed almost exclusively on bamboo shoots. These plants are in short supply as panda habitat is being destroyed by humans.

Such simple food chains are rare in nature. Food chains are often observed in ecosystems that are attempting to re-establish themselves following volcanic activity or fires. Food chains are also observed in newly formed areas such as new islands. The different trophic levels of producers and consumers in a food chain are called trophic levels. Producers belong to the first trophic level, primary consumers to the second, secondary consumers to the third. In nature, most organisms depend on a variety of food sources for their nutritional needs. Animals can eat many different types of food at the same or different trophic levels. Depending on the availability of specific foods, foxes may eat mice, rabbits, berries, or insects. Sea otters eat sea urchins, mussels, and abalone. Bears eat plants as well as fish.

Omnivores are both primary and secondary consumers depending on whether they are eating plant or animal matter. Complex interrelationships begin to develop involving different trophic levels. Food chains are linked together in a more complex food sequence known as a food web. Food webs represent a more diverse food sequence and provide greater stability to the ecosystem.

Figure 1.3 depicts a simple food chain, in which sunlight energy captured by photosynthesis of plants flows from trophic level to trophic level through the food chain. The atrophic level is composed of organisms that live in the same way, that is, they are all primary producers (plants), primary consumers (herbivores) or secondary consumers (carnivores). Dead tissue and waste products are produced at all levels. Scavengers, detritivores and decomposers collectively account for the use of all such “waste”. Consumers of carcasses and fallen leaves may be other animals, such as crows and beetles, but ultimately it is the microbes that do the work of decomposition. Let’s fulfill Not surprisingly, the amount of primary production varies greatly from place to place due to differences in the amount of solar radiation and the availability of nutrients and water.



  Energy transfer through the food chain is inefficient. This means that less energy is available at the herbivore level than at the primary producer level, less at the carnivore level, and so on. The result is a pyramid of energy with important implications for understanding the amount of life that can be supported.

Usually when we think of food chains we imagine green plants, herbivores etc. These are called grazing food chains, as living plants are directly consumed.

grass grasshopper bird hawk

In many circumstances the major energy input is not the green plants, but the dead organic matter of animals and plant bodies decomposed by microorganisms and then decomposed organisms. These are called detritus food chain. Examples include forest floor or woodland streams, salt marshes, and most obviously in forested areas.


Ocean floor in very deep regions where sunlight is extinguished thousands of meters above.

The organization of biological systems is shown by a simple “chain”.

is much more complex than is presented. Often, several different species may use the same item for food and one species may eat different species of food organisms.

food web

A food chain represents only part of the energy flow through an ecosystem and our ecosystem may consist of several interrelated food chains. These relationships are called food webs (Fig. 1.4).

Food webs can be very complex, where it appears that “everything is connected to everything,” and it is important to understand what the most important relationships are in a particular food web.




Function: Energy flow and cycling of materials. these are the two processes


Connected, but they are not quite the same.

Energy usually enters biological systems in the form of light energy from the sun and is converted into chemical energy in organic molecules by cellular processes including photosynthesis and respiration in producers. This energy is transferred to the consumers and ultimately the energy is converted into heat energy in life processes. This energy is dissipated, meaning it is lost to the system as heat; Once lost it cannot be recycled. Without a constant input of solar energy, biological systems would quickly shut down. Thus the earth is an open system with respect to energy.












ecological pyramid

A food chain can be represented quantitatively (with numbers) as a pyramid of numbers, one for the previous food chain at the bottom.

Foxes are smaller in number than rabbits; Which makes sense because a fox must eat many rabbits in order to get enough energy to survive.

An ecological pyramid shows the relative sizes of different components at different trophic levels of a food chain. A trophic level refers to each stage (shown as a horizontal bar on the ecological pyramid). We use three types of ecological pyramids: numbers, biomass, and energy.


The pyramid of numbers shows the raw number of each species at each trophic level. The top example is a typical food chain with a large number of producers but a decreasing number of consumers. However, if the producer was a tree followed by insects, the bottom bar would appear smaller because many organisms feed on a tree. In this example a pyramid of biomass is more useful because the tree is very large.

In the following example, the pyramid of both numbers and biomass shows a small productive bar; It was discussed under the previous heading – it makes no sense. This is because phytoplankton reproduce very quickly. However, when we


Representing this information in a pyramid of energy, we get a real pyramid.

Plotting the energy will always give a perfect pyramid because it is impossible to create new energy so a trophic level will always be smaller than the one below it.


  nutrient cycling


Nutrients within an ecosystem can cycle between the biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and atmosphere. For each element, the exact pattern of cycling is quite unique and may involve a number of abiotic and biotic processes. About 20 to 30 nutrients are required for metabolic processes in different types of organisms. The most commonly used nutrients are called macronutrients.


  Carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen and phosphorus are the most common macronutrients and they usually account for more than 1% of an organism’s dry weight. Essential elements in very small amounts are called micronutrients. Nutrients can enter or leave the nutrient stores of an ecosystem through various processes.


In a stable ecosystem, nutrient losses are generally small. Disturbance can substantially increase the amount of nutrients removed from an ecosystem. The main processes that add nutrients to ecosystems are weathering, atmospheric input, and biological fixation. Nutrient losses in ecosystems can occur through erosion, leaching, gaseous emissions, and migration of biomass and through harvesting. The magnitude of nutrient loss in an ecosystem can often exceed input.

The most active interface of nutrient cycling within an ecosystem is the top layer of soil. There are many types of organisms found in the soil layer whose primary function in the ecosystem is to decompose organic matter. Decomposition breaks down complex organic molecules into much smaller inorganic molecules and atoms. This inorganic matter can re-enter the ecosystem when it is absorbed by plant roots for metabolism and growth. Soil also receives nutrient inputs through organic fixation, atmospheric input, and weathering.

Elements follow a circular path from the abiotic environment to living organisms and back again to the environment. This two-way exchange between living and non-living components within an ecosystem is called a cycle. Chemicals are continuously removed from the atmosphere, water and land. They are used by living organisms and then released in one form or the other.

The living return to the environment. abiogeochemical cycle is cyclic motion



of chemicals between living and non-living components of the environment. Biogeochemical cycles are also called nutrient cycling.

Organisms require various chemical elements for growth and maintenance. The Earth contains only a certain amount of these chemical elements. It is important that they are recycled quickly and efficiently. Elements such as carbon, oxygen and nitrogen are found in large quantities in the oceans and atmosphere. these elements

Often these areas are found combined with each other. Biogeochemical cycles are often classified by the storage site or reservoir of the element. Carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen participate in the gaseous cycle because of their atmospheric reservoirs and the fact that these elements are most often found in gaseous form. The elements phosphorus, sulphur, calcium, magnesium and copper are found bound in the solid matter of the earth’s crust. These elements are involved in sedimentary cycles because they are usually found in solid form in rock.



The hydrologic cycle is the movement of water from the ocean to the land and back again to the ocean. The movement of elements within and between air, land and water reservoirs is slow compared to the movement of these elements between organisms.

Many elements are found combined in nature. Thus, biogeochemical cycles are often interconnected. Oxygen makes up about 20 percent of the atmospheric gases. Carbon, in the form of carbon dioxide, makes up about 0.03 percent of those gases.


  Oxygen is part of the water molecule. Both carbon dioxide and oxygen dissolve in water. In photosynthesis, carbon dioxide and water combine to form organic compounds. During the process, oxygen is released. Organisms use oxygen in aerobic respiration, releasing carbon dioxide and water.

Elements such as carbon, nitrogen or phosphorus enter living organisms in different ways. Plants obtain elements from the surrounding environment, water or soil. Animals can also obtain elements directly from the physical environment, but usually they obtain these primarily as a result of consumption of other organisms. These materials are transformed biochemically within the bodies of organisms, but sooner or later, due to excretion or decomposition, they revert to the inorganic state. Bacteria often accomplish this process through a process called decomposition.

These substances are not destroyed or lost during decomposition, so the Earth is a closed system with respect to the elements. elements cycle endlessly between them

Biotic and abiotic states within an ecosystem. Those elements whose supply limits biological activity are called nutrients.





carbon cycle

The carbon cycle models the movement and storage of carbon in the biosphere, lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere. Carbon is stored in the biosphere in the form of living organisms; In the form of carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere; as soil organic matter in the lithosphere, as fossil fuel deposits, and as sedimentary rock deposits; and in the form of carbon dioxide gas in the oceans and in the form of calcium carbonate shells in marine organisms.

Carbon dioxide moves from the atmosphere to producers who use it in photosynthesis. Consumers and decomposers feed on producers and each other. Carbon is passed through the food chain. During respiration, these organisms release carbon dioxide back into the atmosphere or water. Carbon dioxide also enters the atmosphere when fossil fuels and wood are burned. Volcanic activity and weathering of carbon-rich rocks also add carbon dioxide.

A large amount of carbon is found in sea water. It dissolves as carbon dioxide or is deposited as calcium carbonate in rocks and animal shells. Carbon dioxide diffuses from the water into the atmosphere. It returns to the water through rain. The remains of plants and animals can be condensed into carbonate rock. Limestone is a typical example.

