Guidelines for SAS Organic Crop Production

Farmer/Grower Awareness

• Farmer responsible for production should be aware of Sustainable methodology and practices.
• In the decision-making process farmer should cross-check the suitability of the proposed crop or cropping system with his available resource and other conditions, based on which he/she should choose a profitable and sustainable crop.
• It is recommended to follow SAS SWOT (Strength Weakness Opportunity & Threats) analysis guide for crop selection.

Farmland Requirement

• Farmland should be legal.
• Farm should have defined boundaries.
• Farmland should be away from pollution sources.
• Encroached land is prohibited.
• Revered land for animal grazing is prohibited.
• Shifting cultivation restricted.
• There should not be any prohibited substances used on the farmland for at least 3 years before the harvest of a crop.
• Farmland should have buffer space to avoid impact from adjacent land which may be using prohibited substances.
• It is recommended that at least 2% of the area shall be available to facilitate biodiversity.
• The boundaries of farmland wherever possible shall be grown with trees or other perennial or flowering plants which facilitate in the conservation of nature.
• Surrounding landscape should contribute beneficially to the ecosystem.

Climatic Factors

• Selected crop or cropping systems should be suitable for local weather parameters such as temperature, rainfall, sunshine hours, relative humidity, wind velocity, wind direction, seasons, and agro-ecological factors.

Choice of Crops, Seeds and Seedlings

• Selected crop varieties should be suited to local conditions.
• Hybrid seed/planting material should be free from any kind of prohibited substance or chemical.
• GMO/Transgenic seeds, planting materials, and nanotechnology are restricted.
• Uses of certified seeds and seedlings are recommended. **SAS recommended brads list is available on the site.
• When certified seeds and Seedlings are not available, chemically untreated conventional materials shall be used.
• Species and varieties should be adapted to the soil and climatic conditions.
• Selected crop varieties should be resistant to pests and diseases of the soil and climatic condition.
• In the choice of varieties genetic diversity shall be taken under consideration.
• Crop rotation on the farm must apply to the operation for maintaining or improving soil organic matter content, pest management, management of deficient or excess plant nutrients, and help to control erosion.
• Opportunities to go inter-cropping, mixed cropping, multi-story cropping, and relay cropping should be noted.
• Selected crop varieties should be suited to local conditions.
• Hybrid seed/planting material should be free from any kind of prohibited substance or chemical.

Soil Fertility and Water Conservation Management

• Soil fertility shall maintain through selecting agro-climatic suitable crops.
• Land clearing and preparation by burning vegetation is prohibited except where it is part of an established and well-managed traditional management practice.
• Slash and burn shifting cultivation where it is to be restricted to a minimum.
• Synthetic fertilizers are restricted.
• Mineral fertilizers shall use in their natural composition.
• Farming practices shall adopt in such a way that it ensures the organic carbon content at recommended level i.e. 1.5 to 2% or the recommendation for the respective areas by local authorities as per the agro-climatic zone.
• Farm plant waste and animal waste shall be recycled by adopting any proper method of composting (Aerobic and/or anaerobic digestion method).
• Soil erosion must be minimized.
• Soil test should be done.**SAS recommended soil testing labs are available on the site.
• Crop/cropping system should support local soil types, pH, and soil fertility.
• Cultivation and tillage practices must sustain or improve the physical, chemical, and biological conditions of the soil.
• Non-chemical methods of soil management, such as crop rotation, cover crops, and the application of plant and animal materials should be implemented.
• When using plant and animal materials such as raw manure to improve soil conditions, It should be done in such a way that there is no crop, soil, or water contamination.
• Water resources should be adequate for the selected crop.
• Water quality should be suitable for the selected crop.
• Water resources should not be near any chemical or related factory or any kind of dumping ground.

