DEAR NEW FARM:
Could you point me in the direction of information regarding
organic certification of greehouse tomato transplant production?
I am writing a research paper for my Greenhouse Operations
and Procedures class that compares conventional and organic
methods used to produce tomato transplants. It is easy to
find information in regard to organic certification for food/crop
production but not for greenhouse production.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which serves
the USDA’s National Organic Program in an advisory capacity,
has made recommendations regarding organic greenhouse production,
but these recommendations have yet to be adopted as official
guidance or as a change to the regulations. Currently, organic
greenhouse production must meet all applicable provisions
NOP Final Rule.
You might contact certifiers in your area to see if they
have further guidance on how the regulation is being applied
during the certification of greenhouses. The NOSB recommendations
are as follows:
205.209 Greenhouse Production Systems
(a) Greenhouse operations must meet all applicable requirements
of subparts B (205.105) and C (205.200 – 205.206) except
(1) The producer operating a greenhouse with crops grown
in containers is exempt from requirements of 205.202, 205.203(a)
and 205.205. In addition, the producer is exempt from the
crop rotation and cover cropping requirements in section
205.203(b). The production environment must prevent contact
between organically produced crops and prohibited substances
as listed in 205.105 throughout the entire production period.
(2) The producer of an in-ground permanent soil greenhouse
system can seek an exemption from the crop rotation requirements
of sections 205.203, and 205.205-205.206 provided that effective
alternative strategies for developing and maintaining plant
and soil health are established and approved by the certifying
(b) The use of potting mixtures containing prohibited materials
is not allowed.
(c) Producers may use artificial light sources
(d) Plants and soil shall not be in direct contact with wood
treated with prohibited materials that is used for greenhouse
structures or frames of raised beds.
(g) If a producer is growing both organic and non-organic
greenhouse crops, the producer must comply with the provisions
of 205.201(a)(5) to prevent commingling and contamination.
(h) Organic and non-organic crops can be grown within the
same structure if the following conditions are met:
1. An impermeable wall shall separate organic and non-organic
production sites if prohibited pesticides are applied to
the non-organic crop at a time when the organic crop is
2. Adequate provisions must be made to prevent contamination
of organic crops when producers alternate between organic
and non-organic production during different times of the
3. The ventilation system must ensure that prohibited materials
do not drift to the organic production area.
4. Separate watering systems must be established if prohibited
fertilizers and/or pesticides are injected within the watering
5. Producers must insure that no contamination occurs to
the organic crop through cross-pollination with crops produced
through genetic engineering.
6. Soil mixing machines and other equipment used for non-organic
crop production must be thoroughly cleaned prior to use
in organic production, except that pesticide sprayers used
in conventional production can not be used for organic production
7. Adequate physical facilities, as determined by the certifying
agent, shall separate organic and non-organic crops and
production materials in storage, production or holding areas.
8. Organic and non-organic crops and production areas must
be conspicuously labeled.
You might also wish to consult the NOSB's Organic System
Plan template, which has an extensive section on greenhouse
production on pages 3-4.
us with comments, suggestions and questions.