Humans have altered the carbon cycle through the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and land-use change. The net result of these processes is an increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

nitrogen cycle

The nitrogen cycle is one of the most important nutrient cycles with respect to terrestrial ecosystems. Despite the fact that the atmosphere contains 78 percent nitrogen gas, most plants are limited in their growth due to the availability of nitrogen. Only a few organisms have the ability to use atmospheric nitrogen. Most organisms prefer nitrogen in the solid nitrate form. Besides the atmosphere, other important stores of nitrogen are the soil and the organic molecules of life. Nitrogen is added to ecosystems mainly in solid form


Biochemical determination by specialized microorganisms such as bacteria, actinomycetes and cyanobacteria. Bacteria convert nitrogen gas into nitrate or nitrite ions, ammonia gas or ammonium ions. Nitrates dissolve in soil water. They are taken up by plant roots and used to produce proteins and other organic nitrogen molecules.


These nitrogenous molecules pass through the food chain

They are Animal wastes are converted into ammonia or ammonium ions by decomposers. The ammonium ions are converted to nitrites or nitrates and used by the bacteria for energy. Other bacteria can convert ammonia, nitrates, or nitrites back to nitrogen gas.

Humans have also severely altered the nature of this nutrient cycle, generally by making nitrogen more available in solid forms.

phosphorus cycle

Phosphates in rock and soil are taken up by plants. Plants are eaten by herbivores and the phosphorus passes through the food chain. Phosphates re-enter the soil in the form of animal waste. This part of the cycle is relatively intense and localized.

Some phosphates enter water systems and eventually find their way into the ocean. Phosphate is used by algae and the algae are eaten by fish. In turn, the fish are eaten by the birds.


The waste of birds, rich in phosphorus, accumulates on the islands. Some phosphorus is washed into the oceans. Ocean sediments attract and bind phosphorus very strongly. Over long periods of time, phosphorus returns to land as mountains or islands rise from sea level. As phosphorus is weathered or degraded, it is returned to the oceans or passed through the food chain. This part of the cycle can take up to a million years.








Ecosystems have a unique property of self-regulation. Ecosystems consist of various sub-components of biotic and abiotic nature, which are interconnected and inter-dependent, having an inherent quality to resist change. This means that the ecosystem has the ability to tolerate external disturbance or stress. This property is known as homeostasis. Ecosystems have a definite structure consisting of certain types of living organisms, which have a definite place and role in the ecosystem, as defined by their position in food-


Together, in interaction with abiotic components, these ecosystems perform functions of energy flow and material cycling, and ultimately yield a desired output in the form of productivity. Each ecosystem can operate in a range of conditions depending on its homeostasis (ability to resist change). Within its homeostatic plateau, the ecosystem has the ability to trigger certain feedback mechanisms that help maintain ecosystem functioning by countering disturbances. This type of divergence-reactive feedback is known as a negative feedback mechanism.

Such feedback loops help in maintaining the ecological balance of the ecosystem. A balanced ecosystem consists of basic biological components that have evolved over time to suit environmental conditions. Under a given set of physical environment, the flow of energy and the cycling of nutrients in such an ecosystem occur in a definite pattern.



However, as the external perturbation or stress increases beyond a certain threshold (exceeding the homeostatic plateau of the ecosystem), the equilibrium of the ecosystem is disrupted. This is because now another type of feedback mechanism, which is the divergence acceleration mechanism, starts working. Such responses are called positive feedback mechanisms, which further exacerbate the perturbation caused by the external stress and thus drive the ecosystem away from its optimal conditions, ultimately leading to the collapse of the system.





  different types of ecosystems

There are basically two types of ecosystems; terrestrial and aquatic. All other sub-ecosystems come under these two.

terrestrial ecosystem

Terrestrial ecosystems are found everywhere except water bodies. They are broadly classified as:

forest ecosystem

These are ecosystems where abundance of vegetation (plants) is observed and a large number of organisms live in relatively small areas. Therefore, the density of life in forest ecosystems is very high. Any small change in the ecosystem can affect the entire balance and cause the ecosystem to collapse. You can also see amazing diversity in the fauna of these ecosystems. They are again divided into certain types.


Tropical Evergreen Forests: Tropical forests that receive an average of 80 to 400 inches of rainfall in a year. These forests are characterized by dense vegetation consisting of tall trees of different levels. Each level shelters different types of animals.

Tropical Deciduous Forest: Dense shrubs and bushes rule here with a wide range of trees. These types of forests are found in many parts of the world and are home to a great diversity of flora and fauna.

Temperate Evergreen Forests: These have very few trees but are made of ferns and mosses. Trees have pointed leaves which reduce transpiration.

Temperate Deciduous Forests: These forests are found in moist temperate regions with sufficient rainfall. Winters and summers are well defined and trees shed their leaves during winter.

Let’s take

Taiga: Located just south of the Arctic regions, taiga is characterized by evergreen conifers. While the temperature remains below zero for about six months, the rest of the year it buzzes with insects and migratory birds.




Desert ecosystem

Desert ecosystems are found in areas with less than 25 cm of annual rainfall. They occupy about 17 percent of all land on the planet. Due to very high temperature, strong sunlight and less water availability, flora and fauna are very poorly developed and rare. Vegetation is mainly shrubs, bushes, some grasses

The leaves and stems of these plants are modified to conserve water. The best-known desert plants are succulents such as prickly-leafed cacti. Animal life includes insects, reptiles, birds, camels, all of which are adapted to xeric (desert) conditions.

grassland ecosystem

Grasslands are found in both temperate and tropical regions of the world but the ecosystems differ slightly. The area is mainly grassland with a small amount of shrubs and trees. The main vegetation is grasses, legumes and plants belonging to the composite family. Many grazing animals, herbivores and insectivores are found in grasslands. There are two main types of grassland ecosystems:


  1. Savannah: These tropical grasslands are seasonally dry with few individual trees. They support a large number of grazers and hunters.
  2. Prairie – This is a temperate grassland. It is completely devoid of trees and big bushes. Prairies can be classified as tall grass, mixed grass and short grass prairie.

The Mountain Ecosystem

The mountainous land provides a scattered but diverse range of habitats that house a large range of plants and animals. Higher altitudes usually have harsher environmental conditions, and only treeless alpine vegetation is found. The animals living here have thick fur coats that protect them from the cold and hibernate during the winter months. The lower slopes are usually covered with coniferous forests.

aquatic ecosystem

An aquatic ecosystem is an ecosystem located in a body of water. It also includes aquatic fauna, vegetation and the properties of water. There are two types of aquatic ecosystems, marine and freshwater.





marine ecosystem

Marine ecosystems are the largest ecosystems with coverage of approximately 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the planet’s water. Marine ecosystems have high levels of dissolved salts and minerals in their waters. The different divisions of the marine ecosystem are:

Oceanic: The relatively shallow part of the ocean that lies on a continental shelf.

Deep: Bottom or deep water.

Benthic: Bottom substrates.

Inter-tidal: The area between high and low tide.

Estuary: Semi-enclosed water body that has a free connection to the open ocean, thus highly influenced by tidal action, and within which seawater mixes with fresh water from land drainage.

coral reefs: formed by huge colonies of tiny animals called polyps that are close



Relatives of jellyfish. They gradually build up reefs by secreting a protective crust of limestone.

Hydrothermal vents: where chemosynthetic bacteria form the basis of food.

A wide variety of organisms are found in marine ecosystems including brown algae, dino-flagellates, corals, cephalopods, echinoderms, and sharks.

freshwater ecosystem

Unlike marine ecosystems, freshwater ecosystems cover only 0.8% of the Earth’s surface and contain 0.009% of the total water. There are three basic types of freshwater ecosystems:

Lentic: Still or slow-moving water such as pools, ponds, and lakes.

Lotic: Fast flowing water such as streams and rivers.

Wetlands: Places where the soil is saturated or waterlogged for at least some of the time.

These ecosystems are home to amphibians, reptiles and about 41% of the world’s fish species. Fast-moving turbid waters typically contain higher concentrations of dissolved oxygen, which supports greater biodiversity than the slower-moving waters of pools.

ecosystem geography

There are many different ecosystems: rain forests and tundra, coral reefs and ponds, grasslands and deserts. Climate differences from place to place largely determine the types of ecosystems we see. How terrestrial ecosystems appear to us is largely influenced by the dominant vegetation.


The term “biome” is used to describe the dominant vegetation type spread over a large geographic area, such as tropical rain forest, grassland, tundra, etc. It is never used for aquatic systems, such as ponds or coral reefs. It always refers to a vegetation range that is dominant over a very large geographic scale, and is somewhat broader than an ecosystem.


