What is organic farming?

Organic farming is a method of crop/ livestock production that involves much more than choosing not to use pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones. It is a system of farming that mimics natural ecosystems that balance pest and beneficial organism populations and maintain and replenish fertility of the soil.

What is Organic certification?

Certification is a procedure through which a third party, the certification body like LACON gives a written assurance that an organizational system, process, person, product or a service complies with requirements specified in a standard. Certification is awarded for a limited period, during which the certification body carries out monitoring.

What are organic standards?

Organic standards are the set of “rules” which, as a registered organic producer, you must follow, in order to maintain your certificate which will allow you to sell produce as organic.

Is there a difference between "natural" and "organic" foods?

Yes. The term "natural" is very broad, and can include organic foods, but not all natural foods are organic. Natural foods are generally minimally processed and free of artificial ingredients, but not necessarily organically grown. The term “organic” is referred, only when it is certified according to the organic standard by an accredited certification body.

What is an Organic Systems Management Plan?

Organic certification requires an Organic Systems Management Plan, also known as an Organic Farm Plan or Organic Handling Plan. These document portraits the entire activities related to the particular operation (production/processing/trade) annually. Organic Systems Management Plans must be updated at least annually in order to maintain certified organic status.

Can any type of agricultural product become certified organic?

Yes. Any agricultural products that adhere to the organic standards may be considered organic. These products, in order to be certified organic, have all been grown and processed according to organic standards and must maintain the traceability for the same.

Is it possible to certify only part of the farm?

Yes, it is possible to certify a selected part of farm. However, to certify, a field must have distinct, defined boundaries and buffer zones to protect it from runoff & unintended contamination from adjoining land. The farm also needs to have facilities and record keeping in place to ensure and document that organic and non-organic crops are not commingled and sold separately.

Can I process both organic and conventional foods?

Yes,Processing of organic product along with the conventional imposes some restrictions. Processors need to ensure that products are segregated to ensure that there is no risk of cross contamination through contact with conventional products.

Does my land have to be tested so it can be certified as organic?

Land/soil is not analyzed for pesticide or other residues unless on grounds of suspicion, but a recent soil analysis may be ideal for certification.

I have just purchased or hope to purchase a farm. I would like to farm it organically. Can you give me some information on crops that I can grow and what I need to do to be organic?

There are many things that will help you determine which crops can be grown on a farm, such as farm location, climate, and soil types. Your farming experience/knowledge and your time availability will also be factors in determining which crops are most suited to you. Since the land is certified as organic, the crops grown on that land will be organic, if it complies with the requirements.

I want to begin farming organically. How will this be different from the more conventional farming practices that I already use ?

Organic production of crops is very similar to regular production for planting, harvesting. Varieties are usually the same. However organic farming involves ecofriendly farming practices wherein natural or safe inputs are used which do not leave any residue on the final produce. Hence there is a restriction on the use of external inputs and other soil management practices.

Who determines if a specific product is acceptable for use on an organic farm?

There are approved products specified in the organic standards. Any external inputs brought to the farm needs to be approved by a certification body. In most cases, the certification agencies like LACON, determine whether an input can be used on the farm, during the verification.

What farm inputs are allowed and what materials are prohibited in organic production?

In general, the standards allow natural (non-synthetic) substances and prohibit synthetic substances, unless they appear in the permitted list of the specific standards.

How do organic farms manage fertility?

Organic farmers manage crop nutrients through a crop rotation that includes cover crops and the application of plant and animal organic matter, generally in the form of compost. Appropriate tillage and cultivation practices improve soil structure, organic matter content and soil microbial life. Mined minerals and a few allowed synthetic substances are permitted(in compliance with standards) as supplemental sources of nutrients, provided that soil, crop, and water contamination are avoided.

How long does organic certification take?

Land normally has to go through a minimum of 2 year for annuals and 3 years for perennial before it achieves a full organic status. Crops sown or transplanted into fully organic land may be sold as organic. Livestock to be sold as organic will be available sometime after the land has achieved fully organic status. The time period depends on the type of stock and other factors.

