Organic Rules and Certification

All differences in one table by EU regulation

  • EC Council Regulation No. 2092/91
    • Annex I. Principles of organic production and processing
      • A.Plant and plant products
        • General principles - not in EC Reg
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Title Description Difference Justification and Comments
Contamination, preventing, buffer zones - US NOP 2002 § 205.202 Land requirements. Any field or farm parcel from which harvested crops are intended to be sold, labelled, or represented as "organic," must: (c) Have distinct, defined boundaries and buffer zones such as runoff diversions to prevent the unintended application of a prohibited substance to the crop or contact with a prohibited substance applied to adjoining land that is not under organic management. The US require buffer zones whereas the EU does not. A buffer zone must be sufficient in size or other features (e.g., windbreaks or a diversion ditch) to prevent the possibility of unintended contact by prohibited substances applied to adjacent land areas with an area that is part of a certified operation. As long as an organic operation has not used excluded methods and takes reasonable steps to avoid contact with the products of excluded methods as detailed in their approved organic system plan, the unintentional presence of the products of excluded methods should not affect the status of an organic product or operation.
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.
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.
Crop rotation - Demeter International 2005
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Sustainable soil fertility requires sufficient legumes and a high proportion of leaf crops in the rotation. (DI production standards, 3. Arable plant production)
The DI standard is slightly more precise in the aspect of how to design an adequate crop rotation. The prerequisite for good development of leaves, flowers and fruit/seeds is a vital living soil that allows good root penetration. The design of this growing area is of greater importance for the health of the plant than are individual plant husbandry measures.
Crop rotation - Italian Organic Standards 2005
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The operator should adopt a rotation plan. The rotation should include crops belonging to different species, and should include at least an annual or perennial legume. The certification body may not authorize the growing of the same crop, in the same field, for more than two consecutive years (3 consecutive cycles for horticultural cultivations).
Compared with EU Regulation 2092/91 there are more detailed rules for crop rotation and specific requirements to avoid monoculture. Rotation is the base of soil fertility and therefore of organic agriculture. For this reason the IOS defines detailed guidelines for crop rotation.
Crop rotation - PL Ekoland Standards 2005 To satisfy nitrogen needs of the farm at least a 20% share of legume crops (as a main crop) should be grown on arable land. Catch crops should be grown on at least 20% of arable land acreage. (3.2.4) The EU Regulation 2092/91 demands the cultivation of legumes, green manures or deep-rooting plants in an appropriate multi-annual rotation programme, but does not specify minimal shares as the PL Ecoland standards do. One of the basic methods of soil conservation is properly designed crop rotation system.
Crop rotation, certified land - SE KRAV 2006
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It is not permissable to rotate the certified production. The operator can not remove certified organic land and bring in conventional land into the certification scheme without KRAVs approval (KRAV standards paragraph 4.1.8).
The rotation of organic and conventional land is not covered in EU Regulation 2092/91. Farmers are not allowed to have an organic farming system and then remove organic fields from the certification to treat them with chemical pesticides or chemical fertilisers and then possibly bring them in again into organic production. There are occasions were it is appropriate to take out land to gain a more coherent organic part of a split production.
Cropping systems, prohibited - UK Soil Association Organic Standards 2005
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Even cropping systems that do not rely on rotations must still comply with the methods of nutrient supply, weed, pest and disease control set out in the rules for crop establishment and growth, and they must not rely on outside inputs. Continuous arable rotations are prohibited. (Soil Association Organic Standards, Sections 4.6-4.11 and Paragraphs 5.1.14 and 5.1.15.)
Soil Association standards are more detailed than the EU Regulation 2092/91. Soil Association standards prohibit any cropping systems that rely strongly on outside inputs for nutrient supply, weed, pest and disease control, and any that are based on continuous arable rotations. EU Regulation does not include these specific prohibitions. The Soil Association standards are partly intended to prohibit hydroponic crop production, while allowing flexibility for other sustainable cropping systems. Hydroponic cropping systems rely on high levels of nutrient and energy input and are therefore considered unsustainable. The prohibitions on continuous arable rotations and on systems relying on outside inputs enhance the enforceability of the positive requirements for diverse, multi-annual rotation.
