Organic Basics

Organic Basics

Organic farming recognises the direct connection between our health and the food we eat. Strict regulations, known as ‘standards’, define what organic farmers can and cannot do – and place a strong emphasis on the protection of wildlife and the environment.

In organic farming: pesticides are severely restricted – instead organic farmer develop nutrient-rich soil to grow strong healthy crops and encourage wildlife to help control pests and disease artificial chemical fertilisers are prohibited – instead organic farmers develop a healthy, fertile soil by growing and rotating a mixture of crops using clover to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere animal cruelty is prohibited and a truly free-range life for farm animals is guaranteed the routine use of drugs, antibiotics and wormers is disallowed - instead the farmer will use preventative methods, like moving animals to fresh pasture and keeping smaller herd size the production and use of GM in animal feed is banned

Start at the beginning and the end – the SOIL

Soil is a living system, must be fed and nurtured What is removed must be replaced. There are 5 interactive factors in soil formation: biota climate topography parent material time C:N Dynamic mixture of living and dead cells – soil organic matter (SOM), and mineral particles in sufficiently small sizes to permit the intimate colloidal interactions characteristic of soil. Clays are basic to aggregation formation, and have mostly a net negative charge. Micro-organisms are also negatively charged at neutral pH, as are most SOM constituents. Attachments between 2 negatively charged units is possible by ionic bonding via multi-valence cations. One bond attaches to a micro-organism and another to clay particle. Microbial polysaccharides and fibrils with strong attachment characteristics also bind soil particles together. Aggregate formation initiated with microflora and root produced filaments and polysaccharides that combine with clays leads to organic material-mineral complexes. Soil structure created when physical forces (drying, shrink-swell, freeze-thaw, root growth, animal movement and compaction) mould soil into aggregates. In soil aggregates the organic matter is protected.

Organic matter


Soil Association

The Soil Association has probably the highest and most comprehensive standards for organic production and processing in the world. Their standards not only meet the UK government's minimum requirements but in many areas are higher. This is particularly true with animal welfare (for example, poultry) and the use of pesticides and fertilisers. They have also developed standards for areas not covered by government or EU regulations. These include conservation, fish farming, textiles and health and beauty care products. Their standards are constantly under review to keep them up-to-date and to address new issues and developments as they happen. To do this they have set up a number of independent standards committees. These committees are made up of their members and licensees, researchers, advisors and other experts in their field. The committees consider proposals and amendments to the standards and advise them on other relevant policy issues. Their recommendations are circulated to all members and licensees for consultation, with the final decision being taken by their elected council. This rigorous and open process ensures standards remain high, yet attainable.

Soil Association symbol

The Soil Association symbol is the UK's most recognised trademark for organic produce. When used on food packaging, it tells you that produce is certified to high organic standards and provides an assurance of organic authenticity. The organic symbol is valued by farmers, growers, processors and retailers as an important mark of their professionalism and integrity. The organic symbol is a trademark of the Soil Association and protected by copyright. Only their licensees are entitled to use this symbol and only in association with the organic products that are included on their licence.

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