The important message is that there are different interactions between plants, animals and microorganisms – all being implemented by the principles described above.








environmental protection


Three specific, distinct but related areas fell out of the mainstream domain of economic theory

in the last six decades. They are: (i) environmental economics; (ii) Natural resource economics and

(iii) Ecological economics. While the emergence of environmental economics can be traced to the 1960s, natural resource economics made its presence felt in the 1950s with the founding of Resources for the Future (RFF) in 1952. Ecological economics was solidified by the late 1980s. All of these offshoots originated from the basic premise that the mainstream neo-classical model of market-based allocation systems was not able to incorporate the environmental restrictions that were becoming increasingly apparent around the world.


Even though concern about nature and the uncontrolled consumption of its resources emerged as the initial motivation for the emergence of these three distinct branches of economics, the approaches taken by each of them have been characteristically different. Let us know about such differences. Natural resource economics is specifically concerned with the unrestrained use of resources provided by nature which are divisible in consumption among their users but restricted in supply, in view of the fact that they are produced by nature and their availability is a natural factor in their development. subject to rate. Some such examples are: forestry, fisheries, mineral resources etc. However, being divisible, they are allocable on margin. Furthermore, natural resources are used as inputs in the production process and serve the dynamism of the economic system.


  Environmental economics, on the other hand, deals with environmental resources that are not divisible among users in terms of consumption. Air, water bodies – such as rivers, oceans – are some typical examples of environmental resources. In contrast, natural resources are being used as inputs, environmental resources are affected by the activities of the economic system – pollution. Ecological economics – a relatively new entrant in the field of knowledge – was intended to bring together economists and ecologists to study the interrelationships between the socio-economic and the environment.

ecosystem. “Ecological economists are clearly inclined to consider ethical and philosophical issues, such as intra-generational and inter-generational equity, and even, in some cases, to recognize non-human values.” (Beder 2011, p. 146)


One thing is worth noting here. Even though all these branches were developed to take care of some of the shortcomings of the neo-classical model, natural resource economics and environmental economics adapted to the fundamental principles of neo-classical economics. Ecological economics – although claimed to be an attempt to integrate economics and ecology and hence a departure from neo-classical economics – is often alleged to be influenced by the fundamental philosophy of mainstream economic thought centered around the concept of markets.




Fundamentals of Neo Classical Economics

The fundamental structure of neo-classical economics is characterized by the existence of a perfectly competitive market for everything produced and exchanged in it. A market system consists of several such perfectly competitive markets. economic efficiency and progress are maximized if all


Markets work in a perfectly competitive manner. However, the existence of a perfectly competitive market is based on certain assumptions. they are:


  • Existence of a complete set of perfect markets: All goods and services that can be exchanged through a market system must be exchanged individually through a competitive market. The efficiency argument in favor of a market system would collapse in the event that a market either does not exist for a product (service) or operates inefficiently (in the sense of being imperfect).
  • Rationality: Every participant in the market, either as a producer or a consumer, seeks to maximize his objective – satisfaction while consuming and profit while producing. This is possible because everyone prefers more satisfaction or benefit to less and no one is satisfied with what is available.
  • Perfect Knowledge: Both the producer and the consumer have perfect knowledge while taking economic decisions. Each of them not only knows the prices of all goods and services obtained from the market, but also knows everything about their qualitative characteristics. Furthermore, they are aware of the behavior of other buyers and sellers operating in the market. They also know about the steps taken by the government. Hence there is no risk or uncertainty about the future and the predictions made by them about future outcomes are absolutely correct.
  • Property rights: The property rights over the product or service exchanged through the market are well defined and such rights transfer from the seller to the buyer in an instant and cost-free manner, when exchanged in the market. it happens.

Diminishing returns: Marginal satisfaction from an increased unit of a

As its consumption level increases, the good or service gradually goes down.

  • Sales and purchase agreements

Neta: This condition is necessary to ensure equilibrium. In the case of a salesperson walking in with an inventory, they are considered to have been sold or not produced. To ensure such equality, it is also assumed that transactions are instantaneous and costless.

  • Unique Equilibrium: Equilibrium is achieved when both buyer and seller are satisfied with the maximum objectives – satisfaction for the buyer and profit for the seller. Convexity in the choice and production sets ensures that the equilibrium is unique with no possibility of multiple equilibria.
  • Multiple participants with freedom to enter and leave the market: To ensure an optimal equilibrium, it is imperative that neither buyers nor sellers dominate the market process and influence the price. This assumption takes care of such requirement. Otherwise the market may result in an inefficient equilibrium.
  • Freedom of demand and supply: The behavior of buyers is different from that of sellers, so that the act of buying does not affect the sale, and vice versa. They interact only through the mechanism of the market.
  • Only “goods” are exchanged: all goods and services produced and sold provide positive utility to consumers and therefore positive profits to producers. There is no possibility of producing a “bad” that, when consumed, has the potential to give negative utility to buyers.
  • And finally, no externality: Externality refers to a situation where the act of exchange between buyer and seller does not affect the well-being or interest of any third person. This condition is ensured by the assumption that all consumers are equal in terms of their choice patterns and


So all the vendors are also in terms of their production behaviour. Moreover, the economic activity of one does not affect the activity of the other. Thus an externality can be considered a consequence of an economic activity that affects other parties without being reflected in market prices.



The birth of environmental economics

Environmental economics enters the field as a new discipline because examples are found when many of these assumptions needed to validate market-centered arguments of efficiency are found to be untenable in the case of environmental resources. Let’s take a look at some of the assumptions once again.


  • Existence of a full set of precise markets: Markets do not exist for many wastes generated from a production process and dumped into the air, land or water as pollutants. Therefore their economic values are uncertain.
  • Full knowledge: Neither the producer nor the consumer has full knowledge about the implications and effects of pollutants. So they cannot decide on their optimal choice.
  • Property rights: It is difficult to clearly define property rights over these outflows.

Diminishing returns: This assumption may not be valid for a product – in fact, pollution – that gives negative satisfaction on consumption.

  • Equity of sale and purchase: Environmental economics deals with products that have producers but no willing buyers.
  • Unique equilibrium: The production set of environmental pollutants can be non-convex, giving rise to the possibility of multiple equilibria.
  • Multiple participants with freedom to enter and leave the market: Producers dominate the exchange process because no market exists for environmental pollutants.
  • There is only the possibility of producing a “bad” that has the potential to provide negative utility to buyers when consumed.
  • Environmental goods, being indivisible in consumption, are often subject to externalities.



Analytical Approaches Used in Environmental Economics

The fact that environmental goods do not clearly obey many of the fundamental premises of neoclassical economics led to the birth of a separate branch of knowledge known as environmental economics. As we shall see, the analytical approach to this new branch of knowledge has been primarily intended to bring ideas for making environmental goods accountable to the fundamental premises of the neo-classical market-driven paradigm in order to address issues related to environmental goods. rigorous analytical models to do this. grow meaningfully. Emphasis is placed on the creation of virtual markets for environmental goods, on the one hand, to address the issue of their efficient pricing, and on the other, the identification of sources of market failure in allocating resources efficiently between different uses and resources. Can be done


  Designing policies to enable government to intervene to ‘correct’ market failure. Such an effort is made up of three phases.


Step 1: Make environmental goods divisible and capable of being distributed among people who are willing to pay relevant (equilibrium) prices to consume them. In other words, create a market for a specific environment


good, construction supply and demand curve, take

They interact with each other and hence determine the equilibrium price and equilibrium quantity supplied.


Step 2: Determine the appropriate level of environmental protection using various environmental commodity assessment methods. Such evaluation methods are generally

But they construct imaginary or manifest demand curves for environmental goods and compare them with the cost of supply, which includes the opportunity cost of environmental resources and the cost incurred to protect them. Several methods are used for evaluation. Some of such widely used methods are: traveling cost method, contingency valuation method and breakeven pricing. See the boxes below for brief details about these methods.


Step 3: Decide on the optimum level of environmental protection and achieve it in the most efficient way. Once the most efficient level of environmental protection has been identified using theory and methods, the final step involves the identification of measures to achieve such desired level of protection. The design of an effective environmental policy paves the way for achieving such protection-related goals. It argued that the best way to achieve a desired level of environmental protection is by internalizing environmental externalities into the market in which they originate. Such internalization can be effected by taxing those involved in environmental damage or by subsidizing efforts to improve environmental quality, based on the equilibrium value derived from the analysis of the virtual market created through various valuation methods developed in the literature. Is. The alternative is to create “real” markets for environmental goods and services.


Box: 1 – Travel Cost Methodology

The travel cost method is used to estimate the economic use values associated with ecosystems or sites used for recreation. The basic premise of the travel cost method is that the time it takes people to visit a site and the travel cost incurred represents the “price” of access to the site. Thus, people’s willingness to pay to visit a site can be estimated based on the number of visits they make at various travel costs. It is similar to estimating people’s willingness to pay for a marketable commodity based on the quantity demanded at different prices.

a case study the situation

Hell Canyon on the Snake River separating Oregon and Idaho offers spectacular views and outdoor amenities to visitors from across the country and supports important fish and wildlife habitat. It also has economic potential as a site to develop hydroelectricity. To generate hydroelectricity, a dam would need to be built behind which a large lake would form. The dam and resulting lake would significantly and permanently alter the ecological and aesthetic characteristics of Hell Canyon.

the challenge

During the 1970s, there was great controversy over the future of Hell’s Canyon. Environmental economists at Resources for the Future in Washington, DC were asked to develop an economic analysis to preserve Hell’s Canyon in its natural state in the face of its obvious economic potential as a source of hydroelectricity.


