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What is Organic Agriculture?

Definition

According to the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), organic agriculture is defined as "an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain, or enhance ecological harmony. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people." (NOSB, 1997) The term "organic" is defined by law (see "Legal" section below), as opposed to the labels "natural" and "eco-friendly," which may imply that some organic methods were used in the production of the foodstuff, but this label does not guarantee complete adherence to organic practices as defined by a law. Most "natural" products do not contain synthetic products, but may have been provided conventional (synthetic chemicals used in production) food or feed (as in "natural" beef).

|ISU Agronomy Extension|

|ISU Horticulture|

|Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture|

|Sustainable Agriculture Extension|

|Graduate Program in Sustainable Agriculture|

|Iowa Dept. of Ag. & Land Stewardship Organic Program|

|Organic Ag Info|

|e-Organic|

|Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)|

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(Design by Liisa Järvinen)

Page last updated 3/23/13

Contact: Dr. Kathleen Delate, Professor
Organic Specialist
Depts. of Agronomy/Horticulture, 106 Horticulture Hall
Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011
Phone: 515-294-7069, Fax: 515-294-0730
Email: kdelate@iastate.edu
Internet info: http://www.hort.iastate.edu/, http://extension.agron.iastate.edu/organicag/

Organic Agriculture Lab
Evan Duyvejonck, Lab Assistant
Phone: 515-294-5116

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