NOP appoints Hydroponic & Aquaponic Task Force

USDA organic logo

The National Organic Program (NOP) appointed 16 members to a task force to explore hydroponic and aquaponic production practices and their alignment with USDA organic regulations.

The Northeast Organic Farming Association Interstate Council (NOFA IC) and the National Organic Cooalition (NOC) supported applications by Vermont farmer, Dave Chapman; NOFA-NJ member Theresa Lam and MOFGA Organic Crops Specialist (and former NOSB member) Eric Sideman.

The committee appointees are:

  • Will Allen, Milwaukee, Wis.
  • Colin Archipley, Esondido, Calif.
  • John Biernbaum, Ph.D., East Lansing, Mich.
  • Angela Caporelli, Frankfort, Ky.
  • Dave Chapman, East Thetford, Vt.
  • Marianne Cufone J.D., New Orleans, La.
  • Amy Lamendella, Santa Cruz, Calif.
  • Richard Shultz, Lethbridge, AB, Canada
  • Eric Sideman, PhD., Strafford, N.H.
  • Pierre Sleiman, Encinitas, Calif.
  • Stacy Tollefson, Ph.D., Tucson, Ariz.
  • Jose Edgardo Torres, Sahuarita, Ariz.
  • Jessica Vaughan, Freedom, Calif.
  • Jeffry Evard, Plainfield, Ind.
  • Sam Welsch, Lincoln, Neb.
  • Theresa Lam, East Brunswick, N.J.

The task force will report to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), an advisory committee of organic industry and stakeholder representatives who recommend whether substances should be allowed or prohibited in organic production or handling, assist in developing standards for substances to be used in organic production, and advise the Secretary of Agriculture on other aspects of the organic regulations.

The task force will prepare a report for the NOSB about the current state of technologies and practices for hydroponics and aquaponics, as well as how those practices do or do not align with the USDA organic regulations. The NOSB will utilize the report to determine the best path forward regarding recommendations on hydroponics and aquaponics production systems.

Learn more here.

Improve soil fertility – include chickens in field rotations

John Kenny of Big Train Farm

John Kenny of Big Train Farm

Organic agricultural practices include building soil fertility and organic matter. Healthy soils produce high quality crop yields and help ensure farms’ long-term sustainability. Organic farmers feed soil organisms with mulches, cover crops, crop residues and by spreading composted animal manures. Efficient farmers encourage livestock to spread and incorporate their own manure.

Crop planning includes waiting periods or “days to harvest” to allow fresh manure to break down. Farmers must wait 120 days for root crops or ready-to-eat crops like greens or fennel. A 90-day period is sufficient for crops without soil contact like tomatoes or broccoli.

Regular livestock movements prevents degradation ofsoil structure and protects against overloading soils with nitrogen or potassium from too much manure in one place. Allowing chickens to peck and scratch at weeds and crop residues helps incorporate their manure, minimize Nitrogen loss through volatilisation and prepare fields for future planting.

John Kenny of Big Train Farm in Cranston, RI uses his 100 Black Australorp as part of his four-step field management process. [Learn more here.]