The #Organic Pages

4 Oct

Organic strategy and development:

The best practices for sustainable management in the US can be found here: at Attra, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT).

Rodale results from a 30-year field trial show that organic farming is more profitable, higher yielding, better carbon increase, better economics, better health, soil, and fits the “big picture” of a sustainable world. 

A certification standard to grow your crops or garden by is the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). These practices comply with the USDA standards people complain about, and let you sell internationally. They are also better to read, and are democratically agreed-upon:  *A summary of these certification norms can be found in an earlier post: Anarganic certification for the twenty-first century.

*In the USA Your state department of agriculture will help you certify if they’re accredited. In Ohio the best best organization for you to go into is OEFFA, the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association. Producer fees start at $705. Yearly inspection starts at $300. Certification is mandatory for a farm with organic sales over $5000.  There’s a full list of accredited certifiers here who will help you. Give one a call…

Your market can be a farmer’s market, but only after securing your direct contracts for selling to restaurants, schools, natural food stores, grocery. (If it is to pay returns to your time). For the latter scale, I recommend selling your certified produce through, anywhere in the world… they do certifications too.

— Michael Pollan on 10/1/2011, consumers’ questions answered:

Getting experience. My guide is the result of one and a half years in organic gardening. If you read it, you will be able to start growing your own product and selling it. It covers food safety, backyard and community gardening how-to, and arranging direct sales. There’s plenty of ways to start growing things 🙂 As special blog readers I bring you: Eddie’s guide 9-27, look for updates 🙂

Agroecology and the Right to Food : “Agroecological farming methods could double global food production in just 10 years, according to a report from the United Nations.” This one, describing results from the literature and making a recommendation to #public #policy. It’s a recommendation to the UN. :

Agricultural carbon sequestration has the potential to substantially mitigate global warming impacts.

Organic for development I do not pretend to know yet, and cannot generalize across all microclimates. It seems that if the small farmer does not have access to tractor or horse, cultivating field crops by hand will not bring high returns on labor; so they would be better off with a crop with little weed management like tree crops, or a high-value crop like vegetables. It seems also that a balance between providing a diverse diet and some cash crop must be maintained on most farms. For low-income, few production implement, small-acreage farmers, intensive monoculture is not preferable, which is an uncertain market which requires service costs higher than the farmer’s return to labor. Only after information has been gathered and understood can an analyst plan appropriate changes in a farming system. Farm development is not synonymous with commercialization, increased income, amounts of cash inputs, or farmer participation in credit programs because more cash flow across the farm boundary does not necessarily indicate increased farm productivity and family well-being. These insights, and others, are partially based off of a great book, Small Farm Development.

The Rodale New Farm is beautiful.

Other studies from Rodale:


Data from Rodale Institute and other studies indicate that regenerative and organic practices
can dramatically alter the carbon storage of arable lands, building soil “humic” substances (also known as
soil organic matter) that remain as stable carbon compounds for many years.

The key to greater, more stable carbon sequestration lies in the handling of soil organic matter (SOM). Be-
cause SOM is primarily carbon, increases in these levels will be directly correlated with carbon sequestra-
tion. While prevailing farming practices using synthetic inputs typically deplete SOM, regenerative farming
practices, including the integration of crop and animal production, build it.

Before forests and grasslands were converted to field agriculture, SOM generally composed 6 to 10 percent
of the soil volume, well over the 1- to 3-percent levels typical of today’s agricultural field systems. Building
soil organic matter by better nurturing our agricultural lands can capture the excess atmospheric carbon
dioxide and begin returning this lost carbon to the soil. Forests and rangelands hold a greater capacity for
carbon sequestration than the aboveground biomass measurements often used in equating their values.

Organically managed soils can convert carbon from a greenhouse gas into a food-producing asset. Soils
that are rich in carbon conserve water and support healthier plants that are more resistant to drought
stress, pests and diseases. Our studies of organic systems have shown an increase of almost 30 percent in-
soil carbon over 27 years. The petroleum-based system showed no significant increase in soil carbon in the
same time period and some studies have shown that these systems, in fact, may lose carbon.

Researchers are fleshing out the mechanisms by which this soil carbon sequestration takes place. One of the most significant findings is the high correlation
between increased soil carbon levels and very high amounts of mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi help slow down the decay of organic matter. Beginning with our
Farming Systems Trial, collaborative studies by the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS) led by David Douds, Ph.D., show that the biological support
system of mycorrhizal fungi are more prevalent and diverse in organically managed systems than in soils that depend on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

These fungi work to conserve organic matter by aggregating organic matter with clay and minerals. In soil aggregates, carbon is more resistant to degradation
than in free form and thus more likely to be conserved. These findings demonstrate that mycorrhizal fungi produce a potent glue-like substance called glomalin that stimulates increased aggregation of soil particles. This results in an increased ability of
soil to retain carbon. These findings are based on analysis by ARS researchers at the Northern Great Plains Research Lab in Mandan, North Dakota.

In Rodale Institute’s FST, soil carbon levels increased more in the manure-based organic system than in the legume-based organic system, presum-


ably because the manure stimulates the soil to sequester carbon in more stable forms. The study also showed that soil carbon depends on more
than just total carbon additions to the system, be matter under different management systems. The
application of soluble nitrogen fertilizers in the petroleum-based system stimulates more rapid and complete decay of organic matter, sending carbon into
the atmosphere instead of retaining it in the soil as the organic systems do.
UN Special Rapporteur Recommendation

2 Responses to “The #Organic Pages”


  1. Transition to a New System: Index « A Global Organic Mindset - November 11, 2011

    […] – The #Organic Pages […]

  2. Master Index: « A Global Organic Mindset - April 23, 2012

    […] – The #Organic Pages […]

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