Organic Rules and Certification

All differences in one table by country standards

  • Organic regulations/standards by region
    • Europe
      • Switzerland
        • BIO SUISSE
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Title Description Difference Justification and Comments
Biodiversity, landscape - CH Bio Suisse Standard 2005 BIO SUISSE requires diversification within the agricultural land area of the farm and requires 7% of the farm land to be fostered as ecological diverse areas. Furthermore, 5 % of the fodder areas have to be farmed on a a low intensity level. The requirement of 'compensatory ecological habitats' is a very specific BIO SUISSE standard. No similar pargraph is quoted in the EU Regulation 2092/91. To support refuge areas for beneficial organisms matches the holistic approach of organic farming, which is keen to take advantage of a sound and well balanced micro-ecosystem. The 'compensatory ecological habitats' should enhance a natural balance between noxious and benefical organisms. Furthermore ecologically diversified areas contribute to maintaining genetic and biotic diversity and contribute to landscape attractiveness.
Collection of wild plants - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
The collection of wild plants is regulated in detail. In particular the following are required: A complete description of the gathered area, of the gathering activities, of storing and processing. Proof that no unauthorized auxiliary inputs for organic agriculture have been used in the three previous years; Prove of ecological harmlessness (stability of the habitat and biodiversity). There must not be any sources of emission/contamination in the respective area and in the neighbourhood. Collectors must have a sound knowledge of sustainable gathering.
Specific requirements on wild collection are detailed in the standard of BIO SUISSE. EU Regulation 2092/91 rules the area more generally and accepts the collection of wild plants if no disallowed substances are applied and if the collection is done in a sound manner. Areas can be treated with substances and measures approved in the EU Regulation whereas BIO SUISSE does not accept any treatments of the natural habitats by men, even not substances allowed in Annex II. Since wild habitats are very vulnerable, BIO SUISSE standards indicate the most important parameters to be respected before approval . In order to draw a clear line against organic produce from farms, no treatments, even not with allowed products, are allowed in wild collection..
Conversion of land, livestock production - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
A conversion period of at least 2 full calendar years is required. No retrospective approval is granted (no reduction of the conversion period is possible)
BIO SUISSE requires a conversion period of 2 years for pastures, whereas EU Regulation 2092/91 permits a reduction of the conversion period for pastures down to 6 months for non-herbivore species if no disallowed substances have been applied to the respective plots This rule contributes to consumer confidence and makes inspection easier.
Conversion period, CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
A conversion period of at least 2 full calendar years is required. No retrospective approval is granted (no reduction of the conversion period possible)
BIO SUISSE accepts a shorter conversion period for perennial crops than the EU Regulation 2092/91. EU applies a zero year which leads to a total of 36 months in perennials and 24 months in annual crops. BIO SUISSE however foresees the start for conversion only for January 1st of each calendar year and the application for conversion must be deposited by August 31st of the previous year (hereafter, no application of disallowed substances is allowed anymore). From Januray 1st of the first year of conversion, BIO SUISSE farms are allowed to market their produce under the claim 'in conversion' BIO SUISSE standards were in force before EU Regulation was created. BIO SUISSE does not allow a reduction of the conversion period in any cases.
Conversion, livestock and animal products - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005 For brought-in livestock not coming from organic farm operations special conversion periods apply, if these animals or products thereof are sold as certified organic. BIO SUISSE standard is identical with EU Regulation 2092/91 except for the transition period for poultry for meat production. Whereas BIO SUISSE requires only 56 days for fattening poultry, EU requires that poultry is reared 10 weeks according the standard before being sold as organic. The deviation is due to the fact, that poultry becomes too heavy when reared longer than 56 days and then does not meet Swiss market demands for broilers .
Conversion, retroactive approval - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005:
A conversion period of at least 2 full calendar years is required. No retrospective approval is granted (no reduction of the conversion period possible).
Whereas BIO SUISSE requires a two years conversion period beginning in the first year of inspection by an official inspection body, EU Regulation 2092/91 offers the possibility for retrospective approval in cases, where previous management methods are proved to be in compliance with the Regulation (approval as 'organic' after 6 months of first inspection for pastures or immediate approval for other plots if last conventional practice happened more than 3 years ago). The inflexibility in the conversion period is thought to increase consumer credibility. The Bio Suisse standards in this case comply with the Swiss government regulation.
Crop rotation - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
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Any crop rotation must maintain long-term soil fertility and guarantee prosperous growth. The rotation must minimise the loss of nutrients by erosion or effluent water. A rate of 20% leguminous or soil building crops are required by BIO SUISSE and winter cover of at least 50% of arable land area. Cereals/grain legumes 67%, wheat and others not more than 50% to the rotation. Leguminous soil buildung crops must cover at least 25% of the share in the rotation. A break of at least one vegetation cycle is required before a crop of the same family shall be planted again.
