Organic Rules and Certification

All differences in one table by country standards

  • Organic regulations/standards by region
    • Europe
      • Switzerland
        • Demeter
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Title Description Difference Justification and Comments
Animal fodder, conventional/organic feed - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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Animals must be fed with bio-dynamic or organic fodder: no conventional fodder is allowed (with the exception of minerals and emergency cases).
DEMETER does not accept any conventional fodder on their farms with the only exception for cases of emergency. EU Regulation 2092/91 does allow certain limited ratios of non-organic fodder. No justification was provided from the standards owner.
Animal fodder, origin - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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Only in pig and chicken production, purchase of bio-dynamic off-farm fodder (cereals) is unlimited. For all other animals the quantity of purchased fodder must not exceed 20% of dry matter equivalent of the annual need for each category.
DEMETER standards contain further restrictions since the standard limits the purchase of fodder at 20% (related to the yearly dry matter equivalent needed for each animal category). Only for pig and chicken rearing are no limits set. The EU Regulation 2092/91 requires 50% of the fodder to be grown on the farm if feasible, and if not it should be purchased from other organic farms. The self supply with fodder for ruminants is a principle aim within a bio-dynamic farm. The production of enough roughage adds to a closed and balanced production cycle within the operation and therefore purchase of fodder is restricted for ruminants.
Biodiversity, landscape - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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DEMETER requires a vast diversification within the farm and requires at least 7% of farm land being dedicated to ecological diversified areas.
The requirement of 'compensatory ecological habitats' is a very specific DEMETER standard in Switzerland, as this requirement is also required by the government from all Swiss farms which get direct payments. No similar pargraph is quoted in the EU Regulation 2092/91. A diversified landscape underlines the individuality of the farm and supports the prosperous development of beneficials within the farm considered as an organism.
Conversion of land, livestock production - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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A conversion period of 4 years is required; crops may be sold with 'DEMETER' denomination in the fourth year of conformity with DEMETER standards. As soon as all plots with fodder production have completed the conversion period, also animal husbandry is considered as DEMETER. No retrospective approval is granted (no reduction of the conversion period is possible). In case of a certified production according Bio Suisse Standards, DEMETER approval may occur in the second year of conformity with DEMETER Standards.
DEMETER requires a minimal conversion period of 4 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. Essential agricultural knowledge and skills in the biodynamic mehod are important prerequisitites for successfull farming. To acquire this knowledge and to gain credibility in the consumers eyes, DEMETER strictly defines the beginning of conversion as starting with the first inspection and requires a four year conversion period.
Conversion, retroactive approval - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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A conversion period of 4 full calendar years is required; crops may be sold with 'DEMETER' denomination in the fourth year of conformity with DEMETER standards. No retrospective approval is granted (no reduction of the conversion period possible). In case of a certified production according Bio Suisse Standards, DEMETER approval may occur in the second year of conformity with DEMETER Standards.
Whereas DEMETER requires a 36 months conversion period beginning with 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 proven to be in compliance with the regulation. Essential agricultural knowledge and skills in the biodynamic method are important prerequisitites for successfull farming. To acquire this knowledge and to gain credibility for the method in the consumers eyes, DEMETER strictly defines the beginning of conversion as starting with the first year of inspection.
Crop rotation - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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Crop rotation is mentioned in a general way in the preamble of the standard. Since all farms must have their own animal husbandry, rotation must include fodder and roughage production for these animals. However: all DEMETER farms have to comply with the Bio Suisse standards of crop rotation.
EU Regulation 2092/91 in general requires the rotation of green manures or deep-rooting plants in an appropriate multi-annual rotation programme with no minimal rates for specific soil enhancing crops. DEMETER farms are forced into a very diverse crop rotation scheme since they must produce fodder for their own animal husbandry. Since own fodder production and own animal husbandry is required, the crop rotation must be balanced with leguminous crops as well as other fodder crops in order to keep the farm self-sufficient in its fodder supply.
Fertilization, biodynamic prepaparations - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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Specific bio-dynamic preparations enhance soil fertility and the health of crops. These preparations are defined as field sprays (cow-horn manure, horn silica) and compost preparations (camomile, oak bark, dandelion, yarrow, stinging nettle, valerian). The full effect can only be expected when all the preparations (compost and spray preparations) are used in composted manures and as crop sprays at least once throughout the year.
Specific bio-dynamic preparations help to regulate cosmic and earth-bound forces. They soil fertility and contribute to improve the nutritional quality of the crops. EU Regulation 2092/91 gives standards for fertilization requirements but does not extend the definition of fertility to aspects of superior life forces. Bio-dynamic farming includes the aspect of earthbound and cosmic forces, which can be regulated with the support of specific bio-dynamic preparations. Only the combination of manuring and application of bio-dynamic field sprays would lead to increased fertility of soil and to a (holistic) nutrional quality of the crops.
