Question of the Week
Answer: Animal manure, both organic and conventional, is approved for use on organic farms, subject to certain restrictions. The relevant sections of the National Organic Standards are listed below.
The standards state that manure may be applied to organic farmland, subject to certain restrictions.
Manure must be applied and incorporated at least 90 days before harvest, if the edible portions of the crop do not touch the soil, e.g. apples. The manure must be applied and incorporated at least 120 days before harvest, if the edible portions of the crop do touch the soil, e.g. carrots. These rules were meant to ensure that disease organisms will not contaminate human food. There are no restrictions on the application of manure to feed crops, such as alfalfa.
Manure that is composted according to an approved process (listed on the following page) can be applied to organic crops at any time. If you plan to compost the cattle manure, you may wish to list the compost on the Brand Name Material List with the Washington State Department of Agriculture Organic Food Program. This is a voluntary program. You can find more information at http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/MaterialsLists.aspx or call (360) 902-1805. The compost itself is not “certified organic,” it is approved for organic agriculture.
§ 205.203 Soil fertility and crop nutrient management practice standard
- (1) Raw animal manure, which must be composted unless it is:
- (i) Applied to land used for a crop not intended for human consumption;
- (ii) Incorporated into the soil not less than 120 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles; or
- (iii) Incorporated into the soil not less than 90 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion does not have direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles.
- (2) Composted plant and animal materials produced though a process that:
- (i) Established an initial C:N ratio of between 25:1 and 40:1; and
- (ii) Maintained a temperature of between 131 and 170 degrees for three days using an in-vessel or static aerated pile system; or
- (iii) Maintained a temperature of between 131 and 170 degrees for 15 days using a windrow composting system, during which period, the materials must be turned a minimum of five times.
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