the 15 principles of organic farming

Organic agriculture is the counter movement to conventional agriculture that supports a more natural relationship between production and the environment in which production takes place.

To support this relationship and reduce the negative impact of horticulture and agriculture, there are four main principles:

  1. Care
  2. Fairness
  3. Ecology
  4. Health

These principles influence the practices of organic producers. Accordingly, there are 15 core elements of genuine organic production. Any farmer or gardener can choose to adhere to these standards regardless of certification. They are as follows:

  • Avoid all synthetically-produced chemicals, including supposedly organic “icides” like pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides [they might be made with organic ingredients but they don’t really support soil health]
  • Use beneficials for pest control
  • Control weeds via mechanical [rather than chemical] methods
  • Avoid the use of easily soluble mineral fertilizers
  • Utilize nitrogen from manure and manure compost
  • Practice green manuring with nitrogen-fixing plants [Leguminosae]
  • Use slow-acting, natural fertilizers
  • Preserve soil fertility via humus management
  • Rotate crops with diverse varieties and long crop rotations 
  • Abstain from the application of synthetically-produced chemical growth regulators
  • Limit stocking density to improve animal welfare and reduce damaging effects to the soil, water, and air
  • Restrict the use of purchased feed and focus on creating an on-farm or in-community production circle
  • Use antibiotics on an as-needed basis
  • Support biodiversity by embracing polyculture and intercropping 


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