• TABLE OF CONTENTS
HIDE
 Front Cover
 Title Page
 Foreword
 Preface
 Acknowledgement
 Table of Contents
 USDA study team for organic...
 Summary and conclusions
 Introduction
 Organic agirculture: Definitions...
 References
 Current status and character of...
 Analysis of organic agriculture:...
 Current research and education...
 Factors affecting the future of...
 Recommendations for action






Title: Report and recommendations on organic farming
CITATION PAGE IMAGE ZOOMABLE PAGE TEXT
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00053860/00001
 Material Information
Title: Report and recommendations on organic farming
Physical Description: xiv, 94 p. : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: USDA Study Team on Organic Farming (U.S.)
Publisher: The Dept.
Place of Publication: <Washington>
Publication Date: <1980>
 Subjects
Subject: Organic farming   ( lcsh )
Organic farming -- United States   ( lcsh )
Genre: federal government publication   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
 Notes
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Statement of Responsibility: prepared by USDA Study Team on Organic Farming, United States Department of Agriculture.
General Note: "July 1980"
Funding: Electronic resources created as part of a prototype UF Institutional Repository and Faculty Papers project by the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00053860
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002871947
oclc - 08762500
notis - APA3170
lccn - 80603235

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page i
    Title Page
        Page ii
    Foreword
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Preface
        Page v
    Acknowledgement
        Page vi
    Table of Contents
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
    USDA study team for organic farming
        Page x
    Summary and conclusions
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
    Introduction
        Page 1
        Background
            Page 1
        Nature of the study
            Page 2
            Objectives
                Page 2
            Methods
                Page 3
                Page 4
        References
            Page 5
    Organic agirculture: Definitions and philosophy
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Introduction
            Page 6
        Formal definitions
            Page 6
        The organic spectrum: Some additional categories
            Page 8
        Organic agriculture: Some basic tenets
            Page 8
        Organic farming: Its meaning in this report
            Page 9
    References
        Page 9
    Current status and character of organic farming in the United States
        Page 10
        Background information
            Page 10
            Numbers of farms
                Page 10
            Geographic distribution
                Page 10
            Farm size
                Page 10
            Farm ownership characteristics
                Page 11
            Age and farming experience
                Page 11
            Educational background
                Page 11
            Motivations for farming organically
                Page 11
        Crop prodcution
            Page 12
        Cultural practices
            Page 12
            Soil and water conservation
                Page 13
                Page 14
            Application of plant nutrients and organic matter
                Page 13
            Pest control methods
                Page 15
            Crop yields and quality
                Page 16
        Animal production
            Page 16
        Marketing
            Page 17
        Grower and marketing organizations
            Page 18
        Organic agriculture in Europe
            Page 18
        Organic agriculture in Japan
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
    Analysis of organic agriculture: Production, environmental, and socio-economic implications
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Plant nutrient budget
            Page 22
            Nutrient requirements
                Page 22
            Nutrient budget concept
                Page 22
            Nitrogen
                Page 24
            Phosphorus and potassium
                Page 24
                Page 25
                Page 26
            Effect of organice matter on the solubility of calcuim phosphates
                Page 27
            Potential impact of mycorrhizal fungi
                Page 27
        References
            Page 28
        Impact of organic methods on soil productivity and tilth
            Page 29
            Effect of organic nutrient sources on crop production
                Page 29
            Effect of organic methods on soil organic matter
                Page 30
                Page 31
            Effect of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on soild microbiological and physical properties
                Page 32
                Page 33
        References
            Page 34
        Organic farming and organic wastes
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            USDA report, improving soils with organic wastes
                Page 35
            Current usage
                Page 35
            Compositing to enhance the usefulness and acceptability of organice wastes as fertilizers and soild conditioners
                Page 38
        References
            Page 39
        Nontraditional soil and plant additives
            Page 40
        References
            Page 41
        Pest control
            Page 42
            Weed control
                Page 42
            Insect control
                Page 43
            An economic comparison of organic crop rotations and continuous conventional cropping
                Page 45
            Economic assessment of organic farming
                Page 44
            Possible economic impacts of increased organic farming in the future
                Page 46
                Page 47
                Page 48
        References
            Page 49
        Productivity in organic farming
            Page 49
            Relation to energy
                Page 49
                Page 50
                Page 51
            Comparison of crop yields on organic and conventional farms
                Page 52
                Page 53
                Page 54
                Page 55
        References
            Page 56
        Labor intensiveness on organic farms
            Page 56
            Page 57
        References
            Page 58
        Water conservacation
            Page 58
        Impact of organic agriculture on environmental quality
            Page 59
            Soil erosion control with organic farming
                Page 59
                Page 60
            Nutrient loss with organic farming
                Page 61
            Pesticide pollution
                Page 62
        References
            Page 63
        Nutritional quality and food safety
            Page 64
            Background and terminology
                Page 64
            Nutritional quality
                Page 64
            Health and safety
                Page 65
                Page 66
        References
            Page 67
        Public policy and organic farming: Selected issues and policies
            Page 67
            Page 68
            Page 69
        References
            Page 70
    Current research and education programs on organic agriculture
        Page 71
        Current research on crop production that relaties to organic farming
            Page 71
            Introduction
                Page 71
            Biological nitrogen fixation
                Page 71
            Application of municipal and industrial waste to land
                Page 72
            Application of animal manure to land
                Page 72
            Soil fertility
                Page 72
            Economic evaluations
                Page 73
            Food safety and quality
                Page 73
            Pest control
                Page 73
        Education programs in organic farming
            Page 73
            Page 74
            University programs
                Page 73
            Course directly related to organic farming
                Page 73
            Cooperative extension service educational programs
                Page 75
                Page 76
                Page 77
            High phosphorus and potassium status of soils
                Page 79
            Soils highly buffered with phosphorus and potassium
                Page 79
            Benefits from organic matter management
                Page 79
            Improved soil physical conditions
                Page 79
            Farm ownership
                Page 79
    Factors affecting the future of organic farming
        Page 78
        Factors which support successful organic farming operations
            Page 78
            Skilled management
                Page 78
            Available sources of nutrients
                Page 78
        Benefits, opportunities, and incentives that lend support to organic farming practices
            Page 79
            Environmental quality
                Page 79
            Food safety
                Page 80
            Energy
                Page 80
            Conservation of natural resources
                Page 80
            Economic factors
                Page 81
            Technology development
                Page 81
        Possible limitations and barriers to organic farming
            Page 81
            Plant nutrients
                Page 81
            Economic factors
                Page 82
            Communication problems
                Page 83
            Farm ownership patterns
                Page 83
            Crop varieties
                Page 83
        Future prospects
            Page 84
        References
            Page 85
    Recommendations for action
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Research recommendations from an earlier report
            Page 86
        Research recommended by the USDA study team
            Page 88
            Page 89
            Page 90
            Page 91
        Education programs
            Page 92
        Extension programs
            Page 93
        Recommendations on organization and policy matters
            Page 93
        References
            Page 94
Full Text




REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATIONS
ON ORGANIC FARMING














I UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE



















REPORT AND
RECOMMENDATIONS
ON ORGANIC FARMING




Prepared by
USDA Study Team on Organic Farming
United States Department of Agriculture
July 1980







FOREWORD


We in USDA are receiving increasing numbers of requests for information and
advice on organic farming practices. Energy shortages, food safety, and
environmental concerns have all contributed to the demand for more comprehensive
information on organic farming technology.

Many large-scale producers as well as small farmers and gardeners are showing
interest in alternative farming systems. Some of these producers have developed
unique systems for soil and crop management, organic recycling, energy conserva-
tion, and pest control.

We need to gain a better understanding of these organic farming systems --
the extent to which they are practiced in the United States, why they are being
used, the technology behind them, and the economic and ecological impacts from
their use. We must also identify the kinds of research and education programs
that relate to organic farming.

As we strive to develop relevant and productive programs for all of agriculture,
we look forward to increasing communication between organic farmers and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.


BOB BERGLAND
Secretary of Agriculture







PREFACE


One of the major challenges to agriculture in this decade will be to develop
farming systems that can produce the necessary quantity and quality of food and
fiber without adversely affecting our soil resources and the environment. This
study was conducted to learn more about the potential contribution of organic
farming as a system for the production of food and fiber.

We wish to thank Mr. Robert Rodale for allowing us to have access to the
results of the Rodale Press survey of The New Farm readers. This survey
produced a great deal of valuable background information and has added depth
and perspective to this report. We are also indebted to the many persons in
Cooperative Research, Extension, Land-Grant Universities, State Agricultural
Experiment Stations, and other cooperating institutions who responded to our
requests for information, assistance, and guidance. The Study Team wishes to
extend a special note of gratitude to those organic farmers who so willingly
explained their farming operations. We have benefited greatly from their
experiences and testimony, and their cooperation is deeply appreciated.





ANSON R. BERTRAND, Director
Science and Education














ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


The study team wishes to express its appreciation for the excellent advice and
counsel on organic farming that it received during this study from:

Mr. Eliot W. Coleman, Executive Director
International Federation of Organic
Agricultural Movements (IFOAM)
The Coolidge Center
Topsfield, Massachusetts

and

Dr. Richard R. Harwood, Director
Organic Gardening and Farming Research Center
Rodale Press, Inc.
Emmaus, Pennsylvania

We acknowledge the generous assistance of those scientists who reviewed various
segments of the report and provided such helpful and constructive suggestions. The
clerical staff of the Biological Waste Management and Organic Resources Laboratory
also deserves special thanks for their diligence and patience in preparing the
preliminary drafts and the final document.







CONTENTS

1. INTRODUCTION------------------------------- -------------------------1
1.1 BACKGROUND------------------------ ------------------------------1
1.2 NATURE OF THE STUDY ----------------------------------- 2
1.2.1 Objectives------------ ------------------------------ 2
1.2.2 Methods---------------- ----------------------- 3
REFERENCES ------------------------------ ------------------------4

2. ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: DEFINITIONS AND PHILOSOPHY-------------------------- 6
2.1 INTRODUCTION---------------------------------------------------- 6
2.2 FORMAL DEFINITIONS---------------------------------------------- 6
2.3 THE ORGANIC SPECTRUM: SOME ADDITIONAL CATEGORIES--------------------- 8
2.4 ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: SOME BASIC TENETS------------------------------ 8
2.5 ORGANIC FARMING: ITS MEANING IN THIS REPORT------------------------ 9
REFERENCES---- ----------------------------------------------- 9

3. CURRENT STATUS AND CHARACTER OF ORGANIC FARMING IN THE UNITED STATES------- 10
3.1 BACKGROUND INFORMATION----------------------------------- 10
3.1.1 Number of Farms-------------------------------- --- 10
3.1.2 Geographic Distribution--------------------------- 10
3.1.3 Farm Size------------------------------------ 10
3.1.4 Farm Ownership Characteristics------------------------- 11
3.1.5 Age and Farming Experience----------------------------- 11
3.1.6 Educational Background------------------------------ 11
3.1.7 Motivations for Farming Organically------------------------ 11
3.1.8 Other Characteristics---------------------------------- 11
3.2 CROP PRODUCTION----------------------------- -------------------- 12
3.2.1 Cropping Practices------------------------ ---------- 12
3.2.2 Cultural Practices-- ------------------------- 12
3.2.3 Soil and Water Conservation------------------------- -- 13
3.2.4 Application of Plant Nutrients and Organic Matter------------ 13
3.2.5 Pest Control Methods--------------------------------- 15
3.2.6 Crop Yields and Quality-------------------------------- 16
3.3 ANIMAL PRODUCTION---------------------------------------------- 16
3.4 MARKETING ----------------------------------------- ------ 17
3.5 GROWER AND MARKETING ORGANIZATIONS- --------------------------- 18
3.6 ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN EUROPE------------------------- -------- 18
3.7 ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN JAPAN----------------------------------- 19

4. ANALYSIS OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: PRODUCTION, ENVIRONMENTAL, AND SOCIO-ECONOMIC
IMPLICATIONS---------------------------- ------------------------- 22
4.1 PLANT NUTRIENT BUDGET- ---------------------------------- 22
4.1.1 Nutrient Requirements---------------------------- 22
4.1.2 Nutrient Budget Concept-------------------------------- 22
4.1.3 Nitrogen-------- ---------------------------------------- 23
4.1.4 Phosphorus and Potassium---- ----------- --------- ----- 23
4.1.5 Effect of Organic Matter on the Solubility of
Calcium Phosphates-- ---------------------------- 27
4.1.6 Potential Impact of Mycorrhizal Fungi--------------------- 27
REFERENCES-------------------------- -------------------- 28
4.2 IMPACT OF ORGANIC METHODS ON SOIL PRODUCTIVITY AND TILTH------------- 29
4.2.1 Effect of Organic Nutrient Sources on Crop Production-------- 29
4.2.2 Effect of Organic Methods on Soil Organic Matter-------------- 30
4.2.3 Effect of Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides on Soil
Microbiological and Physical Properties-------------------- 32







REFERENCES------------------------------ ----------------------- 34
4.3 ORGANIC FARMING AND ORGANIC WASTES---------------------------------- 35
4.3.1 USDA Report, Improving Soils with Organic Wastes (1978)-------- 35
4.3.2 Composting to Enhance the Usefulness and Acceptability of
Organic Wastes as Fertilizers and Soil Conditioners------------ 38
REFERENCES----------------------------- ----------------------- 39
4.4 NONTRADITIONAL SOIL AND PLANT ADDITIVES------------------------------ 40
REFERENCES------------------------------------------------- 41
4.5 PEST CONTROL--------------------------------- 42
4.5.1 Weed Control----------------- ------------------------- 42
4.5.2 Insect Control------------------------------- --------- 42
4.6 ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT OF ORGANIC FARMING-------------------------------- 43
4.6.1 An Economic Comparison of Organic Crop Rotations and
Continuous Conventional Cropping------------------------------ 45
4.6.2 Possible Economic Impacts of Increased Organic
Farming in the Future---------------------------------- 46
REFERENCES--------------------------------- 49
4.7 PRODUCTIVITY IN ORGANIC FARMING-------------------------------- 49
4.7.1 Relation to Energy----- ----------------------------------- 49
4.7.2 Comparison of Crop Yields on Organic and Conventional
Farms----------------------------------------------- 52
REFERENCES------------------------- -- ------------------------- 56
4.8 LABOR INTENSIVENESS ON ORGANIC FARMS-------------------------------- 56
REFERENCES------------------- ------------------------------- 58
4.9 WATER CONSERVATION------------------------------------ 58
4.9.1 Tillage---------------------- ---------------------------- 58
4.9.2 Cropping Practice---------------------------------- 58
4.9.3 Organic Matter---------------------------------- -59
REFERENCES--------------------------------------- 59
4.10 IMPACT OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY-------------- 59
4.10.1 Soil Erosion Control with Organic Farming------------------ 59
4.10.2 Nutrient Loss with Organic Farming------------------------ 61
4.10.3 Pesticide Pollution-------------------------- -- --- 62
REFERENCES------------ -------------------------- 63
4.11 NUTRITIONAL QUALITY AND FOOD SAFETY-------------------------------- 64
4.11.1 Background and Terminology----------------------------- 64
4.11.2 Nutritional Quality--------------------------------- 64
4.11.3 Health Safety---------------------------------- -65
REFERENCES----------------------------- ----------------------- 67
4.12 PUBLIC POLICY AND ORGANIC FARMING: SELECTED ISSUES AND POLICIES------ 67
4.12.1 Introduction------ --- ----------------------------------- 67
4.12.2 National Policies and Issues-------------------------------- 67
REFERENCES--- ----------------------- ------------------------ 70

5. CURRENT RESEARCH AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS ON ORGANIC AGRICULTURE-------------- 71
5.1 CURRENT RESEARCH ON CROP PRODUCTION THAT RELATES TO ORGANIC FARMING---- 71
5.1.1 Introduction------ --------------------------------------- 71
5.1.2 Biological Nitrogen Fixation------------------------------ 71
5.1.3 Application of Municipal and Industrial Waste to Land--------- 72
5.1.4 Application of Animal Manure to Land----------------------- 72
5.1.5 Soil Fertility- ------------------------------ 72
5.1.6 Economic Evaluations---------------------------------- 73
5.1.7 Food Safety and Quality--------------------------------- 73
5.1.8 Pest Control--------------------------------------- 73
5.2 EDUCATION PROGRAMS IN ORGANIC FARMING ------------------------- 73
5.2.1 University Programs------- ------------------------ -73


viii







5.2.2 Cooperative Extension Service Educational Programs------------ 75

6. FACTORS AFFECTING THE FUTURE OF ORGANIC FARMING------------------------ 78
6.1 FACTORS WHICH SUPPORT SUCCESSFUL ORGANIC FARMING OPERATIONS---------- 78
6.1.1 Skilled Management-------------------------------- 78
6.1.2 Available Sources of Nutrients----------------------------- 78
6.1.3 High Phosphorus and Potassium Status of Soils---------------- 79
6.1.4 Soils Highly Buffered with Phosphorus and Potassium---------- 79
6.1.5 Benefits from Organic Matter Management--------------------- 79
6.1.6 Improved Soil Physical Conditions---------------------------- 79
6.1.7 Farm Ownership------------------------------ --79
6.2 BENEFITS, OPPORTUNITIES, AND INCENTIVES THAT LEND SUPPORT TO
ORGANIC FARMING PRACTICES- ------------------------------- 79
6.2.1 Environmental Quality--------------------------------- 79
6.2.2 Food Safety-------------------------------------------- 80
6.2.3 Energy------------------- ------------------------------- 80
6.2.4 Conservation of Natural Resources-------------------------- 80
6.2.5 Economic Factors--------------------------------- 81
6.2.6 Technology Development----------------------------- 81
6.3 POSSIBLE LIMITATIONS AND BARRIERS TO ORGANIC FARMING---------------- 81
6.3.1 Plant Nutrients----------------------------- -- 81
6.3.2 Economic Factors--------------------------------- 82
6.3.3 Communication Problems------------------------------------ 83
6.3.4 Farm Ownership Patterns------------------------------- 83
6.3.5 Crop Varieties------------------------------- 83
6.4 FUTURE PROSPECTS-------------- -------------------------------- 84
REFERENCES----------------------------------------------------- 85

7. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ACTION ---------------------------------- 86
7.1 RESEARCH RECOMMENDATIONS FROM EARLIER REPORT---------------------- 86
7.2 RESEARCH RECOMMENDED BY THE USDA STUDY TEAM----------------------- 88
7.3 EDUCATION PROGRAMS--------------------- ------------ 92
7.4 EXTENSION PROGRAMS----------------------------------- 93
7.5 RECOMMENDATIONS ON ORGANIZATION AND POLICY MATTERS----------------- 93
REFERENCES----------------------------- ----------------------- 94







USDA STUDY TEAM FOR ORGANIC FARMING


Dr. Robert I. Papendick, SEA/AR
Coordinator and Chairman of Study Team
Land Management and Water Conservation Re-
search Unit
Pullman, Washington

Dr. Larry L. Boersma, SEA/CR
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Daniel Colacicco, USDA/ESCS
Assigned to the Biological Waste Manage-
ment and Organic Resources Laboratory
Beltsville, Maryland

Ms. Joanne M. Kla
Maryland Environmental Service
Assigned to the Biological Waste Manage-
ment and Organic Resources Laboratory
Beltsvile, Maryland

Dr. Charles A. Kraenzle, USDA/ESCS
Assigned to SEA/JPE
Program Planning Staff
Beltsville, Maryland


Dr. Paul B. Marsh, SEA/AR
Biological Waste Management and Organic
Resources Laboratory
Beltsville, Maryland

Dr. Arthur S. Newnan, SEA/CR
Washington, D.C.

Dr. James F. Parr, SEA/AR, Chief
Biological Waste Management and
Organic Resources Laboratory
Beltsville, Maryland

Dr. James B. Swan
Department of Soil Science
University of Minnesota
St. Paul, Minnesota

Dr. I. Garth Youngberg, Chairperson
Department of Political Science
Southeast Missouri State University
Cape Girardeau, Missouri


OTHER CONTRIBUTORS


Dr. Lloyd A. Andres, SEA/AR
Biological Control of Weeds
Albany, California


Laboratory


Dr. William W. Cantelo, SEA/AR
Vegetable Laboratory
Beltsville, Maryland

Dr. John W. Doran, SEA/AR
Lincoln, Nebraska


Dr. Thomas M. McCalla, SEA/AR
Lincoln, Nebraska

Mr. James W. Schwartz, SEA/AR
National Program Staff
Beltsville, Maryland

Dr. Guye H. Willis, SEA/AR
Soil and Water Pollution Research
Baton Rouge, Louisiana







SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS


In April 1979, Dr. Anson R. Bertrand, Director, Science and Education,
U.S. Department of Agriculture, designated a team of scientists to conduct
a study of organic farming in the United States and Europe. Accordingly, the
team has assessed the nature and activity of organic farming both here and abroad;
investigated the motivations of why farmers shift to organic methods; explored the
broad sociopolitical character of the organic movement, assessed the nature of
organic technology and management systems; evaluated the level of success of organic
farmers and the economic impacts, costs, benefits, and limitations to organic farming;
identified research and education programs that would benefit organic farmers; and
recommended plans of action for implementation. This report is a condensed version
of data and information compiled by the study team. More detailed and documented
information will be published later.

In conducting this study, the team relied on a variety of methods and sources to
obtain information. These included:

Selected on-farm case studies of 69 organic farms in 23 States.
A Rodale Press survey of The New Farm magazine readership.
SAn extensive review of the literature on organic farming pub-
lished both here and abroad.
Interviews and correspondence with knowledgeable organic farming
leaders, editors, spokesmen, and practitioners.
STwo study tours of organic farms and research institutes in
Europe and Japan.

Public response to this study from both the rural and urban communities has
been overwhelming and for the most part highly positive. Thus far, approximately
500 letters have been received expressing encouragement and support for the
Department's efforts. Many people have generously provided valuable information
for the study and innovative ideas on organic methods and techniques. Through-
out the study, team members have been invited to speak before various organic
producer groups and associations. In all cases, supportive and even enthusiastic
receptions were noted. Finally, interviews with team members have been published
in numerous newspapers, magazines, and organic newsletters.

It has been most apparent in conducting this study that there is increasing
concern about the adverse effects of our U.S. agricultural production system, par-
ticularly in regard to the intensive and continuous production of cash grains and
the extensive and sometimes excessive use of agricultural chemicals. Among the
concerns most often expressed are the following:

(1) Sharply increasing costs and uncertain availability of energy and
chemical fertilizer, and our heavy reliance on these inputs.
(2) Steady decline in soil productivity and tilth from excessive
soil erosion and loss of soil organic matter.
(3) Degradation of the environment from erosion and sedimentation and
from pollution of natural waters by agricultural chemicals.
(4) Hazards to human and animal health and to food safety from heavy
use of pesticides.
(5) Demise of the family farm and localized marketing systems.

Consequently, many feel that a shift to some degree from conventional (that is,
chemical-intensive) toward organic farming would alleviate some of these adverse
effects, and in the long term would ensure a more stable, sustainable, and profit-
able agricultural system.







While other definitions exist, for the purpose of this report organic farming
is defined as follows:

Organic arAming ~s a production system which avoids oa taAgely excudes the uae
oj synthetically compounded feMtiLizes, peticides, growth Regulatosu, and Livetock
deed additives. To the maximum extent feasible, organic JaAring systtems rety upon
cAop rotations, cAop residues, animal manaute, legumes, green manuAes, off-aAm
organic wastes, mechanical cultivation, minetal-beating tocks, and aspects o6 biolog-
icat pest control to maintain soil pAoductivity and tilth, to supply ptant nutAients,
and to control insect6, weeds, and other pezts.

The concept of the soil as a living system which must be "fed" in a way that
does not restrict the activities of beneficial organisms necessary for recycling
nutrients and producing humus is central to this definition.

The following is a brief summary of the principal findings of this study:

(1) The study team found that the organic movement represents a spectrum
of practices, attitudes, and philosophies. On the one hand are
those organic practitioners who would not use chemical fertilizers or
pesticides under any circumstances. These producers hold rigidly
to their purist philosophy. At the other end of the spectrum, organic
farmers espouse a more flexible approach. While striving to avoid the
use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, these practitioners do not
rule them out entirely. Instead, when absolutely necessary some
fertilizers and also herbicides are very selectively and sparingly
used as a second line of defense. Nevertheless, these farmers, too,
consider themselves to be organic farmers. Failure to recognize that
the organic farming movement is distributed over a spectrum can often
lead to serious misconceptions. We should not attempt to place all of
these organic practitioners in the same category. For example, we
should not lump "organic farmers" and "organic gardeners" together.

(2) Organic farming operations are not limited by scale. This study
found that while there are many small-scale (10 to 50 acres) organic
farmers in the northeastern region, there are a significant number
of large-scale (more than 100 acres and even up to 1,500 acres)
organic farms in the West and Midwest. In most cases, the team
members found that these farms, both large and small, were productive,
efficient, and well managed. Usually the farmer had acquired a
number of years of chemical farming experience before shifting to
organic methods.

(3) Motivations for shifting from chemical farming to organic farming
include concern for protecting soil, human, and animal health from
the potential hazards of pesticides; the desire for lower production
inputs; concern for the environment and protection of soil resources.

(4) Contrary to popular belief, most organic farmers have not regressed
to agriculture as it was practiced in the 1930's. While they attempt
to avoid or restrict the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides,
organic farmers still use modern farm machinery, recommended crop
varieties, certified seed, sound methods of organic waste management,
and recommended soil and water conservation practices.







(5) Most organic farmers use crop rotations that include legumes
and cover crops to provide an adequate supply of nitrogen for
moderate to high yields.

(6) Animals comprise an essential part of the operation of many
organic farms. In a mixed crop/livestock operation, grains
and forages are fed on the farm and the manure is returned to
the land. Sometimes the manure is composted to conserve nitrogen,
and in some cases farmers import both feed and manure from off-
farm sources.

(7) The study team was impressed by the ability of organic farmers to
control weeds in crops such as corn, soybeans, and cereals with-
out the use (or with only minimal use) of herbicides. Their
success here is attributed to timely tillage and cultivation,
delayed planting, and crop rotations. They have also been re-
latively successful in controlling insect pests.

(8) Some organic farmers expressed the feeling that they have been
neglected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the land-grant
universities. They believe that both Extension agents and re-
searchers, for the most part, have little interest in organic
methods and that they have no one to turn to for help on techni-
cal problems.

(9) In some cases where organic farming is being practiced, it is
apparent from a study of the nutrient budget that phosphorus (P)
and potassium (K) are being "mined" from either soil minerals or
residual fertilizers applied when the land was farmed chemically.
While these sources of P and K may sustain high crop yields for
some time (depending on soil, climatic, and cropping conditions),
it is likely that eventually some organic farmers will have to
apply supplemental amounts of these two nutrients.
(10) The study revealed that organic farms on the average are some-
what more labor intensive but use less energy than conventional
farms. Nevertheless, data are limited and a thorough study of
the labor and energy aspects of organic and conventional agri-
culture is needed.

(11) This study showed that the economic return above variable costs
was greater for conventional farms (corn and soybeans) than for
several crop rotations grown on organic farms. This was largely
due to the mix of crops required in the organic system and the
large portion of the land that was in legume crops at any one time.

(12) There are detrimental aspects of conventional production, such as
soil erosion and sedimentation, depleted nutrient reserves, water
pollution from runoff of fertilizers and pesticides, and possible
decline of soil productivity. If costs of these factors are con-
sidered, then cost comparisons between conventional (that is,
chemical-intensive) crop production and organic systems may be
somewhat different in areas where these problems occur.


xiii







In conclusion, the study team found that many of the current methods of soil
and crop management practiced by organic farmers are also those which have been cited
as best management practices (USDA/EPA joint publication on "Control of Water Pollu-
tion from Cropland," Volume I, 1975, U.S. Government Printing Office) for controlling
'soil erosion, minimizing water pollution, and conserving energy. These include sod-
based rotations, cover crops, green manure crops, conservation tillage, strip crop-
ping, contouring, and grassed waterways. Moreover, many organic farmers have de-
veloped unique and innovative methods of organic recycling and pest control in their
crop production sequences. Because of these and other reasons outlined in this re-
port, the team feels strongly that research and education programs should be developed
to address the needs and problems of organic farmers. Certainly, much can be learned
from a holistic research effort to investigate the organic system of farming, its
mechanisms, interactions, principles, and potential benefits to agriculture both at
home and abroad.












REPORT AND

RECOMMENDATIONS

ON ORGANIC FARMING



INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND
The intensive and highly mechanized agricultural technologies now utilized in our
U.S. agricultural production system have led to greatly increased productivity and
labor efficiency, but also to a concomitant decrease in energy efficiency (1) and to
other concerns involving both farmers and the general public. There is a growing con-
cern about the adverse effects of intensive production of cash grains and about the
extensive, and sometimes excessive, use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides (2).
Among the matters in question are these:
Increased cost and uncertain availability of energy
and chemicals.
Increased resistance of weeds and insects to pesticides.
Decline in soil productivity from erosion and accompanying
loss of organic matter and plant nutrients.
Pollution of surface waters with agricultural chemicals
and sediment.
Destruction of wildlife, bees, and beneficial insects
by pesticides.
Hazards to human and animal health from pesticides and
feed additives.
Detrimental effects of agricultural chemicals on
food quality.
Depletion of finite reserves of concentrated plant
nutrients, for example, phosphate rock.


Numbers in parentheses refer to references cited at the end of each section.
Numbers in parentheses refer to references cited at the end of each section.












