USDA Clarifies Ruling that Allows Non-Soil Organic Production

USDA Clarifies Ruling that Allows Non-Soil Organic Production

Soil-vs-hyrdoponics-organic-FEATURELast fall, National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) ruled non-soil-based production methods using organic products can be certified organic. USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced a clarification: hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic operations are included in the allowed methods of organic production.


Confusion arose as a result of the NOSB recommending prohibiting aeroponic systems for organic certification. USDA is allowing the systems to remain on the allowed types of production as it reviews NOSB’s recommendation.

NOSB ruling to approve non-soil-based organic growers was quite controversial. A battle between the those who believe that all organic production starts with living soil and those who see growing in soilless media as a viable alternative has been waged for several years, which American Vegetable Grower covered in, “Smackdown: Hydroponic vs. Soil-Based Organic Growing.

For any grower using either system to be considered organic, it must be certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent and maintain compliance with the program.