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National Center for Appropriate Technology www.ncat.org : 

National Center for Appropriate Technology www.ncat.org ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas) National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service www.attra.ncat.org 800-346-9140

Slide2: 

NEED TO KNOW INFORMATION FOR ORGANIC CROP PRODUCTION Prepared by George Kuepper, Program Specialist The National Center for Appropriate Technology’s ATTRA Project © 2005

Highly Recommended: NCAT’s Organic Crops Workbook http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/cropsworkbook.pdf For a Print Copy Call: 1-800-346-9140 : 

Highly Recommended: NCAT’s Organic Crops Workbook http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/PDF/cropsworkbook.pdf For a Print Copy Call: 1-800-346-9140

What Does “Organic” Mean: 

What Does “Organic” Mean A production system that “respond[s] to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity” A production system that meets all the requirements of the National Organic Program Regulations as defined in 7 CFR Part 205

What’s Required: 

What’s Required An interest in environmentally friendly farming Willingness to conform to a standard Designated acreage [205.202(c)] 3-year conversion i.e. no prohibited materials applied [§205.202(b)]

Organic History & Philosophy: 

Organic History & Philosophy Began in the 1920s in Europe as an alternative to a wide array of farm problems Soil-based system emphasizing soil humus management HEALTHY SOIL HEALTHY FOOD HEALTHY PEOPLE HEALTHY SOCIETY

Myth: 

Myth Organic Farming is simply agriculture as it was practiced before the era of commercial agricultural chemicals

Reality: 

Reality Organic Farming is a deliberate approach to farming based on regeneration and the promotion of life and health in the soil

Slide9: 

Organic Farming employs many traditional strategies —such as crop rotation, green manuring, composting, and fertilizing with organic wastes— that serve as cornerstone practices for sustainable agricultural systems

Slide10: 

The use of regenerative soil building practices and the maintenance of biodiversity makes most conventional pesticides and fertilizers unnecessary and even counterproductive

Feed The Soil, Not The Plant: 

Feed The Soil, Not The Plant — An Old Saying Among Organic Farmers

Slide12: 

The Soil Food Web

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Plant Root Nutrient Absorption Soluble Minerals Organic Compounds Biochemical Processes Carried on by the Soil Food Web (earthworms, insects, fungi, bacteria, etc.) Parent Rock Material Plant Nutrition Under Natural Conditions The Soil Food Web is continually fed on the residues of plants, animal remains and wastes, and the bodies of the various organ-isms that make up the Web

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Plant Root Nutrient Absorption Soluble Minerals Organic Compounds Biochemical Processes in the Rhizosphere. The Soil Food Web Parent Rock Material Conventional Approach To Plant Nutrition Conventional Soluble Fertilizers Soluble Minerals

Slide15: 

Plant Root Nutrient Absorption Soluble Minerals Organic Compounds Biochemical Processes in the Rhizosphere. The Soil Food Web Parent Rock Material Organic Materials And Methods Legumes in Rotation Sod Crops in Rotation Green Manures Livestock Manures Natural Fertilizers Biological Inoculants Organic Approach To Plant Nutrition Soluble Minerals

The Two Faces of Organic Farming: 

The Two Faces of Organic Farming A Biologically-based Production System based on Natural Principles and Demonstrating a High Degree of Sustainability A System that Preserves the Integrity of Organic Production from Contamination with Prohibited Substances and Commingling with Non-Organic Products

Soil Fertility Practices for Organic Farming : 

Soil Fertility Practices for Organic Farming Crop Rotation Specifically Required §205.205 Cover Crops & Green Manures Composts and Manures Monitor & Provide Adequate Minerals Supplementary Organic Fertilizers

Slide18: 

Figure from: Holliday, R.J. 2002. Let your animals teach you nutrition. Organic Broadcaster. May–June. p. 4–5. THE MINERAL WHEEL

Compost Rules For Manure-Based Compost: 