REPORT AND

RECOMMENDATIONS

ON ORGANIC FARMING



INTRODUCTION
1.1 BACKGROUND
The intensive and highly mechanized agricultural technologies now utilized in our
U.S. agricultural production system have led to greatly increased productivity and
labor efficiency, but also to a concomitant decrease in energy efficiency (1) and to
other concerns involving both farmers and the general public. There is a growing con-
cern about the adverse effects of intensive production of cash grains and about the
extensive, and sometimes excessive, use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides (2).
Among the matters in question are these:
Increased cost and uncertain availability of energy
and chemicals.
Increased resistance of weeds and insects to pesticides.
Decline in soil productivity from erosion and accompanying
loss of organic matter and plant nutrients.
Pollution of surface waters with agricultural chemicals
and sediment.
Destruction of wildlife, bees, and beneficial insects
by pesticides.
Hazards to human and animal health from pesticides and
feed additives.
Detrimental effects of agricultural chemicals on
food quality.
Depletion of finite reserves of concentrated plant
nutrients, for example, phosphate rock.


Numbers in parentheses refer to references cited at the end of each section.
Numbers in parentheses refer to references cited at the end of each section.







Decrease in numbers of farms, particularly family-type
farms, and disappearance of localized and direct
marketing systems.

Some previous assessments of organic farming systems have suggested that this
method of farming is associated with a low level of productivity and is essentially
unadaptable to widespread use in the United States for adequate food and fiber pro-
duction. In view of recent efforts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assess
possible consequences of certain trends in the structure of our agricultural produc-
tion and marketing system, certain questions have arisen. For example, were earlier
assessments of the productivity of organic agriculture in the United States valid?
Under what specific circumstances and conditions can organic farming systems produce
a significant portion of our food and fiber needs? What are the costs and benefits of
organic farming, and what are the relationships between energy and labor?

Proponents of organic agriculture face many of the same problems that confront
those who practice chemical-intensive (conventional) farming. Both must provide ade-
quate supplies of nutrients, water, and energy for crop and livestock production.
The basic difference, however, is that organic farmers avoid or restrict the use of
synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and must therefore achieve nutrient recycling
and pest control by other means. These include proper management of crop residues
and animal manures, green manure crops, crop rotations, and use of nonsynthetic fer-
tilizers and pesticides. The productivity of any agricultural system, organic or
chemical, depends primarily on the level of available and applicable inputs in accord
with climatic, soil, and cropping considerations.

The growing interest in organic agriculture reflects an ideology shared by many
urban and rural people, that is, that a stable and sustainable agriculture can be
attained only through the development of technologies that are less demanding of ion-
.renewable resources, less exploitive of our soils, and at the same time environment.
lly and socially acceptable. It was because of these interests and concerns that
he U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to conduct a comprehensive study of organic
farming in the United States. In April 1979, Dr. A. R. Bertrand, Director of Science
and Education, USDA, designated a coordination team for organic farming and the study
was begun (3).

1.2 NATURE OF THE STUDY

1.2.1 Objectives

The objectives of the study were to:

1. Conduct selected case studies of organic farmers and review published
technical reports to inventory and assess the activity of organic
farming in different parts of the United States.

2. Investigate the reasons why farmers turn from conventional practices
to organic farming and vice versa.

3. Determine the information needs of, and technological barriers to,
successful and profitable organic farming.

4. Assess the economic impacts, costs, benefits, and problems
associated with organic farming.







Decrease in numbers of farms, particularly family-type
farms, and disappearance of localized and direct
marketing systems.

Some previous assessments of organic farming systems have suggested that this
method of farming is associated with a low level of productivity and is essentially
unadaptable to widespread use in the United States for adequate food and fiber pro-
duction. In view of recent efforts by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to assess
possible consequences of certain trends in the structure of our agricultural produc-
tion and marketing system, certain questions have arisen. For example, were earlier
assessments of the productivity of organic agriculture in the United States valid?
Under what specific circumstances and conditions can organic farming systems produce
a significant portion of our food and fiber needs? What are the costs and benefits of
organic farming, and what are the relationships between energy and labor?

Proponents of organic agriculture face many of the same problems that confront
those who practice chemical-intensive (conventional) farming. Both must provide ade-
quate supplies of nutrients, water, and energy for crop and livestock production.
The basic difference, however, is that organic farmers avoid or restrict the use of
synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and must therefore achieve nutrient recycling
and pest control by other means. These include proper management of crop residues
and animal manures, green manure crops, crop rotations, and use of nonsynthetic fer-
tilizers and pesticides. The productivity of any agricultural system, organic or
chemical, depends primarily on the level of available and applicable inputs in accord
with climatic, soil, and cropping considerations.

The growing interest in organic agriculture reflects an ideology shared by many
urban and rural people, that is, that a stable and sustainable agriculture can be
attained only through the development of technologies that are less demanding of ion-
.renewable resources, less exploitive of our soils, and at the same time environment.
lly and socially acceptable. It was because of these interests and concerns that
he U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to conduct a comprehensive study of organic
farming in the United States. In April 1979, Dr. A. R. Bertrand, Director of Science
and Education, USDA, designated a coordination team for organic farming and the study
was begun (3).

1.2 NATURE OF THE STUDY

1.2.1 Objectives

The objectives of the study were to:

1. Conduct selected case studies of organic farmers and review published
technical reports to inventory and assess the activity of organic
farming in different parts of the United States.

2. Investigate the reasons why farmers turn from conventional practices
to organic farming and vice versa.

3. Determine the information needs of, and technological barriers to,
successful and profitable organic farming.

4. Assess the economic impacts, costs, benefits, and problems
associated with organic farming.







5. Identify the research and education programs currently underway
which support organic farming and inventory the extent of this
level of activity.

6. Determine research and education programs needed by organic farmers
and recommend plans for action and implementation.

This report defines and describes organic farming; addresses some concerns of
organic proponents; and evaluates the advantages, limitations, and opportunities for
organic farming as an option in U.S. agriculture. An appraisal is made of current
USDA research and education programs which impact upon organic farming, and recommen-
dations are offered for new programs that would further our knowledge and support of
organic farming.

1.2.2 Methods
Information was obtained from interviews with organic farmers by use of question-
naires; by specific requests sent to State Cooperative Extension Services and State
agricultural experiment stations; and by communication with county agricultural
Extension agents; as well as from a Rodale Press survey of organic farmers, a library
literature survey, and discussions with colleagues. In September 1979, four members
of the study team traveled to Europe and spent a week gathering detailed information
on organic farming practices in Germany, Switzerland, and England. In December 1979,
one team member spent a week observing organic agricultural practices in Japan.

1.2.2.1 USDA Case Studies -- Team members interviewed 69 organic or combination
organic-conventional farmers in 23 states on farms which represented a wide range of
climates, soils, and types of agricultural enterprise. The locations of these on-
farm interviews, conducted during the summer of 1979, are shown in figure 1.1.

Information was obtained on the background and attitudes of the farmers, farm
composition, soil resources, types of crops and livestock grown, crop sequences,
tillage methods, production inputs and management practices, and marketing procedures,
During each interview, visual observations were made of crop conditions, including
stands, growth, and degree of weed and insect infestations.

Farmers were selected for these case studies through contacts with one or more of
the following: Land-grant universities, the State Cooperative Extension Service,
organic producer associations, publishers of organic literature, and commercial com-
panies that deal with organic growers. Most of the farmers selected met preestab-
lished criteria of having farmed organically for 5 or more years, and of earning 50
percent or more of their income from the farm operation. Prior to each interview,
team members contacted the agricultural Extension agent in the appropriate county and
invited him to attend. In most cases, the county agents were receptive to the invita-
tion and helpful during the interview. The farmers interviewed were not necessarily
representative of all organic farmers but more probably of the more successful members
of this group. Since the purpose of the study was to estimate the prospects for
future success of organic farming, this selection process is considered to be not
unreasonable.

1.2.2.2 Information Requests -- The Cooperative Extension Service in each State
was contacted by mail for information on the current level of organic farming activ-
ities in their State, and for research data associated with organic farming .systems,
including recycling of organic materials, energy and labor requirements, and marketing
methods. Information was also sought on studies of long-term soil fertility and soil
nutrient depletion trials.












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Questionnaires were also sent to program leaders in the State Cooperative Exten-
sion Services, and to appropriate agricultural departments in land-grant universities
of each State for information on ongoing and anticipated research and education pro-
grams on organic farming.

1.2.2.3 Rodale Press Survey -- Rodale Press of Emmaus, Pa., very recently con-
ducted a mail questionnaire survey of subscribers to The New Farm magazine, many of
whom are "organic" or "combination conventional-organic" farmers. Questionnaires
were mailed to 1,000 subscribers and a 70 percent response was obtained. The results
were made available to the study team. The questions asked were similar to those
used in the USDA case studies and could, therefore, be used to augment the earlier
results. In response to the questionnaire, 112 readers identified themselves as "con-
ventional," 95 as "organic," and 204 as "combination conventional-organic" farmers.
The remainder were nonfarmers.

1.2.2.4 Study of Organic Farming in Europe and Japan -- Four team members visited
several research institutes in Germany and Switzerland where studies onvarious as-
pects of organic agriculture are in progress. Field visits were also made to several
organic farms, to an organic food processor, and to a machinery manufacturer special-
izing in equipment for organic farmers. Dr. George C. Cooke, Chief Scientist for the
Agricultural Research Council, Ministry of Agriculture, London, briefed the team on
the organic farming movement in the United Kingdom. One team member spent a week in
Japan with the Nippon Yukinogyo Kenkyukai (Japan Organic Farming Research Institute)
observing organic farming enterprises and studying aspects of production and marketing
of organically grown fruits and vegetables.

1.2.2.5 Literature Survey -- An in-depth literature search was conducted to
gather information on the scientific, historical, and philosophical aspects of organic
agriculture. This information was used to provide further insight to field observa-
tions and as additional background to support the conclusions and recommendations of
this study.

1.2.2.6 The Need for Separate Reports -- A voluminous amount of information
was compiled during this study. This abbreviated and condensed version is intended
for use primarily by administrators. Where appropriate and necessary, more extensive
accounts, including greater detail, data, and references, will be prepared by the
individual authors.

REFERENCES

1. Pimentel, D., L. E. Hurd, A. C. Bellotti, M. J. Forester, I. N. Oka, 0. D. Sholes,
and R. J. Whitman. "Food Production and the Energy Crisis," Science Vol. 182,
(1973) 443-449.

2. Risser, J. "Environmental Crisis Down on the Farm," The Des Moines Register.
Sept. 10-16 (1978).

3. Bertrand, A. R. "Designation of SEA Coordinator and SEA Coordination Team for
Organic Farming." Memo April 16, 1979 to R. Papendick, C. Kraenzle and J.
Schwartz. 3 pp.







ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: DEFINITIONS AND PHILOSOPHY


2.1 INTRODUCTION
There is no universally accepted definition of organic agriculture. Some defini-
tions, for example, simply specify a list of allowable practices, thus ruling out
various other technologies and general approaches. These so-called negative defini-
tions are most visible in those State and Federal laws and regulations pertaining to
the meaning of the word "organic." Other definitions not only address technological
and management practices but also include statements on various underlying societal
and personal values involving such issues as environmental protection, conservation,
and health. To some extent, therefore, the difficulty of defining "organic agricul-
ture" stems from multiple conceptions of its basic character and scope.

Organic farmers use various combinations of technological and cultural practices
because of certain underlying values and beliefs. The organic agricultural spectrum
ranges from so-called pure organic farming on one extreme to more liberal interpre-
tations of organic philosophy on the other. At this latter end of the spectrum,
organic agriculture begins to merge with so-called conventional agriculture. At this
point the two systems share many common agricultural practices and organic and con-
ventional farmers express a number of common concerns. Here, the merging and over-
lapping of the two systems causes some difficulty in arriving at a concise definition
for both organic and conventional agriculture.

A common misconception by many people is that today's organic farmers have re-
gressed to agriculture as it was practiced in the 1930's. Consequently, it is often
erroneously assumed that the agricultural technologies that were utilized then are
sufficient for contemporary organic agriculture. This is not the case. While it is
true that some earlier technology and research remains applicable to modern organic
agriculture, most of today's organic farmers use modern farm machinery, recommended
crop varieties, certified seed, sound livestock management, recommended soil and water
conservation practices, and innovative methods of organic waste and residue manage-
ment. Moreover, organic farmers have developed systems that are often highly produc-
tivedespite the avoidance or greatly restricted use of chemical fertilizers and
pesticides. Yet, there are problems that could be solved by new research. Thus, the
study team has recommended a comprehensive research agenda on aspects of organic
farming that will address the needs and problems of this unique method of farming as
well as explore the applicability of this knowledge to current problems in conventional
agriculture.
This section (a) selectively reviews various definitions and tenets of organic
agriculture and (b) defines the term "organic" as it is used in this report.

2.2 FORMAL DEFINITIONS

Three States, Oregon, Maine, and California, and at least one Federal regulatory
agency, the Federal Trade Commission, have recently developed formal (legal) defini-
tions of organic agriculture. Because of their similarity, only the California law
will be used to illustrate (a) the nature of a negative or restrictive definition of
organic farming, (b) some of the issues surrounding the word "organic," and (c) that
a formal definition of the word "organic" does not resolve the debate. Many people in
the organic food production and distribution system continue to oppose various aspects
of these formal definitions.







The California Organic Foods Act of 1979 suggests that the word organic applies
to food which is "naturally grown," "wild," "ecologically grown," or "biologically
grown," as well as that which is "organic" or "organically grown."

According to the California law, foods bearing the above labels must meet the
following requirements:

(1) "Are produced, harvested, distributed, stored, processed, and packaged
Without application of synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, or
growth regulators.

(2) Additionally, in the case of perennial crops, no synthetically com-
pounded fertilizers, pesticides, or growth regulators shall be applied
to the field or area in which the commodity is grown for 12 months prior
to the appearance of flower buds and throughout the entire growing and
harvest season of the particular commodity.

(3) Additionally, in the case of annual crops and 2-year crops, no
synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, or growth regulators
shall be applied to the field or area in which the commodity is grown
for 12 months prior to seed planting or transplanting and throughout
the entire growing and harvest season for the particular commodity" (1).

After stipulating this list of prohibitions, the California legislators further
delineated those technologies and management practices allowable under the Act as
follows:

"Only microorganisms, microbiological products, and materials
consisting of, or derived or extracted solely from plant, animal,
or mineral-bearing rock substances, may be applied in the production,
storing, processing, harvesting, or packaging of raw agricultural
commodities, other than seeds for planting, in order to meet the
requirements of this subdivision. However, before harvest, 'the
application of Bordeaux mixes and trace elements, soluble kelp,
lime, sulfur, gypsum, dormant oils, summer oils, fish emulsion, and
soap are permitted, except the application of aromatic petroleum
solvents, diesel, and other petroleum fractions, used as weed or
carrot oils, are prohibited" (2).

The Act further specifies:

(1) That its passage neither denies or confirms the notion that organic
foods are in any way superior to conventionally produced food,

(2) That any chemicals or drugs used in the production of meat, poultry,
or fish to stimulate or regulate growth, or for the treatment of disease,
may not be "introduced within 90 days of the slaughter of such animal...,"
(The time restriction is 30 days for milk-producing animals.)

(3) That foods with pesticide residues "in excess of 10 percent of the
level regarded as safe by the Federal Food and Drug Administration"
may not be labeled as organically grown,

(4) Strict and clear labeling requirements for both organically qrown
and processed foods,







ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: DEFINITIONS AND PHILOSOPHY


2.1 INTRODUCTION
There is no universally accepted definition of organic agriculture. Some defini-
tions, for example, simply specify a list of allowable practices, thus ruling out
various other technologies and general approaches. These so-called negative defini-
tions are most visible in those State and Federal laws and regulations pertaining to
the meaning of the word "organic." Other definitions not only address technological
and management practices but also include statements on various underlying societal
and personal values involving such issues as environmental protection, conservation,
and health. To some extent, therefore, the difficulty of defining "organic agricul-
ture" stems from multiple conceptions of its basic character and scope.

Organic farmers use various combinations of technological and cultural practices
because of certain underlying values and beliefs. The organic agricultural spectrum
ranges from so-called pure organic farming on one extreme to more liberal interpre-
tations of organic philosophy on the other. At this latter end of the spectrum,
organic agriculture begins to merge with so-called conventional agriculture. At this
point the two systems share many common agricultural practices and organic and con-
ventional farmers express a number of common concerns. Here, the merging and over-
lapping of the two systems causes some difficulty in arriving at a concise definition
for both organic and conventional agriculture.

A common misconception by many people is that today's organic farmers have re-
gressed to agriculture as it was practiced in the 1930's. Consequently, it is often
erroneously assumed that the agricultural technologies that were utilized then are
sufficient for contemporary organic agriculture. This is not the case. While it is
true that some earlier technology and research remains applicable to modern organic
agriculture, most of today's organic farmers use modern farm machinery, recommended
crop varieties, certified seed, sound livestock management, recommended soil and water
conservation practices, and innovative methods of organic waste and residue manage-
ment. Moreover, organic farmers have developed systems that are often highly produc-
tivedespite the avoidance or greatly restricted use of chemical fertilizers and
pesticides. Yet, there are problems that could be solved by new research. Thus, the
study team has recommended a comprehensive research agenda on aspects of organic
farming that will address the needs and problems of this unique method of farming as
well as explore the applicability of this knowledge to current problems in conventional
agriculture.
This section (a) selectively reviews various definitions and tenets of organic
agriculture and (b) defines the term "organic" as it is used in this report.

2.2 FORMAL DEFINITIONS

Three States, Oregon, Maine, and California, and at least one Federal regulatory
agency, the Federal Trade Commission, have recently developed formal (legal) defini-
tions of organic agriculture. Because of their similarity, only the California law
will be used to illustrate (a) the nature of a negative or restrictive definition of
organic farming, (b) some of the issues surrounding the word "organic," and (c) that
a formal definition of the word "organic" does not resolve the debate. Many people in
the organic food production and distribution system continue to oppose various aspects
of these formal definitions.







ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: DEFINITIONS AND PHILOSOPHY


2.1 INTRODUCTION
There is no universally accepted definition of organic agriculture. Some defini-
tions, for example, simply specify a list of allowable practices, thus ruling out
various other technologies and general approaches. These so-called negative defini-
tions are most visible in those State and Federal laws and regulations pertaining to
the meaning of the word "organic." Other definitions not only address technological
and management practices but also include statements on various underlying societal
and personal values involving such issues as environmental protection, conservation,
and health. To some extent, therefore, the difficulty of defining "organic agricul-
ture" stems from multiple conceptions of its basic character and scope.

Organic farmers use various combinations of technological and cultural practices
because of certain underlying values and beliefs. The organic agricultural spectrum
ranges from so-called pure organic farming on one extreme to more liberal interpre-
tations of organic philosophy on the other. At this latter end of the spectrum,
organic agriculture begins to merge with so-called conventional agriculture. At this
point the two systems share many common agricultural practices and organic and con-
ventional farmers express a number of common concerns. Here, the merging and over-
lapping of the two systems causes some difficulty in arriving at a concise definition
for both organic and conventional agriculture.

A common misconception by many people is that today's organic farmers have re-
gressed to agriculture as it was practiced in the 1930's. Consequently, it is often
erroneously assumed that the agricultural technologies that were utilized then are
sufficient for contemporary organic agriculture. This is not the case. While it is
true that some earlier technology and research remains applicable to modern organic
agriculture, most of today's organic farmers use modern farm machinery, recommended
crop varieties, certified seed, sound livestock management, recommended soil and water
conservation practices, and innovative methods of organic waste and residue manage-
ment. Moreover, organic farmers have developed systems that are often highly produc-
tivedespite the avoidance or greatly restricted use of chemical fertilizers and
pesticides. Yet, there are problems that could be solved by new research. Thus, the
study team has recommended a comprehensive research agenda on aspects of organic
farming that will address the needs and problems of this unique method of farming as
well as explore the applicability of this knowledge to current problems in conventional
agriculture.
This section (a) selectively reviews various definitions and tenets of organic
agriculture and (b) defines the term "organic" as it is used in this report.

2.2 FORMAL DEFINITIONS

Three States, Oregon, Maine, and California, and at least one Federal regulatory
agency, the Federal Trade Commission, have recently developed formal (legal) defini-
tions of organic agriculture. Because of their similarity, only the California law
will be used to illustrate (a) the nature of a negative or restrictive definition of
organic farming, (b) some of the issues surrounding the word "organic," and (c) that
a formal definition of the word "organic" does not resolve the debate. Many people in
the organic food production and distribution system continue to oppose various aspects
of these formal definitions.








(5) That growers keep accurate 2-year records of their management
practices, and

(6) That processors and manufacturers must keep accurate 2-year
product records, including the names and addresses of sellers.

In a general sense, the California law divided organic proponents into two camps.
Those who feared that the law was so strict that many organic farmers would be unable
to survive were aligned against those who argued that the bill was so badly watered
down that "agribusiness interests will be able to pass-off their chemically grown
produce as organic" (3). Setting a 12-month prohibition against the prior use of
chemical fertilizers or pesticides was, for example, a major point of dispute. Some
organic certification groups and organic food suppliers already require much longer
periods. Some organic carrot growers opposed the bill's ban on use of carrot or weed
oil. Given the difficulty of growing carrots organically, these producers insist that
such technology is needed to control weeds. The outlawing of urea was an equally
divisive issue. Some growers say that its use is absolutely essential while others
view it as incompatible with organic technology. There was also some concern that
local growing conditions (soil, climate, and crops produced) could markedly influence
the degree of organic purity obtainable. This raises still further unresolved
questions regarding the definition and meaning of "organic agriculture."

The California law also depicts what might be called "pure" organic farming.
For example, synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, and growth regulators
are banned entirely. Many organic farmers insist on achieving at least the level of
purity stipulated in the California law. Clear standards, it is argued, are essential
to the growth of the organic foods industry. Many believe that consumer confidence
in organic foods depends upon the enforcement of strict certification requirements.

For some organic farmers, any deviation from these standards also violates their
personal values and beliefs about farming. In other words, some organic farmers
follow these strict standards out of personal commitment, as well as for market
considerations.


2.3 THE ORGANIC SPECTRUM: SOME ADDITIONAL CATEGORIES

Not all organic farmers adhere to the allowances and prohibitions set forth in
the California law. For example, instead of totally excluding any use of synthetic
pesticides, some organic farmers might, if absolutely necessary, use such substances
selectively and in limited amounts. Some organic farmers, while rejecting synthetic
pesticides, would not hesitate to use limited amounts of synthetic fertilizers if
needed. Still others might follow pure organic technology on part of their land
while farming the remainder with conventional methods. Finally, some use commercial
"organic" products while others rely solely on traditional organic inputs such as
manures and legumes for plant nutrients, and crop rotations and cultivation for plant
protection. These combination organic-conventional farmers form an important part of
this study.

2.4 ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: SOME BASIC TENETS

Despite the range of agricultural practices followed by organic farmers, most of
them are guided by certain basic values and beliefs which may be called the "organic
ethic." Some of the principal tenets of this ethic are summarized below. However,
not all organic farmers would place equal weight on these tenets.








(5) That growers keep accurate 2-year records of their management
practices, and

(6) That processors and manufacturers must keep accurate 2-year
product records, including the names and addresses of sellers.

In a general sense, the California law divided organic proponents into two camps.
Those who feared that the law was so strict that many organic farmers would be unable
to survive were aligned against those who argued that the bill was so badly watered
down that "agribusiness interests will be able to pass-off their chemically grown
produce as organic" (3). Setting a 12-month prohibition against the prior use of
chemical fertilizers or pesticides was, for example, a major point of dispute. Some
organic certification groups and organic food suppliers already require much longer
periods. Some organic carrot growers opposed the bill's ban on use of carrot or weed
oil. Given the difficulty of growing carrots organically, these producers insist that
such technology is needed to control weeds. The outlawing of urea was an equally
divisive issue. Some growers say that its use is absolutely essential while others
view it as incompatible with organic technology. There was also some concern that
local growing conditions (soil, climate, and crops produced) could markedly influence
the degree of organic purity obtainable. This raises still further unresolved
questions regarding the definition and meaning of "organic agriculture."

The California law also depicts what might be called "pure" organic farming.
For example, synthetically compounded fertilizers, pesticides, and growth regulators
are banned entirely. Many organic farmers insist on achieving at least the level of
purity stipulated in the California law. Clear standards, it is argued, are essential
to the growth of the organic foods industry. Many believe that consumer confidence
in organic foods depends upon the enforcement of strict certification requirements.

For some organic farmers, any deviation from these standards also violates their
personal values and beliefs about farming. In other words, some organic farmers
follow these strict standards out of personal commitment, as well as for market
considerations.


2.3 THE ORGANIC SPECTRUM: SOME ADDITIONAL CATEGORIES

Not all organic farmers adhere to the allowances and prohibitions set forth in
the California law. For example, instead of totally excluding any use of synthetic
pesticides, some organic farmers might, if absolutely necessary, use such substances
selectively and in limited amounts. Some organic farmers, while rejecting synthetic
pesticides, would not hesitate to use limited amounts of synthetic fertilizers if
needed. Still others might follow pure organic technology on part of their land
while farming the remainder with conventional methods. Finally, some use commercial
"organic" products while others rely solely on traditional organic inputs such as
manures and legumes for plant nutrients, and crop rotations and cultivation for plant
protection. These combination organic-conventional farmers form an important part of
this study.

2.4 ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: SOME BASIC TENETS

Despite the range of agricultural practices followed by organic farmers, most of
them are guided by certain basic values and beliefs which may be called the "organic
ethic." Some of the principal tenets of this ethic are summarized below. However,
not all organic farmers would place equal weight on these tenets.






Nature is Capital -- Energy-intensive modes of conventional agriculture place
man on a collision course with nature. Present trends and practices signal difficult
times ahead. More concern over finite nutrient resources is needed. Organic farming
focuses on recycled nutrients.

Soil is the Source of Life -- Soil quality and balance (that is, soil with proper
levels of organic matter, bacterial and biological activity, trace elements, and other
nutrients) are essential to the long-term future of agriculture. Human and animal
health are directly related to the health of the soil.

Feed the Soil, Not the Plant -- Healthy plants, animals, and humans result from
balanced, biologically active soil.

Diversify Production Systems -- Overspecialization (monoculture) is biologi-
cally and environmentally unstable.

Independence -- Organic farming contributes to personal and community indepen-
dence by reducing dependence on energy-intensive agricultural production and distribu-
tion systems.

Antimaterialism -- Finite resources and Nature's limitations must be recognized.

In summary, organic farmers seek to establish ecologically harmonious, resource-
efficient, and nutritionally sound agricultural methods.

2.5 ORGANIC FARMING: ITS MEANING IN THIS REPORT

The analysis of organic farming presented in this report encompasses the entire
spectrum of organic agriculture. Case study interviews, the Rodale Press survey, and
the literature of organic agriculture all reflect the various combinations of organic
practices and beliefs. Thus, for the purpose of this report, the following definition
of organic agriculture will be used.

Otganic fawmivng "i a production systemm which avoids or targety excludes the use
o4 syntheticatey compounded fet&tizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock
deed additives. To the maximum extent .feasible, organic, aiming systems rety upon
crop notations, crop residues, animal manuies, Legumes, green manures, of-farm
organic wastes, mechanica cutivation, mineal-bearing roc.k6, and aspects o6 biologi-
cat put control to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients,
and to control in.ect6, weeds, and otheA pests.

REFERENCES

1. California Assembly Bill No. 443, Chapter 914, Section 4. September 1979.

2. Ibid.

3. "Industry Divides on 'Organic' Issue," Natural Food Merchandiser. May 1979.






Nature is Capital -- Energy-intensive modes of conventional agriculture place
man on a collision course with nature. Present trends and practices signal difficult
times ahead. More concern over finite nutrient resources is needed. Organic farming
focuses on recycled nutrients.

Soil is the Source of Life -- Soil quality and balance (that is, soil with proper
levels of organic matter, bacterial and biological activity, trace elements, and other
nutrients) are essential to the long-term future of agriculture. Human and animal
health are directly related to the health of the soil.

Feed the Soil, Not the Plant -- Healthy plants, animals, and humans result from
balanced, biologically active soil.

Diversify Production Systems -- Overspecialization (monoculture) is biologi-
cally and environmentally unstable.

Independence -- Organic farming contributes to personal and community indepen-
dence by reducing dependence on energy-intensive agricultural production and distribu-
tion systems.

Antimaterialism -- Finite resources and Nature's limitations must be recognized.

In summary, organic farmers seek to establish ecologically harmonious, resource-
efficient, and nutritionally sound agricultural methods.

2.5 ORGANIC FARMING: ITS MEANING IN THIS REPORT

The analysis of organic farming presented in this report encompasses the entire
spectrum of organic agriculture. Case study interviews, the Rodale Press survey, and
the literature of organic agriculture all reflect the various combinations of organic
practices and beliefs. Thus, for the purpose of this report, the following definition
of organic agriculture will be used.

Otganic fawmivng "i a production systemm which avoids or targety excludes the use
o4 syntheticatey compounded fet&tizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and livestock
deed additives. To the maximum extent .feasible, organic, aiming systems rety upon
crop notations, crop residues, animal manuies, Legumes, green manures, of-farm
organic wastes, mechanica cutivation, mineal-bearing roc.k6, and aspects o6 biologi-
cat put control to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients,
and to control in.ect6, weeds, and otheA pests.

