Steps to Organic Conversion
Organic farming is an overall system of farm management and food production that combines best environmental practices, a high level of biodiversity, the preservation of natural resources, and the application of high welfare standards.
What to consider in steps to organic conversion
Is organic an option?
If you can answer yes to some or all of these questions, then you should consider switching to organic production.
- Can you incorporate a grass/clover break into your rotation?
- Do you have a source of farmyard manure/slurry/compost on or near your own farm?
- Can you see yourself farming without relying on pesticides and chemical fertilisers?
- Is your current stocking rate below two livestock units per ha?
- Can your animal housing be modified to incorporate a bedded lying area?
- Are you in another agri-environmental scheme? Some scheme options may not be eligible for Organic Farming Scheme (OFS) payment.
Is organic farming profitable?
Organic farming can be profitable, with some of the most profitable farmers in the country farming organically. Maintaining high-output levels, coupled with lower production costs, premium market prices, and a thorough knoweldge of organic farming methods contribute to higher margins.
- Get acquainted with the adjustments required by attending farm walks, talking to other organic farmers, and/or contacting a local advisor
- Familiarise yourself with organic regulations
A major factor distinguishing organic farming from other approaches to sustainable farming is the existence of internationally acknowledged standards and certification procedures. These standards have been developed to provide organic producers with consistent, clear rules as to how organic food should be produced. A two-year conversion period is required before a farm is given organic status. Some of the main requirements are listed below.
Fertilisers and chemicals
- Soluble mineral fertilisers are prohibited, but some inputs such as lime and rock phosphate are
- Clover and other legumes supply The balance between fertility-building crops, such as a grass/clover ley and exploitative crops, such as cereals and potatoes, is critical in a tillage rotation.
- Most manufactured agro-chemicals (e.g., herbicides) are prohibited.
- The highest standards of animal welfare are Permission to carry out mutilations, i.e., dehorning and castration, and the provision of bedding and generous floor space are required for housed animals.
- Ruminant stock must be fed a diet which is predominantly grass fodder based (grass, silage, hay). Tillage crops should be considered as a cost-effective alternative to buying in concentrates and
- Routine preventative treatment of healthy animals is not allowed, with a focus on prevention rather than cure.
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