The researchers estimated that the net economic value (cost savings) of hydroelectric generation at Hell’s Canyon was $80,000 more than a “next best” site that was not as environmentally sensitive. They then conducted a low-cost/less accurate travel-cost survey to estimate the recreational value of Hell’s Canyon and concluded that it was approximately $900,000. The researchers did not attempt to strongly defend the assessment methodology they used or the “scientific” credibility of the results. However, at the public hearing, he emphasized that even if the “true value” of recreation at Hell’s Canyon was ten times less than he had estimated, it would still exceed the $80,000 economic payback from generating electricity there, unlike at the other site. Will happen. , He also explained that the overall demand for outdoor recreation, for which supply is limited, was increasing, while there are many other sources of energy available besides Hell’s Canyon hydropower.



Based largely on the results of this non-market evaluation study, Congress voted to halt further development of Hell’s Canyon.





The contingency assessment method involves directly asking people in surveys how much they would be willing to pay for specific environmental services. In some cases, people are asked for the amount of compensation they would be willing to accept for giving up specific environmental services. it is called

“Contingent” valuation, as people are asked to state their willingness to pay, contingent on a specific hypothetical scenario and description of the environmental service.


The contingency assessment method is referred to as a “perceived preference” method, because it asks people to state their values directly, rather than asking them to

Estimating values from real alternatives, as “revealed preference” methods do. The fact that CV is based on what people say they will do, not as people are seen to do, is the source of its greatest strength and one of its greatest weaknesses.


Contingent valuation is one of the only ways to assign dollar values to environmental non-use values – values that do not involve market purchases and cannot involve direct participation. these values

is sometimes called the “idle use” value. They range from basic life support functions related to ecosystem health or biodiversity, to enjoying a natural view or wilderness experience, to the right to appreciate or bequeath options to fish or bird watch in the future. Grandson. This also includes the value that people attach to simply knowing that giant pandas or whales exist.

Case Study – The Economic Value of a Non-Commercial Fish Position

The rivers in the Four Corners region provide 2,465 river miles of critical habitat for nine species of fish that are listed as threatened or endangered. Continued protection of these areas required habitat improvements, such as fish passageways, as well as bypass release of water from dams to mimic the natural water flow needed by the fish. A contingency assessment survey was used to estimate the economic value for the conservation of critical habitat.



Survey respondents were provided with detailed maps that highlighted areas designated as important habitat units for the fish. He was told that some state and federal officials thought that the combined cost of habitat improvements and the ban on hydropower was too costly and had proposed eliminating the critical housing unit designation. He was asked if he would contribute to the Four Corners Region Threatened and Endangered Fish Trust Fund.


Respondents were also told that the effort to raise money would involve contributions from all American taxpayers. If a majority of households voted in favor of the fund, the fish species would be saved from extinction. This would be accomplished through the release of water from federal dams over time for the benefit of the fish, and through the purchase of water rights to maintain stream flow. Furthermore, within the next 15 years, the populations of three species of fish will increase so much that they will no longer be listed as threatened species.


On the other hand, if the U.S. If a majority of households voted not to approve the fund, the critical habitats shown on the map would be eliminated. This would mean that water change activity and maximum power generation would reduce the amount of habitat for these nine fish species. Respondents were told that if this happened, biologists expected that four out of nine fish species would likely be extinct in 15 years.


Questionnaires were mailed to a random sample of 800 households in the Four Corners states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah (with proportions based on the states’ relative populations). Additional 800 families in the remainder of the U.S. The sample was taken from The average willingness to pay was estimated to be $195 per household. When extrapolated to the general population, the value of protecting habitat areas was determined to far exceed the cost.










agricultural ecology




India faced the crisis of food shortage in the decade following the need of green revolution along with other schemes to improve agriculture in India this module What is the symbol and meaning of green revolution , will proceed to decode it. It would also follow one of the overarching narratives of the entire course – namely the ecological cost of human experimentation. The module will conclude with a consideration of the environmental and social costs of the Green Revolution and briefly deal with the current debate around food security in post-Green Revolution India.

Thomas Malthus was one of the first scholars to propose a detailed theory on population growth. In his book ‘An Essay on the Principles of Population’ (1798), Malthus proposed that population increases exponentially i.e. at a geometric rate whereas food production increases only at an arithmetic rate which inevitably leads to increase in food supply to the growing population. Decreases from Hence Malthus’ conclusion predicts a catastrophic scenario in the future where humans will have no resources to survive. To avert or avert this catastrophe, Malthus suggests controls on population growth, classifying them as ‘preventive’ or ‘positive’ checks.


Malthus’ proposition became a harsh reality with the birth of independent India. Not only burdened with considerable economic, social and military upheaval, the newly independent nation also had a mammoth task of providing basic welfare measures for its population. This work also drew its importance from the fact that India faced a food disaster only 4 years before independence during the ‘Famine of Bengal’. It was estimated that around 3–4 million people died of starvation in the Bengal province of erstwhile British India (which included Bangladesh) alone. 2 While it is argued that this was a man-made disaster made possible by British colonial rule, it left its mark in terms of the potential danger of indifferent policy making and execution. This was a clear policy move that prompted the independent nation’s policy-makers to focus on the food supply and to do so in order to actually increase productivity in food production.





Green Revolution in India:



In this context, this work initially began with a focus on land reforms in the immediate years after independence and extended through the 1950s. The culmination of the focus on agriculture, minor irrigation and decentralized approach in implementing the plans was seen in the First Five Year Plan (1951–56), which was considered a success by the government. However, the ideas of modernity and the emphasis on large-scale development led to an emphasis on industry rather than agriculture in the Second Five Year Plan (1956–61), leading to a disaster in food grain production.


However, the shortage of food grains in the country was understood in simple economic terms as “market deficit”, which translated into increased food grain production through sectors that were deemed capable of producing a ‘surplus’.3 In other words, better-off areas will produce more, which will be bought into the market to compensate for areas with less food production. Changes in agricultural practices such as better irrigation facilities, the use of advanced fertilizers and pesticides to increase crop yields, and making way for high-yielding varieties of crops (mainly rice and wheat) are key to addressing the food supply crisis. as seen. It was in this context that the Green Revolution took place in agriculture in India.

The Green Revolution period began roughly around 1967 and lasted for a decade. It was inspired by the development of a new variety of High Yielding Variety (HYV) seed developed by the American scientist Dr. Norman Borlaug. After research work in Mexico where he developed HYV seeds, Dr. Borlaug helped introduce these seeds to the Third World in the mid-20th century. Dr. MS Swaminathan, an Indian geneticist worked closely with Dr. Borlaug in developing these seeds to suit the conditions in India and this led to the era of Green Revolution. This period saw a spectacular increase in food grain production supported by the increase in irrigation facilities, the use of machinery, cheap credit, credit purchases.

Considered a highly advanced technological development, the Green Revolution was particularly appreciated in India



From a food shortage in 1978/79 to a food surplus situation and raising food grain production to a record 131 million tonnes. Promoted profusely under the Intensive Agricultural Development Program (IADP), the HYV seed program covers 5 crops – wheat, millet, paddy, maize and jowar, of which the wheat crop has a yield of about 5 tonnes per hectare as against the normal yield of about 2 tonnes. Record yield of tonnes was observed. .5

The above paragraphs present a one-sided story of the Green Revolution by presenting it as a spectacular success story, a story that is devoid of flaws and ramifications in the decades that followed. The Green Revolution brought significant changes in agricultural practices in India and initially achieved success in food production. However, these changes have also brought changes in the environment and society.


  Before dealing with these changes, this module will try to understand the Green Revolution as a marker of modern practices during an era in which modernization was the dominant development paradigm of the world. Reflecting on this, the module will also bring to light the question of power and seek to understand whether the Green Revolution was just another discourse seeking to perpetuate the dominant power structures in the world.

Cost of Green Revolution and Modern Practices:


The emergence of the modern state saw the rise of various practices to make the population and environment ‘legible’. Accessibility, writes James Scott, is “a central problem in statecraft”. He approaches the problem of readability by drawing a comparison between the pre-modern state, which he calls “partially blind”, which knew little about its subjects, in contrast to the modern state, which was overly concerned with knowing everything. is concentrated.


The modern state apparatus therefore operates through “rationalizing and standardizing what was a social hieroglyph into a legible and administratively more convenient format”, making an administrative function of society possible. The lens through which the modern state viewed its population was similar to that of the environment. Nature thus came to be organized primarily on the basis of a utilitarian principle conducive to the maximization of economic profit. Scott writes “Plants that are valued become “crops”, species that compete with them are stigmatized as “pests”. Thus, trees that are valued become “timber”. while species competing with them become “trash” trees or “underbrush”.



The quotes describe Scott’s efforts in understanding scientific forestry, the same parallel can be drawn to understand the process of Green Revolution in India.