REFERENCES

1. California Assembly Bill No. 443, Chapter 914, Section 4. September 1979.

2. Ibid.

3. "Industry Divides on 'Organic' Issue," Natural Food Merchandiser. May 1979.







CURRENT STATUS AND CHARACTER OF ORGANIC FARMING IN THE UNITED STATES


3.1 BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Information is limited on the number, geographic distribution, farm ownership
characteristics, and other vital statistics of organic farmers. The USDA case studies
and the Rodale Press survey provide information on these characteristics; however,
these two data sources are not necessarily representative of organic farmers gener-
ally. The case studies were not randomly selected. The Rodale survey is based on a
random sample of The New Farm readership and is not necessarily representative of the
total population of organic farmers. The Rodale respondents seemed to represent
smaller scale organic producers than the organic farmers in the case studies. Despite
these limitations, the data provide considerable information on organic farmers in the
United States.
3.1.1 Numbers of Farms

Knowledgeable observers have previously estimated that there are about 20,000
organic farmers in the United States. The Rodale Press survey indicates that this
may be a conservative number. The Rodale sample consisted of 1,000 randomly selected
subscribers to The New Farm magazine out of a readership of 80,000. Of 679 respon-
dents, 95 identified themselves as purely organic farmers. This gives an estimate of
11,200 (that is, 80,000 x 95/679) purely organic farmers among the readers of The New
Farm. Extrapolating the 204 respondents who identified themselves as combination
conventional-organic farmers (that is, those who may only farm a portion of their land
organically, or apply only some aspects of organic technology and management) gives
an estimate of 24,000 such farmers within the readership of The New Farm. Because it
is unlikely that all organic or combination type farmers subscribe to the The New Farm,
it is reasonable to assume that there is a much larger number of such farmers in the
United States.
3.1.2 Geographic Distribution

Organic agriculture is practiced in all regions of the United States. However,
it was difficult to locate organic farmers for case studies in parts of the Southern
United States (see fig. 1.1); from this, the team concluded that there are fewer
organic farmers in the South than in other regions. Several sources indicated that
climatic, soil, insect, and market factors limit organic farming in the South. The
Rodale survey generally confirmed this pattern. For example, among the The New Farm
readership, 60 percent of the organic respondents resided in the Northeast, Lake
States, or Corn Belt regions.
3.1.3 Farm Size

Organic agriculture is being successfully practiced on a wide range of farm
sizes. While many organic farmers do manage relatively small operations, our study
confirmed that organic technology is feasible on relatively large farms. For example,
several case studies examined farms of 300-500 acres in size on which no synthetic
chemical fertilizers or pesticides were used. One farm in Texas of 1400 acres was
operated with only organic technology and cultural practices. The Rodale survey re-
vealed that 11 of the 95 purely organic respondents are farming over 100 acres; two
indicated farm sizes of over 500 acres.

Combination conventional-organic farmers manage even larger operations. For
example, the study team interviewed one farmer with over 6,000 acres and eight with







CURRENT STATUS AND CHARACTER OF ORGANIC FARMING IN THE UNITED STATES


3.1 BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Information is limited on the number, geographic distribution, farm ownership
characteristics, and other vital statistics of organic farmers. The USDA case studies
and the Rodale Press survey provide information on these characteristics; however,
these two data sources are not necessarily representative of organic farmers gener-
ally. The case studies were not randomly selected. The Rodale survey is based on a
random sample of The New Farm readership and is not necessarily representative of the
total population of organic farmers. The Rodale respondents seemed to represent
smaller scale organic producers than the organic farmers in the case studies. Despite
these limitations, the data provide considerable information on organic farmers in the
United States.
3.1.1 Numbers of Farms

Knowledgeable observers have previously estimated that there are about 20,000
organic farmers in the United States. The Rodale Press survey indicates that this
may be a conservative number. The Rodale sample consisted of 1,000 randomly selected
subscribers to The New Farm magazine out of a readership of 80,000. Of 679 respon-
dents, 95 identified themselves as purely organic farmers. This gives an estimate of
11,200 (that is, 80,000 x 95/679) purely organic farmers among the readers of The New
Farm. Extrapolating the 204 respondents who identified themselves as combination
conventional-organic farmers (that is, those who may only farm a portion of their land
organically, or apply only some aspects of organic technology and management) gives
an estimate of 24,000 such farmers within the readership of The New Farm. Because it
is unlikely that all organic or combination type farmers subscribe to the The New Farm,
it is reasonable to assume that there is a much larger number of such farmers in the
United States.
3.1.2 Geographic Distribution

Organic agriculture is practiced in all regions of the United States. However,
it was difficult to locate organic farmers for case studies in parts of the Southern
United States (see fig. 1.1); from this, the team concluded that there are fewer
organic farmers in the South than in other regions. Several sources indicated that
climatic, soil, insect, and market factors limit organic farming in the South. The
Rodale survey generally confirmed this pattern. For example, among the The New Farm
readership, 60 percent of the organic respondents resided in the Northeast, Lake
States, or Corn Belt regions.
3.1.3 Farm Size

Organic agriculture is being successfully practiced on a wide range of farm
sizes. While many organic farmers do manage relatively small operations, our study
confirmed that organic technology is feasible on relatively large farms. For example,
several case studies examined farms of 300-500 acres in size on which no synthetic
chemical fertilizers or pesticides were used. One farm in Texas of 1400 acres was
operated with only organic technology and cultural practices. The Rodale survey re-
vealed that 11 of the 95 purely organic respondents are farming over 100 acres; two
indicated farm sizes of over 500 acres.

Combination conventional-organic farmers manage even larger operations. For
example, the study team interviewed one farmer with over 6,000 acres and eight with







CURRENT STATUS AND CHARACTER OF ORGANIC FARMING IN THE UNITED STATES


3.1 BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Information is limited on the number, geographic distribution, farm ownership
characteristics, and other vital statistics of organic farmers. The USDA case studies
and the Rodale Press survey provide information on these characteristics; however,
these two data sources are not necessarily representative of organic farmers gener-
ally. The case studies were not randomly selected. The Rodale survey is based on a
random sample of The New Farm readership and is not necessarily representative of the
total population of organic farmers. The Rodale respondents seemed to represent
smaller scale organic producers than the organic farmers in the case studies. Despite
these limitations, the data provide considerable information on organic farmers in the
United States.
3.1.1 Numbers of Farms

Knowledgeable observers have previously estimated that there are about 20,000
organic farmers in the United States. The Rodale Press survey indicates that this
may be a conservative number. The Rodale sample consisted of 1,000 randomly selected
subscribers to The New Farm magazine out of a readership of 80,000. Of 679 respon-
dents, 95 identified themselves as purely organic farmers. This gives an estimate of
11,200 (that is, 80,000 x 95/679) purely organic farmers among the readers of The New
Farm. Extrapolating the 204 respondents who identified themselves as combination
conventional-organic farmers (that is, those who may only farm a portion of their land
organically, or apply only some aspects of organic technology and management) gives
an estimate of 24,000 such farmers within the readership of The New Farm. Because it
is unlikely that all organic or combination type farmers subscribe to the The New Farm,
it is reasonable to assume that there is a much larger number of such farmers in the
United States.
3.1.2 Geographic Distribution

Organic agriculture is practiced in all regions of the United States. However,
it was difficult to locate organic farmers for case studies in parts of the Southern
United States (see fig. 1.1); from this, the team concluded that there are fewer
organic farmers in the South than in other regions. Several sources indicated that
climatic, soil, insect, and market factors limit organic farming in the South. The
Rodale survey generally confirmed this pattern. For example, among the The New Farm
readership, 60 percent of the organic respondents resided in the Northeast, Lake
States, or Corn Belt regions.
3.1.3 Farm Size

Organic agriculture is being successfully practiced on a wide range of farm
sizes. While many organic farmers do manage relatively small operations, our study
confirmed that organic technology is feasible on relatively large farms. For example,
several case studies examined farms of 300-500 acres in size on which no synthetic
chemical fertilizers or pesticides were used. One farm in Texas of 1400 acres was
operated with only organic technology and cultural practices. The Rodale survey re-
vealed that 11 of the 95 purely organic respondents are farming over 100 acres; two
indicated farm sizes of over 500 acres.

Combination conventional-organic farmers manage even larger operations. For
example, the study team interviewed one farmer with over 6,000 acres and eight with







CURRENT STATUS AND CHARACTER OF ORGANIC FARMING IN THE UNITED STATES


3.1 BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Information is limited on the number, geographic distribution, farm ownership
characteristics, and other vital statistics of organic farmers. The USDA case studies
and the Rodale Press survey provide information on these characteristics; however,
these two data sources are not necessarily representative of organic farmers gener-
ally. The case studies were not randomly selected. The Rodale survey is based on a
random sample of The New Farm readership and is not necessarily representative of the
total population of organic farmers. The Rodale respondents seemed to represent
smaller scale organic producers than the organic farmers in the case studies. Despite
these limitations, the data provide considerable information on organic farmers in the
United States.
3.1.1 Numbers of Farms

Knowledgeable observers have previously estimated that there are about 20,000
organic farmers in the United States. The Rodale Press survey indicates that this
may be a conservative number. The Rodale sample consisted of 1,000 randomly selected
subscribers to The New Farm magazine out of a readership of 80,000. Of 679 respon-
dents, 95 identified themselves as purely organic farmers. This gives an estimate of
11,200 (that is, 80,000 x 95/679) purely organic farmers among the readers of The New
Farm. Extrapolating the 204 respondents who identified themselves as combination
conventional-organic farmers (that is, those who may only farm a portion of their land
organically, or apply only some aspects of organic technology and management) gives
an estimate of 24,000 such farmers within the readership of The New Farm. Because it
is unlikely that all organic or combination type farmers subscribe to the The New Farm,
it is reasonable to assume that there is a much larger number of such farmers in the
United States.
3.1.2 Geographic Distribution

Organic agriculture is practiced in all regions of the United States. However,
it was difficult to locate organic farmers for case studies in parts of the Southern
United States (see fig. 1.1); from this, the team concluded that there are fewer
organic farmers in the South than in other regions. Several sources indicated that
climatic, soil, insect, and market factors limit organic farming in the South. The
Rodale survey generally confirmed this pattern. For example, among the The New Farm
readership, 60 percent of the organic respondents resided in the Northeast, Lake
States, or Corn Belt regions.
3.1.3 Farm Size

Organic agriculture is being successfully practiced on a wide range of farm
sizes. While many organic farmers do manage relatively small operations, our study
confirmed that organic technology is feasible on relatively large farms. For example,
several case studies examined farms of 300-500 acres in size on which no synthetic
chemical fertilizers or pesticides were used. One farm in Texas of 1400 acres was
operated with only organic technology and cultural practices. The Rodale survey re-
vealed that 11 of the 95 purely organic respondents are farming over 100 acres; two
indicated farm sizes of over 500 acres.

Combination conventional-organic farmers manage even larger operations. For
example, the study team interviewed one farmer with over 6,000 acres and eight with







CURRENT STATUS AND CHARACTER OF ORGANIC FARMING IN THE UNITED STATES


3.1 BACKGROUND INFORMATION

Information is limited on the number, geographic distribution, farm ownership
characteristics, and other vital statistics of organic farmers. The USDA case studies
and the Rodale Press survey provide information on these characteristics; however,
these two data sources are not necessarily representative of organic farmers gener-
ally. The case studies were not randomly selected. The Rodale survey is based on a
random sample of The New Farm readership and is not necessarily representative of the
total population of organic farmers. The Rodale respondents seemed to represent
smaller scale organic producers than the organic farmers in the case studies. Despite
these limitations, the data provide considerable information on organic farmers in the
United States.
3.1.1 Numbers of Farms

Knowledgeable observers have previously estimated that there are about 20,000
organic farmers in the United States. The Rodale Press survey indicates that this
may be a conservative number. The Rodale sample consisted of 1,000 randomly selected
subscribers to The New Farm magazine out of a readership of 80,000. Of 679 respon-
dents, 95 identified themselves as purely organic farmers. This gives an estimate of
11,200 (that is, 80,000 x 95/679) purely organic farmers among the readers of The New
Farm. Extrapolating the 204 respondents who identified themselves as combination
conventional-organic farmers (that is, those who may only farm a portion of their land
organically, or apply only some aspects of organic technology and management) gives
an estimate of 24,000 such farmers within the readership of The New Farm. Because it
is unlikely that all organic or combination type farmers subscribe to the The New Farm,
it is reasonable to assume that there is a much larger number of such farmers in the
United States.
3.1.2 Geographic Distribution

Organic agriculture is practiced in all regions of the United States. However,
it was difficult to locate organic farmers for case studies in parts of the Southern
United States (see fig. 1.1); from this, the team concluded that there are fewer
organic farmers in the South than in other regions. Several sources indicated that
climatic, soil, insect, and market factors limit organic farming in the South. The
Rodale survey generally confirmed this pattern. For example, among the The New Farm
readership, 60 percent of the organic respondents resided in the Northeast, Lake
States, or Corn Belt regions.
3.1.3 Farm Size

Organic agriculture is being successfully practiced on a wide range of farm
sizes. While many organic farmers do manage relatively small operations, our study
confirmed that organic technology is feasible on relatively large farms. For example,
several case studies examined farms of 300-500 acres in size on which no synthetic
chemical fertilizers or pesticides were used. One farm in Texas of 1400 acres was
operated with only organic technology and cultural practices. The Rodale survey re-
vealed that 11 of the 95 purely organic respondents are farming over 100 acres; two
indicated farm sizes of over 500 acres.

Combination conventional-organic farmers manage even larger operations. For
example, the study team interviewed one farmer with over 6,000 acres and eight with






farms in excess of 1,000 acres. Of the 204 combination-type farmers in the Rodale
survey, 44 reported farms in excess of 100 acres and 4 with 500 acres or more.
3.1.4 Farm Ownership Characteristics

In the USDA case studies, a high percentage of the organic farmers studied
owned either all or most of the land they farmed. For example, 53 percent of these
farmers owned all of their land.

The Rodale survey revealed that 79 percent of purely organic, and 72 percent of
the combination conventional-organic farmers owned 100 percent of their land. Only
50 percent of the conventional farmers in the same survey owned 100 percent of their
land.

3.1.5 Age and Farming Experience

Most of the organic farmers in the case studies were highly experienced farm
operators and were evenly distributed in all age categories. For example, 42 percent
were 50 years of age or older; 10 percent were 65 or older. Eighty percent of the
case study respondents had at least 8 years of farming experience and 44 percent had
30 or more years of experience. The Rodale survey revealed a similar pattern; 27 per-
cent of the purely organic farmers had 20 or more years of farming experience; nearly
38 percent of the combination-type farmers had farmed for 20 years or more.
3.1.6 Educational Background

Data from both the USDA case studies and the Rodale Press survey indicate that
organic farmers are, as a group, well educated. Over 50 percent of the case study
farmers had attended college. Similarly, the Rodale survey showed that nearly 50
percent of the purely organic farmers had attended college, while 13 percent held
college degrees and 8 percent had earned a graduate school degree. The combination-
type farmers in the Rodale survey displayed a similar educational pattern.

3.1.7 Motivations for Farming Organically

Farmers are motivated toward adoption of organic methods by a wide range of
contributing factors. Both the case studies and the Rodale survey revealed similar
reasons for farming organically or for shifting from chemical to organic farming
methods. Soil health, food safety, environmental protection, and soil and water con-
servation were primary considerations. Other frequently stated motivations included
the belief that organic agriculture produces food of superior quality and protects
human and animal health.
3.1.8 Other Characteristics

The study team found that the organic farmers interviewed were generally good
managers dedicated to responsible husbandry of their soil, crops, and livestock. A
common goal was to develop practices that are less exploitive of nonrenewable re-
sources and which would sustain agricultural production indefinitely and with good
economic return. With few exceptions, they were following acceptable soil, water,
and energy conservation practices. These farmers also place a very high value on
environmental quality.






farms in excess of 1,000 acres. Of the 204 combination-type farmers in the Rodale
survey, 44 reported farms in excess of 100 acres and 4 with 500 acres or more.
3.1.4 Farm Ownership Characteristics

In the USDA case studies, a high percentage of the organic farmers studied
owned either all or most of the land they farmed. For example, 53 percent of these
farmers owned all of their land.

The Rodale survey revealed that 79 percent of purely organic, and 72 percent of
the combination conventional-organic farmers owned 100 percent of their land. Only
50 percent of the conventional farmers in the same survey owned 100 percent of their
land.

3.1.5 Age and Farming Experience

Most of the organic farmers in the case studies were highly experienced farm
operators and were evenly distributed in all age categories. For example, 42 percent
were 50 years of age or older; 10 percent were 65 or older. Eighty percent of the
case study respondents had at least 8 years of farming experience and 44 percent had
30 or more years of experience. The Rodale survey revealed a similar pattern; 27 per-
cent of the purely organic farmers had 20 or more years of farming experience; nearly
38 percent of the combination-type farmers had farmed for 20 years or more.
3.1.6 Educational Background

Data from both the USDA case studies and the Rodale Press survey indicate that
organic farmers are, as a group, well educated. Over 50 percent of the case study
farmers had attended college. Similarly, the Rodale survey showed that nearly 50
percent of the purely organic farmers had attended college, while 13 percent held
college degrees and 8 percent had earned a graduate school degree. The combination-
type farmers in the Rodale survey displayed a similar educational pattern.

3.1.7 Motivations for Farming Organically

Farmers are motivated toward adoption of organic methods by a wide range of
contributing factors. Both the case studies and the Rodale survey revealed similar
reasons for farming organically or for shifting from chemical to organic farming
methods. Soil health, food safety, environmental protection, and soil and water con-
servation were primary considerations. Other frequently stated motivations included
the belief that organic agriculture produces food of superior quality and protects
human and animal health.
3.1.8 Other Characteristics

The study team found that the organic farmers interviewed were generally good
managers dedicated to responsible husbandry of their soil, crops, and livestock. A
common goal was to develop practices that are less exploitive of nonrenewable re-
sources and which would sustain agricultural production indefinitely and with good
economic return. With few exceptions, they were following acceptable soil, water,
and energy conservation practices. These farmers also place a very high value on
environmental quality.






farms in excess of 1,000 acres. Of the 204 combination-type farmers in the Rodale
survey, 44 reported farms in excess of 100 acres and 4 with 500 acres or more.
3.1.4 Farm Ownership Characteristics

In the USDA case studies, a high percentage of the organic farmers studied
owned either all or most of the land they farmed. For example, 53 percent of these
farmers owned all of their land.

The Rodale survey revealed that 79 percent of purely organic, and 72 percent of
the combination conventional-organic farmers owned 100 percent of their land. Only
50 percent of the conventional farmers in the same survey owned 100 percent of their
land.

3.1.5 Age and Farming Experience

Most of the organic farmers in the case studies were highly experienced farm
operators and were evenly distributed in all age categories. For example, 42 percent
were 50 years of age or older; 10 percent were 65 or older. Eighty percent of the
case study respondents had at least 8 years of farming experience and 44 percent had
30 or more years of experience. The Rodale survey revealed a similar pattern; 27 per-
cent of the purely organic farmers had 20 or more years of farming experience; nearly
38 percent of the combination-type farmers had farmed for 20 years or more.
3.1.6 Educational Background

Data from both the USDA case studies and the Rodale Press survey indicate that
organic farmers are, as a group, well educated. Over 50 percent of the case study
farmers had attended college. Similarly, the Rodale survey showed that nearly 50
percent of the purely organic farmers had attended college, while 13 percent held
college degrees and 8 percent had earned a graduate school degree. The combination-
type farmers in the Rodale survey displayed a similar educational pattern.

3.1.7 Motivations for Farming Organically

Farmers are motivated toward adoption of organic methods by a wide range of
contributing factors. Both the case studies and the Rodale survey revealed similar
reasons for farming organically or for shifting from chemical to organic farming
methods. Soil health, food safety, environmental protection, and soil and water con-
servation were primary considerations. Other frequently stated motivations included
the belief that organic agriculture produces food of superior quality and protects
human and animal health.
3.1.8 Other Characteristics

The study team found that the organic farmers interviewed were generally good
managers dedicated to responsible husbandry of their soil, crops, and livestock. A
common goal was to develop practices that are less exploitive of nonrenewable re-
sources and which would sustain agricultural production indefinitely and with good
economic return. With few exceptions, they were following acceptable soil, water,
and energy conservation practices. These farmers also place a very high value on
environmental quality.






farms in excess of 1,000 acres. Of the 204 combination-type farmers in the Rodale
survey, 44 reported farms in excess of 100 acres and 4 with 500 acres or more.
3.1.4 Farm Ownership Characteristics

In the USDA case studies, a high percentage of the organic farmers studied
owned either all or most of the land they farmed. For example, 53 percent of these
farmers owned all of their land.

The Rodale survey revealed that 79 percent of purely organic, and 72 percent of
the combination conventional-organic farmers owned 100 percent of their land. Only
50 percent of the conventional farmers in the same survey owned 100 percent of their
land.

3.1.5 Age and Farming Experience

Most of the organic farmers in the case studies were highly experienced farm
operators and were evenly distributed in all age categories. For example, 42 percent
were 50 years of age or older; 10 percent were 65 or older. Eighty percent of the
case study respondents had at least 8 years of farming experience and 44 percent had
30 or more years of experience. The Rodale survey revealed a similar pattern; 27 per-
cent of the purely organic farmers had 20 or more years of farming experience; nearly
38 percent of the combination-type farmers had farmed for 20 years or more.
3.1.6 Educational Background

Data from both the USDA case studies and the Rodale Press survey indicate that
organic farmers are, as a group, well educated. Over 50 percent of the case study
farmers had attended college. Similarly, the Rodale survey showed that nearly 50
percent of the purely organic farmers had attended college, while 13 percent held
college degrees and 8 percent had earned a graduate school degree. The combination-
type farmers in the Rodale survey displayed a similar educational pattern.

3.1.7 Motivations for Farming Organically

Farmers are motivated toward adoption of organic methods by a wide range of
contributing factors. Both the case studies and the Rodale survey revealed similar
reasons for farming organically or for shifting from chemical to organic farming
methods. Soil health, food safety, environmental protection, and soil and water con-
servation were primary considerations. Other frequently stated motivations included
the belief that organic agriculture produces food of superior quality and protects
human and animal health.
3.1.8 Other Characteristics

The study team found that the organic farmers interviewed were generally good
managers dedicated to responsible husbandry of their soil, crops, and livestock. A
common goal was to develop practices that are less exploitive of nonrenewable re-
sources and which would sustain agricultural production indefinitely and with good
economic return. With few exceptions, they were following acceptable soil, water,
and energy conservation practices. These farmers also place a very high value on
environmental quality.






3.2 CROP PRODUCTION


3.2.1 Cropping Practices
A legume-based rotation with green manure or cover crops was an integral part
of the management system on most of the organic farms studied. Legume crops fre-
quently comprised 30 to 50 percent of the cultivated acreage. However, in some cases
legumes were not used; for example, on vegetable farms receiving heavy applications
of manure and in low rainfall areas. Other crops in the rotation were generally
similar to those grown on neighboring farms. However, in areas where farm size was
smaller, organic farmers seemed more inclined than their neighbors to produce vege-
table crops for fresh markets.

The Rodale survey disclosed that about 50 percent of the farmers grew legume
hay, mixed hay, or pasture in their rotations. A high percentage (50 percent) of
these organic farmers were vegetable and/or small fruit producers that grew only
limited amounts of small grains and cultivated field crops. As the farm size in-
creased, the percentage of farmers growing meadow increased sharply (15 percent for
farms of 9 acres or less, 71 percent for farms of 100 acres or more). The survey also
showed that the percentage of farmers growing vegetables and small fruits decreased
sharply with increasing farm size. These data emphasize the importance of legumes in
rotation with small grains and cultivated field crops on organic farms.

Organic farmers on non-irrigated land followed crop rotations similar to those
used on farms 30 to 40 years ago. A typical pattern was to follow a heavy green
manure crop with a high nitrogen-demanding crop such as corn, sorghum, or wheat. For
example, in a corn-soybean area such as the Midwest a rotation might be: oats 3
years of alfalfa corn (or wheat) soybeans corn soybeans. On more productive
soils, there might be an additional corn or wheat and soybean crop after 3 years of
alfalfa. Vegetable crops grown with or without legumes are rotated so that the same
crops are not followed sequentially. Organic vegetable farmers alternate deep and
shallow rooted crops, root crops, and above-ground crops throughout the growing
season by careful crop selection and consideration of planting and maturity dates.
Organic farmers using irrigation often did not follow rotations systematically but
instead based their cropping patterns on short-term demand for produce, plant disease
problems, and availability of land and water.

Most of the organic farmers who were interviewed used recommended crop varieties
and certified seed. However, some of them questioned the adaptability of those vari-
eties for their particular soil and crop management systems because they were selected
for performance in chemical-intensive systems.

3.2.2 Cultural Practices
Most of the organic farmers had either never used a moldboard plow or had shifted
to chisel or disk-type implements as the primary tillage tool. Many also favored
shallow tillage (no deeper than 3 to 4 inches) which mixes the soil but does not in-
vert it. They reasoned that plowing disrupts the established and active microflora
near the surface and places the organic materials at greater depths where conditions
are less favorable for decomposition and release of plant nutrients. They also be-
lieved that fewer weed seeds would be brought to the surface for germination. Shallow
incorporation of organic materials by disking or chiseling would maintain an active
amount of organic matter near the surface where it is most beneficial for improving






3.2 CROP PRODUCTION


3.2.1 Cropping Practices
A legume-based rotation with green manure or cover crops was an integral part
of the management system on most of the organic farms studied. Legume crops fre-
quently comprised 30 to 50 percent of the cultivated acreage. However, in some cases
legumes were not used; for example, on vegetable farms receiving heavy applications
of manure and in low rainfall areas. Other crops in the rotation were generally
similar to those grown on neighboring farms. However, in areas where farm size was
smaller, organic farmers seemed more inclined than their neighbors to produce vege-
table crops for fresh markets.

The Rodale survey disclosed that about 50 percent of the farmers grew legume
hay, mixed hay, or pasture in their rotations. A high percentage (50 percent) of
these organic farmers were vegetable and/or small fruit producers that grew only
limited amounts of small grains and cultivated field crops. As the farm size in-
creased, the percentage of farmers growing meadow increased sharply (15 percent for
farms of 9 acres or less, 71 percent for farms of 100 acres or more). The survey also
showed that the percentage of farmers growing vegetables and small fruits decreased
sharply with increasing farm size. These data emphasize the importance of legumes in
rotation with small grains and cultivated field crops on organic farms.

Organic farmers on non-irrigated land followed crop rotations similar to those
used on farms 30 to 40 years ago. A typical pattern was to follow a heavy green
manure crop with a high nitrogen-demanding crop such as corn, sorghum, or wheat. For
example, in a corn-soybean area such as the Midwest a rotation might be: oats 3
years of alfalfa corn (or wheat) soybeans corn soybeans. On more productive
soils, there might be an additional corn or wheat and soybean crop after 3 years of
alfalfa. Vegetable crops grown with or without legumes are rotated so that the same
crops are not followed sequentially. Organic vegetable farmers alternate deep and
shallow rooted crops, root crops, and above-ground crops throughout the growing
season by careful crop selection and consideration of planting and maturity dates.
Organic farmers using irrigation often did not follow rotations systematically but
instead based their cropping patterns on short-term demand for produce, plant disease
problems, and availability of land and water.

Most of the organic farmers who were interviewed used recommended crop varieties
and certified seed. However, some of them questioned the adaptability of those vari-
eties for their particular soil and crop management systems because they were selected
for performance in chemical-intensive systems.

3.2.2 Cultural Practices
Most of the organic farmers had either never used a moldboard plow or had shifted
to chisel or disk-type implements as the primary tillage tool. Many also favored
shallow tillage (no deeper than 3 to 4 inches) which mixes the soil but does not in-
vert it. They reasoned that plowing disrupts the established and active microflora
near the surface and places the organic materials at greater depths where conditions
are less favorable for decomposition and release of plant nutrients. They also be-
lieved that fewer weed seeds would be brought to the surface for germination. Shallow
incorporation of organic materials by disking or chiseling would maintain an active
amount of organic matter near the surface where it is most beneficial for improving







surface conditions. This transition from the plow to other tillage implements, how-
ever, is not unique with organic farmers since plowing as a primary tillage practice
is decreasing because of increased use of conservation tillage.

Seedbed preparation, planting and harvesting techniques, or equipment used by
organic farmers did not differ greatly from those of their conventional neighbors.
However, most of the organic farmers stressed the importance of proper timing of
tillage and planting for weed control and maintenance of good soil tilth. Without
herbicides, an extra one to three cultivations were required for weed control. De-
layed planting was another technique used to control weeds. This would also allow
increased time for mineralization of organic matter and release of plant nutrients.
Farmers who used delayed planting said that it did not affect their crop yields.

Large-scale organic farmers appeared generally satisfied with types of machinery
that were commercially available. Small-scale organic farmers indicated the need for
smaller, less sophisticated equipment which would be more adaptable and economical for
their operations. Often the equipment that they desire is not available from U.S.
equipment manufacturers. Therefore, the farmer must either overhaul or rebuild older
machines to meet his needs, or obtain equipment from nondomestic dealers.