Fertilization, general requirements - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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Composted farm yard manure (preferably from own animal husbandry) with specific bio-dynamic preparations (plant extract additives) enhances soil fertility and the soil quality. Farms should have their own animal husbandry. Only in exceptional cases fare arms without animal husbandry accepted (e.g. fruit orchards, horticulture).
Manure applied should preferably originate from own animal husbandry and must be composted with specific bio-dynamic preparates. An exception from the DEMETER certification is required if no animals are reared on the farm. The EU Regulation 2092/91 makes no preferences for the origin of the nutrients applied, but only requires that farm yard manure has to be from extensive husbandry. Enlivening the soil and the maintenance and development of soil fertility are basic objectives of the bio-dynamic method. The greatest influence in this regard (besides sound soil tillage and crop rotation) is the careful use of composted and prepared manures from ruminants, in particular from cows.
Fertilization, intensity - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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The maximum amount of nitrogen that may be supplied by manures fertilizer, averaged over the crop rotation, may not exceed the amount that would be produced by those animals which the farm could support from its own fodder production (max. 2.0-2.5 LSU equivalents/ha based on the total area of the farm or less). The use of commercial organic manures is limited to this level as well.
Individual limits are set by DEMETER standards for each crop are applied for the use of fertilizers: both nitrogen and phosphorus are limited, while the EU Regulation 2092/91 in general sets a limit for nitrogen only ( 170kgN/ha and year farm yard manures). The production of fodder and crops should be in balance with the animals kept on the farm and their production of manure. In order to keep this balance and to avoid excessive use of fertilizers DEMETER limits the use of nutrients to the effective need by the crops.
Fertilizers, substrates - CH Demeter Standards 2005 Fertility should be enhanced by own farmyard manure. If not available only a limited amount of bought in manure is allowed according to DEMETER standards and it should be of bio-dynamic or organic origin. DEMETER standards provide a shorter list of admitted fertilizers. Guano is not allowed according DEMETER standards nor are animal corps preparates (except horn). The distance for the transport of farmyard manure is restricted. Peat can only be used for seedling production and only to a very limited ratio. The EU Regulation 2092/91 allows a broader range of fertilizers. There are ecological reasons to exclued Guano, to restrict the use of peat and to limit the transport of farmyard manure.
Free range conditions, access, poultry - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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DEMETER requires permanent access to out-door excercise or a "wintergarden" (covered area with outdoor climate). For poultry the plots for outdoor run must be switched periodically (for sanitary reasons).
DEMETER is more detailed than the EU Regulation 2092/91. EU Regulation requires permanent access to out-door exercise for poultry, at least during 1/3 or their lifetime. The requied area is 4m2 per laying hen as outdoor run ( DEMETER requires 5m2). Permanent access to an ourdoor run is considered as an essential need for farm animals. Periodic changing/switching the outdoor area reduces risks of parasites.
Free range conditions, access, ruminants - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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During vegetation season all animals must have daily access to free range (pasture and or coral). During winter time exceptions for ruminants are possible: ruminants must have access to free range on at least 13 days of each month.
While DEMETER follows a set minimal number of days for animals to be at pasture, which is based on an ordinance and payment scheme of the Swiss Government for outdoor access. The EU Regulation 2092/91 requires access to pasture in a general manner, and in winter time access to outdoor run is not mandatory. The minimal size for outdoor runs required by DEMETER is larger than the size defined by the EU Regulation. From a ethological point of view an almost daily but at least regular access to an outdoor area is seen as essential need for farm animals.
Full farm conversion - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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Full farm conversion of the whole operation to organic is required by DEMETER and is applied for arable land, perennial crops and animal husbandry all the same. The farmer has to attend a training on bio-dynamic farming and must prove knowledge on bio-dynamic farming.
DEMETER standards do not allow a split production of DEMETER and conventional production areas within the same farm or by the same manager, whereas EU Regulation 2092/91 does allow split production within the farm by the same manager. Furthermore, DEMETER requires the farmers to attend a training on bio-dynamic farming, whereas EU Regulation does not rule the question of capacity building among organic farmers. The personal committment required from a farm manager towards bio-dynamic farming does not comply with the thought of having conventional areas within the same operation.
Livestock housing, area, poultry - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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DEMTER has to comply with the Swiss Ordinance on animal husbandry and rules the area of stable size in the same way as the latter. In the stable not more than 6 hens per m2 can be kept, additionally a wintergarden must be provided with 43m2 per 1000 animals and in addition to this there must be an outdoor area (pasture) of 5m2 per animal.
EU Regulation 2092/91 also requires no more than 6 animals/m2, but the size of wintergarden is not defined, and the size of pasture required is 4m2/animal which is less than the size required by Swiss Ordinance and therefore also by DEMETER. From an ethological point of view a lower number of animals per surface area and a lower maximum number of animals per stable is seen as more animal-friendly.
Livestock management, physical operations/mutilations - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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Dehorning of ruminants is not allowed according DEMETER standards.
