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Competency Area 8: Cropping Systems

PO 37. Know the basic criteria for organically grown crops, and the primary advantages and disadvantages of organic farming.

Organically grown crops must be grown from seed that:

  • has been organically produced (unless documentation is provided indicating that attempts to procure organic seed of appropriate varieties were unsuccessful)
  • has no genetically engineered traits (e.g., is "non-GMO")

Basic criteria for organically grown crops (these will vary with the specific organization)

  • Protect the environment, minimize soil degradation and erosion, and decrease pollution.
  • Replenish and maintain long-term soil health by optimizing conditions for biological activity within the soil.
  • Maintain diversity within the farming enterprise, and protect and enhance biological diversity of native plants and wildlife. Maintain integrity of organic food and products (genetic engineering or food irradiation is prohibited).
  • Recycle materials and resources to the greatest extent possible.
  • Provide attentive care that promotes the health and behavioral needs of livestock.

Advantages include Long-term sustainability. Products often sell at a premium price.
Disadvantages include difficulty controlling weeds, insects and diseases. Yields may not be maximized or may not be economically competitive.