3.2.3 Soil and Water Conservation

The case studies pointed out that organic farmers are strongly committed to soil
and water conservation and used the latest and best technology available to control
runoff and erosion. Terraces, grassed waterways, stripcropping, and contour farming
were commonly used and we saw little evidence of erosion on these farms. Critical
areas such as steep slopes or shallow soils were usually maintained in sod. Most of
the farmers said that since they had converted to organic methods infiltration was
noticeably improved, and there was more water available for crops.

3.2.4 Application of Plant Nutrients and Organic Matter

Animal manure, crop residues, nitrogen symbiotically fixed in association with
legumes, organic fertilizers, and to a much lesser extent synthetic fertilizers were
the chief sources of plant nutrients and organic materials utilized on the organic
farms. There was very little use of other materials such as sewage sludge, septage,
or processing wastes by the farmers in either the USDA case studies or the Rodale
Press survey.

3.2.4.1 Supply of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium -- Organic farmers are
concerned with maintaining an adequate supply of nitrogen for their crops. The
nitrogen (N) is obtained chiefly from legumes, animal manure, crop residues, and
to a limited extent from organic and inorganic fertilizers applied as a supplement
for high N use crops. Organic fertilizer sources included leather dust (10-0-0)
and cottonseed meal (7-2-1). A few farmers occasionally use ammonium sulfate (21-
0-0) but at relatively low application rates (for example, never more than 50
pounds of N per acre.)

Rock phosphate and greensand (unprocessed glauconite) are acceptable sources of
phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), respectively, used by organic farmers. The study
team found that, with the exception of a number of farms in the Northeast Region,
only a few farmers were applying any mineral sources of phosphate. Those who did
were applying ground rock phosphate to a limited acreage at rates of 500 to 1,000
pounds per acre. The Rodale survey showed that only about one-third of both the
conventional and organic groups used rock phosphate.







Acidulated rock phosphate (processed phosphatic fertilizers) was used by a few
farmers in situations where rock phosphate was not marketed, or where crops did not
seem to respond well to rock phosphate. In several cases bonemeal (2-25-0) was used
as a phosphate source.

Very few farmers in either study applied any form of mineral K. In the USDA
case studies, only two or three farmers were using greensand, though in limited
quantities. A few were applying a product labeled Sul-Po-Mg (sulfate of potash-
magnesia) which is about 19 percent K. Some were using wood ashes (0-0-5). Only
rarely did farmers-use muriate of potash, i.e., KC1 (0-0-60) on soils with severe K
deficiency.

Some farmers, largely in the Northeast States, were using lime in limited quan-
tities to increase soil pH. About 50 percent of both the organic and conventional
farmers in the Rodale survey used lime in their farming operations.

3.2.4.2 Manure -- Most of the livestock manure generated on organic farms was
applied to the land. In some cases where livestock numbers were limited, imported
manure from outside sources such as feedlots or packing plants was utilized. Some-
times there was a charge for the manure (for example, $1 per cubic yard for chicken
manure) in addition to transportation costs.

Many farmers were using composted or.partially composted animal manure. Several
had developed their own composting systems'us ing windows and turning machines but
often the manure was merely stockpiled for several months without treatment. Some
farmers purchased composted manure from commercial processors. The reasons given for
composting were to (a) facilitate handling of manure, (b) reduce bulk, N loss, and
nutrient tieup following application, (c) kill weed seeds, pathogens, and insects,
and (d) preserve the manure during storage until a time when application was
desirable or feasible.

3.2.4.3 Crop Residues -- A standard practice on most of the organic farms was
to return the crop residues to the soil. Only occasionally were the residues har-
vested for feed or grazed. In some cases animals were not allowed on the cropland
because of a standing green manure crop or because of concern for soil compaction by
animal traffic.

3.2.4.4. Chemical Fertilizers -- Most of the organic farms used no chemical
fertilizers. Those that did used fertilizers conservatively and as a supplement to,
rather than a primary source of, plant nutrients. For example, they might use low
rates, apply the fertilizer infrequently or to limited acreage (e.g., on leased land
because of landlord insistence). During the transition from conventional to organic
farming, some farmers continued to apply limited amounts of commercial fertilizer
until soil fertility could be maintained with organic nutrient sources. Low
analysis fertilizers were preferred over concentrated forms. For example, organic
farmers almost universally opposed the use of anhydrous ammonia or acidulated
phosphates, although some accepted ammonium sulfate and most accepted rock phosphate.
Many organic farmers believe that repeated applications of concentrated nutrient
sources are ecologically disruptive to soil organisms and lead to nutrient imbalances
and decline of tilth.

The Rodale survey showed that 80 percent of the organic farmers did not use any
type of chemical fertilizer, whereas more than 50 percent of the conventional farmers
applied fertilizers on 75 to 100 percent of their crop and pasture land. About 10
percent of the organic farmers used chemical fertilizers sparingly on limited
acreages.







surface conditions. This transition from the plow to other tillage implements, how-
ever, is not unique with organic farmers since plowing as a primary tillage practice
is decreasing because of increased use of conservation tillage.

Seedbed preparation, planting and harvesting techniques, or equipment used by
organic farmers did not differ greatly from those of their conventional neighbors.
However, most of the organic farmers stressed the importance of proper timing of
tillage and planting for weed control and maintenance of good soil tilth. Without
herbicides, an extra one to three cultivations were required for weed control. De-
layed planting was another technique used to control weeds. This would also allow
increased time for mineralization of organic matter and release of plant nutrients.
Farmers who used delayed planting said that it did not affect their crop yields.

Large-scale organic farmers appeared generally satisfied with types of machinery
that were commercially available. Small-scale organic farmers indicated the need for
smaller, less sophisticated equipment which would be more adaptable and economical for
their operations. Often the equipment that they desire is not available from U.S.
equipment manufacturers. Therefore, the farmer must either overhaul or rebuild older
machines to meet his needs, or obtain equipment from nondomestic dealers.

3.2.3 Soil and Water Conservation

The case studies pointed out that organic farmers are strongly committed to soil
and water conservation and used the latest and best technology available to control
runoff and erosion. Terraces, grassed waterways, stripcropping, and contour farming
were commonly used and we saw little evidence of erosion on these farms. Critical
areas such as steep slopes or shallow soils were usually maintained in sod. Most of
the farmers said that since they had converted to organic methods infiltration was
noticeably improved, and there was more water available for crops.

3.2.4 Application of Plant Nutrients and Organic Matter

Animal manure, crop residues, nitrogen symbiotically fixed in association with
legumes, organic fertilizers, and to a much lesser extent synthetic fertilizers were
the chief sources of plant nutrients and organic materials utilized on the organic
farms. There was very little use of other materials such as sewage sludge, septage,
or processing wastes by the farmers in either the USDA case studies or the Rodale
Press survey.

3.2.4.1 Supply of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium -- Organic farmers are
concerned with maintaining an adequate supply of nitrogen for their crops. The
nitrogen (N) is obtained chiefly from legumes, animal manure, crop residues, and
to a limited extent from organic and inorganic fertilizers applied as a supplement
for high N use crops. Organic fertilizer sources included leather dust (10-0-0)
and cottonseed meal (7-2-1). A few farmers occasionally use ammonium sulfate (21-
0-0) but at relatively low application rates (for example, never more than 50
pounds of N per acre.)

Rock phosphate and greensand (unprocessed glauconite) are acceptable sources of
phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), respectively, used by organic farmers. The study
team found that, with the exception of a number of farms in the Northeast Region,
only a few farmers were applying any mineral sources of phosphate. Those who did
were applying ground rock phosphate to a limited acreage at rates of 500 to 1,000
pounds per acre. The Rodale survey showed that only about one-third of both the
conventional and organic groups used rock phosphate.







3.2.4.5 Other Products -- A considerable number of farmers regularly applied
seaweed and fish emulsion products foliarly to a wide variety of field and vegetable
crops. Users were convinced that these products provided essential minerals and
elements for plant growth and plant protection, and benefited crop yield and quality
but were not able to give a dollar value assessment.

A rather high percentage of the organic farmers contacted were either using or
had used various commercial products (nontraditional soil and plant additives)
marketed as soil humates, microbial fertilizers, microbial inoculants (excluding
Rhizobium preparations), soil (microbial) activators, soil conditioners, and plant
growth stimulants in their farming operations. The Rodale survey showed that 20
percent of both the organic and conventional farmers were using these products. Some
of the farmers that we interviewed believed the materials were beneficial during their
transition from chemical to organic farming but were not needed after a full rotation
cycle. Others discontinued their use after several years of experimentation because
of no beneficial results and high costs.
Some of those products are marketed in accordance with a prescribed management
program for long-term soil improvement. However, only a few of the organic farmers
we contacted were participating in this type of program.
3.2.5 Pest Control Methods

While weeds, and insects to a lesser extent, were a problem on many of the
organic farms, the nonchemical control methods used (cultivation, delayed planting,
and roguing) were reasonably effective. Nematodes and plant pathogens did not appear
to present any serious threat to the organically managed systems we observed.

3.2.5.1 Weed Control -- Weed control on most farms was achieved primarily by
crop rotations, tillage, mowing, and to a lesser extent by selective use of herbi-
cides and hand weeding. Preventive methods were emphasized. Weeds were most
difficult to control under high rainfall conditions, during wet seasons, and in close-
growing crops (for example, cereals) that could not be mechanically cultivated.
Organic farmers were achieving successful weed control by diligent application of
such methods as timely tillage, delayed planting, crop sequence selection to prevent
weed establishment, and weed sanitation. Some of the farmers also contended that
weed problems were most serious during the early stages of transition from chemical
to organic methods, and that infestations subsided once the rotational cycle was
established.

Some organic farmers used herbicides selectively and sparingly, for example,
to control localized weed patches, to support mechanical and cultural methods, or as
a last resort to salvage a crop when all else failed.
Only 14 percent of the organic farmers in the Rodale survey used herbicides,
compared with 81 percent for the conventional farmers. The small-scale farmers in
both groups either avoided herbicides entirely or used them minimally.

3.2.5.2 Insect Control -- Organic farmers tended to avoid synthetic chemicals
for insect control; however, some would use them occasionally, but selectively, to
counter epidemic infestations or to control specific insects. The Rodale survey
showed that only 16 percent of the organic group used insecticides and on a very
limited acreage. Approximately 70 percent of the conventional group used insecti-
cides and treated a rather large portion of their acreage.






Most farmers in our study felt that insect pests were adequately controlled in
field crops by selective rotations and natural insect predators. Farmers experienced
greater difficulty in controlling insects in vegetable and orchard crops with nonchem-
ical methods. Growers generally favored combinations of organic insecticides and
biological methods of pest control.

Several growers indicated that populations of beneficial predator insects, in-
cluding ladybird beetles, had increased in their fields since they converted to
organic farming and ceased using pesticides. There was a strong consensus that long-
term and heavy application of insecticides had eliminated many natural insect pre-
dators, thus making nonchemical control of certain insects more difficult.

3.2.6 Crop Yields and Quality
3.2.6.1 Crop Yields -- In the USDA case studies, most of the farmers with
established organic systems reported that crop yields on a per-acre basis were com-
parable to those obtained on nearby chemical-intensive farms. A small number of
farmers were divided between those who believed their yields with organic methods were
10 to 20 percent higher and those who believed their yields were 10 to 20 percent
lower, compared to chemical-intensive farms. This finding is almost identical to that
of the Rodale survey.

Crops that respond to high N rates, such as corn, wheat, and potatoes, are most
likely to have lower yields when grown in organic systems than when grown with chemi-
cal fertilizers, unless nutrient requirements for high yields are met with manure or
other organic sources. Yields of other crops such as alfalfa, soybeans, and oats,
which are less responsive to N, are likely to be the same or even higher than yields
from conventional or chemical systems. A consensus among organic farmers in the Mid-
west was that yields from organic systems were often higher than yields from conven-
tional in dry years, comparable in normal years, and lower in high-moisture years.
Farmers who had previously farmed conventionally reported that crop yields were often
markedly reduced during the first several years following the shift from chemical to
organic farming. During this transition, severe weed infestations often occurred and
crops were sometimes difficult to establish. Occasionally the crops showed symptoms of
nutrient deficiency. Farmers said that after the third or fourth year, as the
rotations became established, yields began to increase and eventually equalled the
yields they had obtained chemically.

3.2.6.2 Crop Quality -- Many farmers interviewed in the USDA case studies felt
that organic methods had little effect on improving crop quality. Some, however,
strongly believed that a significant improvement in crop quality was obtained with
organic farming methods, citing higher grain test weights, improved flavor of meat
products, and higher quality forages for consumption by livestock.

3.2.6.3 Food Quality -- According to the Rodale Press survey, 62 percent of
those interviewed felt that food produced with organic methods has a higher nutri-
tional value than food produced with conventional farming practices. Approximately
20 percent had no opinion one way or the other, while 18 percent believed that
organically grown food was not nutritionally superior to conventionally grown food.


3.3 ANIMAL PRODUCTION

Livestock comprise an essential part of most organic farms, especially on the
large full-time family farms in the grain producing areas. Fewer animal units are
likely to be found on mixed field crop/vegetable farms or in the absence of a






Most farmers in our study felt that insect pests were adequately controlled in
field crops by selective rotations and natural insect predators. Farmers experienced
greater difficulty in controlling insects in vegetable and orchard crops with nonchem-
ical methods. Growers generally favored combinations of organic insecticides and
biological methods of pest control.

Several growers indicated that populations of beneficial predator insects, in-
cluding ladybird beetles, had increased in their fields since they converted to
organic farming and ceased using pesticides. There was a strong consensus that long-
term and heavy application of insecticides had eliminated many natural insect pre-
dators, thus making nonchemical control of certain insects more difficult.

3.2.6 Crop Yields and Quality
3.2.6.1 Crop Yields -- In the USDA case studies, most of the farmers with
established organic systems reported that crop yields on a per-acre basis were com-
parable to those obtained on nearby chemical-intensive farms. A small number of
farmers were divided between those who believed their yields with organic methods were
10 to 20 percent higher and those who believed their yields were 10 to 20 percent
lower, compared to chemical-intensive farms. This finding is almost identical to that
of the Rodale survey.

Crops that respond to high N rates, such as corn, wheat, and potatoes, are most
likely to have lower yields when grown in organic systems than when grown with chemi-
cal fertilizers, unless nutrient requirements for high yields are met with manure or
other organic sources. Yields of other crops such as alfalfa, soybeans, and oats,
which are less responsive to N, are likely to be the same or even higher than yields
from conventional or chemical systems. A consensus among organic farmers in the Mid-
west was that yields from organic systems were often higher than yields from conven-
tional in dry years, comparable in normal years, and lower in high-moisture years.
Farmers who had previously farmed conventionally reported that crop yields were often
markedly reduced during the first several years following the shift from chemical to
organic farming. During this transition, severe weed infestations often occurred and
crops were sometimes difficult to establish. Occasionally the crops showed symptoms of
nutrient deficiency. Farmers said that after the third or fourth year, as the
rotations became established, yields began to increase and eventually equalled the
yields they had obtained chemically.

3.2.6.2 Crop Quality -- Many farmers interviewed in the USDA case studies felt
that organic methods had little effect on improving crop quality. Some, however,
strongly believed that a significant improvement in crop quality was obtained with
organic farming methods, citing higher grain test weights, improved flavor of meat
products, and higher quality forages for consumption by livestock.

3.2.6.3 Food Quality -- According to the Rodale Press survey, 62 percent of
those interviewed felt that food produced with organic methods has a higher nutri-
tional value than food produced with conventional farming practices. Approximately
20 percent had no opinion one way or the other, while 18 percent believed that
organically grown food was not nutritionally superior to conventionally grown food.


3.3 ANIMAL PRODUCTION

Livestock comprise an essential part of most organic farms, especially on the
large full-time family farms in the grain producing areas. Fewer animal units are
likely to be found on mixed field crop/vegetable farms or in the absence of a







balanced production of hay and feed grains. Based on frequency of occurrence, the
animals found on organic farms generally followed a decreasing order of beef cattle,
dairy cows, hogs, sheep, and, to a much lesser extent, poultry.

Most of the organic growers preferred to produce feed for animals on their own
farms and not to rely on outside sources. Many continually strive to achieve a
balance between the production of hay and grains and the animal enterprise. For
example, in a beef cow/feeder operation, if corn or other feed grain was produced in
excess to hay and forages, hogs might be raised to consume the excess grain. Where
feed was purchased to supplement on-farm grain and forages, the farmers usually pre-
ferred organically grown feeds over those produced conventionally. With very few
exceptions, the organic farmers in our studies did not use hormones, growth stimu-
lants, or antibiotics in their feed formulations. However, some farmers used
antibiotics as needed for treatment of sick animals. A number of farmers reported
that with previous chemical-intensive programs they had often incurred a higher rate.
of birth mortality, decreased reproductive efficiency, and increased respiratory ail-
ments among their livestock, resulting in lower production, and higher veterinary
costs.

The organic farmers did not appear to "push" their animals in the feeding pro-
grams. That is, they did not appear to strive for the highest possible rate of gain
and to market the animals in the shortest possible time.

3.4 MARKETING

Most of the organic farmers in the USDA case studies sold all or a large part of
their produce through conventional marketing channels. Less than 30 percent marketed
most of their farm products as organic produce. The organic produce was marketed in
several ways, including sales to local organic food cooperatives, organic wholesalers,
organic retailers (such as natural or health food stores), or directly to consumers.
Some farmers, especially on small farms, sold directly to consumers through roadside
stands or through pick-your-own and pre-pick (farmer picks quantity ordered by
individual consumers) operations, or through farmers' markets. More than 20 percent
of the organic farmers sold nearly all of their organic products to wholesalers. How-
ever, more farmers sold directly to consumers than to wholesalers or retailers.

The organic farmers in the case studies indicated marketing to be a major problem
Some farmers near populated areas and along major highways could set up roadside
stands, have consumers pick their own produce, or sell to local markets, thereby
avoiding high transportation costs. These farmers had considerable economic advantage
over farmers located at greater distances from markets. For example, an organic pro-
ducer at a more remote location said that he spent 20 to 30 percent of his time
marketing his organic produce.

In the Rodale Press survey more than half of the totally organic farmers marketed
all their produce through conventional channels. Of those remaining, about half
marketed 50 percent of their produce as organic. A few respondents indicated they
had reduced or ceased organic production because they could not find markets for their
products. Only about 23 percent of the combination conventional-organic farmers
marketed some of their organic produce as organic.

Whether or not an organic farmer sells organic produce as "organic" is deter-
mined mainly by whether there is a premium price for the product and how much greater
it is than the conventional market price. The premium price in turn reflects demand
for the product. A relatively low percentage of the farmers that we interviewed were







receiving a premium price for certain produce, mainly vegetables and meat, from 10 to
50 percent above the conventional market price. A premium price almost always in-
volved direct marketing to consumers.

The Rodale Press survey showed that only 20 percent of the organic and combi-
nation respondents received a premium price for organically grown products. Only 6
percent of the totally organic farmers reported receiving a premium price on all of
their organic products. The price premium varied in amount and by commodity, but it
was usually less than 10 percent above conventional market price. The survey sug-
gested that organic vegetable and meat producers have a better chance of receiving
a price premium, and a larger one, than the organic fruit, grain and cereal, or dairy
producers.

3.5 GROWER AND MARKETING ORGANIZATIONS

Organic growers are organized mainly into State and regional groups, or asso-
ciations with representation extending into all areas of the United States. There
is no national organization of producers at this time. Currently, there are about 35
regional organic farming groups that are active in 29 States. The purpose of these
organizations is to provide for information exchange among the members, and to help
certify, inspect, market, and distribute organically produced crops in every area of
the Nation.

The wholesale and retail distribution system for organic foods has also grown
markedly in recent years. There are currently 6,500 full-line health food stores in
the United States. The health food industry is supplied by approximately 1,000 manu-
facturers and distributors. Such companies provide products directly to wholesalers
as well as to retail outlets. These manufacturers and distributors market one or
more products, ranging from organically grown grains to vitamins. The size of the
overall production and distribution system has experienced steady growth since 1970.

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) was formed
in 1972 to serve as an international communicator as well as a coordinator of organic
farming developments. IFOAM publishes a highly informative quarterly bulletin in
English, French, German, and Spanish, which contains information on various develop-
ments of interest to organic agriculture. According to one bulletin, "the function
of the Federation is to be a network for the diverse bodies concerned for the ecolo-
gical development of agriculture in all nations." Currently, IFOAM is comprised of
some 80 member groups in 30 nations. Individual memberships total approximately
40,000.

3.6 ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN EUROPE

From September 16-26, 1979, four members of the study team interviewed a number
of organic farmers, organic farming researchers, and government officials in West
Germany, Switzerland, and England. A great deal was learned as a result of these
interviews and onfarm tours. In general, the team was impressed with the high degree
of similarity between the United States and Europe regarding organic technology and
cultural practices, the number of organic practitioners, levels of governmental and
university support of organic agriculture, organic marketing and certification
arrangements, and the motivations of organic farmers. A partial summary listing of
some of the team's specific findings and conclusions follows:







receiving a premium price for certain produce, mainly vegetables and meat, from 10 to
50 percent above the conventional market price. A premium price almost always in-
volved direct marketing to consumers.

The Rodale Press survey showed that only 20 percent of the organic and combi-
nation respondents received a premium price for organically grown products. Only 6
percent of the totally organic farmers reported receiving a premium price on all of
their organic products. The price premium varied in amount and by commodity, but it
was usually less than 10 percent above conventional market price. The survey sug-
gested that organic vegetable and meat producers have a better chance of receiving
a price premium, and a larger one, than the organic fruit, grain and cereal, or dairy
producers.

3.5 GROWER AND MARKETING ORGANIZATIONS

Organic growers are organized mainly into State and regional groups, or asso-
ciations with representation extending into all areas of the United States. There
is no national organization of producers at this time. Currently, there are about 35
regional organic farming groups that are active in 29 States. The purpose of these
organizations is to provide for information exchange among the members, and to help
certify, inspect, market, and distribute organically produced crops in every area of
the Nation.

The wholesale and retail distribution system for organic foods has also grown
markedly in recent years. There are currently 6,500 full-line health food stores in
the United States. The health food industry is supplied by approximately 1,000 manu-
facturers and distributors. Such companies provide products directly to wholesalers
as well as to retail outlets. These manufacturers and distributors market one or
more products, ranging from organically grown grains to vitamins. The size of the
overall production and distribution system has experienced steady growth since 1970.

The International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) was formed
in 1972 to serve as an international communicator as well as a coordinator of organic
farming developments. IFOAM publishes a highly informative quarterly bulletin in
English, French, German, and Spanish, which contains information on various develop-
ments of interest to organic agriculture. According to one bulletin, "the function
of the Federation is to be a network for the diverse bodies concerned for the ecolo-
gical development of agriculture in all nations." Currently, IFOAM is comprised of
some 80 member groups in 30 nations. Individual memberships total approximately
40,000.

3.6 ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN EUROPE

From September 16-26, 1979, four members of the study team interviewed a number
of organic farmers, organic farming researchers, and government officials in West
Germany, Switzerland, and England. A great deal was learned as a result of these
interviews and onfarm tours. In general, the team was impressed with the high degree
of similarity between the United States and Europe regarding organic technology and
cultural practices, the number of organic practitioners, levels of governmental and
university support of organic agriculture, organic marketing and certification
arrangements, and the motivations of organic farmers. A partial summary listing of
some of the team's specific findings and conclusions follows:







(1) Although accurate data do not exist, pure organic farmers
probably represent fewer than 1 percent of the total number
of European farmers.

(2) The number of European farmers who are now attempting to
reduce their use of synthetic chemical fertilizers and pest-
icides is sharply increasing. While rising costs appear to
be a major motivation, increasing concern about possible
environmental degradation and impairment of health is also
evident.

(3) At present, there is relatively little governmental and
university funded research on organic agriculture; however,
interest in organic farming is definitely increasing, as is
support for research. For example, a growing number of such
researchers are now collaborating with the Institute of
Biological Husbandry at Oberwil, Switzerland.

(4) Governmental extension activity in organic farming is rare.

(5) University level courses in organic farming are rare.

(6) Certification of organic farmers is done by producer organ-
izations.

(7) European organic farmers are motivated by many of the same
factors as their American counterparts. They are, for
example, concerned about the environment, soil, water, and
energy conservation, self sufficiency, soil life, and human
and animal health.

(8) There are several philosophical schools of thought on organic
agriculture in Europe.

(9) In most of Europe, integrated pest management is in its
embryonic stages.

(10) In most European countries, consumer interest in the quality
of food as well as various environmental issues is increasing.

(11) In some parts of Europe, so-called conventional agriculture
exhibits many of the characteristics of organic farming as
we see it practiced in the United States. For example, the
Swiss conventional system relies heavily upon various organic
technologies and cultural practices.


3.7 ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN JAPAN

One member of the study team on organic farming was in Japan during December 1-7,
1979, where he consulted with officials of the Japanese Organic Farming Research
Institute (Nippon Yukinogyo Kenkyukai) on aspects of the organic farming movement
there.

Prior to World War II there was only limited use of chemical fertilizers and
pesticides in Japan. Most Japanese farmers relied mainly on recycling of organic







wastes and residues, often as composts, for plant nutrients. After the war, however,
the Government (Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry) placed strong emphasis on the
use of agricultural chemicals to achieve maximum production of food and fiber. At
that time, the importance of composts was discounted and farmers were told that there
was little benefit to be gained from their use. Farmers were encouraged to burn the
rice straw which ordinarily would have been used for composting, and to mechanize,
modernize, and decrease the labor intensiveness of their farming operations. It is
noteworthy that many farmers have returned to using composts on their land, partic-
ularly for production of vegetables.

During the last decade there has been a growing concern about the possible ad-
verse effects of intensive use of agricultural chemicals, especially pesticides, on
the environment and on human health. Consequently, the Japanese organic agriculture
movement was fostered and has now gained considerable support from both the urban
and rural sectors of society and through an organization like the Nippon Yukinogyo
Kenkyukai. Rachel Carson's book, "Silent Spring," had a profound influence on
getting the organic agriculture movement started in Japan. Undoubtedly, the single
most important factor that has motivated this movement has been the concern for
effects of pesticides on human health, both from direct exposure to farmers in their
use and from consumption of residual pesticides in food.

Some guiding principles and objectives of the organic agricultural movement in
Japan include:

1) To achieve self sufficiency;

2) To recycle organic wastes back to the land (cited as
being commensurate with Buddhism and its principles);
3) To protect and maintain human health; and

4) To achieve a mutually beneficial relationship between the
farmer, the consumer, and the environment.

The importance of a close and cooperative relationship between the farmer and
consumer in the production and marketing of organically grown produce was emphasized.
One example of this relationship that has become quite popular around large metropol-
itan areas is the "grower-family subscriber" arrangement. In this case, a farmer may
grow fruits and vegetables for 10 to 15 city families throughout the year. The
families form a consumer's association and negotiate a contract with the farmer, who
agrees to grow produce without chemicals. The families agree to furnish some labor
for weeding and cultivating during the growing season. The farmer schedules meetings
periodically to inform the subscribers of crops to be grown, planting dates, produc-
tion schedules, and harvesting dates. He also attempts to accommodate special
requests for unusual types of vegetables. The even and guaranteed cash flow from
this arrangement is a definite advantage to the farmer. Another example of direct
marketing is through organic cooperatives that purchase organically grown produce
from farmers and then distribute it to the members.

There is little use, if any, of public funds to support research and education
programs on organic farming in Japan. Most of the support for organic farming comes
from individual citizens, consumer groups and cooperatives, and from organic farmers.
There is strong support from a growing number of medical doctors who are specialists
in rural medicine and who have documented many cases of pesticide poisoning in rural
communities.







There has been little or no communication between the Japanese Ministry of
Agriculture and Forestry and the Organic Farming Research Institute. Officials of
the latter group feel that the Ministry has chosen to ignore the research and educa-
tion needs of organic farming because of its emphasis on the avoidance or reduction
in use of chemicals, which is contrary to government policy. Nevertheless, at a
seminar which presented a summary of the USDA organic farming study, officials of
these two groups met for the first time ever and engaged in friendly and fruitful
discussion. With lines of communication open, it is possible that future meetings
will be held to discuss areas of interest and cooperation.







ANALYSIS OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: PRODUCTION, ENVIRONMENTAL,


AND SOCIOECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS


4.1 PLANT NUTRIENT BUDGET
4.1.1 Nutrient Requirements

There are 16 elements that are known to be essential for crop growth, of which
nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most commonly deficient in agricultural
soils. Secondary and micronutrient deficiencies have been widely documented in some
soils, with sulfur, zinc, and boron being the most common. In order to maintain high
crop yields, the additions and release of nutrients, particularly N, P, and K, must
be sufficiently great so that the nutrients are always at a level of availability
that will not restrict yields.
4.1.2 Nutrient Budget Concept

The plant nutrient budget is a key factor in determining potential limits to
the productivity of farming systems in general (1) and of systems with limited
nutrient input from external sources, including "mixed farming" or "self-sustaining
unit" systems (2).

From the nutrient budget standpoint, most organic farming systems represent
modifications of the "self-sustaining unit" system. They do, however, range from an
almost pure "self-sustaining unit" system to some modification of the "intensive
agriculture" system mainly used in Europe, North America, and parts of the USSR and
Japan. This latter system is characterized by a continuous and heavy application of
commercial fertilizer and a steady removal of crop products from the farm. Basically,
the budget involves inputs, transformations within the system, and losses of
nutrients from the system (1).