Pest and Disease control

• Synthetic chemical pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, and nematicides, are restricted for pest control. Permitted products for plant pest and disease control is listed in Annex_02 of the detailed guideline document.
• Traditional pest control preparations shall use.
• Pest and disease control preparations based on traditional wisdom shall use.
• Crop rotation practice shall be adopted to control the pest and diseases.
• Mechanical, light, and pheromone traps are allowed. The traps shall be collected after use and disposed of safely. Substances from traps/ dispensers shall not be released into the environment and shall not come in contact with crops cultivated.
• Release of parasites, predators, and sterilized insects is restricted.
• Adopting Sanitation – procedures that remove disease vectors, weed seeds, and habitat for pest organisms, should be applied.
• Application of mulching with fully biodegradable materials, mowing, synthetic mulches, cattle grazing, and hand weeding means are all allowed for weed control.
• Application of synthetic biological, botanical, or mineral inputs is prohibited.
• For SAS-Organic it is mandatory that equipment from conventional farming systems shall be properly cleaned and free from residues before being used in organically managed areas. SAS accredited certification bodies shall also ensure that measures are in place to prevent the transmission of pests, parasites, and infectious agents.
• Producers should use a good Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in order to control and help prevent crop pests, weeds, and diseases.
• Sewage sludge (biosolids) should be avoided.
• SAS also prohibited the application of raw manure less than 120 days before the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles.
• It is restricted to apply raw manure less than 90 days before harvest of a product whose edible portion does not have direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles.
• Overall quantity of manure applied to agricultural production shall not exceed 170 KG nitrogen per hectare per year. Wherever necessary the total stocking density shall be reduced to avoid exceeding the limit of 170 KG nitrogen per hectare.
• As nitrogen content in farm yard manure vary from 0.4% to 1.5 % it is advisable to test FYM for nitrogen content before use for the purpose of calculating the allowed maximum quantity of manure (170 kgs nitrogen per hectare)
• **Organic pest control products recommended by SAS can be used.

Parallel Production / Split Production

• Parallel production is permitted provided that…

o Proper separation measures shall be taken to separate the certified and noncertified production areas.
o Certified and non-certified farmland shall be properly demarcated and the partition should be visually distinguishable.
o Buffer zone shall be maintained between the certified and non-certified parts to avoid contamination.
o Crops should be harvested, transported, and stored separately with proper labels.
o Cultivation of different crops is recommended in the parallel production system, in the case of non-perennial.

• Different harvesting, transport, and storage containers must be used, or containers must be properly cleaned, before being used for organic. Cleaning procedures must be recorded.
• SAS certification body should be informed about other crops selected for parallel or split production.
• Different equipment must be used for plant protection. The sprayer for the organic part must be stored in a different place, and be labeled permanently. In case the purchase or renting of different sprayers is not possible, sprayers must sanitize properly with detergent produced specially for this purpose. Washing procedures and the type of detergent material must be recorded. SAS certification body may require residue analyses for spray mixtures from time to time.
• Plant protection products, fertilizers, and seeds or planting stock for the organic and conventional parts must be stored in different rooms. The room for organic inputs must be properly labeled.

Sampling Issues and Analysis

• For produce, it is important that several portions are collected from different areas of the field, for testing in the laboratory. The sample shall be shipped in glass or plastic bags to prevent contamination during shipping. A minimum of 150 grams per commodity per sample per test shall be submitted.
• For soil and water, it is important that the samples be collected in clean glass containers or brass sleeves. Generally, 100 grams of soil and 1 liter of water are the minimum amounts of sample required for each test requested however the size of the sample may differ based on the laboratory selected for the test.
• Samples shall be properly labeled and preserved by cooling them to 0 to 4°C, without any other chemical preservation methods. Samples shall be shipped overnight to the laboratory, along with a chain of custody or sample submission form to ensure that the sample is analyzed for the correct analysis.

Farm transition or conversion period

• The start of the transition period shall be calculated from the date of the documented start of the SAS farming management.
• The transition period for non-perennial is at least a minimum of 24 months. The transition or conversion period may reduce up to the standing crop harvest. Refer to the SAS guidelines parameter section.
• Reduction in the transition or conversion period for non-perennial crops shall be at least up to 6 months or up to one crop season, provided proof of past use of land, soil test report (heavy metal analysis), and recommendation from Local authority. For reduction in conversion, period. Refer to the SAS guidelines parameter section.
• Transition / Conversion period for perennial crops shall be at least 36 months.
• Reduction in the transition/conversion period for perennial crops shall be at least up to 12 months or up to one harvest season, provided the submission of logical proof of past use of land, soil test report (heavy metal analysis), plant part test report for pesticide residue, the recommendation from the local authority.
• Transition / Conversion period may extend in the case of non-compliance with standards, environmental conditions like a flood, and mandatory spray by the government authority to control pest and disease epidemics/outbreaks.
• Uncultivated farmland for the last 3 years shall be exempt from conversion requirement. Soil test report for such land is mandatory.