Basic Standards and General Principles for Organic Agriculture


⇒ Eco-Friendly Farming
  ⇒ Evolution of Sustainable Agriculture
⇒ Organic Farming
⇒ Biological Farming
⇒ Nature Farming
⇒ Regenerative Agriculture
⇒ Permaculture
⇒ Alternate Agriculture
⇒ Ecological Agriculture
⇒ Ecological Farming Systems
  ⇒ Objectives of Ecological Farming
  ⇒ Prospects
  ⇒ Integrated Intensive Farming System (IIFS)
  ⇒ Low External Input Supply Agriculture (LEISA)
    ⇒ Low-Input Agriculture
    ⇒ Criteria for LEISA
    ⇒ Ecological Criteria
    ⇒ Economic Criteria
    ⇒ Social Criteria
⇒ Biodynamic Agriculture
  ⇒ Organic Farming vs. Biodynamic Farming
  ⇒ Principles of Biodynamic Farming
  ⇒ Rules for Using Biodynamic Agriculture
⇒ Organic Agriculture System
  ⇒ The Major Aims of Organic Farming
  ⇒ Concept of Organic Farming
  ⇒ Difference Between Organic and Conventional Farming
  ⇒ History of Organic Farming
  ⇒ Needs of Organic Farming
    ⇒ Needs for Organic Inputs
  ⇒ In Partnership With Nature
⇒ Basic Standards and General Principles for Organic Agriculture
  ⇒ Crop and Soil Management
  ⇒ Choice of Crops and Varieties
  ⇒ Crop Rotations
  ⇒ Nutrient Management
  ⇒ Management of Pests, Diseases and Weeds
  ⇒ Wild Products
  ⇒ Pollution Control
  ⇒ Soil and Water Conservation
    ⇒ Landscape
⇒ Principle Requirements and Pre-Conditions
⇒ Conversion From Conventional to Organic Farming
  ⇒ Farms With Plant Production and Livestock
  ⇒ Initiating Organic Farming
    ⇒ Medicinal Plants-The First Crops for Organic Farming
⇒ Important Tips for Cultivation of Medicinal Plants
⇒ Multi Tier Agriculture System for Cultivation of Medicinal Plants
    ⇒ Benefits of Multi-Tier Agriculture System (MTAS)
    ⇒ Selection of Shade Crops
    ⇒ Irrigation
    ⇒ Disease and Protection
    ⇒ Benefits for Farmers and the World
⇒ Indigenous Agricultural Practices for Cultivation of Medicinal Plants
  ⇒ Rationality of Indigenous Agricultural Knowledge/ Practices

Basic Standards and General Principles for Organic Agriculture
Organic farming system is based on the dynamic interaction between the soil, the plants, animals, humans, the ecosystem and the environment. The system is directed towards enhancing natural life cycles rather than suppressing nature. It relies largely on locally available resources. Organic farmers have proven to the world that their farming system is distinguishable from other agricultural systems, and above all, is competitive and able to provide agricultural products of good quality while minimizing negative side-effects.

Crop and Soil Management
Organic farming systems encourage the use of rotations and manures to maintain soil fertility. Carefully managed soils with a high proportion of humus offer essential advantages with respect to water retention, ion exchange, soil erosion, and animal life in the sdil. A high proportion of humus in the soil gives uniform distribution of nutrients and also promotes plant hygiene.

Green manuring and intercropping of legumes is another important aspect for biological farming systems not only in regard to weed control, but also in reducing the leaching of nutrients and in reducing soil erosion. A green cover throughout most of the year is one of the main goals of such farming methods. Depending on the green manure mixture or the legumes used for under sowing, there may be an increase in soil organic matter and soil N as well as in other nutrients.

Choice of Crops and Varieties

  • All seeds and plant material should be certified organic.
  • Species and varieties cultivated should, as far as possible, be adapted to the soil and climatic conditions and be resistant to pests and diseases.
  • A moratorium on all transgenic food and agricultural applications should be imposed.
  • In the choice of varieties genetic diversity should be taken into consideration.

Crop Rotations

Rotations should be as varied as possible and aim to :
  • maintain soil fertility,
  • reduce nitrate leaching,
  • reduce weed, pest and disease problems.
It is recommended that specific rotations including legumes are insisted upon by the certification programmes.

