ORGANIC PRODUCTION
INFORMATION


What is Organic Production?

"Organic farming is a system of agriculture based on principles (ecology, health, fairness and care), covering everything from the ecological approach to farming through to care for nature and fairness for producers and consumers. It is carried out by ordinary farmers who share these values." Organic Trust Australia

"Organic Production Systems are defined as “an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, and enhance ecological harmony” National Organic Standards Board

"Until the 1920’s, all agriculture was generally organic. Farmers used natural means to feed the soil and to control pests. It was not until the Second World War that farming methods changed dramatically. It was when research on chemicals designed as nerve gas showed they were also capable of killing insects." The Organics Institute

"In organic agriculture, not only are synthetic inputs banned, but organic practices also focus on stimulating the biological processes in the soil, so that deterioration of the soil is actually reversed. Stringent organic standards require the producer to identify any potential environmental threats, and take action to address them, for instance by maintaining or establishing areas of native vegetation. The organic movement had sprung directly from the customers’ demand as they became sick of the health hazards associated with the use of chemicals in food and household products." Organic Trust Australia


WhY ORGANIC?

"Over a lifetime, we can ingest hundreds of kilos of these chemicals, putting us at greater risk of diseases, allergies and other health problems. Many of these chemicals interfere with our bodies’ natural systems (such as our endocrine system which produces and regulates hormones and our respiratory system). Furthermore, conventional production takes a heavy toll on the natural environment – destroying the soil, harming local wildlife and causing animals to suffer to create products for human consumption." Why Organic

"We know how profoundly important organic farming is to our environment, our health, our families and our communities. We know that organic has the strength to not only feed the world, but feed the world well. Through first-rate scientific research and education and support for farmers we will continue to empower citizens to change the world by demanding organic." Rodale Institute

"Organic farming is not simply the substitution of approved input materials. It is the replacement of a treatment approach with a process approach to create a balanced system of plant and animal interactions.” Rodale Institute

"Getting started in organic farming can be difficult and confusing. This toolbox contains guides and tools to help you get started in the process of starting your own organic farm." Organic Farming Toolbox, Farm Answers.


CONVERSION

"Organic standards require that a farming enterprise must undergo a 12-month supervision period by an accredited certifying agency to ensure a workable conversion plan is in place. After the first year, the property enters the organic ‘in conversion’ period, when produce sold in the organic marketplace can be labelled accordingly. A property ‘in conversion’ is defined in organic standards as:

“A production system that has adhered to the standard for at least one year, and has been certified as such, but has not qualified as organic for various reasons. These include reasons such as the conversion system has not been operated within the requirements for the specified period (usually three years); the farm does not meet quality standards, such as soil structure considered appropriate and necessary for organic farms; or the organic management plan has not been sufficiently developed.”

After three years of adherence to organic standards, a property typically progresses from ‘in-conversion’ to full ‘organic’ status." Department of Agriculture and Food, WA

Understand the steps to certification at The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA).

"Conversion to an organic production system from a conventional system requires a three-year transition period before crops are considered organically certified. During the transition period, growers may experience reduced yields followed by a return to yields near or equal to conventional production. This “transition effect” has been attributed to time required for necessary changes in chemical, physical and biological properties of soil, which may take more than one year." Rodale Institute

Take part in Rodale Institute's 15 hour Organic Transition Course.

Read the Transition to Organic Crop Production (Canadian Source). Ontario Ministry for Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

"Transition Farms" tells how nineteen Australian horticulturalists successfully changed from conventional farming to biodynamic, nutrition or organic farming and in the process have improved their yields and/or the quality of the food they produce. 

Read a case study about the cost of converting to organic cereal-livestock farming. 

Access NSW DPI's conversion factsheet.

Understand what the in-conversion stage means at Australian Organic.

Register for FarmSelect and access Rodale Institute's Organic Farm Plan and Organic Livestock Plan — "The purpose of this tool is to help you assemble the necessary documentation to apply for organic certification through an accredited certifying agent" (Rodale Institute).

Access Rodale Institute's webinars on a range of in-depth production topics.


VEGETABLE PRODUCTION

Download RIRDC's guide to converting to organic vegetable production.

Access information at DPI NSW's website on organic vegetable production.

Learn about growing vegetables at Growing Healthy.


HORTICULTURE PRODUCTION

Access information at DPI NSW's website on organic vegetable production.

Download RIRDC's guide to converting to organic livestock production.

Learn about growing fruit at Growing Healthy.


LIVESTOCK PRODUCTION

Access information at DPI NSW's website on organic livestock production.

"Going into organic livestock production requires careful consideration of different aspects of the farm business. By considering the changes needed you can manage a smooth transition. On Chapter 5 of the Australian Certified Organic Standard you will find all the specific requirements for Organic Livestock certification." Australian Certified Organic

Understand issues relating to health of livestock in organic systems.

Learn about pasture management at The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA).

 
 

MANAGING WEEDS

Pest, disease and weed management practices include (Organic Trust Australia):

  • crop rotations to minimise survival of pests which can infest the next crop
  • crop breeding for resistance to diseases and pests and enhanced competition against weeds
  • strip cropping, to moderate spreading of pests over large areas
  • manipulation of pH and soil moisture (with irrigation or soil surface management)
  • manipulation of planting dates
  • adjustment of seeding rates, to crowd out weeds or avoid insects
  • use of appropriate plant varieties and livestock breeds for local conditions
  • implementation of stock culling programs, emphasis on genetic resistance to certain diseases
  • use of stock buying programs which minimise the import of diseases on to the farm
  • biological control methods, to encourage natural enemies of pests by providing habitat or by breeding and releasing them in areas where they are required
  • trapping insects, possibly with the use of lures such as pheromones
  • biological pesticides in which the active ingredient is short-lasting, and which may be produced locally.

FARM INPUTS

Access information at DPI NSW's website on organic fertilisers and pesticides.

Refer to the list of farm inputs compiled by Australian Certified Organic.

Refer to the seed suppliers compiled by Australian Certified Organic.


WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ORGANIC AND BIODYNAMIC?

"The main principle of biodynamic farming is that the entire farm exists as a single entity without the need for outside inputs. In other words, where an organic farm may purchase organic seeds or organic feed for livestock, a biodynamic farm must produce everything on the premises. By definition, “Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the shared environment and promote fair relationships and a good quality of life for all involved.” While similar, biodynamic farming principles have a greater focus on astrological cycles and the idea of the farm as a single ‘organism’." Bellamy's Organic

"Both are farming methods which contrast drastically with the chemical agriculture so common today. They both attempt to build up the soil’s humus content, and rely on biological activity for fertility and pest control. The use of toxic chemicals – whether insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, or fertilizers – is strictly forbidden. Their differences are not as numerous as their similarities. Everything we do on our biodynamic farm allows us to be certified organic, but the reverse is not true. Biodynamics has stricter rules on what can be used, and also has further requirements that organics doesn’t. The restrictions are in regards to soil fertility, pest control, and cultural techniques. The requirements are the use of homeopathic preparations made from herbs and animal organs. How a farm maintains soil fertility is at the heart of the agricultural question. A biodynamic farm is ideally self-contained, having the proper amount of land with livestock on it, so that excess fertility is available for other crops. All the feed for the animals is grown on the farm." Barefoot Farmer