4.1.2.1 System Stability -- A stable and long-term cropping system requires a
balance between nutrient inputs and losses. While nutrient cycling occurs, the
system has "leaks" which require certain inputs to maintain crop yield levels.
Nutrient availability is maintained by energy inputs ultimately derived from photo-
synthetic processes. Sustained productivity can be achieved by either (a) matching
nutrient losses from the cropped area to the rate of nutrient release, or (b) satis-
fying a projected nutrient deficit with commercial fertilizer or nutrient-rich organic
material produced off the site (1).

4.1.2.2 Example -- The nutrient budget concept is illustrated by the following
example which shows that the balance between the additions and removal of P and K
directly affects their status in the soil as indicated by soil test values. Figure
4.1 shows the longterm effects of gains and losses of P and K on soil test values for
several soils (3). For each soil, the greater the accumulation of P and K, the
higher the soil test value; while the greater the net loss of P and K, the lower the
soil test value. The soil test only reflects part of the budget, since release,
fixation, and leaching are not included. The data illustrate differences which exist
between soils both in the actual soil test value for a given addition or loss of P
and K and the change in soil test that results from annual gains or losses of P and
K.









Figure 4.1 Long-Term Rotation Experiments1






Phosphorus Soil Test Value Potassium Soil Test Value


0



(Il

oU 4

I-I
I.--


Or-
o
=3
c~rCi
E o
* r--

(04>
() -

uc,
I


Loss Gain Loss Gain

Annual Gains or Losses Annual Gains or Losses
of Phosphorus of Potassium



Based on data from Mattingly and Johnson (3). Each line represents

a different site.







ANALYSIS OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: PRODUCTION, ENVIRONMENTAL,


AND SOCIOECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS


4.1 PLANT NUTRIENT BUDGET
4.1.1 Nutrient Requirements

There are 16 elements that are known to be essential for crop growth, of which
nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most commonly deficient in agricultural
soils. Secondary and micronutrient deficiencies have been widely documented in some
soils, with sulfur, zinc, and boron being the most common. In order to maintain high
crop yields, the additions and release of nutrients, particularly N, P, and K, must
be sufficiently great so that the nutrients are always at a level of availability
that will not restrict yields.
4.1.2 Nutrient Budget Concept

The plant nutrient budget is a key factor in determining potential limits to
the productivity of farming systems in general (1) and of systems with limited
nutrient input from external sources, including "mixed farming" or "self-sustaining
unit" systems (2).

From the nutrient budget standpoint, most organic farming systems represent
modifications of the "self-sustaining unit" system. They do, however, range from an
almost pure "self-sustaining unit" system to some modification of the "intensive
agriculture" system mainly used in Europe, North America, and parts of the USSR and
Japan. This latter system is characterized by a continuous and heavy application of
commercial fertilizer and a steady removal of crop products from the farm. Basically,
the budget involves inputs, transformations within the system, and losses of
nutrients from the system (1).

4.1.2.1 System Stability -- A stable and long-term cropping system requires a
balance between nutrient inputs and losses. While nutrient cycling occurs, the
system has "leaks" which require certain inputs to maintain crop yield levels.
Nutrient availability is maintained by energy inputs ultimately derived from photo-
synthetic processes. Sustained productivity can be achieved by either (a) matching
nutrient losses from the cropped area to the rate of nutrient release, or (b) satis-
fying a projected nutrient deficit with commercial fertilizer or nutrient-rich organic
material produced off the site (1).

4.1.2.2 Example -- The nutrient budget concept is illustrated by the following
example which shows that the balance between the additions and removal of P and K
directly affects their status in the soil as indicated by soil test values. Figure
4.1 shows the longterm effects of gains and losses of P and K on soil test values for
several soils (3). For each soil, the greater the accumulation of P and K, the
higher the soil test value; while the greater the net loss of P and K, the lower the
soil test value. The soil test only reflects part of the budget, since release,
fixation, and leaching are not included. The data illustrate differences which exist
between soils both in the actual soil test value for a given addition or loss of P
and K and the change in soil test that results from annual gains or losses of P and
K.







ANALYSIS OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: PRODUCTION, ENVIRONMENTAL,


AND SOCIOECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS


4.1 PLANT NUTRIENT BUDGET
4.1.1 Nutrient Requirements

There are 16 elements that are known to be essential for crop growth, of which
nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most commonly deficient in agricultural
soils. Secondary and micronutrient deficiencies have been widely documented in some
soils, with sulfur, zinc, and boron being the most common. In order to maintain high
crop yields, the additions and release of nutrients, particularly N, P, and K, must
be sufficiently great so that the nutrients are always at a level of availability
that will not restrict yields.
4.1.2 Nutrient Budget Concept

The plant nutrient budget is a key factor in determining potential limits to
the productivity of farming systems in general (1) and of systems with limited
nutrient input from external sources, including "mixed farming" or "self-sustaining
unit" systems (2).

From the nutrient budget standpoint, most organic farming systems represent
modifications of the "self-sustaining unit" system. They do, however, range from an
almost pure "self-sustaining unit" system to some modification of the "intensive
agriculture" system mainly used in Europe, North America, and parts of the USSR and
Japan. This latter system is characterized by a continuous and heavy application of
commercial fertilizer and a steady removal of crop products from the farm. Basically,
the budget involves inputs, transformations within the system, and losses of
nutrients from the system (1).

4.1.2.1 System Stability -- A stable and long-term cropping system requires a
balance between nutrient inputs and losses. While nutrient cycling occurs, the
system has "leaks" which require certain inputs to maintain crop yield levels.
Nutrient availability is maintained by energy inputs ultimately derived from photo-
synthetic processes. Sustained productivity can be achieved by either (a) matching
nutrient losses from the cropped area to the rate of nutrient release, or (b) satis-
fying a projected nutrient deficit with commercial fertilizer or nutrient-rich organic
material produced off the site (1).

4.1.2.2 Example -- The nutrient budget concept is illustrated by the following
example which shows that the balance between the additions and removal of P and K
directly affects their status in the soil as indicated by soil test values. Figure
4.1 shows the longterm effects of gains and losses of P and K on soil test values for
several soils (3). For each soil, the greater the accumulation of P and K, the
higher the soil test value; while the greater the net loss of P and K, the lower the
soil test value. The soil test only reflects part of the budget, since release,
fixation, and leaching are not included. The data illustrate differences which exist
between soils both in the actual soil test value for a given addition or loss of P
and K and the change in soil test that results from annual gains or losses of P and
K.







ANALYSIS OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE: PRODUCTION, ENVIRONMENTAL,


AND SOCIOECONOMIC IMPLICATIONS


4.1 PLANT NUTRIENT BUDGET
4.1.1 Nutrient Requirements

There are 16 elements that are known to be essential for crop growth, of which
nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are most commonly deficient in agricultural
soils. Secondary and micronutrient deficiencies have been widely documented in some
soils, with sulfur, zinc, and boron being the most common. In order to maintain high
crop yields, the additions and release of nutrients, particularly N, P, and K, must
be sufficiently great so that the nutrients are always at a level of availability
that will not restrict yields.
4.1.2 Nutrient Budget Concept

The plant nutrient budget is a key factor in determining potential limits to
the productivity of farming systems in general (1) and of systems with limited
nutrient input from external sources, including "mixed farming" or "self-sustaining
unit" systems (2).

From the nutrient budget standpoint, most organic farming systems represent
modifications of the "self-sustaining unit" system. They do, however, range from an
almost pure "self-sustaining unit" system to some modification of the "intensive
agriculture" system mainly used in Europe, North America, and parts of the USSR and
Japan. This latter system is characterized by a continuous and heavy application of
commercial fertilizer and a steady removal of crop products from the farm. Basically,
the budget involves inputs, transformations within the system, and losses of
nutrients from the system (1).

4.1.2.1 System Stability -- A stable and long-term cropping system requires a
balance between nutrient inputs and losses. While nutrient cycling occurs, the
system has "leaks" which require certain inputs to maintain crop yield levels.
Nutrient availability is maintained by energy inputs ultimately derived from photo-
synthetic processes. Sustained productivity can be achieved by either (a) matching
nutrient losses from the cropped area to the rate of nutrient release, or (b) satis-
fying a projected nutrient deficit with commercial fertilizer or nutrient-rich organic
material produced off the site (1).

4.1.2.2 Example -- The nutrient budget concept is illustrated by the following
example which shows that the balance between the additions and removal of P and K
directly affects their status in the soil as indicated by soil test values. Figure
4.1 shows the longterm effects of gains and losses of P and K on soil test values for
several soils (3). For each soil, the greater the accumulation of P and K, the
higher the soil test value; while the greater the net loss of P and K, the lower the
soil test value. The soil test only reflects part of the budget, since release,
fixation, and leaching are not included. The data illustrate differences which exist
between soils both in the actual soil test value for a given addition or loss of P
and K and the change in soil test that results from annual gains or losses of P and
K.







4.1.3 Nitrogen

4.1.3.1 Nitrogen Supply -- Organic farmers generally are able to supply a
sufficient level of N for moderate to high yield levels by extensive use of symbiot-
ically fixed nitrogen, return of crop residues and animal manures, and proper
selection of crops in rotation. Such systems require livestock enterprises to util-
ize the grain and forage produced and to recycle nutrients within the system.
Nutrient recycling on organic farms can be regarded as an energy input similar to the
energy consumed in the manufacture and distribution of chemical fertilizers.

The feasibility of using legumes to provide most of the nitrogen for high-
yielding corn hybrids is substantiated by studies in several States, but such prac-
tices restrict corn acreage. The amount of nitrogen produced by green manure crops is
often insufficient to produce maximum yields of crops such as corn. Where factors
such as available water limit crop yield, lower N levels may be adequate to meet the
lower yield potential.

4.1.3.2 Limitations on Nitrogen Sources for Organic Farming -- Legumes are not
well suited as a source of nitrogen in areas of the United States where water
supplies are limited. For example, decreased corn yields following alfalfa are
commonly observed in the western Corn Belt as a result of insufficient water. For
the same reason, wheat in the Pacific Northwest often yields less following a green
manure crop than wheat after fallow (4).

Use of off-farm organic wastes as N sources for organic farming is limited by
factors of quality, quantity, availability, and cost, according to a recent USDA
report (5).

Serious losses of nitrogen often occur during the collection, storage, and
application of animal manures, which can greatly decrease their value as a nitrogen
source. Nitrogen losses of 50 percent or more have been reported due to improper
handling and application methods (5).
4.1.4 Phosphorus and Potassium

4.1.4.1 Two Approaches for Supplying P and K -- The methods used by organic
farmers to supply P and K vary greatly, but two fundamentally different approaches
can be identified.

The first approach relies on the release of P and K from primary and secondary
soil minerals, equilibration reactions between soil particle surfaces and nutrients
in solution, and mineralization of organic matter to make up any deficits. Recycling
the nutrients through livestock and manure applications to land reduces the deficit,
but the P and K budget still remains substantially negative (6). This "deficit"
approach includes only minimal attempts to provide supplemental P and K from outside
the system, and the long-term effect is one of depleting ("mining") the soil of P and
K.

The second approach relies on large-scale "importation" of nutrients from outside
the system: (a) in animal feed, (b) as animal manure, or (c) as large-scale use of
diverse organic and inorganic nutrient sources. In this latter group, a large number
and variety of both mineral and organic materials are applied to the soil, often in
amounts far greater than the amounts normally returned as crop residues and manure.
In effect, nutrients and photosynthetically derived energy are collected from a larger
contributing area and applied to a smaller collecting area. The mineral materials







4.1.3 Nitrogen

4.1.3.1 Nitrogen Supply -- Organic farmers generally are able to supply a
sufficient level of N for moderate to high yield levels by extensive use of symbiot-
ically fixed nitrogen, return of crop residues and animal manures, and proper
selection of crops in rotation. Such systems require livestock enterprises to util-
ize the grain and forage produced and to recycle nutrients within the system.
Nutrient recycling on organic farms can be regarded as an energy input similar to the
energy consumed in the manufacture and distribution of chemical fertilizers.

The feasibility of using legumes to provide most of the nitrogen for high-
yielding corn hybrids is substantiated by studies in several States, but such prac-
tices restrict corn acreage. The amount of nitrogen produced by green manure crops is
often insufficient to produce maximum yields of crops such as corn. Where factors
such as available water limit crop yield, lower N levels may be adequate to meet the
lower yield potential.

4.1.3.2 Limitations on Nitrogen Sources for Organic Farming -- Legumes are not
well suited as a source of nitrogen in areas of the United States where water
supplies are limited. For example, decreased corn yields following alfalfa are
commonly observed in the western Corn Belt as a result of insufficient water. For
the same reason, wheat in the Pacific Northwest often yields less following a green
manure crop than wheat after fallow (4).

Use of off-farm organic wastes as N sources for organic farming is limited by
factors of quality, quantity, availability, and cost, according to a recent USDA
report (5).

Serious losses of nitrogen often occur during the collection, storage, and
application of animal manures, which can greatly decrease their value as a nitrogen
source. Nitrogen losses of 50 percent or more have been reported due to improper
handling and application methods (5).
4.1.4 Phosphorus and Potassium

4.1.4.1 Two Approaches for Supplying P and K -- The methods used by organic
farmers to supply P and K vary greatly, but two fundamentally different approaches
can be identified.

The first approach relies on the release of P and K from primary and secondary
soil minerals, equilibration reactions between soil particle surfaces and nutrients
in solution, and mineralization of organic matter to make up any deficits. Recycling
the nutrients through livestock and manure applications to land reduces the deficit,
but the P and K budget still remains substantially negative (6). This "deficit"
approach includes only minimal attempts to provide supplemental P and K from outside
the system, and the long-term effect is one of depleting ("mining") the soil of P and
K.

The second approach relies on large-scale "importation" of nutrients from outside
the system: (a) in animal feed, (b) as animal manure, or (c) as large-scale use of
diverse organic and inorganic nutrient sources. In this latter group, a large number
and variety of both mineral and organic materials are applied to the soil, often in
amounts far greater than the amounts normally returned as crop residues and manure.
In effect, nutrients and photosynthetically derived energy are collected from a larger
contributing area and applied to a smaller collecting area. The mineral materials







added in (c) are intended to release P and K slowly from "low availability" sources.
This is similar in many ways to some types of organic gardening.

A wide range of organic farming operations exists between these two approaches.
However, most can be classified as the "deficit" or the "importation" approach.

4.1.4.2 Replenishment of Nutrients in the Soil Solution -- The replenishment of
nutrients in the soil solution, particularly the role of the capacity factors (7),
provides a useful way to distinguish between the two approaches to organic farming
and between the "deficit" approach and "intensive conventional agriculture"
approaches using high inputs of P and K fertilizers.

"As nutrients are removed from the soil solution, there is a
tendency to replace the deficit from solid phase sources. The
solution concentration of a nutrient is frequently referred to as
an intensity factor and the solid phase sources which resupply
the solution are referred to as capacity factors. The capacity
factors can be divided somewhat arbitrarily into three categories:"

1) "Those forms which are in rapid equilibrium with the soil
solution." Example exchangeable K and surface P.

2) "Those forms which are in moderate to slow equilibrium (or
pseudo-equilibrium) with the soil solutions." Example -
"fixed" K and that P which has diffused beneath the surface
of sorbing minerals or to the interior of aggregates but
can still diffuse back to the surface in a reasonable length
of time if the activity gradient is favorable.

3) "Those forms which are not in equilibrium with the soil
solution because of the absence of a reverse reaction
(nutrients are released but not readsorbed)." Example -
release of P by organic matter decomposition and decom-
position of minerals formed in a high temperature system.

a. "Deficit" approach -- Few of the organic farmers surveyed in the Midwest
attempt to balance the nutrient budgets for P and K by using outside sources of these
elements. These observations are in agreement with Lockeretz et al. (8) who estimated
an average net deficit per acre of 12 lb of P205 and 41 lb of K20 in a study of
midwestern organic farms.

The deficit approach relies predominantly on nutrient recycling and release of
nutrients from categories 2) and 3) to replace P and K from category 1). For
potassium, the problem is whether the lower solution concentration of K necessary for
the release of significant amounts of K from categories 2) and 3) will maintain high
crop yields. In contrast, with "intensive conventional agriculture," the addition
of fertilizer and release of nutrients from organic residues are sufficient to
maintain category 1) forms of P and K at levels required for high crop yields.
Category 2) and 3) forms generally play a secondary role in supplying P and K.

b. Long-term stability of the "deficit" system -- Extensive recycling of
nutrients, through efficient application of manure produced from on-farm feeding of
nearly all of the crops produced, will appreciably decrease the P and K deficit.
However, the balance will remain negative unless there is considerable release or net
withdrawals are decreased. Efficient utilization of manure from the livestock







enterprise can greatly reduce the rate of decline of soil test P and K. Under such
conditions, well-buffered soils with high initial P and K status may supply adequate
P and K for moderate to high-yield levels for a long period (40 years or possibly
much longer in some cases).

In many cases the long-term stability of the "deficit" approach must be serious-
ly questioned. Continued long-term net removal of substantial amounts of P and K
will eventually reduce the levels available to the crop and yields will decrease
unless:

1) The soil is strongly buffered with respect to the nutrient, or
2) Adequate additions of the nutrient are made from outside sources.

When P and K nutrient balances are negative, particularly on soils with less
favorable P and K status or a low supplying capacity, a modification of farming
practices to increase the nutrient supply may be necessary for successful long-term
agricultural production. These conclusions are substantiated by an extensive body of
research including long-term studies at experimental stations in the United States
and Europe.
c. "Importation" approach -- Where large numbers of livestock are kept on a
relatively small acreage requiring large amounts of imported feed, the P and K in the
manure may equal or exceed the crop's requirements. Cooke (9) and Frissel (2) cite
several examples of such situations in The Netherlands. Large-scale importation of
animal manure may likewise supplement, or in some cases supply, all of the P and K
needed by the crops. While several such farms were observed in our case studies,
opportunities for such large-scale importations of manure are limited.
Where large-scale "importation" of nutrients occurs in organic farming, the
system functions similarly to "intensive conventional agriculture" but with a much
greater fraction of the P returned in a mixture of organic P forms. Since this
approach relies on a large variety of organic and inorganic sources, the rate of
dissolution and release from mineral sources and mineralization of organic material
must be rapid enough to maintain the category 1) forms of P and K at a sufficiently
high level, or the system will behave as described in the "deficit" approach. With
large additions of organic matter, the mineralization and release of organic P may be
of considerable significance, at least in some systems. Also the presence of large
amounts of organic materials may affect the availability of K, because of adsorption
characteristics.

d. Relevance of soil properties to the deficit approach -- The soil's capacity
to supply P and K from weatherable minerals, past fertilization history, and the
current nutrient level are critical factors to the long-term operation of conventional
as well as organic farming. Since these factors vary greatly among soils, accurate
information on the soil's nutrient status and capability to supply nutrients is of
utmost importance to all of agriculture, but especially to those situations where P
and K balances are negative.

The large and increased amounts of P and K fertilizer used since World War II
have raised the levels of these nutrients in many soils to a point where crop pro-
duction can often be sustained at moderate to high levels for a number of years
without further additions (10). Where net P and K removal is reduced further by
feeding part or all of the crops grown and returning the manure produced, the period
over which high production levels can be sustained is extended even further. The






same effect occurs where P and K removals are decreased because of lower P and K
requirements of crops or because climatic factors have reduced the yield potential.
These effects have allowed many organic farmers who use the deficit approach to
reduce or eliminate P and K fertilizer additions while maintaining moderate to high
levels of crop production for extended periods.

4.1.4.3 Low Solubility Sources of P and K -- The effectiveness of rock phosphate
in any particular soil is determined largely by three soil factors, soil pH and the
concentrations of P and Ca in the soil solution. If the level of any one of these
factors is not conducive to rock phosphate dissolution in the soil, rock phosphate
will be relatively ineffective (11). Thus, on many soils it is unlikely that low
solubility sources of P, such as rock phosphate, could maintain the soil solution
concentration of P at a sufficiently high level to sustain maximum crop yields (11,
12). While this may be true, many organic farmers do not rely solely on rock
phosphate as a source of P, but return ample amounts of crop residues, manures, and
off-farm organic wastes to the soil, so that the contribution of P from rock phos-
phate is difficult to determine. Moreover, organic farmers are less likely to make a
serious attempt at farming organically on P-deficient and low P-supplying soils.
Many of them believe that they can enhance the dissolution and availability of P from
rock phosphate by the application of organic residues and wastes, and by simple
manipulation of soil pH and selection of crop sequence. However, low pH conditions
which favor dissolution of rock phosphate may be too acid for satisfactory growth of
many legumes.

Similarly, low solubility sources of K, such as glauconite (greensand), may be
unable to provide an adequate level of K in the soil for highest crop yields.
Again, most farmers would not consider farming organically on low K-supplying soils.
Moreover, most organic farmers supplement applications of glauconite or rock powders
with a number of different organic wastes and residues that supply K, so that the
exact source of K is difficult to determine.

The various equilibria that govern the release of nutrients in a-conventionally
farmed soil may be somewhat different in a soil farmed under intensive organic
practices. Thus, the rate of P and K release from sources of limited solubility in
organic-intensive systems may require further investigation.

4.1.5 Effect of Organic Matter on the Solubility of Calcium Phosphates

On alkaline soils, organic matter has been shown to increase the concentration
of P in the soil solution (13). This is important because the level of P in the soil
solution determines the rate of P uptake by roots. Thus, manure can increase the
availability and uptake of soil and fertilizer P by plant roots in alkaline soil
(14). However, the effect of organic matter applications on P availability is less
consistent on acid soils (15).

4.1.6 Potential Impact of Mycorrhizal Fungi

Several recent reports have expressed the possibility that mycorrhizal fungi
inoculated into soils may have some future potential for stimulating the uptake of
nutrients and growth of major food crops on a practical basis (13, 14, 16, 17).
However, to date, researchers have found it most difficult to grow plant-adapted
forms of these fungi in the absence of their host plants. This problem, coupled with
the fact that very large amounts of inoculum would be required at considerable expense,
and since cost-benefit relationships are still questionable, makes it doubtful that
this procedure will become practical in the foreseeable future.






same effect occurs where P and K removals are decreased because of lower P and K
requirements of crops or because climatic factors have reduced the yield potential.
These effects have allowed many organic farmers who use the deficit approach to
reduce or eliminate P and K fertilizer additions while maintaining moderate to high
levels of crop production for extended periods.

4.1.4.3 Low Solubility Sources of P and K -- The effectiveness of rock phosphate
in any particular soil is determined largely by three soil factors, soil pH and the
concentrations of P and Ca in the soil solution. If the level of any one of these
factors is not conducive to rock phosphate dissolution in the soil, rock phosphate
will be relatively ineffective (11). Thus, on many soils it is unlikely that low
solubility sources of P, such as rock phosphate, could maintain the soil solution
concentration of P at a sufficiently high level to sustain maximum crop yields (11,
12). While this may be true, many organic farmers do not rely solely on rock
phosphate as a source of P, but return ample amounts of crop residues, manures, and
off-farm organic wastes to the soil, so that the contribution of P from rock phos-
phate is difficult to determine. Moreover, organic farmers are less likely to make a
serious attempt at farming organically on P-deficient and low P-supplying soils.
Many of them believe that they can enhance the dissolution and availability of P from
rock phosphate by the application of organic residues and wastes, and by simple
manipulation of soil pH and selection of crop sequence. However, low pH conditions
which favor dissolution of rock phosphate may be too acid for satisfactory growth of
many legumes.

Similarly, low solubility sources of K, such as glauconite (greensand), may be
unable to provide an adequate level of K in the soil for highest crop yields.
Again, most farmers would not consider farming organically on low K-supplying soils.
Moreover, most organic farmers supplement applications of glauconite or rock powders
with a number of different organic wastes and residues that supply K, so that the
exact source of K is difficult to determine.

The various equilibria that govern the release of nutrients in a-conventionally
farmed soil may be somewhat different in a soil farmed under intensive organic
practices. Thus, the rate of P and K release from sources of limited solubility in
organic-intensive systems may require further investigation.

4.1.5 Effect of Organic Matter on the Solubility of Calcium Phosphates

On alkaline soils, organic matter has been shown to increase the concentration
of P in the soil solution (13). This is important because the level of P in the soil
solution determines the rate of P uptake by roots. Thus, manure can increase the
availability and uptake of soil and fertilizer P by plant roots in alkaline soil
(14). However, the effect of organic matter applications on P availability is less
consistent on acid soils (15).

4.1.6 Potential Impact of Mycorrhizal Fungi

Several recent reports have expressed the possibility that mycorrhizal fungi
inoculated into soils may have some future potential for stimulating the uptake of
nutrients and growth of major food crops on a practical basis (13, 14, 16, 17).
However, to date, researchers have found it most difficult to grow plant-adapted
forms of these fungi in the absence of their host plants. This problem, coupled with
the fact that very large amounts of inoculum would be required at considerable expense,
and since cost-benefit relationships are still questionable, makes it doubtful that
this procedure will become practical in the foreseeable future.







REFERENCES


1. Corey, R. B. "Soil diversity influences on change from shifting cultivation to
continuous agriculture," Agronomy Abstracts, Am. Soc. Agron., Madison, Wis.
p. 42. 1977.

2. Frissel, M. J. "Description and classification of Agro-ecosystems," pp. 17-26,
"Cycling of mineral nutrients in agricultural ecosystems." Agro-Ecosystems,
(Special issue) 4. Elsevier Sci. Publ. Co. Amsterdam. 354 pp., 1977.

3. Mattingly, G. E. G., and A. E. Johnston. "Long-term rotation experiments at
Rothamsted and Saxmundham Experimental Stations: The effects of treatments on
crop yields and soil analyses and recent modifications in purpose and design,"
Ann. Agron. Vol. 27, (1976), 743-769.

4. Horner, G. M., M. M. Oveson, G. 0. Baker, W. W. Pawson. Effect of cropping
practices on yield, soil organic matter and erosion in the Pacific Northwest
Wheat Region States BULL-1. U.S. Dept. Agr., Agr. Expt. Stations of Idaho,
Oregon, Washington, and the Agr. Res. Service. 25 p. 1960.

5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Improving Soils with Organic Wastes. Report to
the Congress in response to Section 1461 of the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977
(PL 95-113). Publ. by the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
157 pp. 1978.

6. Liegel, E. A., G. H. Tempas, and I. R. Block. "Utilization of current crop
production practices in obtaining optimum yield on North Central Wisconsin
farms." Wisconsin College of Agr. and Life Sci. Marshfield Expt. Sta. Res. Rep.
MSH-104-77. 1977.

7. Corey, R. B., and E. E. Schulte. "Factors affecting the availability of
nutrients to plants," Soil Sci. Soc. Am. Proc., Ed. L. M. Walsh and J. P.
Beaton. Soil testing and plant analysis, 2nd Edition. Special Publication No.
2. Madison, Wisc. 1973.

8. Lockeretz, W., R. Klepper, B. Commoner, M. Gertler, S. Fast, and D. O'Leary.
"Organic and conventional farms in the Corn Belt: A comparison of economic
performance and energy use for selected farms," Center for the Biology of
Natural Systems, Rep. No. CBNS-AE-7. Washington Univ., St. Louis, Mo. 1976.

9. Cooke, G. W. "Fertilizing for Maximum Yield." 2nd Edition. Crosby Lockwood
Staples, Ltd., London, 1975.

10. Engelstad, 0. P. "Assessing P and K reserves in soils," In TVA Fertilizer
Conference Proceedings, Bulletin Y-145, p. 31-36. Tennessee Valley Authority,
Muscle Shoals, Alabama. 1979.

11. Khasawneh, F. E., and E. C. Doll. The use of phosphate rock for direct
application to soils," Advances in Agronomy, Vol. 30, (1978), 159-206.

12. Russell, E. W. Soil Conditions and Plant Growth. Tenth Edition, pp. 587-588.
Longman Group Ltd., London, 1973.

13. Olsen, S. R. and S. A. Barber. "Effect of waste application on soil phosphorus
and potassium," Soils for management of organic wastes and waste waters.
Ed. L. F. Elliott and F. J. Stevenson. Amer. Soc. Agron., Madison, Wisc., 1977.







14. Olsen, S. R., and A. D. Flowerday. "Fertilizer phosphorus interactions in
alkaline soils," Fertilizer Technology and Use. Ed. R. A. Olson, T. J. Army,
J. J. Hanway, and V. J. Kilmer. 2nd Edition. Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Madison, Wisc.
1971.

15. Perrott, K. W. "The influence of organic matter extracted from humidified clover
on the properties of amorphous alumino-silicates. II. Phosphate retention."
Aust. J. Soil Res., Vol. 16, (1978), 341-346.

16. Ruehle, J. L., and D. H. Marx. "Fiber, food, fuel, and fungal symbionts,"
Science Vol. 206, (1979), 419-422.

17. Wittwer, S. H. "Future technological advances in agriculture and their impact
on the regulatory environment," Bioscience, Vol. 29 (1979), 603-610.

4.2 IMPACT OF ORGANIC METHODS ON SOIL PRODUCTIVITY AND TILTH


Organic farmers place great importance on the recycling of organic wastes in
soil for plant nutrients and for maintenance of soil productivity' and tilth. They
are concerned that repeated heavy applications of pesticides and chemical fertilizers
will have significant biocidal effects on the soil organisms responsible for miner-
alizing organic wastes and residues, and thus limit the release and availability of
plant nutrients. Some contend that the long-term use of some chemical fertilizers
can adversely affect soil structure, and lead to increased compaction and poor soil
tilth. They believe that in most cases organic farming methods can increase the
level of soil organic matter and maintain it at a higher level than current con-
ventional farming methods. This section attempts to briefly address some of these
concerns and beliefs.