Compost Rules For Manure-Based Compost Initial feedstock mix must have a C:N ratio between 25:1 and 40:1 [§205.203(c)(2)(i)] Each batch must maintain a temperature between 131º F and 170º F for 3 days when using in-vessel or static pile systems [§205.203(c)(2)(ii)] Each batch must maintain a temperature between 131º F and 170º F for 15 days when using a windrow system; the windrow must be turned 5X during that period [§205.203(c)(2)(iii)]

Manure Rules When Applied to Food Crops: 

Manure Rules When Applied to Food Crops Uncomposted manure must be applied and incorporated not less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a crop whose edible portion has direct soil contact (i.e. most vegetable crops) [§205.203(c)(1)(ii)] Uncomposted manure must be applied and incorporated not less than 90 days prior to the harvest of a crop whose edible portion does not have direct soil contact [§205.203(c)(1)(ii)]

Grey Areas in the Compost & Manure Regulations: 

Grey Areas in the Compost & Manure Regulations Processed manure products Compost teas and extracts Manure-based vermicompost/worm castings Bat or sea bird guano Best advice: ASK YOUR CERTIFIER

Soil Amendments and Fertilizers: What You May Not Use: 

Soil Amendments and Fertilizers: What You May Not Use Prohibited Most conventional fertilizers Biosolids (sewage sludge) [§205.105(g)] Ash from manure burning [§205.602(a)] Contaminated organic materials (leather meal, cottonseed meal, & poultry litter are often suspect) GMO soil inoculants

Soil Amendments, Fertilizers, & Compost Feedstock: What You May Use: 

Natural Materials Manures Plant materials (residues, seed meals, kelp meal) Animal by-products (bone meal, blood meal) Natural rock powders (aglime, rock phosphate, greensand, gypsum, granite meal, K-Mag®, potassium sulfate) Wood ash Soil Amendments, Fertilizers, & Compost Feedstock: What You May Use

Soil Amendments, Fertilizers, & Compost Feedstock: What You May Use : 

Synthetic Materials [§205.601] Liquid fish products (some commercial forms) Seaweed extracts (some commercial forms) Humic acids (some commercial forms) Elemental sulfur Soil Amendments, Fertilizers, & Compost Feedstock: What You May Use

Soil Amendments, Fertilizers, & Compost Feedstock: What You May Use: 

Restricted Materials Micronutrients (soluble boron, sulfates, carbonates, oxides, silicates, and lignon sulfonate chelates. Deficiency must be documented) [§205.601(j)(6)] Sodium nitrate (no more than 20% of crop’s total nitrate requirement) [§205.602(h)] Potassium chloride (mined source only; no chloride accumulation) [§205.602(g)] Soil Amendments, Fertilizers, & Compost Feedstock: What You May Use

Help In Sorting Through The Materials Mess: Fertilizers, etc.: 

Help In Sorting Through The Materials Mess: Fertilizers, etc. Read the Regulations (www.ams.usda.gov/nop/) §205.203 Fertility & Nutrient Mgt. Standard §205.601 Nat’l List—Synthetics Allowed §205.602 Nat’l List—Nonsynthetics Prohibited OMRI Listing (www.omri.org/) WSDA Brand Name Materials List (http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/MaterialsLists.htm) CONSULT YOUR CERTIFIER

Organic Strategy For Weed & Pest Management: 

Organic Strategy For Weed & Pest Management Organic System Effects Traditional Organic Practices Allowed Pesticides

I. Organic System Effects On Pests: 

I. Organic System Effects On Pests Systemic Practices: rotation, cover cropping, organic fertilization, adapted and resistant cultivars, composting and basic sanitation practices Systemic Effects: innate and induced resistance/tolerance biocontrol of pests and diseases in the soil biocontrol of above ground pests life cycles of weeds and pests disrupted weed seedbank reduced beneficial shift in weed populations

II. Traditional Organic Pest Control Practices: 

II. Traditional Organic Pest Control Practices Weeds cultivation organic mulches mowing grazing weeder geese handweeding flame weeding plastic mulch Insects & Disease beneficial habitats augmentation of beneficials physical barriers nonsynthetic lures, traps, repellents adjusting timing