Whereas DEMETER disallowes dehorning of ruminants, EU Regulation 2092/91 allows it under certain circumstances. The horns of ruminants have significance for the development of life forces. They provide an opposing balance of forces to the intensive digestion and absorption processes. They are a part of the entire being. In comparison to other animal species, cattle manure has a particularly stimulating effect on soil fertility. The horns also have a large significance as a sheath in the production of the bio-dynamic preparations.
Manure fertilizers, intensity and export - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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The aim is to create the operation as an organism, which is a closed circle of nutrients and crop and fodder production - neither fodder nor fertilisers should be imported or exported. The operation is expected to be balanced in this regard. If at all, manure can only be exported to other organic units complying with the maximum stocking rate. For transporting manure the maximum distance of the Bio Suisse regulation is applied, which requires not more than 20-80km transport distance depending on the kind of manure.
DEMETER is striving for a balanced autonomous operation based on own fodder and fertilizer production (excessive manure does not occur in these operations). EU Regulation 2092/91 limits the farm yard manure used on the own farm to 170kg N/ha, if manure is exported this can be done to another organic unit, not exceeding the limit fo 170kg N/ha and year. The balance between farmyard manure produced on the own farm and the nutrients required by plant production is essential for a sound and sustainable organic production method. The need of manure export does not occur on DEMETER farms - the opposite is more often the case.
Manure fertilizers, intensity and import - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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Imported organic farm yard manures may not exceed 50% of the quantity which is needed for the crops on farm. Commercial mineral and organic fertilizers are accepted but restricted according to their quality and origin and should undergo composting.
EU Regulation 2092/91 does not limit the import of commercial fertilizers. It only limits the application of farm yard manure to 170kgN/ha. DEMETER does limit this application to the LSU equivalent that could be fed on the farms own fodder basis. DEMETER also limits the distance for transporting farm yard manure. Own animal husbandry is an important factor in a farm organism as definied by DEMETER. The lack of own animals should not be underlined by importing manures: instead own animal husbandry should be established. Furthermore, imported fertilizers can only be applied if used in combination with composted or prepared animal fertilizers.
Peat - CH Demeter 2005
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Peat can constitute only 70% of the substratum for the production of seedlings.
DEMETER restricts the use of peat to seedling production and within substrata to a maximum 70% whereas the EU Regulation 2092/91 only lists peat as admitted 'fertilizer' limited to horticulture (market gardening, floriculture, arboriculture, nursery). Peat is a very limited resource which should be used as little as possible to ensure supplies for future generations. Furthermore peat production infringes on natural habitats, which is not in line with the aim for sound production methods of organic farming.
Plant material and bulbs, origin - CH Demeter Standards
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Seedlings and bulbs must origin from bio-dynamic and if not available from organic production. The non availability of bio-dynamic seed or seedlings must be documented. Planting material deriving from lines which were created with protoplasm or cytoplasm fusion technique can not be used.
Similar regulation as EU Regulation 2092/91 but cytoplasm and protoplasm fusion as breeding techniques in the propagation procedure are not accepted. Seed should be well adapted to the production technique and therefore it should already be bred with bio-dynamic methods in order to support the taste and individuality of each variety.
Plant protection, copper - CH DEMETER
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Copper preparates are admitted for fungal diseases and for fruit and vine production exclusively. The upper limit for the yearly application is 3kg/ha metallic copper.
Copper application is restricted to lower quantities and specific application rates apply for different crops. EU Regulation 2092/91 admits 8kg of copper till the end of 2005 and max 6 kg of copper from the year 2006 onwards: 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 - therefore copper applications are restricted.
Seed and plant material, origin - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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Seed must origin from bio-dynamic and if not available from organic production. The non-availability of organic seed must be proven by the farmer. Hybrids of cereals with the exception of corn (Zea mays) are excluded for the production of feed and food. Planting material deriving from lines which were created with protoplasm or cytoplasm fusion technique can not be used. Seed should be procured from European countries (less transport, less pollution).
EU Regulation 2092/91 does allow hybrids, whereas DEMETER does not allow the use of hybrids in any cereal (with the exception of corn). Furthermore, cytoplasm and protoplasm fusion as breeding techniques are not accepted by DEMETER standards. Seed should be well adapted to the production technique and therefore it should already be bred with bio-dynamic methods in order to support the taste and individuality of each variety. Therefore biodynamic seed and propagation material must be used if available.
Soil management, perennial crops - CH Demeter Standards 2005
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Soil of perennial crops must be covered all year round.
While DEMETER requires a full vegetative cover of the soil in perennial crops, EU Regulation 2092/91 does not cover this aspect. 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 and increases the level of organic matter in the soil.
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 Demeter Standards 2005
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Transport should be careful and with respect, stress, fear and pain should be avoided as much as possible. Duration of transport is limited to not more than 6 hours (by Swiss Governmental Ordinance).
DEMETER has to respect the Swiss Ordinance which rules, that transport may not last longer than 6 hours. EU Regulation 2092/91 does not rule the maximum duration of transport but also refers to relevant national and Community legislation in force. By shortening the time span for transport, stress and pain can be minimized.