Whereas BIO SUISSE regulates the crop rotation requirements in detail, the EU Regulation 2092/91 is more general in this area. A balanced and sophisticated crop rotation is crucial to maintain long term soil fertility, to enhance natural nitrogen level and humus accumulation. Therefore clear requirements are necessary to support this aim.
Fertilizers, substrates - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
Fertilization should enhance microorganism and soil activity . The use of synthetic chemical nitrogen fertilizers is forbidden. Dried farm yard manure is in general prohibited.
In general the list of fertilizers is comparable with the EU Regulation. Some fertilizers of the EU Regulation 2092/91 list are not listed in the BIO SUISSE standards. Easily soluble nutrients in general do not support the natural balance of nutrient release in the soil; therefore Bio Suisse does not support such kind of fertilizers.
Free range conditions, access - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005 Swiss ordinance Program for regular free-range of livestock must be met, which requires extended free range on pasture. While Bio Suisse follows a set minimal number of days per month for animals to be at pasture, EU Regulation 2092/91 requires access to pasture in a general manner. Furthermore access to outdoor run is also mandatory in winter time according to Bio Suisse. From an ethological point of view regular access to outdoor areas is seen as essential need for livestock.
Full farm conversion - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
BIO SUISSE requires organic certification of the whole farm with all the enterprises, including arable land, perennial crops and animal production.
BIO SUISSE standards contain an additional restriction not included in the EU Regulation 2092/91. BIO SUISSE standards do not allow non-organic and organic enterprises to be operated by the same manager with the exception of the stepped conversion of wine, fruit or ornamental plants production enterprises, whereas the EU Regulation does allow organic and non-organic enterprises on the same farm. The prohibition of organic and non-organic split production avoids potential problems with the consumer credibility of organic farming and minimises the danger of fraud. The BIO SUISSE standards in this respect comply with the Swiss government regulation.
Greenhouse production, heating - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
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Heating of green houses is prohibited during the winter. The greenhouse can be kept frost free: however, heating should not exceed 5°C between the months of Decemer and 1st of March.
BIO SUISSE restricts the heating of green houses, due to the environmental aspects of energy saving. The EU Regulation 2092/91 does not cover green house production as a specific area, and therefore has no such restrictions. Prohibiting heating of greenhouses during the winter saves non-renewable resources.
Livestock housing, area, poultry - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005 For fattening poultry not more than 2000 animals and for laying hens not more then 600 may be reared in one stable (towards end of fattening period max 500 poultry,for turkey max. 250 animals/stable, for geese and ducks max. 250 animals /stable). The number of animals per stable, the stocking density in-house, is lower in the Bio Suisse regulation compared to the EU Regulation 2092/91. EU defines the max number of animals per stable as 4800 poultry, 3000 laying hens, 5200 guinea fowl, etc. From an ethological point of view a lower number of animals per square meter and a lower maximum number of animals per stable is considered as more animal-friendly.
Manure fertilizers, intensity - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
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The amount of nitrogen and phosphorous input per hectare is strictly limited, in general to max 2.5 LSU/ha or less depending on the crops.
Limits for the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus provided by different means of fertilisation are restricted by Bio Suisse; for different crops specific limits apply - whereas the sum of phosphorus applied by fertilisation is taken into consideration as well as nitorgen levels. The EU Regulation 2092/91 sets general limits for ferilisation intensity only for nitrogen: maximum application per yeare is 170kg nitrogen/ha. In order to avoid excessive use of fertilizers and successive contamination of the environment by leached nutrients, BIO SUISSE limits use of both nitrogen and phosphorous to effective levels required by crops.
Manure fertilizers, origin - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
Farm yard manure must originate from organic farms. If not available from organic farms, not more than 50% of the necessary N and P205 may origin from non-organic farms, which are managed according the integrated production standard and additional ecological requirements as defined by Swiss ordinance. However at least 50% of manure produced on the farm must be used on farm. If farm yard manure is sold to other farms, these must be certified organic farms. The distance for transporting manure and slury is restricted to 20 - 80 km depending on the kind of manure.
The EU Regulation 2092/91 does not limit the export of farm yard manure to other farms as long the limit of 170kgN/ha among organic farms is respected; it only restricts the maximum stocking rate to an equivalent of 170 kg N/ha. No limits for transporting distances for manure to other farms are foreseen in the EU Regulation. Organic farming should be performed based on the principle of a closed system with self-sufficiency in fertilizer supply but no excessive manure should be produced.
Milk for offsprings - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
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Young mammals must be fed with natural milk, preferably mother's milk. All mammals must be fed with natural milk during a minimum period of time.
BIO SUISSE and EU Regulation 2092/91 regulate the feeding of milk similarly. BIO SUISSE is less strict for the duration of feeding milk for the species sheep and goats (only 35 days compared to 45 days for sheep and goat in the EU Regulation). The immune system of the young mammals is strengthened by antibodies contained in the mothers milk. Via interaction of the young mammals with the udder the immune system of the mother may even respond to infections of the young animals and release adequate antibodies with the milk.