Farm diversity - Demeter International 2005
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Demeter farms are required to integrate ruminants or equidae. Exemptions can be approved by the respective certifying organisation. In market gardens and in enterprises having solely perennial crops, the requirement to have their own animals is not obligatory if manures, compost, green manures, and preparation usage is particularly intensive. (DI production standards, 5.1. Requirement to have livestock DI production standards, Appendix 7, APP 4)
Demeter farms are not regulated by the EU Regulation 2092/91, and there is no requirement to have any type of livestock on an organic farm according to the EU Regulation. Animal husbandry, with the accompanying fodder production is an important part of the agricultural enterprise. With respect to the development of the enterprise, the farm organism cannot do without livestock. This applies to the ruminant in particular. The fodder plants and the well-balanced manure that comes into being because of cattle, contribute considerably through the enlivening of the soil, to the long term flourishing of a farm. The harmonious co-operation of mankind with the three kingdoms of nature can lead to a living, ensouled farm organism.
Fertilization, biodynamic preparations, cosmic rhythms - Demeter International 2005
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The Biodynamic method has largely to do with the forming of living interactions, where the correct timing of measures which affect living processes plays an important role. To this belongs in particular also the conscientious and regular use of the Biodynamic preparations, and the consideration of cosmic rhythms in plant production and animal husbandry. (DI production standards, 1.principles)
There is no requirement to consider cosmic rhythms or to use the biodynamic preparations in order to individually develop the "farm organism" in the EU Regulation 2092/91. Each farm shall be developped into a "living organism" and has to be worked out in an individual way. The consideration of cosmic rhythms and the application of the biodynamic preparations are important measures to help the "farm organism" to develop. These measures have been laid down in the "Agricultural Course" of Rudolf Steiner, which is the basis of the biodynamic method.
Greenhouse production, heating - AT Bio Austria General Standard 2006
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During the winter (December to February) cultivated areas under glass and plastic may be only be kept free from frost (resp. being heated up to 10 °C / 50 °F), with the exception of young plants and plants in pots and the use of heat from renewable energy sources or waste heat (for example from biogas production). (BA-Rules 2006 chapter 4.1.7.1)
The Bio Austria General Standard is more detailed as the EU Regulation 2092/91 does not have a restriction for the use of energy resources. Reduced use of non-renewable resources is an important measure for sustainability of agriculture.
Greenhouse production, lighting - AT Bio Austria General Standard 2006
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The use of artificial light in cultivated areas under glass and plastic is forbidden. An exception is the use of artificial light for young plants. (BA-Rules 2006 chapter 4.1.7.3)
The Bio Austria General Standard is more detailed. The EU Regulation 2092/91 does not restriction the use of artificial light. Contribution to the reduction of energy use (limiting intensification)
Plant cultivation, use of soil culture - AT Bio Austria General Standard 2006
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Vegetables may only be grown in a soil culture with the exception of chicory and cress. (BA-Rules 2006 chapter 4.1.5) Cultivation on mineral wool, hydroculture, nutrient-film technique and similar procedures are not permitted. Chicory and cress may be sprouted in water.
The Bio Austria General Standard is more detailed. The EU Regulation 2092/91 does not have this specification. To maintain consumer confidence and organic integrity
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 cultivation, use of soil culture, use of artificial heat - Italian Organic Standards 2005
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In Italian Organic Standards (IOS) soilless cultivation is prohibited, with the exception of seedlings for transplanting. Protected crops are allowed with detailed rules. Heating is allowed only for seedlings.
IOS Standards contain further details. EU Regulation 2092/91 does not address the issue of soilless cultivation (hydroponic), and protected cultivation is left to free interpretation. Soil-less cultivation opposes organic agriculture principles, since soil management is fundamental for this type of production. Moreover, protected crops are widely used in organic agriculture and need to be specifically ruled and defined, in order to guarantee healthy production and sustainable use of resources.
Soil management, perennial crops - CH Bio Suisse Standards 2005
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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.
Soil management, perennial crops - DE Naturland Standards 2005
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In permanent cropping systems the soil must be covered with vegetation (with exemptions). (NL standards on production: Part B. I.Plant production 1. Humus management and fertilization; Part B. VI. Fruit cultivation, 1. Humus management and fertilization; Part B. VII. Viniculture and wine production 1. Treatment of the soil)
The NATURLAND standard is more specific as there is no such requirement of soil cover in the EU Regulation 2092/91. To keep the soil covered with vegetation is a vital instrument to maintain and increase the soil fertility.