4.2.1 Effect of Organic Nutrient Sources on Crop Production

Results of experiments on crop yields from organic compared with inorganic
fertilizers are not always consistent or conclusive, although significant differences
have been reported. For example, long-term studies at Rothamsted and Woburn, England,
showed that annual applications of animal manure produced greater yields of wheat,
sugar beets, and potatoes than did inorganic fertilizers (1). One explanation offered
was that the manure supplied N and P to the crops more efficiently than did inorganic
fertilizers. On the other hand, a 50-year study using a winter cereal root crop -
summer cereal clover grass rotation showed that yields were 15 percent higher
with inorganic fertilizers than with manure (N, P, and K equalized).

A 50-year study (1890-1940) at Sanborn Field, Columbia, Missouri, showed that a
combination of animal manure and inorganic fertilizer resulted in higher yields and
more efficient N utilization than either nutrient source applied alone and in large
amounts (2). The efficiency of recovery of soil and applied N during 50 years of


1Soil productivity as defined in "Soil," the 1957 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture,
is, "the capability of a soil for producing a specified plant or sequence of plants
under a defined set of management practices. It is measured in terms of the outputs
or harvests in relation to the inputs of production factors for a specific kind of
soil under a physically defined system of management."







14. Olsen, S. R., and A. D. Flowerday. "Fertilizer phosphorus interactions in
alkaline soils," Fertilizer Technology and Use. Ed. R. A. Olson, T. J. Army,
J. J. Hanway, and V. J. Kilmer. 2nd Edition. Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Madison, Wisc.
1971.

15. Perrott, K. W. "The influence of organic matter extracted from humidified clover
on the properties of amorphous alumino-silicates. II. Phosphate retention."
Aust. J. Soil Res., Vol. 16, (1978), 341-346.

16. Ruehle, J. L., and D. H. Marx. "Fiber, food, fuel, and fungal symbionts,"
Science Vol. 206, (1979), 419-422.

17. Wittwer, S. H. "Future technological advances in agriculture and their impact
on the regulatory environment," Bioscience, Vol. 29 (1979), 603-610.

4.2 IMPACT OF ORGANIC METHODS ON SOIL PRODUCTIVITY AND TILTH


Organic farmers place great importance on the recycling of organic wastes in
soil for plant nutrients and for maintenance of soil productivity' and tilth. They
are concerned that repeated heavy applications of pesticides and chemical fertilizers
will have significant biocidal effects on the soil organisms responsible for miner-
alizing organic wastes and residues, and thus limit the release and availability of
plant nutrients. Some contend that the long-term use of some chemical fertilizers
can adversely affect soil structure, and lead to increased compaction and poor soil
tilth. They believe that in most cases organic farming methods can increase the
level of soil organic matter and maintain it at a higher level than current con-
ventional farming methods. This section attempts to briefly address some of these
concerns and beliefs.

4.2.1 Effect of Organic Nutrient Sources on Crop Production

Results of experiments on crop yields from organic compared with inorganic
fertilizers are not always consistent or conclusive, although significant differences
have been reported. For example, long-term studies at Rothamsted and Woburn, England,
showed that annual applications of animal manure produced greater yields of wheat,
sugar beets, and potatoes than did inorganic fertilizers (1). One explanation offered
was that the manure supplied N and P to the crops more efficiently than did inorganic
fertilizers. On the other hand, a 50-year study using a winter cereal root crop -
summer cereal clover grass rotation showed that yields were 15 percent higher
with inorganic fertilizers than with manure (N, P, and K equalized).

A 50-year study (1890-1940) at Sanborn Field, Columbia, Missouri, showed that a
combination of animal manure and inorganic fertilizer resulted in higher yields and
more efficient N utilization than either nutrient source applied alone and in large
amounts (2). The efficiency of recovery of soil and applied N during 50 years of


1Soil productivity as defined in "Soil," the 1957 USDA Yearbook of Agriculture,
is, "the capability of a soil for producing a specified plant or sequence of plants
under a defined set of management practices. It is measured in terms of the outputs
or harvests in relation to the inputs of production factors for a specific kind of
soil under a physically defined system of management."







cropping was lowest with inorganic fertilizer, intermediate for manure and crop
rotations, and highest for continuous timothy (table 4.2.1). Reduction in the manure
application rate from 13.4 to 6.7 metric tons/ha/yr on wheat increased the N use
efficiency by 15 percent. It should be noted that yield levels in this study were
quite low. However, a subsequent study of this type from 1940-60 showed that with
improved tillage practices and crop varieties, yields of corn, wheat, and hay from
applications of 13 metric tons of manure/ha/yr were similar to those obtained with
chemical fertilizers (3).


Table 4.2.1


Efficiency of recovery
50 years of management


of soil and applied N
(after Smith, 1942).


for several crops after


Fertility management
practice


Percent
recovery


Inorganic fertilizer 46-58

Manure (13 tons/ha/yr) 52-87

Crop rotations (3,4, and 6 year) 84-103 (57-76)2

6 year rotation + manure and
inorganic fertilizer 66 (57)

Continuous timothy 101

1
(N removed in crops + soil N after 50 years soil N at start + N added) X 100
2
Values in parentheses represent N recovery using an estimate of 112 Kg N/ha/yr
fixed by clover crop in rotation.

Nevertheless, there is recent evidence that crop yields in long-term studies,
such as those reported here, are higher from combined applications of chemical fer-
tilizers and farmyard manure than from the same amount of either nutrient source when
applied alone (4).
These results merely emphasize the need for additional research to determine
yields and N use efficiencies for crops grown with organic and inorganic sources of
plant nutrients, and with various combinations thereof.
4.2.2 Effect of Organic Methods on Soil Organic Matter

The organic matter level of virgin soil is determined by an equilibrium
situation in which the loss, chiefly as C02, is balanced by the gain of carbon from
organic residues. Agricultural activities immediately upset this equilibrium and the
level of organic matter can be drastically altered (generally decreased) by tillage
and cropping practices. A high level of soil organic matter is often correlated with
a high level of soil fertility, productivity, and tilth. Extensive loss of soil
organic matter from intensive cropping and tillage practices generally leads to
concomitant deterioration in soil physical properties, decreased productivity, and
accelerated erosion.


__







4.2.2.1 Tillage -- Tillage results in mixing of the soil with organic residues,
increased aeration, increased microbial activity, and increased oxidative loss of
soil organic matter. Losses of from 20 to 60 percent of the native organic matter
content of some soils have been reported to occur after 40 to 50 years of cultivation
(5). The magnitude of this loss depends on the type of tillage system employed. For
example, losses are considerably less from conservation tillage practices, such as
minimum- or no-till systems, compared with those which feature the moldboard plow
tillage system. The organic matter content of some soils has actually increased by
12 to 25 percent after 5 to 10 years of no-till cropping where tillage was previously
done with a moldboard plow (6). Most of the organic farmers who were interviewed
were well aware of the rapid oxidative loss of soil organic matter that results from
intensive row cropping and moldboard plowing, and had already shifted to disk and
chisel plows for primary tillage.

4.2.2.2 Crop Rotations -- The proper mix of crops can have a profound effect on
the organic matter content of most soils. Where soil is maintained in continuous
grass sod, the loss of organic matter is probably negligible, and in some cases the
organic matter content may actually increase, even in regions of high rainfall (5).
Table 4.2.2 summarizes 50 years of data from Sanborn field in Missouri and shows the
effect of cropping sequences on the soil organic matter content. Continuous cropping


Table 4.2.2


Soil organic matter content as influenced by cropping sequence (2).1


Cropping sequence


Soil organic matter content
(no manure applied)


Percent


Continuous


Corn
Wheat
Oats
Timothy


1.45
3.40
4.08
4.68


Rotation

3 yr -


corn, wheat, red clover

4 yr -

corn, oats, wheat, red clover

6 yr -


Virgi


corn, oats, wheat, red clover,
timothy, timothy

n

(mixed grass and timber)


10riginal data as percent N converted to percent


3.31


3.74


3.83


5.78


organic matter by multiplying by 17.







with corn caused the greatest decline in soil organic matter (56 percent) and contin-
uous timothy the least (19 percent). Long-term experiments in England also showed
that decreases in soil organic matter from intensive row cropping could either be
checked or slowed by inclusion of grasses and legumes in the rotation (1).

4.2.2.3 Frequency, Rate, and Type of Organic Wastes and Residues Applied

In addition to tillage systems and crop rotations, the organic matter content of
soil depends on the frequency, amount, and type of organic wastes and residues that
are applied. Single applications may have little effect on the organic matter level,
but with repeated dressings an equilibrium is ultimately reached in which the organic
matter content in soil becomes relatively constant. The equilibrium value also
depends on soil type and climate. The organic matter content of soils increases more
rapidly under cooler temperatures of northern latitudes compared with southern
extremes.

Long-term experiments at Woburn, England showed that when 75 T/ha of farmyard
manure was applied to a loamy sand soil for 25 years, the organic matter content
increased from 1.50 to 3.89 percent. However, the same rate of sewage sludge (dry
weight basis) increased the soil organic matter content to 4.95 percent (1).
It has been demonstrated that chemical fertilizers can also increase the level
of soil organic matter by promoting increased yields of residues both above and below
ground. For example, Larson et al. (7) showed that the organic matter content in
some Corn Belt soils was linearly related to the amount of corn residues produced,
and that a certain level of corn production was required to maintain a certain level
of soil organic matter.

Nevertheless, manures, sewage sludge, and other organic wastes and residues are
more effective than commercial fertilizers in maintaining or increasing soil organic
matter levels because of the additional input of organic materials they supply. For
example, in Michigan, beef cattle manure applied annually for 13 years at 30 T/A on a
loamy sand for growing corn silage increased the organic matter content to about 3
percent compared with only 2 percent found in soil treated with chemical fertilizers
(8). Similarly, a 50-year trial in Denmark showed that farmyard manure increased the
organic N content by 16 percent compared with only 7 percent for soil receiving
chemical fertilizers (9).
Research is needed to determine how various organic wastes and residues differ
in their ability to improve soil tilth and productivity, and to maintain or even
increase soil organic matter. Some of the organic farmers interviewed were utilizing
off-farm sources of organic materials (in addition to on-farm crop residues and
manures) such as sewage sludge and paunch manure. Information is limited on the
extent to which one particular organic waste can substitute for another to achieve a
desired level of soil improvement. Studies are needed to determine (a) the rate of
loss (or increase) of soil organic matter under different cropping systems as
influenced by different organic wastes, and (b) the rate of mineralization of
different organic wastes and their ability to supply plant nutrients.
4.2.3 Effect of Chemical Fertilizers and Pesticides
on Soil Microbiological and Physical Properties

4.2.3.1 Fertilizers -- While some microbiological processes might be suppressed
by unusually high levels of inorganic N or P fertilizers, the effect has been shown
to be a temporary one that does not persist under field conditions. For example, the






application of anhydrous ammonia does kill many soil microorganisms in the injection
zone initially, but rarely does this effect persist for very long. Eno and Blue (10)
found that bacterial and actinomycete populations were decreased by 50 percent or
more one day after application but then recovered quickly, and within 10 days after
treatment they were 6 to 25 times higher than in the control soil. Anhydrous ammonia
has a pronounced fungicidal effect on soils. Populations of soil fungi were decreas-
ed for as long as 7 weeks but then recovered to the same level found in untreated
soil (10). It is unlikely that anhydrous ammonia will "kill" or "sterilize" a soil,
because the point-source mode of application affects only 6 to 7 percent of the plow-
layer volume. Nevertheless, this premise is based on observations following single
applications, and the effect of frequent, heavy, and long-term applications of
anhydrous ammonia on the types, numbers, and activities of soil microorganisms is not
known.

There is some recent evidence that high application rates of some N fertilizers
can reduce the numbers and activities (i.e. castings) of earthworms (11). A possible
explanation for the low populations of earthworms observed in some soils receiving
extensive applications of chemical fertilizers is that they do not tolerate high salt
concentrations. Earthworm activity can markedly improve the structure, drainage, and
aeration of soils, and they are important in almost all phases of humus formation
from organic matter. Through consumption of organic matter, earthworms also acceler-
ate the release of plant nutrients from organic residues. While earthworms have been
studied extensively in some respects, there is much about them that is not well
understood.

Some organic farmers, and chemical farmers as well, believe that long-time use
of fertilizers, especially anhydrous ammonia, can lead to soil compaction and poor
tilth. While some of our agricultural soils are experiencing problems with com-
paction, and what appears to be an increasing power requirement for tillage, there is
no direct evidence that chemical fertilizers are the cause. Nevertheless, it would
appear that research should give more attention to the long-term effects of chemical
fertilizers on the microbiological and physical properties of our agricultural soils.

4.2.3.2 Pesticides -- Most herbicides and insecticides can indeed destroy soil
microorganisms or suppress their activities if applied at excessive rates. When
applied at recommended rates, these chemicals seldom reach soil concentrations of
more than 2 or 3 ppm (assuming uniform mixing in the plow layer) and it is unlikely
that they would cause any real problems. However, with increased frequency and rate
of application, and where a spectrum of different chemicals is used for protection of
a particular crop, it is possible that persistence of some of them and/or their deg-
radation products would increase. In this case, adverse effects on the soil micro-
flora are possible as well as phytotoxic effects on some crops from residual chemicals.

Soil fungicides and fumigants cause the most drastic effect on the soil micro-
flora. Unlike herbicides and insecticides, these chemicals are intentionally applied
to soils as antimicrobial agents and at much higher rates (30 to 40 ppm). While
their action is directed toward pathogenic fungi and plant parasitic nematodes, it is
seldom limited topathogens. The overall effect is one of partial sterilization,
in which beneficial microorganisms may be adversely affected for extended periods
(12). Fortunately, many of these highly lethal, nonselective, and persistent com-
pounds are no longer used.

The significance of many reported results of the effects of pesticides on the
soil microflora is not known. While considerable data exists on the acute effects of
pesticides on the soil microflora, i.e., where soils are exposed to large, massive







doses for short periods, little is known about sublethal or chronic effects on soil
microorganisms from long-term exposure to lower residual concentrations that might be
found in agricultural soils (12). Research should be directed toward this area and
also toward the evaluation of the effects of new pesticides, and their degradation
products, on the activities of beneficial soil microorganisms.

An interesting observation by Doran (6) is that microbial populations and soil
enzyme activities in a no-till system of management are frequently 1 to 2 times
higher than in soil tilled with the moldboard plow. Others have shown earthworm
populations to be 4 to 5 times higher in no-till soils than with plowing (13). Since
no-till systems require herbicides, it may be that through the careful and selective
use of these chemicals we might minimize their potential adverse effects, while
enhancing the beneficial effects to be derived from the conservation of soil, water,
and organic matter. This should be a high priority for future research.

REFERENCES

1. Cooke, G. W. "The roles of organic manures and organic matter in managing
soils for higher crop yields a review of the experimental evidence."
Proceedings of the International Seminar on Soil Environment and Fertility
Management in Intensive Agriculture, (1977). Ministry of Agriculture,
Agricultural Research Council, London.

2. Smith, G. E. "Sanborn field: Fifty years of field experiments with crop rota-
tions, manure, and fertilizers." Missouri Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. 458, 61 p.,
1942.

3. Peterson, J. R., T. M. McCalla, and G. E. Smith. "Human and animal wastes as
fertilizers." Fertilizer Technology and Use. Soil Sci, Soc. Am., Madison, Wisc.
611 p., 1971.

4. Anon. "It pays to build soils for high yields." Agro-Knowledge, Potash and
Phosphate Institute, Report No. 8, Atlanta, Ga. 1980.

5. \llison, F. E. Soil organic matter and its role in crop production. Develop-
ments in Soil Science 3. Elsevier Sci. Publ. Co., Amsterdam, London, New York.
637 pp., 1973.

6. Doren, J. W. "Microbial and biochemical changes associated with reduced
tillage," Agronomy Abstracts. (1979) p. 156. Am. Soc. Agron., Madison, Wisc.

7. Larson, W. E., R. F. Holt, and C. W. Carlson. "Residues for soil conservation,"
Crop Residue Management Systems. Ed. W. R. Oschwald. Am. Soc. Agron. Special
Publ. No. 31. Madison, Wisc., 1978.

8. Lucas, R. E., and M. L. Vitosh. "Soil organic matter dynamics." Research Report
No. 358. Michigan State University. 11 p., 1978.

9. Iverson, K., and K. A. Bondorff. "Field experiments with farmyard manure and
artificial fertilizers." Commercial Fertilizer, Vol. 82 (1951) 49-52.

10. Eno, C. F., and W. G. Blue. "The effect of anhydrous ammonia on nitrification
and the microbiological population in sandy soils," Soil Sci. Soc. Amer. Proc.
Vol. 18 (1954) 178-181.






11. Stewart, V. I. "The importance of fertilizers in raising soil fertility,"
Agriculture and Environment Vol. 4 (1979), 301-307.

12. Parr, J. F. "Effect of pesticides on microorganisms in soil and water,"
Pesticides in Soil and Water. Ed. W. D. Guenei. Soil Sci. Soc. Am., Madison,
Wisc. 562 p., 1974.

13. Edwards, C. A. "Effects of direct drilling on the soil fauna," Outlook Agric.
Vol. 8 (1975), 243-244.

4.3 ORGANIC FARMING AND ORGANIC WASTES

Organic farmers are well aware that the proper management of crop residues,
green manures, and animal manures on their land is essential for protecting soils
from wind and water erosion, and for preventing nutrient runoff. Certainly, they
recognize that efficient and effective use of their residues and manures is essential
for maintaining the productivity of their soils and for recycling plant nutrients.
A 1978 USDA report, Improving Soils With Organic Wastes (1), is particularly relevant
to the needs of organic farmers and some of the problems with which they must deal.

4.3.1 USDA Report, Improving Soils with Organic Wastes (1978)

The Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-113) directed the U.S. Department
of Agriculture to prepare a report to the Congress on "the practicability, desir-
ability, and feasibility of collecting, transporting, and placing organic wastes on
land to improve soil tilth and fertility." The urgency for this information stems
from the increased cost of energy, fertilizers, and pesticides that confronts U.S.
farmers, and the problems of soil deterioration and erosion associated with inten-
sive farming systems. This report is now available upon request from the Office of
the Secretary of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. 20250. It contains detailed
information on the availability of seven major organic waste materials for use in
improving soil tilth and fertility: (a) animal manures, (b) crop residues, (c)
sewage sludge, (d) food processing wastes, (e) industrial organic wastes, (f) logging
and wood manufacturing wastes, and (g) municipal refuse. For each waste, information
is reported on the quantity currently generated, current usage, potential value as
fertilizers (based on major plant nutrients contained), cost of land application,
competitive uses, and problems and constraints affecting their use. The report
points out that this kind of information is absolutely essential for sound agricul-
tural planning and successful implementation of organic recycling programs.

4.3.1.1 Current Usage -- A summary of the USDA report on the annual pro-
duction of the seven categories of organic wastes in the United States, their current
use on land, and the probability of increased use on land in the future is presented
in table 4.3.1. A grand total of approximately 800 million dry tons of organic
wastes is produced annually with a combined fertilizer value of about $840 million,
based on their content of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This represents a
natural resource of significant economic value. Thus, the proper and efficient use
of these materials for plant growth and soil improvement should be emphasized. The
N-P-K content and current fertilizer value of some organic wastes commonly applied
to land are shown in table 4.3.2. It is noteworthy that sewage sludge has a fer-
tilizer value comparable to high quality poultry manure. Moreover, if one considers
the beneficial effects of the organic component of these wastes, the actual total
value would be considerably higher. Calculation of a realistic value for the
organic component as it relates to soil productivity is extremely complex and to our
knowledge has not yet been satisfactorily accomplished.







Table 4.3.1.


Annual production of organic wastes in the United States, current use
on land, and probability of increased use (USDA, 1978).


Total production

Organic wastes Dry tons Percent of Current use Probability o
(x 1000) total on land1 increased use
percent on land

Animal manure 175,000 21.8 90 Low

Crop residues 431,087 53.7 68 Low

Sewage sludge and
septage 4,369 0.5 23 Medium

Food processing 3,200 0.4 (13) Low

Industrial organic 8,216 1.0 3 Low

Logging and wood 35,714 4.5 (5) Very low
manufacturing

Municipal refuse 145,000 18.1 (1) Low

Total 802,586 100.0 -

1 Values in parentheses are estimates because of insufficient data.

2 Medium indicates a likely increase of 20 to 50 percent, low indicates a 5 to 20
percent increase, and very low indicates less than a 5 percent increase.

About 50 percent of the total production of organic wastes (table 4.3.1) is
comprised of crop residues, while about 22 percent is made up of animal manures.
Thus, about 75 percent of the total annual production of organic wastes consists of
crop residues and animal manures. The USDA report established that approximately
three-fourths of these two wastes are currently being applied to land for improving
soil productivity.

4.3.1.2 Constraints and Competitive Uses -- Sewage sludges make up about 0.5
percent of the total organic waste generated; approximately one-fourth of the U.S.
sludge production is applied to land. The other four wastes listed in table 4.3.1
have not been used extensively on land because of certain competitive uses, high
costs of collection, processing, transportation, and application; and constraints on
usage related to certain chemical and physical properties. For example, (a) cotton
gin trash and sugarcane bagasse are now increasingly sought as sources of fuel for
burning, (b) some food processing wastes may have extremely high acidity or alkalinity
that may adversely affect soil pH, or they may also contain heavy metals and some
organic chemicals that may be phytotoxic to plants or that may endanger the food
chain after absorption and accumulation, and (c) shredded municipal refuse contains
a considerable amount of solid fragments (glass, plastic, metal) that do not bio-
degrade readily and might detract aesthetically when applied to land.







Table 4.3.2


Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) content and fertilizer
value1 of some selected wastes commonly applied to agricultural land
(USDA, 1978).


:N P K
: percent :percent : percent
Organic : of dry value/ : of dry value/ : of dry value/ : Total
waste : material ton :material ton ; material ton .value/ton

dollars dollars dollars dollars
Beef cattle
manure 2.0 6.00 0.8 6.40 1.5 3.00 15.40

Poultry
manure 3.8 11.40 1.4 11.20 1.9 3.80 26.40

Wheat straw 0.6 1.80 0.07 0.56 1.0 2.00 4.36

Corn stover 1.1 3.30 0.2 1.60 1.3 2.60 7.50

Sewage sludge
(undigested) 3.8 11.40 1.5 12.00 0.2 0.40 23.80

Municipal
refuse 0.6 1.80 0.2 1.60 0.3 0.60 4.00
1Fertilizer values are based on total amounts of N, P, and K, with average costs of
$0.15/1b of N; $0.40/1b of P; and $0.10/lb of K.


4.3.1.3 Potential for Increased Usage -- Table 4.3.1 shows that for the organic
wastes that we generate in the United States, the potential for their increased use
on land to improve the productivity of our soils is low. Only the use of municipal
sewage and septage (septic tank pumpage) on land is expected to increase appreciably,
but this increase is very small when compared on a national basis with the two
largest waste categories, animal manures and crop residues. Competitive uses for
food processing wastes and logging and wood manufacturing wastes, numerous potential
toxins in organic industrial wastes, and the undesirable chemical and physical
properties of municipal refuse, restrict their use as organic amendments for
agricultural soils.

Crop residues are now being seriously considered as a source of energy in the
United States. Larson et al. (2) have estimated that crop residues could provide
sufficient energy each year to fuel 130 electric power plants of 1,000 megawatt
capacity. This is equivalent to approximately 30 percent of this Nation's current
annual natural gas consumption. The use of crop residues for energy production is
currently limited by the cost of collection, storage, processing, transportation,
and conversion technology (3). However, as the cost of conventional fossil fuels
continues to rise, the use of crop residues and biomass for energy will become
increasingly feasible.

The USDA report recognizedd that theAe -i a growing shortage o6 good quaLity
organic wcates or use in maintaining and improving the productivity of ou) agricut-
tuwat soit. It is likely that this situation will intensify in the not too distant






11. Stewart, V. I. "The importance of fertilizers in raising soil fertility,"
Agriculture and Environment Vol. 4 (1979), 301-307.

12. Parr, J. F. "Effect of pesticides on microorganisms in soil and water,"
Pesticides in Soil and Water. Ed. W. D. Guenei. Soil Sci. Soc. Am., Madison,
Wisc. 562 p., 1974.

13. Edwards, C. A. "Effects of direct drilling on the soil fauna," Outlook Agric.
Vol. 8 (1975), 243-244.

4.3 ORGANIC FARMING AND ORGANIC WASTES

Organic farmers are well aware that the proper management of crop residues,
green manures, and animal manures on their land is essential for protecting soils
from wind and water erosion, and for preventing nutrient runoff. Certainly, they
recognize that efficient and effective use of their residues and manures is essential
for maintaining the productivity of their soils and for recycling plant nutrients.
A 1978 USDA report, Improving Soils With Organic Wastes (1), is particularly relevant
to the needs of organic farmers and some of the problems with which they must deal.

4.3.1 USDA Report, Improving Soils with Organic Wastes (1978)

The Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-113) directed the U.S. Department
of Agriculture to prepare a report to the Congress on "the practicability, desir-
ability, and feasibility of collecting, transporting, and placing organic wastes on
land to improve soil tilth and fertility." The urgency for this information stems
from the increased cost of energy, fertilizers, and pesticides that confronts U.S.
farmers, and the problems of soil deterioration and erosion associated with inten-
sive farming systems. This report is now available upon request from the Office of
the Secretary of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. 20250. It contains detailed
information on the availability of seven major organic waste materials for use in
improving soil tilth and fertility: (a) animal manures, (b) crop residues, (c)
sewage sludge, (d) food processing wastes, (e) industrial organic wastes, (f) logging
and wood manufacturing wastes, and (g) municipal refuse. For each waste, information
is reported on the quantity currently generated, current usage, potential value as
fertilizers (based on major plant nutrients contained), cost of land application,
competitive uses, and problems and constraints affecting their use. The report
points out that this kind of information is absolutely essential for sound agricul-
tural planning and successful implementation of organic recycling programs.

4.3.1.1 Current Usage -- A summary of the USDA report on the annual pro-
duction of the seven categories of organic wastes in the United States, their current
use on land, and the probability of increased use on land in the future is presented
in table 4.3.1. A grand total of approximately 800 million dry tons of organic
wastes is produced annually with a combined fertilizer value of about $840 million,
based on their content of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This represents a
natural resource of significant economic value. Thus, the proper and efficient use
of these materials for plant growth and soil improvement should be emphasized. The
N-P-K content and current fertilizer value of some organic wastes commonly applied
to land are shown in table 4.3.2. It is noteworthy that sewage sludge has a fer-
tilizer value comparable to high quality poultry manure. Moreover, if one considers
the beneficial effects of the organic component of these wastes, the actual total
value would be considerably higher. Calculation of a realistic value for the
organic component as it relates to soil productivity is extremely complex and to our
knowledge has not yet been satisfactorily accomplished.






11. Stewart, V. I. "The importance of fertilizers in raising soil fertility,"
Agriculture and Environment Vol. 4 (1979), 301-307.

12. Parr, J. F. "Effect of pesticides on microorganisms in soil and water,"
Pesticides in Soil and Water. Ed. W. D. Guenei. Soil Sci. Soc. Am., Madison,
Wisc. 562 p., 1974.

13. Edwards, C. A. "Effects of direct drilling on the soil fauna," Outlook Agric.
Vol. 8 (1975), 243-244.

4.3 ORGANIC FARMING AND ORGANIC WASTES

Organic farmers are well aware that the proper management of crop residues,
green manures, and animal manures on their land is essential for protecting soils
from wind and water erosion, and for preventing nutrient runoff. Certainly, they
recognize that efficient and effective use of their residues and manures is essential
for maintaining the productivity of their soils and for recycling plant nutrients.
A 1978 USDA report, Improving Soils With Organic Wastes (1), is particularly relevant
to the needs of organic farmers and some of the problems with which they must deal.

4.3.1 USDA Report, Improving Soils with Organic Wastes (1978)

The Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 (P.L. 95-113) directed the U.S. Department
of Agriculture to prepare a report to the Congress on "the practicability, desir-
ability, and feasibility of collecting, transporting, and placing organic wastes on
land to improve soil tilth and fertility." The urgency for this information stems
from the increased cost of energy, fertilizers, and pesticides that confronts U.S.
farmers, and the problems of soil deterioration and erosion associated with inten-
sive farming systems. This report is now available upon request from the Office of
the Secretary of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. 20250. It contains detailed
information on the availability of seven major organic waste materials for use in
improving soil tilth and fertility: (a) animal manures, (b) crop residues, (c)
sewage sludge, (d) food processing wastes, (e) industrial organic wastes, (f) logging
and wood manufacturing wastes, and (g) municipal refuse. For each waste, information
is reported on the quantity currently generated, current usage, potential value as
fertilizers (based on major plant nutrients contained), cost of land application,
competitive uses, and problems and constraints affecting their use. The report
points out that this kind of information is absolutely essential for sound agricul-
tural planning and successful implementation of organic recycling programs.