India woke up from the dreams of modernity; Nehru was its original model. Technological innovation and scientific temper as well as a high level of industrial development in a superstitious country were seen as key indicators of progress towards science and the adoption of a modern lifestyle. It was the allure of modernity that once prompted Nehru to declare factories, research laboratories, irrigation dams and power stations the “temples of modern India”. In the face of these transformational changes, agriculture was clearly a major indicator of the backwardness of Indian society. This backwardness in agricultural method

was also considered as a reason for low productivity. Hence the Green Revolution model appeared as a miracle, a harbinger of progress, scientific and technological advancement and most importantly its application in a relatively primitive enterprise – agriculture. The ease of identification of selected areas and crops to implement the program for a very useful utilitarian purpose – surplus in food grain production – played an important administrative tool here.

New practices or systems of knowledge often do not work with existing systems. More often than not, they change them, erasing knowledge systems. Scientific forestry, as described by James Scott, not only provides the state system with a means to understand forest ecosystems in a given region, but also makes it the only valid means of understanding forests.


Traditional systems of knowledge that focused on man’s intimate relationship with the surrounding flora and fauna were replaced by a legitimate and dominant state-expressed way of knowing that same environment. In the Third World, such traditional knowledge systems have disappeared.

MS happened through its interaction with the West, in other words as a result of colonialism. Vandana Shiva argues that the impact of colonialism in the Third World typically leads to the emergence of a “dominated and colonialist culture” that is promoted as universal. They arise from an unrelenting interplay between power and knowledge that seek to preserve established social hierarchies. To maintain structures of domination. 10 existing knowledge systems within a society are dismissed as being “unscientific” and “primitive” that must be changed


Benefit to the society. There were similar voices of condemnation of Indian agricultural practices and hence the Green Revolution was seen as a truly modern innovation.

The Green Revolution changed the “symbiotic relationship between soil, water, farm animals and plants” with a new variety of seeds, chemicals and machines. Traditional patterns of crop growing included rotational cropping patterns; However, the single most important effect of the Green Revolution was the introduction of ‘monoculture’. In other words, the multiple cropping pattern was replaced by the development of genetically modified monocropping pattern.


  This limited the variety of crops grown in an area to only commercially viable cash crops. So the Green Revolution eliminated all the varieties of seeds and crops in the world in one stroke; Labeling some as ‘unscientific’ or ‘primitive’, they were replaced by the HYV variety, which certainly fetched better prices in the globally integrated capitalist market. This led to a significant loss of nutritious crops such as ragi and jowar, which were termed ‘inferior’, and also to the exclusion of the growth of ‘marginal crops’ (those grown alongside staple seeds such as wheat). Most of these were also a source of livelihood for the country’s farmers, who used reeds and grasses (which were declared harmful to the growth of the principal crop and were called ‘weeds’) to make baskets and mats. source of income.


  Thus the Green Revolution was another knowledge system effectively institutionalized to perpetuate the dominance of the Western scientific model, shaped to strengthen and promote commercial viability for the needs of global capital.

The consequences of the Green Revolution are not only environmental but are actually interrelated. The immediate impact on soil and water has long term effects on the health of farmers/farmers and most importantly at the turn of the century has created deep rifts in Indian society.



Ecological Cost of Green Revolution:

Agriculture is nothing but a modification of natural processes to meet the needs of human beings by using the agricultural ecosystem of soil, water and ecological services provided by other members of biota. So whenever mankind has tried to modify agriculture it has basically modified the natural processes or completely replaced it i.e. in the case of Green Revolution. Hence the Green Revolution has resulted in degradation of soil systems, pollution of water and loss of biodiversity. This has resulted in destabilization of agro-ecosystems and many of those areas are no longer



More cultivable due to high toxicity and salinity of soil and water. The success of the Green Revolution came with significant ecological costs. In addition to displacing traditional systems of knowledge and even eliminating the means of livelihood support to farming families, changes in agricultural practices during this period saw changes in soil and air quality – in other words in the ecosystem itself. . The initial success and popularity of HYV seeds inspired the term “miracle seed” in reference to the same. However, they may be more appropriately described as ‘high response seeds’.


Unlike their conventional counterparts, these seeds responded faster to higher doses of spray fertilization and produced higher yields. The success of these seeds was so rapid that within a year of the Green Revolution (1967 to 68), the Mexican variety of wheat was being used in Ludhiana.

A tremendous increase was observed from 18,000 acres to 245,000 acres.13 These seeds were high-maintenance and required a constant supply of fertilizers, pesticides and water, apart from high amounts of credit, for its maintenance. While these HYV seeds did not prove to be very successful with non-wheat crops, crop production in wheat kept its shortcomings hidden.

On the other hand the ecological cost was not hidden and this has added to the agrarian crisis not only in India but across the world. JR McNeil noted that the increased use of insecticides led to the emergence of resistant insects, which actually absorbed these doses. Pesticides used were also often not precise and most effectively ended up in surrounding water systems or in human tis

Thus contaminating both. 14 Heavy fertilizer use has also led to eutrophication of lakes and rivers and altered the genetic diversity of agriculture. Specially in India where crops apart from food have multipurpose use as animal feed, organic manure for soil and also mentioned earlier to help provide subsidiary income to farmer family, facilitated by Green Revolution Agricultural changes brought about by nature changed the balance in the ecosystem itself. According to Vandana Shiva, “the destruction of diversity and the creation of homogeneity simultaneously involves the destruction of stability and the creation of vulnerability.”15

the most important; The monocultures caused by the Green Revolution are practically unsustainable. As mentioned earlier, they cannot co-exist with indigenous or traditional crop varieties, but can only survive by completely replacing them. in a narrow-minded, utilitarian view, commercially viable crops that fetch high prices in the market and may


Shown as trophies, no consideration is given to the harmful effects on the ecosystem. Inspired by an anthropocentric view of nature, the ecosystem appears primarily as ‘mutable’ or is considered to be easily molded according to human needs. While this approach to scientific change sometimes appears necessary and indeed normal, it should be borne in mind that this ‘normal’ actually represents the ‘abnormal’. These changes have resulted in loss of soil nutrients, water logging and land mining problems.

Water is an essential requirement for life which also plays an important role in agriculture. The Green Revolution was heavily dependent on water and was neither seen as a limiting factor nor recognized that contamination would have a boomerang effect. Chemical intensive farming not only required large amounts of water to dissolve fertilizers and pesticides, but also required large amounts of water to produce high-yielding varieties that were foreign to the local environment. This has resulted in over-exploitation of water resources due to excessive need on the one hand and pollution of fresh water resources due to mixing of fertilizers and pesticides on the other.

As a result of the increasing need of water due to the Green Revolution, lakhs of tube wells have been dug to tap the ground water. Over-exploitation of groundwater across the country has resulted in depleting groundwater levels across the country. This has resulted in deeper and deeper wells being built to bring water from the ground which has many environmental implications. Successive governments have also started intensive dam construction across the country to divert water to unirrigated areas. The construction of the dam has resulted in siltation of major river systems in India and has had a huge environmental impact.

Another related aspect resulting in pollution in the watershed is runoff from farms which contain high amounts of fertilizers and chemical pesticides. This runoff water mixes with nearby river streams and other freshwater bodies, resulting in eutrophication of surface water bodies. This has resulted in loss of biodiversity, changes in the composition of biodiversity, invasion of alien species and increase in the level of toxicity in water. This usually leads to algal blooms that deplete the oxygen in the water and sometimes result in blooms of toxic algal species that destroy animals, plant species, and other biota in the water. Another aspect of the water system is contamination of groundwater systems due to the injection of fertilizers and pesticides into the soil that remain in the soil for many years. Fertilizers like urea, phosphate and nitrate remain inside the soil which seeps through the soil into the groundwater over the years.


As a result of which the ground water system gets contaminated. The problems are compounded by the fact that the water is being continuously exploited which increases the concentration of chemicals inside the groundwater. Water resources are being destroyed quantitatively and qualitatively by the use of fertilizers.

The soil system forms the basis and is the most important component of agriculture in which a plant is born, takes nutrients from it to produce food and releases them back into the soil so that it can support crops. The Green Revolution altered the soil by adding artificial chemical nutrients such as urea, phosphorus and potassium to ensure the survival of high-yielding varieties. urea which is a way of fixing nitrogen, breaks down into nitrates which

Is water soluble and remains in the soil and water system for long periods of time. It contaminates the soil and results in loss of soil productivity in the long run. Fertilizer use may increase

TREATS and phosphates in the soil but have had the opposite effect on soil micronutrients which are essential not only to ensure yields but also to ensure the availability of nutrients in crops. The fact is that the Green Revolution largely focused on wheat and rice, which do not have the natural ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, unlike other crops such as pulses and chickpeas.