Parallel production, crops - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
Parallel production of similar types of organic and non-organic products is permitted only for crops in farms undergoing a stepped conversion process, and not at all for livestock. Parallel production of crops is restricted to vines. In all other cases, parallel production is prohibited (cf. Paragraph 4.1.1. full farm conversion requirement).
BIO SUISSE standards contain an additional restriction not included in the EU Regulation 2092/91. BIO SUISSE standards restrict organic and non-organic parallel production only to perennial vine crops in the circumstances of a stepped conversion, but EU Regulation allows parallel production of similar varieties of perennial crops during a stepped conversion of a maximum five-year period, in research crops, or in crops producing propagation material; in each case, segregation must be guaranteed and inspection must be performed in the conventional production unit of the operation. The other exception allowed in EU Regulation is parallel production of grassland crops only for grazing. By not allowing split production, the situation on the farm is more transparent and easier for inspection: the credibility of organic farming is supported with these measures.
Plant cultivation, use of soil culture - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
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Any hydorponics or soil independent (soil-less) production is prohibited.
The Bio Suisse standard has further restrictions. EU Regulation 2092/91 does not prohibit any hydroponic or soil independent production as Bio Suisse does. BIO SUISSE considers the soil as important medium for sound organic agriculture. Hydroponic systems are artificial systems independent from the soil, which therefore do not correspond with the basic principles of organic farming.
Plant protection, copper - AT Bio CH Bio Suisse Standard 2005
Copper preparations are admitted for fungal disease control. Arable crops can not be treated with copper, except for potatoes, vegetables and hops. The annual amount of copper applied is clearly restricted for individual crops to a maximum 4 kg/ha metalic copper, for apple and pears 1.5 kg/ha and for berries 2 kg/ha).
Copper application is restricted to lower quantities and in terms of crops (application rate between 1.5-4 kg pure metallic copper, arable crops excluded except potatoes). EU Regulatoin 2092/91 admits 8kg of copper till the end of 2006 and maximum 6 kg of copper afterwards: no restrictions are made in terms of crops being treated with copper preparations. Copper is being accumulated in the soil: in order to promote sound soil fertility, any accumulation of heavy metals should be avoided.
Seed and plant material, origin, peat - CH Bio Suisse 2005
Seedlings must be certified organic. If non available this has to be proven. Any use of treated seedlings leads to disapproval of the crop emerging from it. Peat can constitute only 70% of the substratum for the production of seedlings.
Similar regulation for seedling as for seed as the EU Regulation 2092/91, however there is no restriction in the use of peat in the substratum in the EU Regulation. Vegetative propagation material is considered organic if it derives from mother plants grown organically for at least one generation or, in the case of perennial crops, two growing seasons. BIO SUISSE and EU rules define these periods for mother plants identically. Peat is a very limited natural resource for many areas of the world. Restriction of it's use is in line with the approach of sustainability in organic farming. No peat is admitted as general soil conditioner.
Slaughter, minimum age, poultry - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005 Minimal age for broilers at the day of slaughter is 63 days. EU Regulation is more detailled than BIO SUISSE. BIO SUISSE sets limits only for broilers, whereas the EU Regulation 2092/91 adds limits for all kinds of fowl. Furthermore BIO SUISSE accepts an age of 63 days for broilers, whereas the EU Regulation requires 81 days for chicken as minimal age at slaughter. Among fowl, only broilers are kept on an an economic scale in Switzerland. Consequently BIO SUISSE has no regulation for other fowl. For broilers the minimum age for slaughter is 63 days due to the lack of market demand for heavier animals. Too quick growth infringes the healthy development of the sceleton and the behaviour of fowl. A sound growth of animals is an ethological requirement in organic farming.
Soil management, perennial crops - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
For perennial crops, the soil must be covered with vegetation all year round.
While BIO SUISSE requires a full vegetative cover of the soil on perennial crops, the EU Regulation 2092/91 does not have any specific requirements. Multiple soil tillage and lack of cover crops lead to erosion and loss of organic matter in the soil. Constant vegetation will minimize such unfavourable effects in perennial crops.
Spraying equipment, testing - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005 Organic farms must have their spraying equipment tested every 4 years. The Swiss Ordinance requires spraytests, but EU Regulation 2092/91 has no such requirement. Good agricultural practice requires all spraying equipment must be in perfect working order to ensure adequate application of agricultural substances.
Transport of livestock, general requirements - CH Bio Suisse 2005 No specific rules for transport of animals are laid down since this is ruled by the Swiss ordinance on livestock. The EU Regulation 2092/91 has specific rules for the transport of organically raised animals: transport has to be done in a gentle manner and prevent any unnecessary stress. Electroshock to move animals is prohibited. Allopathic tranquilizers are prohibited. BIO SUISSE has no requirements for the transport of animals since the Swiss ordinance for livestock already defines the restrictions.