4.3.1.1 Current Usage -- A summary of the USDA report on the annual pro-
duction of the seven categories of organic wastes in the United States, their current
use on land, and the probability of increased use on land in the future is presented
in table 4.3.1. A grand total of approximately 800 million dry tons of organic
wastes is produced annually with a combined fertilizer value of about $840 million,
based on their content of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This represents a
natural resource of significant economic value. Thus, the proper and efficient use
of these materials for plant growth and soil improvement should be emphasized. The
N-P-K content and current fertilizer value of some organic wastes commonly applied
to land are shown in table 4.3.2. It is noteworthy that sewage sludge has a fer-
tilizer value comparable to high quality poultry manure. Moreover, if one considers
the beneficial effects of the organic component of these wastes, the actual total
value would be considerably higher. Calculation of a realistic value for the
organic component as it relates to soil productivity is extremely complex and to our
knowledge has not yet been satisfactorily accomplished.







future. The report cited a number of ways in which our limited amounts of organic
wastes might be used more effectively as soil amendments. These include:

a. Improving methods of collection, storage, and processing
(composting) of animal manures to minimize the loss of
nitrogen that often occurs in these operations.

b. Utilizing manures that are presently wasted for land
application.

c. Utilizing crop residues that are now being wasted for
nutrient recycling.

d. Increasing the use of sewage sludge on land.

e. Increasing the use of the organic/compostable fraction of
municipal refuse.

Increased usage of each waste category (table 4.3.1) on land is possible if
future research should indicate that existing constraints can be removed, and if
their value for improving the tilth, fertility, and productivity of soils is shown
to be greater than for existing competitive uses. The time may come when organic
farmers will have to compete with others for off-farm sources of good quality
organic wastes to recycle on their farms.

4.3.2 Composting to Enhance the Usefulness and Acceptability of
Organic Wastes as Fertilizers and Soil Conditioners

One easy way in which some of the problems associated with the utilization of
various organic wastes as fertilizers and soil conditioners (e.g. odors, human
pathogens, and undesirable physical properties) can be resolved is by composting.
Composting is an ancient practice whereby farmers have converted organic wastes into
useful organic soil amendments that provide nutrients to crops and enhance the
tilth, fertility, and productivity of soils (4). Through composting, organic wastes
were decomposed, nutrients were made available to plants, pathogens-were destroyed,
and malodors were abated. The principal parameters that are essential to the
composting process and which must be considered if aerobic/thermophilic composting
is to proceed rapidly and effectively were discussed by Poincelot (5).

Many of the organic farmers we interviewed were interested in composting
organic wastes. Some were already composting mixtures of animal manures and crop
residues. The composting technology developed by USDA since 1972 for animal wastes
and sewage sludges should be useful to many of them in their efforts to enhance the
availability of plant nutrients from various types of organic wastes. Extension and
education programs should be developed to transfer this technology to organic farmers.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture at Beltsville, Maryland, in cooperation with
the Maryland Environmental Service, Annapolis, Maryland, has developed a process for
composting either undigested or digested sewage sludges (6, 7). The method is
widely referred to as the Beltsville Aerated Pile Method, in which sewage sludge
(approximately 22 percent solids) is mixed with woodchips or other bulking materials
and then composted in a stationary aerated pile for 3 weeks. Other bulking materials
that have been used successfully for composting sewage sludge include leaves, refuse,
paper, peanut hulls, straw, corn cobs, and wood bark. Within several days after
composting begins, temperatures are well into the thermophilic range (600 to 700),






where they remain for several weeks. This ensures complete destruction of enteric
pathogens. After 3 weeks in the aerated pile, the compost is removed and placed in
a curing pile for 4 weeks before screening and marketing. The final product is a
humus-like material, free of malodors and pathogens, which can be used beneficially
as a fertilizer and soil conditioner. A more detailed account of the design
criteria for the Aerated Pile Method of composting has been recently published (7).
This technology could easily be adapted for use by organic farmers in composting
animal manures or off-farm wastes such as sewage sludge and paunch manure.

A recent summary report, entitled "Use of sewage sludge compost for soil improve-
ment and plant growth," based on USDA research at Beltsville, discusses the uses of
sewage sludge compost for soil improvement and plant growth, including (a) establish-
ment, maintenance, and production of turfgrass and sod, (b) use in vegetable gardens,
(c) production of field crops and forage grasses, (d) use on nursery crops and
ornamentals, (e) use in potting mixes, and (f) reclamation and revegetation of
disturbed lands (8). Recommendations are provided as to time, methods, and rates of
compost application for different soils and management practices. This report
should be of considerable value to organic farmers who may be interested in using
composted municipal wastes to supplement on-farm sources of organic residues and
manures. The report is available upon request from the Biological Waste Management
and Organic Resources Laboratory, SEA, USDA, Beltsville Agricultural Research Center,
Beltsville, Maryland 20705.

REFERENCES

1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Improving Soils with Organic Wastes. Report to
the Congress in response to Section 1416 of the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977
(PL 95-113). Publ. by the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.
157 pp., 1978.

2. Larson, W. E., R. F. Holt, and C. W. Carlson. "Residues for soil conservation,"
Crop Residue Management Systems. Ed. W. R. Oschwald. Am. Soc. Agron.
Special Publ. No. 31, Madison, Wisc., pp. 1-15, 1978.

3. Epstein, E., J. E. Alpert, and C. C. Calvert. "Alternative uses of excess crop
residues," Crop Residue Management Systems. Ed. W. R. Oschwald. Am. Soc.
Agron., Special Publ. No. 31, Madison, Wisc., pp. 219-230, 1978.

4. King, F. H. 1911. Farmers of forty centuries. Rodale Press, Inc., Emmaus,
Pennsylvania. 441 p.

5. Poincelot, R. P. The biochemistry and methodology of composting. Connecticut
Agr. Exp. Sta. Bull. No. 754, 18 pp., 1975.

6. Parr, J. F., E. Epstein, and G. B. Willson. Composting sewage sludge for
land application. Agriculture and Environment. Vol. 4 (1978), 123-137.

7. Willson,.G. B., J. F. Parr, E. Epstein, P. B. Marsh, R. L. Chaney, D. Colacicco,
W. D. Burge, P. D. Millner, and S. B. Hornick. 1980. A Manual for Composting
Sewage Sludge by the Beltsville Aerated Pile Method. EPA-600/8-80-022. Joint
USDA-EPA Publication. U.S. Depart. Agri., Sci. and Educ. Adm.

8. Hornick, S. B., J. J. Murray, R. L. Chaney, L. J. Sikora, J. F. Parr, W. D. Burge,
G. B. Willson, and C. F. Tester. Use of sewage sludge compost for soil improve-
ment and plant growth. ARM-NE-6, U.S. Dept. Agr., Sci. and Educ. Adm., 10 pp.,
1979.







4.4 NONTRADITIONAL SOIL AND PLANT ADDITIVES


There are a number of products on the market generally referred to as soil and
plant additives for which the manufacturers' claims greatly exceed the performance
of the product (1,2,3,4,5). According to Schulte and Kelling (5), a soil or plant
additive is defined as any nonexAtitizea. materzat to be app&ted to soil or plants
with a caaim o4 improved ctop production, vigoa, growth, o. quality.

These products include (a) micAobial fettiize.n and soil inocuLanta which are
purported to contain unique and beneficial strains of soil microorganisms, (b)
micAobiat activator that supposedly contain special chemical formulations for
increasing the numbers and activity of beneficial microorganisms in soil, (c) soil
conditioners that claim to create favorable soil physical and chemical conditions
which ultimately result in improved growth and yield of crops, and (d) ptant stimu-
tants and growth regulatou that supposedly stimulate plant growth, which results
in healthier and more vigorous plants and increased yields.

These products are marketed as powders, granules, liquids, and emulsions, and
are recommended for use as seed treatments, soil treatments, root dips, bacterial
nutrients, and foliar sprays. According to their manufacturers, these products can
(a) increase yields, (b) accelerate decomposition of residues, (c) stimulate seed
germination and plant growth,(d) substitute for fertilizer and lime, (e) increase
the soil humus content, (f) protect plants from diseases, and improve soil tilth
(1). Many of these products (until recently) have been able to evade State fertilizer
laws because they are not labeled as sources of plant nutrients.

Schulte and Kelling (5) listed a number of characteristics which most of these
questionable products have in common. These include the following: (a) they have
low rates of application compared with fertilizers; (b) they can be applied either as
a foliar spray or directly to the soil; (c) their costs range from $5 to $10 per
acre at recommended rates; (d) the product is "natural" or "organic" and "does not
harm beneficial microorganisms, earthworms, or insects"; (e) the reasons for benefi-
cial results are either unknown or are a "trade secret"; (f) the products are
almost always very low in their content of the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus,
and potassium; and (g) testimonials are offered in support of the product but rarely
does the manufacturer provide valid research data on efficacy to substantiate the
claims.

In most cases where researchers have evaluated these products, using acceptable
scientific and statistical methods, they have been unable to demonstrate any
significant increases in yield (1,3,5). Such studies have usually failed to show
any additional claims of benefit. It is noteworthy, however, that there are some
legitimate soil and plant additives on the market that have stood the test of time.
A classic example is the commercial preparation of the nitrogen-fixing bacteria
Rhizobium used for inoculating legume seeds.

In view of the large number of these products being marketed, now more than 100
according to Weaver (3), and their questionable validity and benefit, a number of
States have recently moved to extend their fertilizer laws to include soil and plant
additives. Some States now require proof of efficacy before such products can be
registered and marketed. There is a strong consensus among agricultural scientists
that requiring proof of efficacy is advisable to ensure protection of farmers from
questionable products. The North Central Research Committee of Land-Grant University
Agricultural Experiment Stations has also taken action concerning the efficacy of
these products. Recently, this group, which represents 12 States in the north-central






region, designated a committee on nontraditional soil amendments (NCR-103) to
collect and compile the available research data on these products from the States
in that region. The function of this committee will be to prepare a report of the
results obtained, provide an assessment of the theoretical and potential value of
each product, and disseminate the information to the public. Perhaps the other
regions will follow this lead.

A common belief is that organic farmers are the principal consumers of these
products. However, the USDA studies and the Rodale Press survey showed that this is
not the case. The incidence of usage by both organic and conventional (chemical)
growers was about the same, that is, about 20 percent of both groups were using some
of these products.

Organic farmers in particular should be cautious in using soil and plant
additives that contain little or no nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. If a
farmer really wants to try some of these products, he should do so on a small scale.
He should lay out comparative plots, make comparisons, and record yield data. He
should not base his conclusions on only one year's results, regardless of the
outcome (2).

All farmers, organic or conventional, are well advised to be cautious and
skeptical of any product which promises to perform extraordinary processes in soils
and plants, or to have magical and mysterious beneficial effects on plants and
microorganisms. Such products are invariably a poor investment, of little or no
economic value, and cannot substitute for good farming methods and sound management
practices.

REFERENCES

1. Dunigan, E. P. "Microbial fertilizers, activators and conditioners: A critical
review," Developments in Industrial Microbiology, Vol. 20 (1979), 311-322.

2. Logsdon, G. "Soil additives: the ultimate can of worms" The New Farm Magazine,
Vol. 1(4) (1979), 20-38.

3. Weaver, R. W., E. P. Dunigan, J. F. Parr, and A. E. Hiltbold. 1974. "Effect of
two soil activators on crop yields and activities of soil microorganisms in the
Southern United States." Southern Cooperative Series Bulletin No. 189. 24 pp.
1974.

4. Weaver, R. W. "Evaluation of the effectiveness of microbial fertilizers,
activators, and conditioners," Developments in Industrial Microbiology, Vol.
20, (1979), 323-327.

5. Schulte, E. E. and K. A. Kelling. "Regional results with the use of non-
traditional soil and plant additives." Proc. Fert. and Agric. Limestone Conf.
17:88-98. Dept. Soil Science, Univ. Wisconsin, Madison. 1978.







4.5 PEST CONTROL


4.5.1 Weed Control

There are a number of nonchemical methods of weed control employed by organic
farmers. Based on the inherent advantages and disadvantages of each method, the
farmer must carefully select that control method, or combination of controls, which
best matches the unique weed situation that has arisen because of cropping and
cultural practices and the habitat. In order to match the control methods to his
problems, the organic farmer is as much in need of an integrated management program
focused on nonchemical methods, as the conventional farmer has need of an Integrated
Pest Management (IPM) program which includes herbicides.

Nonchemical methods of weed control which are used by organic farmers, but are
not necessarily unique to them, include the following:

a) Tileage mechanical and hand labor are universally employed
over a wide range of crops, soils, and climatic conditions.

b) Cuop rotation alternate crops are used to retard the weeds
or to enhance their control by cultivation.

c) Preventive weed control this includes such things as inspecting
and cleaning equipment (and livestock) before transferring it from
one field to another, screening weed seed from irrigation water,
and assuring that crop transplants, seed, and soil amendments are
free of weed seed.

d) Cuop spacing reduction of the distance between rows and between
plants in the row, intercropping, and relay cropping can be used to
occupy open field areas that would normally be taken over by weeds.

e) Timing of seeding and planting quick germinating seeds and
vigorous growing plants (e.g., corn, potatoes, radishes, etc.)
can be used to compete effectively with young weeds. Less
vigorous plants may be transplanted to provide them a com-
petitive advantage over weeds.

f) Mutching mulches comprised of various organic materials can
be used to smother weeds. This method of control is most
effective on annual weeds and in late spring when rapid plant
growth occurs.

Other nonchemical methods of more limited use include biological control (the
use of living organisms, insects, plant pathogens, nematodes, goats, and geese to
stress or destroy weeds); thermal control (briefly burning the plant with an electri-
cal discharge or fuel burner); and genetic control (breeding crops that are more
competitive with weeds or exude phytotoxins to inhibit weed growth).

4.5.1.1 Advantages and Disadvantages of Nonchemical Weed Control Methods --
Opinions were solicited from a number of weed scientists in the United States on the
advantages and disadvantages of nonchemical weed control methods. The consensus was
that for tillage (mechanical and hand labor) the principal constraints were the high
cost of labor and limited availability of workers, higher energy costs, increased
water evaporation loss from the soil, increased soil erosion, and root-pruning
damage. Cultivation would be further limited in areas of rough terrain and whenever







4.5 PEST CONTROL


4.5.1 Weed Control

There are a number of nonchemical methods of weed control employed by organic
farmers. Based on the inherent advantages and disadvantages of each method, the
farmer must carefully select that control method, or combination of controls, which
best matches the unique weed situation that has arisen because of cropping and
cultural practices and the habitat. In order to match the control methods to his
problems, the organic farmer is as much in need of an integrated management program
focused on nonchemical methods, as the conventional farmer has need of an Integrated
Pest Management (IPM) program which includes herbicides.

Nonchemical methods of weed control which are used by organic farmers, but are
not necessarily unique to them, include the following:

a) Tileage mechanical and hand labor are universally employed
over a wide range of crops, soils, and climatic conditions.

b) Cuop rotation alternate crops are used to retard the weeds
or to enhance their control by cultivation.

c) Preventive weed control this includes such things as inspecting
and cleaning equipment (and livestock) before transferring it from
one field to another, screening weed seed from irrigation water,
and assuring that crop transplants, seed, and soil amendments are
free of weed seed.

d) Cuop spacing reduction of the distance between rows and between
plants in the row, intercropping, and relay cropping can be used to
occupy open field areas that would normally be taken over by weeds.

e) Timing of seeding and planting quick germinating seeds and
vigorous growing plants (e.g., corn, potatoes, radishes, etc.)
can be used to compete effectively with young weeds. Less
vigorous plants may be transplanted to provide them a com-
petitive advantage over weeds.

f) Mutching mulches comprised of various organic materials can
be used to smother weeds. This method of control is most
effective on annual weeds and in late spring when rapid plant
growth occurs.

Other nonchemical methods of more limited use include biological control (the
use of living organisms, insects, plant pathogens, nematodes, goats, and geese to
stress or destroy weeds); thermal control (briefly burning the plant with an electri-
cal discharge or fuel burner); and genetic control (breeding crops that are more
competitive with weeds or exude phytotoxins to inhibit weed growth).

4.5.1.1 Advantages and Disadvantages of Nonchemical Weed Control Methods --
Opinions were solicited from a number of weed scientists in the United States on the
advantages and disadvantages of nonchemical weed control methods. The consensus was
that for tillage (mechanical and hand labor) the principal constraints were the high
cost of labor and limited availability of workers, higher energy costs, increased
water evaporation loss from the soil, increased soil erosion, and root-pruning
damage. Cultivation would be further limited in areas of rough terrain and whenever







the soil was too wet. They considered crop rotations as a disadvantage because of
limited or noneconomic outlets for some of the rotated crops. Increased plant
population and intensive seeding would negate the opportunity for cultivation and
would increase the necessity for herbicide use.

In general, the scientists felt that weed control without herbicides would be
more costly and less effective, and would actually decrease the acreage that a
farmer could effectively manage with his current. resources. In effect, it may
reduce the farm size.

Although the scientists felt the overall benefits from herbicides out-weighed
their shortcomings, they could foresee certain advantages from a decreased use.
Selective herbicides applied to tolerant crops can, in some cases, impair crop
growth and yield. Decreased herbicide usage would help to minimize environmental
pollution by decreasing the herbicide runoff potential from farmland and by
decreasing the volume of manufacturing wastes and pesticide containers for disposal.
They also believed that an increase in organic farming would result in increased
legume and grass production, which would reduce soil erosion, since farmers would
tend to confine their row crops to more level land.

Although herbicides have increased agricultural productivity per worker hour
and per acre, their use is not without problems. Some weeds have become resistant
to herbicides, the species composition of weed complexes have shifted to herbicide-
tolerant species, herbicides have caused alterations in crop physiology resulting in
a greater incidence of damage from pathogens and insects, and some herbicides can
adversely alter the populations of soil microorganisms.

4.5.1.2 Future Weed Control -- At present, scientists do not foresee any major
advances in nonchemical methods of weed control. It was estimated that yields of
corn and soybeans would be reduced by 15 to 20 percent if nonchemical methods were
applied exclusively. However, scientists stressed the need for research that
focuses on a balanced approach for weed control, including combinations of chemical
and nonchemical methods, similar to the concept of Integrated Pest Management. They
felt that this type of approach would be of benefit to both organic and conventional
farmers alike.

4.5.2 Insect Control

A wide range of nonchemical insect control methods are available to organic
farmers, including cultural, physical, mechanical, and biological methods, many of
which were developed through trial and error by generations of farmers.. Despite the
large number of techniques developed, a very limited number are available to control
any one insect in a particular crop. Also, the control achieved using these methods
may still allow some crop damage to occur. This may be acceptable for most crops,
but not for those where marketability depends on appearance, such as fruits,
vegetables, and flowers.

A greater research effort is needed to develop plants resistant to insects.
Special attention should be given to fruits, vegetables, and flowers, which have
been given scant attention in the past. Development of resistance in grains,
forage, and cotton has been successful, but multipest resistance should be sought.
Insect resistance in grains is being included in fewer of the new cultivars than it
was previously. This process should be reversed. In all cases, multigenic resistance
should be the goal.






percent higher on the conventional farms (2). However, the small sample size and the
difficulty in selecting paired observations were major weaknesses of the study. In a
followup study of six organic farms in the Northwest, it was found that their net
return per acre was 22.4 percent higher than on representative conventional farms
growing similar crops in the same area (3). Some of the organic farms, however, did
use limited amounts of chemical fertilizers.

In a study comparing 15 organic crop/livestock farms with conventional farms in
the western Corn Belt (five States involved), Roberts et al. (4) found that in most
cases the net return from organic farms exceeded the net return from those using
conventional methods. The authors concluded that "organic crop production is to some
degree an alternative to present conventional agricultural production" and that
further indepth research is needed on organic agriculture especially in the areas of
economics based on whole-farm analysis.

The Rodale Press survey revealed that only 14 out of 95 respondents who identi-
fied themselves as totally organic farmers reported that 50 percent or more of their
income was from farming. Forty-two respondents reported that less than 20 percent of
their total household income was from farming. Twenty-three respondents reported
that none of their total household income was from farming. This implies that many
who identify themselves as organic farmers are farming not solely for economic
reasons, but to supplement their own food needs, for a hobby, or for recreation.

The survey showed that most of the organic farmers believe that, compared with
conventional farming, their farm income is similar or lower, prices received for
products are similar, and their level of indebtedness is lower. The USDA case studies
are in good agreement with these findings. An exception, however, was that a greater
proportion of the farmers interviewed in the case studies received higher product
prices than those in the Rodale survey.

Although research information is limited, it appears that net returns from crop
production on some organic crop/livestock farms are comparable to those obtained from
conventional crop/livestock farms. However, data are not available on how returns
from organic farms compare with those from comparable conventional farms of varying
types and sizes.

4.6.1 An Economic Comparison of Crop Rotations on Organic Farms
and Continuous Conventional Cropping

The USDA case studies were used to synthesize farm budgets in order to analyze
the quantity, value, and costs of organic crop production for comparison with con-
ventional cropping. In this analysis, the income above variable costs from organic
crop production was determined for each of four different rotations and compared to
the income above variable costs from conventional crop production of corn and soy-
beans on an equal number of acres.

Crop budgets for both organic and conventional systems were developed using
assumed tillage practices, data for 1977 in the Firm Enterprise Data System developed
by USDA's Economics, Statistics, and Cooperatives Service and Oklahoma State Uni-
versity, and data from Agricultural Statistics, 1978. For the analysis, organic corn
yields were assumed to be 10 percent lower than conventional yields. Organic


1
William Lockeretz. "Testimony presented at hearings on Agricultural Productivity
and Environmental Quality", Washington, D.C. July 25, 1979, p. 3.







A decision to treat or not treat a crop depends on the number of insects present.
Simple but reliable sampling techniques are needed so that a farmer could easily and
rapidly determine the size of a particular insect population. Moreover, the rel-
ationship between the insect population and the corresponding level of crop damage or
injury should be clarified so that the farmer would know the significance of the
number counted (i.e., the seriousness of the infestation). Population models should be
developed so that the farmer could predict the pest population size with a minimum of
sampling.

Aflatoxins, potent carcinogens, have been associated with arthropod damage on
corn, cotton, and peanuts. The presence and level of these chemicals on other crops
damaged by insects should be ascertained to permit a comparison of hazards between
organically grown produce (which sometimes has evidence of insect damage) and con-
ventionally grown produce (which is often treated with a series of insecticide appli-
cations).

Augmentation of the natural enemies of pests and the use of microbial pathogens
of insects and mites would fit well into organic farming. Further research in this
area is needed.

The dynamics of an agro-ecosystem are very complex, with most components im-
pacting on each other. Research is needed to obtain a better understanding of these
processes and to determine the effects of plant combinations and densities on pest
populations. The interaction between soils, plants, and insects also needs in-
vestigation: the factors that permit an insect to locate a host plant and induce
it to feed are not well understood and should be investigated. In addition, holistic
studies should be conducted on the entire agro-ecosystem to determine how all the
components impact each other. This would best be done on model organic farms paired
with conventional farms.

New advances in nonchemical pest control methods and in practical and workable
programs involving IPM will enhance the probability for successful and profitable
organic farming. These should be considered as high priority research areas.


4.6 ECONOMIC ASSESSMENT OF ORGANIC FARMING

Organic farming differs from conventional farming in the way resources are
allocated and used. Organic farmers substitute organic waste, green manure crops,
crop rotations, and/or organic fertilizers for synthetic fertilizers. They tend to
use more labor, make increased use of mechanical or hand methods for controlling
weeds, and substitute biological pest control and crop rotations for chemical control
of insects and diseases. Consequently, the costs for organically grown products
probably will be different from those for conventionally grown products. Few studies
have attempted to compare the economics of organic farming with conventional farming.

Lockeretz et al. (1), in a study of 14 selected organic crop/livestock farms in
the Midwest compared with similar conventional farms, found that, on the average, net
returns per cropland acre were equal for the two groups. Even though average crop
yields per acre were lower on the organic farms, operating expenses were low enough
so that crop returns were comparable with those of conventional farms. The analysis
was based on income or returns above variable costs. Fixed costs were assumed to be
the same on comparable farms.

A study in Washington State that compared crop production on three organic farms
with production on three conventional farms showed that net returns per acre were 33







soybean yields were assumed to be the same as conventional soybean yields. For the
purpose of this study, the following crop rotations were considered.

ORGANIC SYSTEM:

4-year rotation -- Alfalfa corn soybeans oats

5-year rotation -- Alfalfa alfalfa corn soybeans oats

7-year rotation -- Alfalfa alfalfa-corn soybeans -
corn soybeans oats

CONVENTIONAL SYSTEM:

Corn soybeans

According to the data developed for this analysis, corn and soybeans produced by
conventional methods provide a larger income above variable costs than do crops
produced organically in rotation. A crop budget analysis was prepared for an actual
340-acre organic farm in the Midwest. This particular farmer was following the 7-
year rotation shown above. His income above variable costs was calculated to be
$39,676. Income above variable costs for conventional corn and soybean production on
this same farm was calculated to be $53,221, or $13,545 greater than the income
received from organic crops produced in rotation. It is significant, however, that in
the organic system corn and soybeans are produced on only 57 percent of the total
acreage each year.

Three hypothetical cases were analyzed. Seven-, 5-, and 4-year organic crop
rotations on 320 acres of cropland were compared with the same farm growing corn and
soybeans conventionally. Income above variable costs was highest for conventional
corn and soybean production, i.e., $49,443 compared to $40,662, $37,263, and $34,432
for the 7-, 4-, and 5-year rotations, respectively. From this analysis, the greater
the substitution of other grain crops and alfalfa for corn and soybeans in the rota-
tions, the lower the income from crop production. Based on crop production alone,
this analysis suggests that organic farming does have an opportunity cost and that
this is, perhaps, a major reason why few farmers choose to farm organically. These
income figures do not take into account the social costs for organic or conventional
farming.
4.6.2 Possible Economic Impacts of Increased Organic Farming
in the Future

The future for organic farming is uncertain. Much depends on the availability
and price of fertilizer (especially nitrogen) and farm labor, produce-price relation-
ships, the domestic and world demand for food, concern for soil and water conser-
vation, concern for health and the environment, and U.S. policies toward the devel-
opment and promotion of organic farming practices. Due to one or more of the above
factors, it may be economical for some farmers to produce certain crops and livestock
organically rather than conventionally.
From a farming systems viewpoint, the shift from conventional to organic farming,
however, is limited by the availability and quality of resources. A strictly organic
farming system currently cannot be maintained in some parts of the United States
because of the lack of an adequate and economical supply of organic wastes and resi-
dues (5) and/or because soil nutrients and climatic conditions are not suitable






for successful and profitable organic farming. Based on our observations, the great-
est opportunity for organic farming will probably be on small farms and on larger
mixed crop/livestock farms with large numbers of animal units.

From the study team's observations, small-scale farms generally depend more on
labor than on capital and can make use of livestock manure or other wastes. Con-
ventional farmers producing crops and livestock and applying livestock waste on crop-
land are already using practices related to organic farming to some degree. Con-
sequently, the shift to organic farming would perhaps require little change in
crop/livestock mix.

The aggregate economic impact of increased organic farming on the U.S. economy
depends on the number, size, and type of farms that shift from conventional to organic
methods and on the reasons why farmers make the change. Agriculture is a dynamic
system, and it operates in a changing environment. Consequently, unless changes are
forced on certain segments of agriculture through changes in farm policy and leg-
islation, it is difficult to assess the overall impact of increased organic farming
on total U.S. agricultural production, farm income, food prices, and exports.
Therefore, the possible economic impacts discussed here are tentative and in need of
further research.

Current estimates are that less than one percent of the total number of U.S.
farms are farmed exclusively by organic methods. Since the number of totally organic
farms is small compared with the total number of farms, and the crops produced organ-
ically vary from region to region, organic farms currently have a small economic
impact on total agricultural production, input usage, total farm income, food prices,
or agricultural exports.

All farms with sales less than $2,500 (more than 35 percent of the total number
of farms in 1977) could be farmed organically with little total economic impact on
U.S. agriculture. If all farms with sales of less than $20,000 shifted to organic
farming, then some economic impact could arise. In 1977, almost 11 percent of the
total cash receipts were accounted for by farms with sales of less than $20,000.
More than 69 percent of the total number of farms were included in this grouping (6).

A major economic impact would result if a significant number of conventional
farmers producing continuous corn and soybeans or other major crops with annual sales
of $20,000 or above shifted to organic farming. Nearly 31 percent of the total
number of farms in 1977 had sales of $20,000 or above and accounted for more than 89
percent of total farm cash receipts.

For the purpose of examining possible economic impacts, let us assume that in
1977, 30 percent of the total acreage harvested for corn and soybeans (7) (50 percent
corn and 50 percent soybeans) is shifted from continuous corn/soybeans to organic
farming with a 7-year rotation with the assumptions made earlier. Also assume that
sufficient livestock waste is available for use on cropland from some type of live-
stock or poultry enterprise. On the basis of these assumptions, total U.S. annual
corn and soybean production would be decreased by 0.9 and 0.2 billion bushels, res-
pectively. Oat production would be increased by more than 0.3 billion bushels.
Alfalfa hay production would be up 32.6 million tons. Total U.S. annual production
of corn and soybeans would be decreased 14 and 12 percent, respectively. Oats and
alfalfa hay production would increase 40 and 41 percent, respectively.

Consequently, in comparison to 1977 actual data, corn and soybean prices would
be higher and oat and hay prices would be lower. According to current demand







elasticities, corn and soybean prices would be up 28 and 53 percent, respectively.
The price of oats would be down 80 percent.1 Hay prices would be lower, and with corn
prices higher, more roughages such as alfalfa hay would be fed. The increased number
of livestock would put downward pressure on livestock prices.2 Total receipts would
be down since the demand for livestock at the farm gate is relatively inelastic (8).