The most damaging consequences of the environmental effects of the Green Revolution are occurring at the turn of the century. Punjab and Haryana are two states at the forefront of these harmful consequences, which were promoted as success stories during the Green Revolution period. These states today are facing significant agrarian distress with poor soil quality, water scarcity and a good section of farmers looking for opportunities away from agriculture. Decreased yields from agricultural farms subjected to higher and higher doses of fertilizer and chemical use in a desperate bid to increase productivity but to no avail. Wheat-paddy monocultures have eliminated varieties of other crops, most notably cotton in the Sirsa and Fatehabad regions of Haryana.


  Higher-growing species began to dominate the fields, and this resulted in the extinction of low-growing species that were an important part of the web. area and resulted in the loss of essential ecosystem services. This has created its own need for herbicides to control the unwanted growth of high yielding plants. Different types of crops in a field play an important role in controlling different pests and preventing the damage caused by them but due to lack of varieties of crops, the traditional system of pest management also ended. This has increased the demand for chemical pesticides



Which has further killed many helpful bacteria that were helpful in many ecological processes.







Social Cost of Green Revolution:


The Green Revolution was expected to solve the agrarian crisis in India. However, the most profound effect of the Green Revolution has been the increase in social inequalities and inequality, which has led to an increase in the agricultural population in India. Benefiting only the upper class and upper caste sections of the rural population, this agrarian change proved most unfavorable to small-scale farmers and landless labourers.


It should be remembered here that the pattern of land distribution in India has a strong historical precedent in the land tenure systems of Zamindari, Mahalwari and Ryotwari. The Green Revolution generally favored areas where “pre-existing property relations were conducive to capitalist (and peasant) cultivation”. Thus, it generally meant the Mahalwari system (North-West of India – Punjab and Haryana). The land reforms undertaken after independence saw mixed success; Indian democracy was built on shaky foundations and the political system was dominated by the landowning peasants (middle and upper landowning peasants) in rural India. was held together by the support given. In exchange for political support, the state repaid this group by providing subsidies in farming equipment, irrigation, and other agricultural infrastructure. These schemes, culminating with the Green Revolution program, helped those areas which were already very well closed, with many marginal areas in dire need of state support in the process. Apart from the fact that it created regional disparities at the very stage of its implementation, only a few Regions were selected over other regions; this The fruits of the slaughter also fell very unevenly.


J.R. McNeil wrote that, “As a rule, though not without exceptions, the Green Revolution increased inequality among farmers.”18 In almost all areas where it was implemented, the Green Revolution increased credit to farmers. and supported better access to water. In the Indian case, this meant the middle and upper landholding farmers in the country, who incidentally also belonged to the upper castes. Thus the Green Revolution furthered the caste and class divide in rural India in favor of this select group of farmers.

The introduction of HYV seeds in the market along with a range of fertilizers and pesticides gave rise to virtual market monopoly. These products were expensive and therefore out of reach of small farmers. To purchase these products with the expectation


With increased productivity, rural Indians saw an expanding credit market. Small farmers generally obtained loans by staking their property. Crop failure inevitably leaves this vulnerable section of the population poorer due to loss of land and property. These consequences have led to cases of social unrest and complete breakdown of community relations.


Vandana Shiv Focus

especially on the violence caused by the Green Revolution in Punjab. Disillusionment with agricultural policies and centralized control of commodity prices led to a rift between the farming community and the state, leading to an intense conflict. As Shiva puts it, the policies of the Green Revolution “created a moral vacuum where nothing is sacred and everything has

There is a cost” also leading to political conflicts over the capture of state power and tensions centered on centre-state relations.

The most discussed issue at the turn of the century, especially related to the agrarian crisis, was certainly the issue of farmers’ suicides. The states of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab report particularly high rates of farmer suicides. In a case study of 5 states, AR Vasavi (2009) found that most of the victims of farmer suicides were farmers who were trying to transition to Green Revolution agriculture by modernizing agricultural practices. This included purchase of HYV seeds, fertilizers, change in irrigation techniques, etc., for which loans were obtained. He further said that most of these victims are small farmers and belong to lower caste groups, who resorted to these techniques to get out of poverty. Crop failure inevitably led to failure to repay loans and eventually these huge loans accumulated. ended in suicides.




organic agriculture


There is a need to expand facilities for farmers as they need access to domestic as well as export markets. Due to ignorance of agricultural policy, there is less support from the government to promote organic farming. Subsidies, official research and even extension services are also available. India has made progress and organic farming will make tremendous progress if continuous support is provided by the government.


The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) defines organic agriculture as:

“Organic agriculture is a production system that maintains the health of soil, ecosystem and people. It relies on ecological processes, biodiversity and cycles adapted to local conditions, rather than the use of inputs with adverse effects. Organic agriculture Combines tradition, invention and science for the shared benefit of the environment and promotes fair relations and a good quality of life for all involved.


There is increasing interest in organic farming as the cost of using natural resources is lower. The process utilizes the traditional and indigenous technical knowledge of the farmers. Organic farming challenges farmers to adopt new approaches and innovations. Though there is low productivity during the initial years but eventually the quality of soil is improved with less cost of production.


Another general definition of organic agriculture given by FAO (1999) is- “Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system that promotes and enhances agro-ecosystem health, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It Emphasizes the use of management practices rather than the use of non-agricultural inputs, taking into account that regional conditions require locally adapted systems.

  This is accomplished using agronomic, biological and mechanical methods wherever possible, as opposed to using synthetic materials to accomplish a specific function within the system.

The Unites States Department of Agriculture defines organic agriculture as “a system that avoids or largely excludes the use of synthetic inputs (such as fertilizers, pesticides, hormones, feed additives, etc.) and to the maximum extent possible.” possible depending on crop rotation, crop residues, animal manure, off-farm organic waste, mineral grade rock additives and biological systems or nutrient mobilization and plant protection”.


The United Nations Food and Agriculture definition suggests that “organic agriculture is a unique production management system that promotes and enhances the health of agro-ecosystems, including biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity, and is defined as agricultural are accomplished using scientific, biological and agronomical methods to the exclusion of all synthetic off-farm inputs”.

Organic agriculture uses locally available resources in combination with adapted techniques such as pest control management. Organic farming approach can be sustainable agriculture as it has many benefits like stability of yield, increase in income of farmers using traditional farming systems, once the system is stabilized, soil fertility is maintained and dependence on chemicals decreases. As organic products obtain certification, farmers gain market access with attractive prices for their produce.

According to the latest FiBL-IFOAM survey on certified organic agriculture worldwide there is about 43.7 ha in 170 countries which comprises 1% of the total agricultural land of the countries under study. The three countries with the most land under organic agriculture are Australia (17.2 million hectares), Argentina (3.1 million hectares) and the United States (2.2 million hectares). Apart from agricultural land, there are other areas for wild collection, aquaculture, forests and grazing areas on non-agricultural land. Agricultural land covers over 37.6 million hectares, of which 81.2 million hectares—agricultural and non-agricultural—are organic. forty percent are in asia


world’s largest organic producers, followed by Africa (26 percent) and Latin America (17 percent). The countries with the largest number of producers are India (650,000), Uganda (189,610) and Mexico (169,703).

There have been suggestions that farmers were engaged in farming without external chemical inputs such as artificial fertilizers and pesticides for many centuries and hence can be called practitioners of organic farming. However, the intent conveyed by the term organic farming cannot be taken in its entirety, if such an option is to be made by default. Therefore, the term organic farming arose when, even in the face of the increasing chemicalization of agriculture and the emergence of several sub-disciplines within agricultural science, a perspective emerged that viewed the farm as a ‘living organism’.


The earliest impressions of such a perspective can be seen in Rudolf Steiner’s proposal for biodynamic agriculture (1920s). The idea of biodynamic agriculture emerged in the work of Steiner who conceptualized it as a part of his larger proposition of anthropocentrism and earth spirituality. Talking about the biodynamic system, Lotter (2003: 03) states, “It uses specific compost preparation recipes, has a strong spiritual component in its agricultural practices” and has been described by some commentators as “organic plus spiritual”. understood as “.

Around the same time that Steiner was beginning his challenge to the dominant way of doing agriculture with greater reliance on synthetic nitrogen in the last ten years of his life (1915–1925), Albert Howard was trying to revive humus. Was doing. Principle of soil health and its relevance to plant growth.

are you

Dolph Steiner, author of Lectures on Agriculture (1925), challenged dominant methods of farming during the last ten years of his life (1915–1925) by presenting the first serious challenge to the spread of chemical agriculture. In 1924, a group of farmers approached him to give them

What Steiner called “healing the earth”. Steiner responded to this request by putting together a series of eight lectures on an ecological and sustainable approach to agriculture, which turned out to be arguably the world’s first organic agriculture course (7 to 16 June 1924). A recently published paper (Paul: 2011) which looks at the original attendance records indicates that there were 111 participants (81 men and 30 women), who came from six countries. The immediate result of the course was The Agricultural Research Circle and the idea of bio-dynamic agriculture was given some amount of visibility and inspiration by Dr.

Found in Ehrenfried Pfeiffer writing, Bio-Dynamic Farming and Gardening 1938. These lectures were published in November 1924 from the transcripts of the participants. in German and in 1928, the first English translation appeared as The Agricultural Course.