Nutrient Management

Increasing prices of chemical fertilizers have enabled organic wastes to regain an important role in the fertilizer practices on the farm. Good manure management means improved fertilizer value of manure and slurry and less nutrient losses. Composting of all organic waste in general, and of farm yard manure or feedlot manure in particular, is important in organic farming with the following guidelines:
  1. Sufficient quantities of organic material should be returned to the soil to increase or at least maintain its humus content on a long term basis.
  2. Accumulation of heavy metals and other pollutants should be limited.
  3. Organic material produced on organic farms should form the basis of the manurial programme.
  4. Management and handling of manure and compost should minimise nutrient losses.
  5. Soil pH-values, which are appropriate to the soil type and the crops cultivated, should be maintained.
  6. Use of human faces is restricted. Consideration should be paid to the absence of pollutants. Steps should be taken to prevent the transmission of pests, parasites and other infectious agents e. g. by high temperature composting.
  7. Non synthetic mineral fertilizers and brought in fertilizers of biological origin should be regarded as supplementary and not a replacement for nutrient recycling.
  8. Minimizing the downward movement of nutrients in the soil profile: (i) The rotation with deep-rooted crops,
    (ii) The avoidance of high-solubility nutrient sources,
    (iii) The avoidance of mould board ploughing in favor of chisel ploughing,
    (iv) The insertion of nutrients into the rotation onto a sod crop, if possible, to maximize uptake, and
    (v) The seasonal use of cover crops in and around the major cash crops.
There are differences in nutrient profile with depth between organic and conventional systems, if the assumption is correct and if any of the above practices have a major effect in vertical nutrient movement.

Management of Pests, Diseases and Weeds

Organic farmers' primary strategy in controlling pests and diseases is the prevention. Organic farmers build healthy soils-fertilizing and building soil organic matter through the use of cover crops, compost, and biologically based soil amendments. This produces healthy plants, which are better able to resist disease and insect predation. Organic farmers also rely on a diverse population of soil organisms, insects, birds, and other organisms to keep pest problems in check. When pest populations get out of balance, growers will implement a variety of strategies such as the use of insect predators, mating disruption, traps, and barriers. As a last resort, botanical or other non-toxic pesticides may be applied under restricted conditions. Weeds are controlled through increased cultivation, as well as through cover crops, mulches, flame weeding, crop rotation and similar management methods.
  1. Organic farming systems should be carried out in a way which ensures that losses from pests, diseases and weeds are minimized. Emphasis is placed on the use of varieties well-adapted to the environment, a balanced manurial programme, fertile soils of high biological activity, correct rotations, companion planting, green manures, etc.
  2. The natural enemies of pests and diseases should be protected and, through proper habitat management, encouraged such as hedges, nesting sites, etc.
  3. Weeds are controlled by a number of preventive cultural techniques limiting their development, e. g. suitable rotations, green manures, a balanced manurial programme, early seedbed preparations and predrilling, mulching and by mechanical control. Physical and thermic methods are permitted. Growth Regulations, etc.

Wild Products

The collection should positively contribute to the maintenance of natural areas.

Pollution Control

  1. All relevant measures should be taken to minimize pesticide contamination, from outside and within the farm by wind drift, drainage and irrigation. This includes a clearly defined demarcation between conventionally and organically farmed fields.
  2. In case of risk or reasonable suspicion of risk of pollution, the certification programme shall set limits for the maximum yearly addition of heavy metals and other pollutants.
  3. Accumulation of heavy metals and other pollutants should be limited.

Soil and Water Conservation

The collection should positively contribute to the maintenance of natural areas.


  1. The certification programmes should, where necessary, set standards for a minimum percentage of the farm area to facilitate biodiversity. These areas should be managed properly and be linked.
  2. Areas which might be included in this percentage are:
    • extensive grassland such as moorlands, reed land or dry land
    • in general all areas which are not under rotation and are not heavily manured
    • extensive pastures, meadows, extensive grassland, extensive orchards, hedges, hedgerows, groups of trees and/or bushes and forest lines
    • ecologically rich fallow land arable land (with no inputs),
    • ecologically diversified (extensive) field margins,
    • waterways, pools, springs, ditches, wetlands, swamps and other water rich areas which are not used for intensive agriculture or aqua production
    • areas with ruderal flora.