When am I able to sell my first organic produce?

During the first year of conversion, produce cannotbe sold as organic – it must be sold as “in conversion 1”. During the second year of conversion may be sold as “organic – in-conversion 2” produce, if there is a market for it. Once land has completed its conversion to full organic status, crops sown or transplanted into fully organic land may be sold as organic. Livestock to be sold as organic will be available sometime after the land has achieved fully organic status. The time period will depend on the type of stock and other factors.

Are genetically modified organisms (GMOs) used in the production of organic food?

No, you are not permitted to use GMOs in the production of Organic food

Whether chemically untreated conventional seeds can be used without any restriction?

The Rule demands that organically produced and handled seeds be planted when such seed is commercially available for the variety. Conventional chemically untreated seeds can be used in those cases where organically grown seeds are not available.

Do organic farmers take any precautions when they apply manure on organic farms?

Yes. Raw manure and other animal and plant material must be handled in a way that prevents water, soil and crop contamination. In order to be applied without a days-to-harvest restriction, manure must be properly composted. Crops for human consumption that have the edible portion in contact with the soil – including leafy greens – must be harvested at least 120 days after the application of un-composted manure. Other crops for human consumption must be harvested at least 90 days following the application of raw manure.

What is the National List?

The National List contains all the allowed synthetic and prohibited natural (non-synthetic) substances that are exceptions to the general rule for organic production set by NOP- USDA. It is not a comprehensive list of all approved materials; rather it can be described as an “open” list .

If a fertilizer is labeled ‘organic,’ will a farmer be able to use it on certified organic land?

Fertilizer labeling is regulated by state laws, most of which define organic in a way that is not compatible with organic standards. Caution is needed in evaluating fertilizer labeled as organic, as it might include prohibited synthetics such as urea or sewage sludge.

How are insect pests managed on organic farms?

Organic farm systems protect crop damage by insect pests primarily through the use of biological and cultural practices such as crop rotation; diversification; habitat management; beneficial organism releases; sanitation; and timing. Some natural substances, such as botanicals, and a few relatively non-toxic synthetic pesticides are permitted in Standards when used in conjunction with the farm plan and used according to the restrictions found in the permitted list of specific standards.

How are weeds managed on organic farms?

Weed management on organic farms consists of cultural and mechanical techniques such as the rotation of crops that suppress weeds, mulching, tillage, cultivation, water management, and manual weeding. Weeds often help to conserve soil, improve organic matter, and provide beneficial habitat for natural enemies on organic farms. Plastic mulches are permitted provide they are removed at the end of the season. Insects and diseases can help to keep certain weed populations in check. There are a few natural substances that are also used to manage weeds, but the efficacy of these substances is still subject to question.

How are crop diseases managed on organic farms?

Soil-borne diseases are managed by improving organic matter and biological activity. Cultural, biological, and physical methods such as rotation, sanitation, pruning, and selection of disease resistant varieties are all part of organic disease management. Some natural substances, such as clays, fungal preparations allowed in Standards when used in conjunction with the farm plan are used according to the restrictions found on the standards.

What are the record keeping requirements to be followed when a farmer uses an input?

Farmers are required to document all products/inputs applied to crop and soil. One must know all of the ingredients in order to determine whether or not an input complies. Certifiers will review products themselves or rely on an outside service.

How shall I trust that a product is really organic?

Look for the certification logo on the product for eg;NPOP/ USDA /EU logo.

How can we farm without chemicals?

You can take advantage of what nature offers and improve it without creating damage. Growing the crops that are native to the region usually ensures that the plants already have high resistance to the local pests. Pests are reduced through multiple-cropping and using bio-pesticides. Building up populations of beneficial insects (insects who feed on bad bugs) is a tried-and-true method of pest control. Prevention is the organic farmer’s primary strategy.

What is transaction certificate/TC?

Transaction certificate / TC is a document issued by a certification body declaring that the specified lot or consignment of goods is derived from production and or processing system that has been organically certified.

How can I contact an organic certifier?

info@laconindia.com or call us +91 9446574902 or access our website- www.laconinida.com