James Northbourne studied agricultural science at the University of Oxford and later applied Rudolf Steiner’s principles to the family estate in Kent. In 1939, he met another noted exponent of biodynamic agriculture, Dr. visited Switzerland to meet Ehrenfried Pfeiffer. As a result of his visit, Northbourne hosted his farm, the Betshenger Summer School and the conference2. Northbourne is credited with coining the term

In his book, Look at the Land (written in 1939, published in 1940), ‘organic farming’ is a response to



Northbourne’s important contribution is the idea of the farm as organism. He wrote of “the farm as a living whole” (p. 81). In the first elaboration of this concept, he wrote that “the farm itself must have an organic It must be a living unit, it must be a unit within which there is a balanced organic life” (p. 96). A farm that “imported fertility … can be neither self-sufficient nor an organic whole”. (p. 97). For Lord Northbourne, “the farm should be organic makes more sense

more than one” (p. 98), and he presents the holistic view that “the soil and the micro-organisms together with the plants growing on it constitute a biological whole” (p. 99)… The first phenomenon or biological Cultivation appears as a separate phrase where he warns: “In the long run, the consequences of

Attempts to replace chemical farming with organic farming will probably prove to be more harmful than is not yet clear. And it’s probably worth noting that the synthetic fertilizer industry is huge and well organized. Its propagation is subtle, and the artificial will die hard ”(p. 103).

Albert Howard, author of An Agricultural Testament (1940), is often referred to as the pioneer of modern organic agriculture, as he worked with Gabrielle Howard for years as imperial botanist in Pusa, Bengal, between 1905 and 1924. while documenting with keen interest and traditional farming practices of neighboring farmers. In 1924, the two moved to Indore to establish the Institute of Plant Industries, continuing their efforts to revive the humus theory of soil health and experimenting with different methods of manure and compost. From 1924 onwards, Albert Howard also served as an agricultural advisor to the states in Central India and Rajputana.


Howard’s writings in the 1920s show that he began to express his displeasure at divisive agricultural research and advocated a holistic approach. In Indore, he developed an aerobic composting method known as the ‘Indore Process’.

Su worked and talked about it in detail in two lectures delivered before the Royal Society of Arts.

In 1931, along with his colleague, Yashwant D. Wad, he published a remarkable book called The Waste Products of Agriculture: Their Utilization as Humus. In the introduction, he mentions how various experiments in Indore of using waste products from the farm to increase soil fertility are being replicated in various centers in Sindh and central India and Rajputana.


This book explains in detail how the Indore method of composting can use all human, animal and vegetable wastes to restore humus in the soil. It also turns out that Howard and his colleagues at the Institute of Plant Industries ran short-term certificate courses on compost making and cattle-shed management.

Howard wrote in his classic book An Agricultural Testament that “the capital of nations that is real, permanent and independent of everything except that there is a market for the products.

Cultivation is the soil” (1943: 219). In the preface to this excellent book which had five reprints between 1940 and 1945, Howard informs his readers that “during the last nine years (i.e. 1931 to 1940), the Indore Process has been taken up at many centers in the world” and ” Much information has been obtained on the role of humus in agriculture”. To drive his point of view with a force, Howard used the allegory of war in his later book, War on the Soil.

Albert Howard, in a tribute to his colleague at Indore, Yashwant D. Wad – who had joined the Institute of Plant Industries at Indore in 1928, calls Howard’s experiments in developing the Indore method


Composting,” an early stage in the establishment of an entirely new school of agricultural thought, which in the near future promises to offer humanity a creed destined to halt its present race toward destruction and the destruction of civilization. enables it to stop and think and direct its course to safety, security and steady prosperity”. maintenance, the production of food capable of providing real vitality and enduring power of survival to human beings”.

Robert McCarrison meanwhile was engaged in research on the relationship between soil fertility, food quality and human nutrition at the Nutrition Research Laboratories in Coonoor in South India. He also investigated the reduction in the quality of food due to the presence of excessive mineral nitrogen fertilizers.

In 1939, Eve Balfour, author of The Living Soil (1943), began The Hogley Experiment, the first long-term, field-based and scientific comparison of organic and chemical-based farming. She was inspired by the writings of Albert Howard and Mack Carrison and formed The Soil Association, an organization in the 1940s to emphasize the importance of soil health, and from 1943 began publishing her magazine, The Mother Earth.


Organic farming practices in the United States found a sympathetic voice in the writings of William Albrecht, a soil chemist at the University of Missouri. The many experiments of innovative farmers and their practical ideas on organic farming are shared by publisher-entrepreneur, J.I. Rodale, who started the magazine Organic Farming and Gardening and named Albert Howard as its consulting editor.

Mark Lipson (1997) calls organic agriculture itself ambiguous in nature and open to a wide range of interpretations. The “organic” in organic farming suggests that the products are produced according to certain standards and ultimately certified by an authority. Some certification agencies have strict compliance requirements when it comes to using the term “organic” in relation to agricultural produce.




Announcement of the first set of organic production standards (1960)

In 1971, Earl Butz, the secretary of the USDA at the time, made a statement, ‘Before going back to organic agriculture in this country, someone has to decide whether we are going to starve or let 50 million Americans go hungry’. However, within ten years the USDA demonstrated a positive bias when it published a “comprehensive survey of organic farming to better understand its potential and its limitations and

Recommend how the USDA should be involved”.





global market

According to Organic Monitor, global sales of organic food and drink reached US$80 billion in 2014. The global market has expanded more than fivefold, growing at a healthy rate over the past decade and monitors predict it will continue to grow in the years to come. Twenty-seven percent of the world’s organic land is in Europe while Latin America accounts for 15 percent. The largest single market was the United States (about 43 percent



global market) followed by the European Union (23.9 billion euros, 38 percent) and China (3.7 billion euros, 6 percent). China and India mainly grow oilseeds (mainly soybeans) on at least 443,000 hectares each.

Table 1: World: shares of organic agricultural land (including conversion areas) and area of global organic agricultural land 2014




philosophy of organic farming

George Kuyper (2010) discusses the philosophy of organic farming.

There was a desire to reverse the issues of agriculture such as degradation of soil quality, soil erosion, monsoon

oculture and hence the low quality of food and poverty. Humus farming emerged, which used traditional agricultural practices to conserve the soil. This traditional farming involved composting, use of animal manure, proper management of pH by adding lime and natural rock dust. The soil food web is considered a living component of the soil as opposed to the use of fertilizers which disturbs the entire web. Use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides is against the principle of humus cultivation.

  This type of traditional farming regenerates the soil by avoiding exploitation of natural resources hence ensuring sustainable management of soil as well as food.

The term humus farming changed to “organic” in the 1940s, the term organic was first used by Northbourne in the book “Look to the Land”, published in 1940 to describe this type of agriculture Was. Northbourne used the term organic to describe processes that are biological in nature.

Since the 1960s, there has been increasing concern about the potential effects of bioaccumulation. A 2002 study found that organic foods contained a third as much residue as produce grown using integrated pest management. Albert Howard mentions that “health is the birthright of all living things and health in humans depends on a chain of health that begins in the soil” and further states that pests and diseases evidence unhealthy soil.

Predestination is a doctrine given by a different school of thought that dates back to the work of

Hm Ward in the 1890s and continued until the mid-1970s. Pl Phelan’s research on maize borer found that if organic farming is done, the damage caused by insects is reduced. The major focus of fungal diseases was


Prejudice theory at first but later he expanded to address this issue of other diseases. When it comes to the mechanism of predisposition, there are several theories associated with it. One says that plants produce phytochemicals to protect themselves from pests and diseases. However, if plants are stressed they produce fewer phytochemicals which makes them more vulnerable to pests and diseases. Another theory mentions about the breakdown of proteins under stress which leads to the accumulation of soluble amino acids in plant sap which insects can easily digest and hence they attack the stressed plants.

Another theory that links susceptibility and resistance states that high levels of sugars, minerals and other components are an indicator of plant health. This is the most popular theory but the predation theory is not relevant for new crop species or if a new pest has arrived.





organic farming in india

Agriculture in India plays an important role and forms the backbone of the economy. The biggest challenge before India after independence was to produce enough food to keep up with the growing population. The Green Revolution in India helped the country develop a food surplus by infusing high-yielding technology. The Green Revolution in 1960 was one of the most important programs of the government. Hybrid seeds were introduced and large tracts of land were brought under cultivation. With the introduction of chemical fertilizers, traditional knowledge was replaced by scientific knowledge. Imports decreased due to the Green Revolution and India had a substantial surplus until the 1990s.


The darker side of the revolution resulted in environmental pollution, poisoning due to pesticides, eutrophication of surface and groundwater, dependence on chemicals, and declining soil health. Conventional agriculture offers no certification and encourages the use of fertilizers and chemical pesticides. The revolution destroyed the traditional knowledge and methods of organic farming. Fertilizers remain in the environment for a very long time with harmful effects, although it shows short term effects in productivity. Hybrid seeds and monocultures pose a threat to the germplasm of indigenous species as they may be lost in the pursuit of increased productivity. The dire effects of conventional farming are farmer suicides, water contaminated with pesticides and aerated drinks are some examples. Organic farming deals with all the major problems facing agriculture these days.