III. Allowed Pesticides: 

III. Allowed Pesticides Naturals (nonsynthetics) minerals (diatomaceous earth, baking soda) biologicals (Bt, B. bassiana) botanicals (rotenone, neem, pyrethrum) Synthetics (on the National List only) minerals (sulfur, copper) soaps (insecticidal, herbicidal) horticultural oils (narrow range, superior) pheromones

Pesticide Treadmill A: Secondary Pest Problems : 

Pesticide Treadmill A: Secondary Pest Problems Figure from: Best Management Practices: Horticultural Crops, http://www.gov.on.ca/OMAFRA/english/ environment/hort/basics3.htm

Pesticide Treadmill B: Resistance: 

Pesticide Treadmill B: Resistance Figure from: Best Management Practices: Horticultural Crops, http://www.gov.on.ca/OMAFRA/english/ environment/hort/basics3.htm

The Materials Mess Continued: Pitfalls To Avoid: 

The Materials Mess Continued: Pitfalls To Avoid nicotine, cryolite, & strychnine—prohibited [§205.602] prohibited surfactants (detergents, Basic-H®) herbicidal soap—ornamentals only [§205.601(b)(1)] prohibited inert ingredients CONSULT YOUR CERTIFIER

Help In Sorting Through The Materials Mess: Pesticides: 

Help In Sorting Through The Materials Mess: Pesticides Read the Regulations (www.ams.usda.gov/nop/) §205.206 Pest Mgt. Standard §205.601 Nat’l List—Synthetics Allowed §205.602 Nat’l List—Nonsynthetics Prohibited OMRI Listing (www.omri.org/) WSDA Brand Name Materials List (http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/MaterialsLists.htm) US EPA Pesticide Labeling CONSULT YOUR CERTIFIER

Seed And Planting Stock: 

Seed And Planting Stock Organic seed and planting stock must be used [§205.204(a)] If not commercially available, untreated seed or planting stock may be used; no GMOs [§205.204(a)(1)] Conventional seed treatments are prohibited, unless required by Federal or State regulations [§205.204(a)(5)] Organic transplants must be used [§205.204(a)]

Seed And Planting Stock: Avoiding the Pitfalls: 

Seed And Planting Stock: Avoiding the Pitfalls Organic requirements apply to cover crops Seed for sprouting MUST be organic [§205.204(a)(1)] Inoculants must be non-GE Perennial planting stock—consult your certifier [§205.204(a)(4)] has tricky language

Wild Crop Harvesting [§205.207]: 

Wild Crop Harvesting [§205.207] Harvest area must be: Designated Protected from contamination Free of prohibited substances for 3 years Harvesting must be: Sustainable Environmentally sound

Ensuring Organic Integrity: 

Ensuring Organic Integrity Adjoining land use Isolation Buffers Drainage diversion Signage Notification & accommodation Graphic from Four Winds Farm, River Falls, Wisconsin

Ideal Field Buffer: 

Ideal Field Buffer Horizontal Vertical

Ensuring Organic Integrity: 

Ensuring Organic Integrity Construction materials Treated lumber is prohibited as per §205.206(f) Commingling issues

Record Keeping [§205.103]: 

Record Keeping [§205.103] Organic Farm Records Must: be well-adapted to the business being conducted, disclose all activities and transactions in adequate detail, be maintained for not less than five years beyond their creation, be sufficient to demonstrate compliance with federal regulations, and be available for inspection and copying during normal business hours.

Documents To Keep: 

Documents To Keep Field histories Field activities Materials applications Seed documents Input labels and documents Soil & water test reports Harvest and sales records

Organic Certification: 

Organic Certification Certification is required of all operations that sell, label, or represent their products as organic. Operations selling less than $5000 of organic products annually are exempt from certification. Both exempt and non-exempt organic operations must comply with the organic standard.

Steps To Certification: 

Steps To Certification Find a suitable certifier (www.ams.usda.gov/ nop/CertifyingAgents/Accredited.html) Complete application and Organic System Plan Completeness review On-farm inspection Final review

Slide45: 

A reminder… Organic Certification is Process Certification

For the Non-Certified Producer: 

For the Non-Certified Producer Cannot use USDA Seal Cannot sell for organic processing Organic System Plan required Sorting through the materials mess

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