The US Department of Agriculture is the regulating body that studies, researches, analyzes, reviews, monitors, and implements the guidelines for organic farming.
Regularly, it publishes a set of guidelines and regulations on organic agriculture, which is described as the application of a set of cultural, biological, and mechanical practices to support and promote ecological balance and biodiversity.
Good and healthy soil is important for the production of organic food. Crops can easily resist diseases, survive drought, and tolerate insects when they are being grown in good soil.
Crop producers need to make sure that the soil is of good quality by adding compost, animal manure, or green manure. It is important to note that sewage sludge and biosolids must not be applied to the soil.
Seeds and planting stock
To ensure the organic integrity of the crops, farmers must only use organic seeds and planting stocks when growing farm products.
They may only use conventionally grown seeds when the equivalent organic form is not available. The seeds can never be genetically modified or treated with prohibited substances such as fungicides.
Crop rotation is another technique in organic farming to interrupt insect life cycles, suppress soil-borne plant diseases, prevent soil erosion, and build farm biodiversity. In crop rotation, farmers rotate the crops they grow in the field over time.
Managing pests, weeds, and diseases
The PAMS strategy is what farmers follow when dealing with pests and diseases. PAMS stands for prevention, avoidance, monitoring, and suppression.
Prevention and avoidance are the first line of defense, followed by monitoring to ensure that there are no traces of pests, weeds, and diseases.
But if these three are already present on the farm, producers would have to use mechanical and physical practices (releasing predatory insects to reduce pest population). As a last resort, farmers can also turn to an approved pesticide by an organic certifier.
Maintaining the integrity of organic crops
It is the responsibility of the farmers in organic farming practices to prevent contact between organic and conventionally grown crops. The crops must also not come into contact with prohibited pesticides and fertilizers.
Farms that have split operations (raising both organic and conventionally grown products) must ensure that the organic crops don’t contact prohibited substances through accidental sprays of synthetic chemicals, spray drift, or residues on equipment from the non-organic part of the field.
There must be clearly defined boundaries and buffer zones to maintain the integrity of the organic crops.