The organic movement in India started with Howard’s ideas which were accepted by the people active in the movement. K.A. Gopinath, in his paper on organic farming, mentions that the scientific approach to organic farming dates back to the “Later Vedic period”, 1000 BCE to 600 BCE, and that the basic idea of organic agriculture was to live with nature rather than exploit it. Have to stay together The farmers of the Vedic period had immense knowledge of the fertility of the soil, the type of seed to be selected and the stability of plants to different seasons. Even in Quran “Atal” is mentioned

Because a third of what you take out of the soil should be returned. Some other names given to organic farming are humus farming, natural farming, bio-dynamic farming, holistic farming, sustainable farming, alternative farming etc. What is considered wasteful and unproductive in conventional farming can be converted into organic farming.

s considered productive.

India’s National Program for Organic Production (NPOP) is defined as “a system of agricultural design and management to create an ecosystem that achieves sustainable productivity without the use of artificial external inputs such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides.” Can do”. “Organic farming is a system


Farming based on the integral relationship of processes, input farming and animal and human community in harmony with nature”.

Organic farming is not only a method of agriculture but a philosophy in itself which has three pillars of sustainability- environmental, social and economic at the core of farming. Maintaining soil fertility is a major concern as land is extensively plowed under intensive cropping, reducing its nutritive value. Such extensive tillage with indiscriminate use of chemicals has created major problems. Rainfed agriculture suffers from low productivity due to abnormal behavior of the monsoon; Apart from this, other problems are poor farmers, low investment, poor soil and lack of nutrients.

The historical perspective given by Bhattacharya (2005) in his article on the current status of organic farming in India and other countries is:


Historical Perspective of Organic Farming

ancient time

The oldest practice dates back to the Neolithic period, 10,000 years old,

Practiced by ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia, Hwang Ho Basin etc.

Ramayana (All dead things – rotting corpses or stinking garbage are returned to the earth, which is transformed into healthy things that nurture life. Such is the alchemy of Mother Earth – as C.


Mahabharata (5500 BCE) Kamdhenu, the celestial cow and its mention

Role on human life and soil fertility

Kautilya Arthashastra (300 BC) mentions several manures like cake, sewage

of animals

The Brihad-samhita (by Varahamihira) explained how to choose manure for various

Crop and Fertilize Methods

Rigveda (2500–1500 BCE) Rigveda 1, 16, 10, 2500–1500 BCE Mention of organic manure Green manure in Athara Veda II 8.3 (1000 BCE). Venus is in (IV, V, 94, 107-112)

Said that for healthy growth the plant should be nourished with goat, sheep, cow, water as well as meat dung. Surpal has also mentioned manure in Vrikshayurveda.

(Manuscript, Oxford, No. 324b, Six, 107-164

The Holy Qur’an (590 AD) At least one-third of what you extract from the soil should be recycled or returned after-

crop residue




sources of plant nutrients

Organic farming not only maximizes nitrogen fixation from the atmosphere but also encourages optimum use of local resources. Applications of biological sources not only encourage the development of


And along with the activity of mycorrhizae as well as other beneficial organisms in the soil, it also replenishes the micronutrient deficiencies. It also helps in maintaining soil health, hence maintaining higher crop productivity. Combined use of chemicals and organic sources improves soil fertility, crop productivity in a better way. Even today cow dung, cake and neem leaves are used in many parts of rural India.

Yadav S. et al (2013) have mentioned about the technology of farm yard manure (FYM) which can help in meeting the nutrient requirement of Indian agriculture at present. The concentration of nutrients in FYM is generally low and varies greatly depending on storage conditions and source. Harvested crop straw is commonly used for animal feed or bedding because straw traps urine when used for bedding and in turn enhances N cycling. Wet straw and manure are composted and applied immediately or until the next crop season. Nutrient management strategies that are appropriate are reduced use of tillage, improved water and efficient use of nutrients. Providing organic nutrition to the soil reduces carbon emissions, increases soil biodiversity and increases crop yield.


The crop productivity of organic farming is comparable to that of conventional farming, although during the initial year the crop productivity is less than that of conventional farming but increases in the later years. Research shows that the efficient use of organic fertilizers gradually increases grain yield and that vegetables respond well to organic sources of nutrients. Mixing vermicompost with fertilizers enhances the accumulation of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and magnesium. Incorporation of vermicompost increases soil water retention and hence enhances root growth; It also increases the organic nitrogen level of the soil. it is

It has also been reported that organic matter once decomposed releases macro and micro nutrients in the soil which are easily available to the plants. The report also suggests that there is an increase in the level of carbon, soluble phosphorus, potassium and pH level after about 4 years, it also acts as a reserve pool of stored nutrients. Organic farming also increases soil organic matter and improves physicochemical properties. However, adding carbonaceous material such as straw, wood, bark, sawdust helps in increasing the C:N ratio.

Gopinath K explains that there is a transition period which

  1. b) A farmer moves from conventional farming to organic farming – This is the transition period to neutralize chemical residues in the soil and the period between organic farming and certification of crops. Plant products can be called organic if they meet the requirements during a conversion period of at least two years before the sowing of annual crops.




principles of organic farming

The principle objectives of organic agriculture as per the Indian Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOM), Germany are highlighted by Chandrasekhar H (2010) in his paper on the changing landscape of organic farming in India: An overview are-:

  • To maintain soil fertility and produce high quality food.
  • Working optimally within a closed system of living systems and natural cycles through soil, plants and animals throughout the production system.
  • To avoid any form of pollution by using locally adapted methods of farming as opposed to external use of chemicals


  • To produce sufficient quantities of food of high nutritional quality while maintaining the nutritional value and sustainability of the system.
  • To make the life of the producers to earn a decent living and to develop their traditional knowledge potential and at the same time protect it.

The pillars of organic farming are organic standards, certification and regulation, technology package and market network. The states involved in organic farming are Gujarat, Kerala, Karnataka, Uttaranchal, Sikkim, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh.


growth of india

Soon after the demand for organic agriculture increased in the western world, the demand for organically grown foods increased in India. To increase the export potential of organic food, the National Program on Organic Production was launched by the Ministry of Commerce. It sets out the process of accreditation and certification in 2000, along with defining the National Standards for Organic Production (NSOP). (of Gopinath). The salient features of NSOP are-:

  1. It is not necessary to convert the entire farm or holding. However, the certification program will ensure that the organic and conventional parts of the farm are separate, clearly distinguishable and verifiable.
  2. Plant products produced can only be certified “organic” when they meet the requirements of national standards during a conversion period of at least two years, or in the case of perennial crops, at least three years before the first harvest of the products. have been done
  3. When certified organic seed and planting material is not available, chemically untreated conventional material shall be used.
  4. Adequate diversity has to be maintained in crop production.
  5. Bio-degradable materials of microbial, plant or animal origin will form the basis of the fertilization programme.
  6. The certification program shall impose restrictions on the use of inputs with relatively high heavy metal content and, or unwanted substances, such as the mineral potassium, magnesium fertilizers, trace elements and fertilizers. Basic slag, rock phosphate and sewage sludge.
  7. Manure containing human excreta shall not be used on vegetation intended for human consumption.
  8. Products used for pest, disease and weed management prepared in the field from local plants, animals and micro-organisms are permitted.
  9. Physical methods are allowed for thermal weed control and pest, disease and weed management.
  10. Use of synthetic growth regulators and genetically engineered organisms or products is prohibited.
  11. Animal products may be sold as “products of organic agriculture” only if the farm or its relevant part has been under conversion for at least 12 months. In respect of dairy and egg production, this period shall not be less than 30 days.
  12. At least 80 percent of animal feed should be organically grown. Products from the organic food processing industry will also be used.
  13. Use of traditional veterinary medicines is permitted when no other justifiable alternative is available.



To provide recognized certification, India now has 30 agencies to provide certification to growers. For proper dissemination of technology, the Ministry of Agriculture launched a National Project for Promotion of Organic Farming (NPOF-DAC).

Funds are also provided for setting up and certification of organic and organic input production units under various schemes of the government such as RKVY (National Krishi Vikas Yojana), NMSA (National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture) and NHM (National Horticulture Mission).

In the organic business sector, India has shown good growth, with the domestic market growing at a rapid rate of about 40 percent and exports growing between 25 and 30 percent. The year 2015-16 saw two major initiatives – the allocation of Rs 1 billion for the development of organic markets in the North Eastern region of India and the government’s Participatory Guarantee Scheme (PGS). (Jagran K. et al., 2015)

The definition of PGS given by The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements or IFOAM (2008) is “Participatory Guarantee Systems are locally focused quality assurance systems. They certify producers based on the active participation of stakeholders and build trust, social networks and are built on a foundation of knowledge sharing. PGS is locally relevant ensuring participation of all stakeholders and there is no third party certification. Participatory approach in the process, transparent

Knowledge and belief are involved.






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