On the input side, the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides would decrease
to some degree. As a result, average prices of these products would be lower. How-
ever, the use of farm labor would be expanded somewhat. Total farm production ex-
penses, including additional expenditures for labor, would be lower.
The total farm income for this situation is uncertain. Total farm receipts for
corn and soybeans would increase, but receipts from small grains, hay, and livestock
would be down. Total farm income would be higher if total income from corn and
soybeans makes up for more than the loss in income from small grains, hay, and live-
stock. What impact this type of shift would have on food prices is also uncertain.

Total agricultural exports would be lower since corn and soybeans are important
crops in the export market. Since the foreign demand elasticity for coarse grains
ranges from -.025 to -.35, depending on the region of the world, and for soybeans
is -.6, corn and soybean prices would be up enough so that total income from these
exports would be increased.

The above impact would be shortrun. If prices of corn and soybeans were higher
because of short supply, conventional farmers would expand production in the longrun.
And lower prices for livestock would force adjustments in the livestock industry.

Olson and Heady (9), with the use of a computerized linear programming model,
analyzed a total shift to organic farming for 1980. The objective of this model was
to minimize costs of production and transportation within the constraints of satis-
fying estimated domestic and export demands, but without exceeding the amount of
available cropland. Their study shows that in a total shift to organic farming, crop
production would meet domestic needs but potential export levels would not be met.
Decreased crop production would result in higher farm grain prices and higher total
farm income in all regions. Total cost per unit of production would be higher, and
consumer food prices would be significantly higher.

In summary, a number of conclusions and implications can be drawn:

1. A large number of farmers who operate small farms could
change to organic farming with little economic impact on
the U.S. economy.

2. A total shift to organic farming would have a major
economic impact on the U.S. economy. However, a total
shift to organic farming could not be made in the short
run. Such a change requires a 3- to 5-year transition
period, which would lessen the aggregate economic impact.

1These rough estimates were based on the following demand elasticities: Corn, -.5
soybean meal, -.2; and soybean oil, -.3.
2This assumes that total quantity of meat would be increased even though a large
percentage of livestock would probably be fed hay.







3. The lack of data on successful organic farmers and the
large number of interrelationships that exist within the
total economic system make it extremely difficult to
estimate the economic impact of increased organic
farming in the future.

4. A significant decrease in the use of fertilizers and
pesticides (and energy) would occur only if conventional
farmers on the large mixed crop/livestock farms and
specialized crop farms producing major crops shifted
to organic systems.

REFERENCES

1. Lockeretz, W., G. Shearer, R. Klepper, and S. Sweeney. "Field crop production
on organic farms in the Midwest," Jour. Soil and Water Conserv., Vol. 33,
(1978), 130-134.

2. Eberle, P., and D. Holland. "Comparing organic and conventional grain farms
in Washington," Tilth. Spring Issue, (1979), pp. 30-37.

3. Kraten, S. L. "A preliminary examination of the economic performance and
energy intensiveness of organic and conventional small grain farms in the
Northwest." Unpublished M.S. Thesis, Washington State University, Pullman,
Wash., 1979.

4. Roberts, K. J., F. Warnken, and K. C. Schneeberger. "The economics of organic
crop production in the Western Corn Belt," Agricultural economics paper, No.
1979-6, Dept. of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, Columbia. 1979.

5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Improving soils with organic wastes. Report
to the Congress in response to Section 1461 of Food and Agriculture Act of
1977 (P.L. 95-113). 157 pp., 1978.

6. U.S. Dept. Agr., Econ. Stat. Coop., Serv., Agricultural Outlook, AD-37, Oct.
1978, p. 6.

7. U.S. Dept. Agr., Agricultural Statistics. 1978.

8. Ball, E. Elasticities and price flexibilities for food items. LMS-229.
U.S. Dept. Agr., Econ. Stat. Coop. Serv., Oct. 1979.

9. Olson, K. D., and E. 0. Heady. "A national model of agricultural production,
land use, export potential, and income under conventional and organic farming
alternatives." Unpublished research report, Center for Agricultural and Rural
Development, Iowa State University, 1979.

4.7 PRODUCTIVITY IN ORGANIC FARMING

4.7.1 Relation to energy.

Organic farmers avoid the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers and
thereby change the proportions of labor, capital, and natural resources needed to
produce food and fiber. Therefore, the productivity of these inputs, as measured by







3. The lack of data on successful organic farmers and the
large number of interrelationships that exist within the
total economic system make it extremely difficult to
estimate the economic impact of increased organic
farming in the future.

4. A significant decrease in the use of fertilizers and
pesticides (and energy) would occur only if conventional
farmers on the large mixed crop/livestock farms and
specialized crop farms producing major crops shifted
to organic systems.

REFERENCES

1. Lockeretz, W., G. Shearer, R. Klepper, and S. Sweeney. "Field crop production
on organic farms in the Midwest," Jour. Soil and Water Conserv., Vol. 33,
(1978), 130-134.

2. Eberle, P., and D. Holland. "Comparing organic and conventional grain farms
in Washington," Tilth. Spring Issue, (1979), pp. 30-37.

3. Kraten, S. L. "A preliminary examination of the economic performance and
energy intensiveness of organic and conventional small grain farms in the
Northwest." Unpublished M.S. Thesis, Washington State University, Pullman,
Wash., 1979.

4. Roberts, K. J., F. Warnken, and K. C. Schneeberger. "The economics of organic
crop production in the Western Corn Belt," Agricultural economics paper, No.
1979-6, Dept. of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, Columbia. 1979.

5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Improving soils with organic wastes. Report
to the Congress in response to Section 1461 of Food and Agriculture Act of
1977 (P.L. 95-113). 157 pp., 1978.

6. U.S. Dept. Agr., Econ. Stat. Coop., Serv., Agricultural Outlook, AD-37, Oct.
1978, p. 6.

7. U.S. Dept. Agr., Agricultural Statistics. 1978.

8. Ball, E. Elasticities and price flexibilities for food items. LMS-229.
U.S. Dept. Agr., Econ. Stat. Coop. Serv., Oct. 1979.

9. Olson, K. D., and E. 0. Heady. "A national model of agricultural production,
land use, export potential, and income under conventional and organic farming
alternatives." Unpublished research report, Center for Agricultural and Rural
Development, Iowa State University, 1979.

4.7 PRODUCTIVITY IN ORGANIC FARMING

4.7.1 Relation to energy.

Organic farmers avoid the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers and
thereby change the proportions of labor, capital, and natural resources needed to
produce food and fiber. Therefore, the productivity of these inputs, as measured by







3. The lack of data on successful organic farmers and the
large number of interrelationships that exist within the
total economic system make it extremely difficult to
estimate the economic impact of increased organic
farming in the future.

4. A significant decrease in the use of fertilizers and
pesticides (and energy) would occur only if conventional
farmers on the large mixed crop/livestock farms and
specialized crop farms producing major crops shifted
to organic systems.

REFERENCES

1. Lockeretz, W., G. Shearer, R. Klepper, and S. Sweeney. "Field crop production
on organic farms in the Midwest," Jour. Soil and Water Conserv., Vol. 33,
(1978), 130-134.

2. Eberle, P., and D. Holland. "Comparing organic and conventional grain farms
in Washington," Tilth. Spring Issue, (1979), pp. 30-37.

3. Kraten, S. L. "A preliminary examination of the economic performance and
energy intensiveness of organic and conventional small grain farms in the
Northwest." Unpublished M.S. Thesis, Washington State University, Pullman,
Wash., 1979.

4. Roberts, K. J., F. Warnken, and K. C. Schneeberger. "The economics of organic
crop production in the Western Corn Belt," Agricultural economics paper, No.
1979-6, Dept. of Agricultural Economics, University of Missouri, Columbia. 1979.

5. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Improving soils with organic wastes. Report
to the Congress in response to Section 1461 of Food and Agriculture Act of
1977 (P.L. 95-113). 157 pp., 1978.

6. U.S. Dept. Agr., Econ. Stat. Coop., Serv., Agricultural Outlook, AD-37, Oct.
1978, p. 6.

7. U.S. Dept. Agr., Agricultural Statistics. 1978.

8. Ball, E. Elasticities and price flexibilities for food items. LMS-229.
U.S. Dept. Agr., Econ. Stat. Coop. Serv., Oct. 1979.

9. Olson, K. D., and E. 0. Heady. "A national model of agricultural production,
land use, export potential, and income under conventional and organic farming
alternatives." Unpublished research report, Center for Agricultural and Rural
Development, Iowa State University, 1979.

4.7 PRODUCTIVITY IN ORGANIC FARMING

4.7.1 Relation to energy.

Organic farmers avoid the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers and
thereby change the proportions of labor, capital, and natural resources needed to
produce food and fiber. Therefore, the productivity of these inputs, as measured by







output per unit of input, can be expected to change. The recent changes in the energy
market caused by the escalation of price and questionable availability of fossil
fuels, have focused concern on the productivity of energy in agriculture.

The production and consumption of food in the United States utilize about 17
percent of our total energy budget. Less than one-fifth of this energy is used to
supply farmers with their inputs and/or is used directly by the farmers to produce
their products. Chemicals account for about one-third of the energy used in the
production of agricultural commodities. Of this, more than 98 percent is used in the
production of fertilizers. In turn, about 85 percent of the energy used in fertilizer
production is used to manufacture synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. Thus, it appears
that the organic farmers' practice of using biologically fixed nitrogen and organic
wastes in place of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers may provide an opportunity for
reducing energy inputs. However, the elimination of pesticides would not result in a
significant conservation of energy, since relatively small amounts of energy are used
in their production. It also appears that some nonchemical methods of pest control
may be very energy intensive.

The high cost and uncertain availability of energy inputs may cause farmers to
reduce some of their energy inputs by changing their methods of production, reducing
the application of energy intensive inputs, or changing their crop mix. In response
to higher fuel costs and limited supplies, farmers have tripled the amount of land
managed under conservation tillage systems, which use only 20 to 50 percent of the
fuel consumed by conventional tillage practices. The current ratio of price of
nitrogen to price of output requires the profit-maximizing conventional farmer to be
near the peak of the crop response function, which means that a major reduction in
the rate of nitrogen application results in only a small decrease in yield. With
high energy prices, the farmer is expected to take acres out of corn and plant
leguminous crops, such as soybeans, which do not require any N fertilizer. Organic
farming incorporates many of the changes farmers might be expected to make in response
to inflated prices of energy.

Several researchers have studied the energy consumption of organic farmers and
compared it to the energy consumption of conventional farmers. These studies are
based on survey information from organic farmers. This information is either compared
to information from a paired conventional farm (1), a group of conventional farmers
(2), or hypothetical farms obtained from county energy consumption averages (3).
A major problem foreseen in predicting the effects of large-scale adoption of
organic methods on energy productivity is the limited supply of organic wastes and
residues available to replace synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. According to a recent
USDA report (4), if all the organic wastes that are not now utilized on land were so
utilized they would replace only about 20 percent of the chemical fertilizers that
are presently used. If all the organic wastes classified as "likely" to be available
for land application were utilized on land, they would replace only 6 percent of the
nitrogen fertilizers currently used.

The net energy reduction from using manures to replace chemical fertilizers on
corn is estimated to be about 25 percent. Most of the energy used to apply the
manure comes from gasoline or diesel fuel, while most of the energy saved from not
using chemical fertilizers comes from natural gas. Therefore, substituting organic
wastes for chemical fertilizers will reduce the total farm energy used but will
increase the consumption of gasoline or diesel fuel. The substitution of manures for
fertilizer will reduce energy consumption significantly only where animals and crops
are raised in close proximity, as is the case on many organic farms.







Lockeretz et al. (1) found that the value of output per unit of energy for
organic farms was twice that of conventional farms (table 4.7.1). The crop mix between


Table 4.7.1


Energy productivity of crop production by type of farm (1).


Year Organic Conventional
Energy Productivity
( 4 market value/103 BTU)

1975 15.2 6.2
1974 13.8 5.8

Average 14.5 6.2

farmers was different because the organic farmers produced greater amounts of lower
valued crops by virtue of their rotation requirements. On a crop-by-crop basis,
Lockeretz et al. (1) concluded that the organic farmers received more output per
energy input than conventional farmers. They found that organic farmers were 300
percent more energy efficient in producing corn and 16 percent more energy efficient
in growing soybeans.

Berardi (2) studied the energy productivity of organic and conventional wheat
growers in New York and Pennsylvania (table 4.7.2). The organic farmers used about
30 percent less energy per acre than conventional farmers. However, because the


Table 4.7.2


Comparison of energy inputs per bushel of wheat of organic and
conventional farmers in New York and Pennsylvania (2).


Input Conventional Organic
Percent of total organic energy inputs

Machinery 29.9 38.9
Fuel 24.3 27.2
Nitrogen 24.2 2.3
Phosphorus 4.9 .7
Potassium 4.3 .7
Seeds 25.5 26.6
Electricity 1.5 1.8
Lime 1.1 1.8

Total 115.7 1001

1This represents 775,500 K cal.

organic farmers' yield per acre averaged 22 percent below that of conventional
farmers, the energy consumption per bushel of wheat was only 15 percent less than
the energy consumed in conventional production. Average energy accounting of the
farms in this study showed that the conventional farmers utilized considerably more
energy for fertilizer than organic farmers. The organic farmers utilized more energy






for all other items but significantly so for machinery and fuel. Thus, this study
shows that organic farming requires less total energy to produce a bushel of wheat
than conventional methods.

A study by Kraten (3) of organic and conventional small grain farmers in the
Northwest showed that organic farmers used less total energy but more fuel. These
data are combined with Berardi's in table 4.7.3 to compare the energy intensiveness
of organic and conventional farms. The energy savings from using less fertilizer
more than makes up for the higher consumption of fuel. It is noteworthy that Kraten's
study included an extremely dry season in which organic yields were significantly
higher than conventional yields. In this case, the organic farmers were much more
energy productive than the conventional farmers.

Table 4.7.3 Comparison of energy inputs per acre for different crops for organic
(Org) and conventional (Conv) farms1
Fuel Fertilizer Total Net
Crop Conv Org Conv Org Conv Org Energy saved


k cal X 103

Winter Wheat (NW)3 331.5 513.3 476.2 176.4 807.7 689.7 15%

Winter Wheat (NE)4 242.0 210.1 332.9 28.9 574.9 239. 58%

Barley 329.4 522.2 394.4 21.8 723.8 544. 25%

Spring Wheat 414.0 509.5 664.0 60.0 1078.0 569.5 47%

1 Adapted from Berardi (2) and Kraten (3).

2 Derived by the formula: Total Cony Total Org.
Total Conv
3Northwestern United States.
Northwestern United States.
4
Northeastern United States.


4.7.2 Comparison of Crop Yields on Organic and Conventional Farms

Comparison of organic crop yields with conventional crop yields is extremely
difficult and controversial. A few researchers have compared the yields from select-
ed crops on organic farms to yields of crops on comparable conventional farms or to
average county yields of the same crops.

A brief review of the yield data collected in these studies, plus other available
information, provides some limited insight into organic and conventional crop yield
differences. The results of these short-term studies may not reliably indicate the
long-term performance of organic farming or its performance under other soil, crop,
and climatic conditions. Where declining soil P or K status is expected to continue,
in many cases it would eventually be expected to affect yields unless current organic
farming practices were modified.






Short-term studies of organic and conventional crop production by the Center for
the Biology of Natural Systems at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri,
over a 5-year period, 1974-78, showed that on selected farms in the Corn Belt, major
yield differences appeared to occur in corn and wheat production. Soybean and oats
yield over the 5-year period averaged slightly higher on organic farms compared to
yields on conventional farms or to average yields in the respective counties (table
4.7.4).

From the studies, it was concluded that "Organic farmers had corn yields that
averaged only about 9 percent below those of their conventional neighbors. Under
highly favorable growing conditions, when corn can benefit most from fertilizer
applications, the conventional farmers did considerably better. But under drought,
which was a serious problem in parts of the region (Corn Belt) during the mid-1970's,
organic farmers seemed to do about as well as, if not better than, their conventional
counterparts" (4).


Table 4.7.4


Average yields reported for selected crops on selected Midwest farms.


Organic County Conventional County
Year Crop farms average farms average

1 Bushels per acre
1974 Corn 74 75 71 73
Soybeans 32 25 28 25
Wheat 28 31 29 29
Oats 59 55 59 59
Hay 5 3.4

19751 Corn 74 90 94 88
Soybeans 34 30 38 31
Wheat 26 38 41 36
Oats 56 NA 57 NA
Hay 4.5 4

1974-762 Corn 76.8 80.8 82.7 77.8
Soybeans 30.1 27.0 32.0 27.0
Wheat 29.1 34.0 38.0 34.0
Oats 60.8 55.0 61.9 58.0

19773 Corn 77.9 84.4
Soybeans 33.9 33.6
Oats 66.2 59.9

19783 Corn 98.6 118.0
Soybeans 35.5 38.2
Oats 67.9 63.8

1
Klepper et al. (6).


Lockeretz et al. (7).


Private communication with
Missouri, August 1, 1979.


Georgia Shearer, CBNS, Washington University, Saint Louis,
Data for conventional farms not provided.






In a limited study of organic (some farmers used chemical fertilizers and/or
chemical pesticides to a limited extent) and conventional small-grain farms in the
Northwest, Kraten (3) found crop yields to be considerably higher on a few paired
conventional farms and higher in some cases on the paired organic farms.

Overall, however, organic farms had slightly higher grain yields than did the
conventional farms. The combined average yields of all grains grown on the organic
farms was 39.0 bushels per acre as compared with 35.2 bushels per acre on convention-
al farms.

In a 1974-75 study, Berardi (2) compared 10 conventional farmers growing
winter wheat in New York State with 10 organic wheat growers in the States of New
York and Pennsylvania. She found the average wheat yields to be 28.5 percent higher
on the conventional farms in comparison to average wheat yields on the organic farms.
Average wheat yield on the organic farms was 34 bushels per acre and on the conven-
tional farms, 44 bushels per acre.

Roberts et al. (5), in a study on the economics of organic crop production in
the western Corn Belt, compared crop production of 15 organic farmers to USDA data on
conventional farms located in the same area. Data on yields for corn, soybeans,
oats, and wheat were collected for 1973 through 1976. Average yields on the organic
farms compared to average yields in the States where the organic farms were located
were lower for corn, higher for soybeans and oats, and the same for wheat (table
4.7.5). Roberts et al. (5), with regard to crop yields on organic versus convention-
al farms, concluded that:

1) It was not possible to draw conclusions in the comparison of
corn yields between the organic sample and the control group;

2) Soybean yields of organic farmers are at least equal to, if not
greater than, soybean yields of conventional farmers;

3) No conclusions could be reached that organic oat yields are
equal to oat yields under conventional farming; and

4) Organic wheat production appears competitive with conventional
production.

Table 4.7.5 Organic and conventional average crop yields, western Corn Belt,
1973-76.
1 .2
Crop Conventional Organic2
Bushels per acre
Corn 78 75

Soybeans 28 32

Oats 47 64

Wheat 34 34

1
Five-State average yields reported by Statistical Reporting Service (SRS).
2
Weighted average yields based on production years 1973 through 1976 (5).







The above information should not be interpreted as representative of all organic
farmers growing the same crops. Crop yields depend not only on soil fertility but
upon seed varieties; climatic conditions; control of weeds, insects, and diseases;
harvesting methods; and other crop management practices.

Some farms, it appears, are located on the type of soils and in a climate
where yields from crops produced organically may be as economical as crops produced
conventionally. In some areas or for some farmers, crop production without the use
of chemical' fertilizers, pesticides, or insecticides may greatly reduce yields and,
consequently, income. Unless production costs are greatly reduced, low crop yields
can impact heavily on the farmer's net income.

Some farmers who have more available labor than capital, especially those on
small farms, may be able to take advantage of organic farming practices. Small
vegetable farmers, with proper use of organic waste and nonchemical control methods,
are obtaining fairly high yields. Their success, however, depends on whether net
income continues to cover their minimum cost of living.

More than half of the organic farmers visited for this study believed that their
average yields were about the same as average yields on the other farms in their
respective areas. About an equal number of organic farmers reported their yields
were higher or lower than yields of conventional farmers nearby.

The response of strictly organic farmers in the Rodale Press survey was the same
as mentioned above. Thirty-eight farmers believed average yields on their farms were
the same as average yields on other farms in their county. Twenty-three organic
farmers believed yields were higher, and 20 organic farmers believed their yields
were lower. Among the combination respondents, 113 farmers reported average yields
were the same as the average yields of other farms in their respective counties.
Forty-six combination respondents reported that their yields were higher. Only 23
respondents reported that their yields were lower than the yields on other farms in
their county.

From the above review, it is apparent that general statements concerning yields
expected with organic farming are restricted by the great range of soils, crops,
climatic conditions, livestock enterprises, and management levels present in U.S.
agriculture, and also by the general lack of research results from well-designed,
replicated, experimental plots comparing long-term yields from organic farming and
conventional farming. Such comparisons are complicated by the large number of
possible variables involved, the great range of organic and conventional farming
practices in use, and the necessity that comparisons must be conducted over a time
period of sufficient length to accurately assess the stability of the systems.
Research has been conducted either as:

1) Replicated small-plot comparisons of individual treatments,
which are open to the criticism of not adequately representing
organic farming per se; or as

2) Small numbers of large-scale, field- or farm-sized, short-
term comparisons, with substantial but undetermined errors due
to problems inherent in matching soil and climatic conditions en-
countered on these farms and in accurately measuring yields on
such large units.







REFERENCES


1. Lockeretz, W., R. Klepper, B. Commoner, M. Gertler, S. Fast, and D. O'Leary.
"Organic and conventional crop production in the Corn Belt: a comparison
of economic performance and energy use for selected farms." Center for the
Biology of Natural Systems, Rep. No. CBNS-AE-7, Washington University, St. Louis,
Missouri. 1976.

2. Berardi, G. M. "Organic and conventional wheat production: examination of
energy and economics." Agro-Ecosystems, Vol. 4, (1978), 367-376.

3. Kraten, S. L. "A preliminary examination of the economic performance and
energy intensiveness of organic and conventional small grain farms in the
Northwest." Unpublished M.S. thesis, Washington State University, Pullman,
Wash., 1979.

4. Lockeretz, W. "Testimony presented at hearings on Agricultural Productivity
and Environmental Quality." Washington, D.C., July 25, 1979.

5. Roberts, K. J., P. F. Warnken, and K. C. Schneeberger. "The economics of,
organic crop production in the Western Born Belt." Agri. Econ. Paper No.
1979-6, Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, 1979.

6. Klepper, R., W. Lockeretz, B. Commoner, M. Gertler, S. Fast, D. O'Leary, and
R. Blobaum. "Economic performance and energy intensiveness on organic and
conventional farms in the Corn Belt; A preliminary comparison." Amer. Jour.
Agri. Economics, Vol. 59, (1977), 1-12.

7. Lockeretz, W., G. Shearer, R. Klepper, and S. Sweeney. "Field crop production
on organic farms in the Midwest." Jour. Soil and Water Conservation, Vol. 33,
(1978), 130-134.

4.8 LABOR INTENSIVENESS ON ORGANIC FARMS

The nature and intensity of labor used in agricultural production systems depend
on soil type and topography, types of crops and livestock, type and size of machinery
and equipment, and overall labor and management efficiency. Consequently, labor use
may vary significantly among organic farms, or between organic and conventional
farms.

In a paired comparison of 14 organic farms with 14 conventional farms, Klepper
et al. (1) found that labor requirements for crop production were only slightly
higher for organic farms than for conventional farms (3.3 hours/acre for organic and
3.2 hours/acre for conventional). However, when expressed as labor input per dollar
of crop output, the use of labor was much higher for the organic group because the
value of crop output per acre was lower. The organic farmers spent 19.8 hours per
$1,000 of crop output compared with 17.8 hours for the conventional farmers. The
organic farmers' labor requirements.were similar to those of the conventional farmers
for corn and small grains but higher for soybeans.

In a comparison of two organic farms with two conventional grain farms in
Washington State by Eberle and Holland (2), it was found that one of the organic
farms used 5.65 hours per acre compared to only 0.59 hours per acre for the con-
ventional farm. An explanation for such a large difference was that the organic







REFERENCES


1. Lockeretz, W., R. Klepper, B. Commoner, M. Gertler, S. Fast, and D. O'Leary.
"Organic and conventional crop production in the Corn Belt: a comparison
of economic performance and energy use for selected farms." Center for the
Biology of Natural Systems, Rep. No. CBNS-AE-7, Washington University, St. Louis,
Missouri. 1976.

2. Berardi, G. M. "Organic and conventional wheat production: examination of
energy and economics." Agro-Ecosystems, Vol. 4, (1978), 367-376.

3. Kraten, S. L. "A preliminary examination of the economic performance and
energy intensiveness of organic and conventional small grain farms in the
Northwest." Unpublished M.S. thesis, Washington State University, Pullman,
Wash., 1979.

4. Lockeretz, W. "Testimony presented at hearings on Agricultural Productivity
and Environmental Quality." Washington, D.C., July 25, 1979.

5. Roberts, K. J., P. F. Warnken, and K. C. Schneeberger. "The economics of,
organic crop production in the Western Born Belt." Agri. Econ. Paper No.
1979-6, Dept. of Agricultural Economics, Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, 1979.

6. Klepper, R., W. Lockeretz, B. Commoner, M. Gertler, S. Fast, D. O'Leary, and
R. Blobaum. "Economic performance and energy intensiveness on organic and
conventional farms in the Corn Belt; A preliminary comparison." Amer. Jour.
Agri. Economics, Vol. 59, (1977), 1-12.

7. Lockeretz, W., G. Shearer, R. Klepper, and S. Sweeney. "Field crop production
on organic farms in the Midwest." Jour. Soil and Water Conservation, Vol. 33,
(1978), 130-134.

4.8 LABOR INTENSIVENESS ON ORGANIC FARMS

The nature and intensity of labor used in agricultural production systems depend
on soil type and topography, types of crops and livestock, type and size of machinery
and equipment, and overall labor and management efficiency. Consequently, labor use
may vary significantly among organic farms, or between organic and conventional
farms.

In a paired comparison of 14 organic farms with 14 conventional farms, Klepper
et al. (1) found that labor requirements for crop production were only slightly
higher for organic farms than for conventional farms (3.3 hours/acre for organic and
3.2 hours/acre for conventional). However, when expressed as labor input per dollar
of crop output, the use of labor was much higher for the organic group because the
value of crop output per acre was lower. The organic farmers spent 19.8 hours per
$1,000 of crop output compared with 17.8 hours for the conventional farmers. The
organic farmers' labor requirements.were similar to those of the conventional farmers
for corn and small grains but higher for soybeans.

In a comparison of two organic farms with two conventional grain farms in
Washington State by Eberle and Holland (2), it was found that one of the organic
farms used 5.65 hours per acre compared to only 0.59 hours per acre for the con-
ventional farm. An explanation for such a large difference was that the organic






farmer was controlling potato pests with hand labor. The other organic farm averaged
1.9 hours/acre for crop production compared to 1.3 hours on the conventional farm.

Roberts et al. (3) compared the labor costs of organic farms in the western
Corn Belt with data representative of comparable conventional farms. Labor costs for
the production of corn, oats, and wheat, in most cases, were less on organic farms
than on conventional farms. However, the labor cost for soybean production on
organic farms was greater than on the conventional farms because of the additional
labor required for weed control.

In a study comparing organic and conventional wheat growers in New York and
Pennsylvania, Berardi (4) found that the organic farmers required 8.5 hours/acre to
produce wheat compared to 3.6 hours/acre for conventional farmers. By excluding one
Amish farmer in the organic group, who was using horses, the labor requirements for
the organic group averaged 5.3 hours/acre.

Oelhaf (5) found that labor requirements for vegetable production on organic and
conventional farms varied widely. He concluded that, except for intensive tomato
cultivation for the fresh market, organic vegetable production requires more labor
than conventional production.

In a study of 31 small organic farms in Maine, Vail and Rozyne (6) found that 12
could not fulfill their labor requirements because of high labor costs. Nine farmers
reported that labor shortages were.a major obstacle to making a living on small
farms. More than half of the farmers in the survey who hired farm labor described
problems with recruitment, poor work habits, absenteeism, or high turnover. Because
of the diversity of enterprises on small farms, a large number experienced excessive
labor problems because the farm had not been sufficiently mechanized.

Most of the organic farmers in the USDA case studies believed that labor re-
quirements on their farms were higher or similar to labor requirements on nearby
conventional farms. Very few of the organic farmers reported them to be lower. Five
farmers had even reduced or modified their organic practices because of high labor
requirements. In the Rodale Press survey, 24 of the 95 totally organic respondents
reported that their labor requirements were higher than on conventional farms, 28
reported them to be similar, while 23 reported them to be lower.

Based on this rather limited information, it would appear that organic farms
generally require more labor for their operation than conventional farms, but that
exceptions occur. Labor requirements on organic farms depend to a large extent on
how effectively weeds, insects, and diseases are controlled with mechanical or non-
chemical methods. If considerable hand weeding or other types of manual labor are
required, then organic systems are more labor-intensive than conventional systems.

Organic farms with horses and horse-drawn equipment or old machinery and
equipment are highly labor-intensive but less capital-intensive. Consequently, labor
efficiency (output per unit of labor input) will be quite low.

The labor required to farm organically is a major limitation to the expansion of
some organic farms (especially vegetable farms where hand weeding is required) and an
important deterrent to some conventional farmers thinking of shifting to organic
farming.




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