hygicell

organic certification

48 posts in this topic

clay is a type of soil. :P

so are sand, gravel, ... and even both perlite and vermiculite (as they are expanded clay). All are accepted in certified organics.

Here in Belgium, some hydroponic herb growers are certified organic and I believe also in the US.

Frank

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Hello,

I can't find the article i was refering to. In my search i found some interesting pieces on "Hydro-organics". We recieve a magazine called maximum yield. When searching through there previous editions on there web site (www.maximumyield.com) i found numerous articles on Organics. There will be plenty of other articles that will keep many of you interested. There are some great articles to read, just keep in mind that this magazine is not written in Australia, most of the products referred to are not availible here. This magazine is written for the indoor hydroponic gardener and due to this, there will be a few references to the "wacky tobacky". This aside there are some good reads.

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Hi,

Vermiculite is a clay (specifically a mica clay).....which is heated so that it expands and increases in volume.

Perlite is actually volcanic glass......which when heated expands (due to the water in it) and increases in volume....up to 16 times.

Since both are naturally occurring substances,I can see no reason why they would be in conflict with organic certification.

Having said that, the organic movement has its fair share of fringe lunatics, too.

Gary

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... the organic movement has its fair share of fringe lunatics, too...

don't know why you feel te need to point this out. Fringe lunatics are everywhere.

anyway, don't throw away the baby with the bath water

frank

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Hi,

There are those folk in the organic movement who look narrowly at anything that is not soil-based.....hence the very slow acceptance of accreditation for hydroponics.......and (more recently) aquaponics.

Dogmatists are always cause for concern.....because of their intolerance of anything outside of their own narrow view of the world.

I agree that fringe lunatics are everywhere.......we even have a few hovering around aquaponics.

GaryD

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all is perception. And all too frequently perception is based on incorrect information.

I guess that is the fate of any organization:

if you are careful in allowing deviations from carefully prepared, studied, agreed and installed recommendations and rules you are called dogmatic.

If you (even after careful consideration) accept modifications to those rules it is said that you too easily flinch for lobbying.

Sad, one way thinking in both cases, if you ask me.

I guess we have to thank the acceptance of hydroponics and (as a result of that) aquaponics in organic certification to one (or a small group of) person(s) who decided that maybe certified organics rule makers were less dogmatic than it seemed and made the effort of explaining carefully, patiently and persistently that the word "hydroponics" must not necessarily be connected (as it rightfully was) to synthetic substrates and chemical fertilizers and that, with the necessary restrictions, the technique could very well be accepted as certifiable organic.

Proof of this all is in the fact that this request finally was accepted. And I have no idea of when that happened for the first time. My guess is the oldest accepted hydroponics facility is already quite some years ago.

But legends have a tendency to stay accepted as established truths.

Once a belief is established, it is very difficult to adjust it.

I myself have wrongly assumed for years that perlite and vermiculite were the results of a chemical process (they look like they are) and thus were automatically excluded form certification. Those little white specs in plant pot soil surely don't look natural to me, not even now, when I know better.

Only when carefully reading the rules (which almost no one does), did I find out I was wrong.

And it is reading these final recommendations and how they came about that convinced me that organic certification rule makers on one hand are strict and responsible and take their job very seriously, but on the other hand are anything but dogmatic: every amendment is carefully examined, discussed, judged and finally accepted or refused. With elaborate motivations.

Frank

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I guess we have to thank the acceptance of hydroponics and (as a result of that) aquaponics in organic certification to one (or a small group of) person(s) who decided that maybe certified organics rule makers were less dogmatic than it seemed and made the effort of explaining carefully, patiently and persistently that the word "hydroponics" must not necessarily be connected (as it rightfully was) to synthetic substrates and chemical fertilizers and that, with the necessary restrictions, the technique could very well be accepted as certifiable organic.

Frank

Frank,

This whole discussion is based upon the fact that aquapoics is NOT certified organic.

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Hi,

When I referred to "fringe lunatics" I was thinking more of the self-appointed gurus in any movement who seek to stipulate the conditions under which an activity can be undertaken.....usually to support their vested interest or because their view of the world is the only one that they understand.

Their arguments usually defy logic and invariably lack scientific rigour.

In aquaponics (for example), it's those who insist that aquaponics is only about recirculating systems involving grow beds when, by definition, aquaponics is recirculating aquaculture and hydroponics.....in any form.

