The Organic Standards
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 such as lime and phosphate are permitted.
- Clover and other legumes supply nitrogen. The balance between fertility building crops, such as grass, clover lea 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 obligatory. Bedding, good ventilation and generous floor space are required for housed animals
- Ruminant stock must be fed a diet which is at least 60% roughage. Tillage crops should be considered as a cost effective alternative to buying in concentrates and bedding.
- Routine preventative treatment of healthy animals is not allowed, with a focus on prevention rather than cure.