Skip to comments.Organic Farmers Lose Battle Over Soilless Hydroponic Growing
Posted on 11/14/2017 2:31:39 PM PST by nickcarraway
The National Organic Standards Board voted last Wednesday to reject proposals prohibiting hydroponic and aquaponic production methods from being certified USDA organic. This decision followed intense lobbying efforts by groups in the organic community to urge the Board to vote to restrict certification to soil-based systems.
It was sad, because the rally speeches and all the testimonies of the farmers were so moving, says Dr. Linley Dixon, lead scientist at the Cornucopia Institute, an industry watchdog organization that was quite vocal in its support of the ban. Everyone did such a good job explaining the situation, and it didnt matter. It was very sad. There were a lot of tears.
The 15-person Board voted eight to seven to reject the proposal. There are approximately 100 certified organic hydroponic operations in the United States.
This issue has been debated within the organic industry for years. Those against the continued certification of soilless systems argue that such techniques violate the basic principles of organic, which Abby Youngblood, executive director of the National Organic Coalition, told NPR are really about soil health, regenerating the soil.
Dixon agrees, noting that hydroponic systems do not cycle nutrients back into the soil to build soil health, an important tenant of organic.
Those in favor of certified organic hydroponics, however, argue that these techniques can be quite sustainable and energy-efficient. Hydroponic systems are also generally devoid of pesticides, even those permitted by the organic label, due to their indoor nature.
In 2010, the Board recommended against permitting soilless systems to be certified organic, but the USDA elected not to follow the recommendation at the time.
Dixon hopes that the USDA will put rigorous standards into place for container farming, though she notes that outgoing Board member Francis Thicke attempted to present a plan for such standards at the meeting, recommending the adoption of a rule requiring container growers to use compost.
It was clear that nobody on the hydroponic side was going to be okay with it, says Dixon.
Those who are disappointed with this ruling blame industry influence for their loss, saying that big soilless growers such as Driscolls and Wholesum Harvest have too much clout with the NOSB. In his closing statement, Thicke said that industry has an outsized and growing influence on USDA and on the NOSB (including through NOSB appointments) compared to the influence of organic farmers, who started this organic farming movement.
Dixon believes that the organic farmers who started the movement should have the final word on what constitutes organic. You dont come into something and say, What Im doing should be organic, she says. You come into it and say, Do I fit here? And weve clearly said you dont, because youre not cycling nutrients.
The NOSB did vote to ban aeroponics from being certified organic; there are currently no certified organic aeroponic operations in the U.S., though several firms were researching the technology for organic production before the vote.
Note: A previous version of this article indicated that Driscolls was a hydroponic grower. Driscolls does not grow hydroponically but rather in containers. The article has been modified to reflect this.
There are alternate organic standards. People who are up and this stuff (I am not one of them) know what they want to look for. Could you imagine observant Jews trusting a government standards committee to certify kosher foods?
If chemicals contain the Element Carbon, by definition, it’s ORGANIC!
Hydroponic is about as ‘organic’ as you can get.
I have eaten hydroponic tomatoes and they are excellent!.................
Id be more impressed with the usda if they hadn’t approved that high fructose corn syrup crap. Just follow the money.
Seems like the idea behind organic is no chemical-based, or factory- produced fertilizers. And it also seems to me that all of the liquids in a hydroponic system would be just thatout of a factory. Although I suppose a guy could run water through a big tank of cow manure or rotted fish and get the hydroponics without the factorys involvement.
The thing it seems none of the organic earth people seem to understand though is that the plant doesnt really care if it gets its nitrogen from a dead fish or from out of a plastic bag produced by Phillips Petroleum. Nitrogen is nitrogen.
People are really dumb. They'd rather have tractors and fertilizers and "summer only" vegies. Just dumb.
Whats wrong with Hydroponic growing ...??
All the pot growers use it.......
There are a fair number of them on the South side of Chicago at this point and it's becoming a burgeoning industry. I was wondering how tomato's being sold at my local grocer are still "locally grown" when growing season is over, and now I know!
Energy efficient LED lighting makes hydroponic growing more economically viable.
Okay, so to her, organic farming is not a method with principles, it's a club or a union, or maybe a cult. I thought it was about growing healthy food to benefit your paying customers by leaving out the garbage and the chemicals, while still coming up with good, ripe fruit and vegetables.
My youngest son was talking about hydroponics the other day and said the same thing: LED Lighting is why Hydroponics is taking off in such a big way.
I must be getting old, I can't keep up with this stuff anymore. Maybe it really is time to turn the reigns over to someone younger .....
OH HELL NO!
Aquaponics - growing fish and then filtering the water through the Hydroponics system to clean the nitrates out of the water.
“here are entire warehouse districts across the country that have sat empty for years that are being converted to hydroponic growing facilities.”
I’m trying to do just that in my town. My town is receptive of the idea - fully.
My bank account is not. But I bank at E.F. Nuthin’ so that’s a huge hurdle.
“And it also seems to me that all of the liquids in a hydroponic system would be just thatout of a factory. “
The way it’s done is a bit more sophisticated than “running water” through a tank of cow manure:
“organic fertilizer is degraded into inorganic nutrients by microorganisms in the hydroponic solution via ammonification and nitrification. The microorganisms are cultured with a method of multiple parallel mineralization. The culture solution can be used as the hydroponic solution.”
Only free range tomatoes! /s
The hydroponic solution has to have the correct mix of minerals in the water.
I’ve had some hydroponic tomatoes that had no taste at all.
As someone who’s wife owned and operated a hydroponics store: To a plant N is Nitrogen, P is Phosphorous, and K is Potassium. To a plant, it doesn’t care where it gets it from. Or any of the trace nutrients as well. Using raw nutrients are as organic as anything else.
I agree.. Hydroponics are terrific and should not be disqualified but the hard working , back breaking Organic farmers do not want the competition.
That being said, our bodies Need the minerals from the Earth as well, there is that.
I am all organic, no GMO’s, grow as much of my own as I can in a limited season.
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