The absence of empirical evidence around aquaponics (in its most recent incarnation) allows homespun myths to prevail. Grow bed depth is a good example......someone buys an information package from another person in the US who has found that 300mm grow beds have worked well for them and suddenly grow beds must not be less than 300mm.

The issue is not with the person who found that 300mm grow beds worked for them but rather with those have distorted the original observation to the point where it now becomes mandatory.

The same thing applies to stocking densities and fish tank/grow bed volume ratios. When you pursue the logic in these so-called "guidelines" you discover that they are so heavily qualified as to be worthless.

None of this should infer that I'm arguing against the determination of standards.....but let them be based on empirical research.

GaryD

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Stocking densities.....hummmm...I have been in trouble over that one I can tell you......I have two tanks that some would say are over stocked, but the fish are doing fine.

I should add though that recently I moved 3 large Silvers and 2 large Jades (all over 1.5kg) out of a 2000 ltr tank that has approx 350 Silvers of various sizes, but all are about 6 months old.

I noted that immediately the big fellers were removed the feeding habits of those that remained picked up significantly.

The remaining fish now rise to the floating pellets with vigor and clean them up in less than a minute. That behavior was not happening when the large fish were in the tank with them.

I expect the the remaining 350 fish will grow much faster now.

The "pecking order" thing is obviously very strong in the fish world. Even Silvers need grading every 3 months I reckon....... anyway that is what I will be doing from now on.

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Frank,

This whole discussion is based upon the fact that aquaponics is NOT certified organic.

(not!) sorry to contradict you, Duncan,

times are (luckily) rapidly "a-changin'":

http://www.deluzfarms.com/Aquaponics.html

"...In Ohio, the state certification official states that the plant crop could be certified as Organic,...":

http://aquanic.org/newsltrs/assoc/ohio/oh_jan00.pdf

greets

frank

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(not!) sorry to contradict you, Duncan,

times are (luckily) rapidly "a-changin'":

http://www.deluzfarms.com/Aquaponics.html

"...In Ohio, the state certification official states that the plant crop could be certified as Organic,...":

http://aquanic.org/newsltrs/assoc/ohio/oh_jan00.pdf

greets

frank

Hi Frank,

Sorry, but I think the discussion is generally regarding the state of aquaponics in Australia, where it definately is not.

Cheers,

Duncan.

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"not yet", I hope you mean, Duncan

aquaponics is "not yet" certifiable in Belgium either as in most other countries

surely these precedents will be a serious argument in obtaining certification elsewhere for at least some form of aquaponics

we should encourage and support everybody who wants to give it a try

rather than just establishing and confirming the impossibility of certification

Frank

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I definately meant and strongly agree with the "not yet". Aquaponics by its very nature is organic and is something that, I think, would lead to many more commercial setups as the tag 'organic' comes at a price.

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thank you

but the mere fact that there are no established "rules" for aquaponics eliminates it from being automatically considered as "certifieable" organic.

frank

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A valid point. Perhaps by putting a set of standard or basic rules forward, we might be able to see the certifying of aquaponics sped up.

For example; if we try to get certification for Murray's packages, then all one needs to do is follow those rules IF they want to be certifiable. *NB: By Murray's packages, I mean, start with that as a guideline for growbed depth, recommended fish stocking density and then throw in some info regarding grow bed media and we have ourselves a template to get certified.

I also believe that one of the sticking points is the high fish stocking densities that are not considered 'humane' enough for organics (like caged chickens).

Cheers,

Duncan

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no need for too much details, Duncan

that is only restraining

take grow bed depth for instance: that is irrelevant, as is in fact fish density: lots of fish in nature live in schools and are almost permanently packed in high density

what is important is water quality and the buildup of toxic waste

that aquaponics eliminates this buildup AND by doing so creates no effluent are the most valuable arguments for being organic.

I'm afraid we will have to accept that NFT and raft techniques will as such not be accepted, unless combined with some kind of "soil" for the plants to grow and support themselves in. There are solutions for this, like Jiffy pots or bags.

In fact I am quite happy with the final USDA recommendations:

http://www.ams.usda.gov/nosb/FinalRecommendations/Mar07/NOSB%20Final%20Aquaculture%203-29-07.pdf

The whole document is well worth the read, as it shows how every issue is carefully examined before being either rejected or accepted. Everything makes a lot of sense.

