Can Hydroponics Be Certified Organic?
Can Hydroponics Be Certified Organic? As the demand for healthier food increases, so does the interest in hydroponics as a method for producing quality, nutritious fruits and vegetables. But organic? Can hydroponics be certified organic and if so, how? Whether you’re interested in buying hydroponically grown food and are looking for a little information or you are a producer, wanting to understand organic hydroponic gardening and what it entails, the following information will help you make informed decisions.
There’s often confusion when it comes to the term “organic”. Most people assume because a product bears a label that states “organically grown”, that the product is certified organic. This is not always the case. In fact, it’s often not the case. So what is really organic? While different states have varied rules and regulations relating to what is and what isn’t organic, the best way to understand the concept is at the federal level.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), organic products don’t use synthetic fertilizers and “foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity”. Currently, there are only 30,000 farms in the world that meet the USDA standard for certified organic.
If you are a farmer who intends on selling organic hydroponics, there are a few steps you should be familiar with. First, in order for hydroponics to be certified organic, the operation must become officially certified by USDA organic standards. This is not a difficult process, but to be legitimate, you must submit an application and meet with a representative from the USDA – a certifying agent- who will visit your operation to determine if your organic hydroponic gardening process meets national standards. However, if you intend to sell less than $5,000 worth of product annually, you do not need to be certified and can still label your produce as “organic”.
For hydroponics to be certified organic, you must use organic fertilizer. Therefore, the only difference between hydroponics and organic hydroponics is what you choose to feed your plants. Remember, organic hydroponic gardening is dependent on the nutrients you use to be organic. And while you can purchase hydroponic fertilizer, it may not organic and if it is, it may not work well.
If you’re thrifty, you can find organic hydroponic nutrients and make your own. Just remember, your organic hydroponic system depends on you supplying the right organic hydroponic nutrients. Look at minerals for example. An organic hydroponic system is more successful with refined minerals because mined minerals do not dissolve well in solutions. The nutrient solution must meet the standard for organic, but it must work as well. If you don’t choose the right materials, you’re produce will be grown hydroponically, but will not be organic.