NJL Soil Management Attra National Organic Program Regulations

A Publication of ATTRA, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service • 1-800-346-9140 • www.attra.ncat.org

By Barbara C. Bellows NCAT Agriculture Specialist © NCAT 2005

Contents

Section 205.203(a)

Section 205.203(b) 5

Monitoring Practices for Section 205.203 11

References 18

Resources 19

ATTRA is the national sustainable agriculture information service operated by the National Center for Appropriate Technology, through a grant from the Rural Business-Cooperative Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. These organizations do not recommend or endorse products, companies, or individuals. NCAT has offices in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Butte,Montana, and Davis, California. NCAT

The National Organic Program Rule, §205.203, Soil Fertility and Crop Nutrient Management Practice Standard, does not define specific land practices that producers must use. But it does identify general soil management and environmental protection objectives. From these objectives, producers and the organic certifiers they work with must determine whether specific farming practices meet the NOP criteria. This publication provides management guidelines for meeting, and measurable parameters for monitoring, these objectives. It also discusses why these objectives are essential for maintaining sustainable, organic production systems.

The National Organic Program (NOP) Rule, Section 205.203, outlines general goals for organic production. This publication does not intend to interpret these regulations in a legal sense. Instead, it explores ecological interactions that affect organic production and points out how understanding these interactions can help farmers, inspectors, and certifiers determine which soil management practices meet the National Standard.

The first part of this publication examines the three major provisions within Section 205.203 and discusses the relationship of each of the provisions to soil ecology. This is followed by a list of management options suggested by each provision. The second part of the publication discusses interactions among the three provisions and describes how certain management practices can meet multiple provisions within this section. It also examines methods for monitoring compliance

Soil Management
Conservation tillage helps improve or maintain soil health and minimize erosion. Photo by Tim McCabe, USDA ARS.
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