It shows great future for aquaponics as certifiable organic.

but if you are only interested in the conclusions, read from page 51 to the end.

You will be pleasantly surprised, I hope.

I was. I still am.

In the definitions section, on page 54, aquaponics is literally described :):

"Aquaculture production system. A process for growing aquatic animals and plants in an aquaculture facility."

greetings

Frank

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Hi Frank,

My understanding is that the major inhibitor to Aquaponics becoming certified as organic is the fish food. If the food was certified organic then it seems logical that the fish should be similarly regarded.

Is that your understanding?

I'm afraid we will have to accept that NFT and raft techniques will as such not be accepted, unless combined with some kind of "soil" for the plants to grow and support themselves in.

I have to say that, assuming that the water in the NFT or raft system is chemical and pollution-free, this part of it seems illogical to me ....particularly since some of the so-called 'soils' ain't soils...eg...vermiculite, perlite, coco coir, expanded clay.

While I don't argue with the idea that they are all natural substances, they are not soils in the usually accepted sense of the term.

Still, as you've inferred, something (in an organic context) is better than nothing. Who knows......once media-based aquaponics systems are accepted, that may clear the way for a more objective view of other soil-less gardening systems.

GaryD

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sorry to sound a little annoyed, Gary, but I really think people should do a little research themselves instead of systematically relying on others to do it for them.

I am glad to contribute what I know and what I find, but I seem to be one of the few that does do some research. I feel like I am doing most of the homework. Most people only half read what I post, let alone the documents I refer to, so I often have to repeat. It would be nicer if the balance would be more equal.

Take the word "soil": there is, as far as I have found (and posted), no concrete definition of it.

As I distill all the information I have read, it is any combination of natural substances with nutrients which makes it possible for plants to find support in and to grow on.

So, mixtures as used in aquaponics with gravel, sand (and perlite and vermiculite, as these are literally accepted by certification rules) etc..., as long as they contain no substances considered as "synthetic" (rock wool, glass wool, plastics), inoculated with the nutrients of fish excretions (which are literally not considered as animal manure, see the final USDA recommendations, please carefully read this document) and leftover food, fall within the existing (vague) definition of "soil".

Under these conditions, "media-based aquaponics systems" as you call them are not and should not be considered as "soil-less" systems.

Off the shelve organic fish food is a problem for the moment, but that will be resolved in time as the demand rises.

In the meantime, I am under the impression that organic standards and rules are less strict than often thought and temporarily accept this fact and allow for exceptional measures. I seem to have read that somewhere too. Excuse me for not knowing exactly where and not taking the time to find out.

But what is undoubtedly and explicitly promoted by organic standards is to raise and make your own animal (fish) feeds: one principle is that each organic farm should be as self sufficient as possible.

I find that a very reasonable viewpoint.

frank

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Hi,

sorry to sound a little annoyed, Gary, but I really think people should do a little research themselves instead of systematically relying on others to do it for them
Frank, don't be sorry......nor annoyed. I'm not relying on you for research but rather pointing out the apparent inconsistency of some of the rules to which you've referred.

ut what is undoubtedly and explicitly promoted by organic standards is to raise and make your own animal (fish) feeds: one principle is that each organic farm should be as self sufficient as possible.
We grow duckweed and Black Soldier Fly larvae.....and while, as a backyard food producer, eating clean fresh food is a priority, certification is (for our purposes) irrelevant.

GaryD

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your "pointing out the apparent inconsistency" is exactly my point, Gary

taking the effort of reading the main document relevant to this discussion would have shown you that these rules are anything but inconsistent.

I am interested in how to grow fly larvae

frank

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I would suggest anybody who wishes to go for certification not to wait, but to literally take over the recommendations as standards right now (while established standards are inexistent) and apply for certification.

I would be very surprised if this would be refused as all aspects of certified organics are treated.

it is what I intend to do.

frank

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Hi Frank,

You can see more about my BSF activities.....here.

You're right......"inconsistent" was not a correct description. What I was referring to was the acceptance of 'soil-based' (soil being all of the things we agree that it might be) growing systems while rejecting 'soil-less' systems (like NFT or raft culture). What I should have said was that this position seemed illogical and irrational.

Having read the document, I can only say that I'm glad that one does not have to obtain certification to grow one's own food.

Gary

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