What does an organic label mean? As opposed to other labels such as “hormone-free”, “farm-fresh”, “Non-GMO”, and “natural”, the certified organic label means that the product you have farmed is 95% free of chemicals, hormones, pesticides, or other harmful methods. Agricultural products that are sold and labeled as organic are produced and processed in accordance with the NOP (National Organic Program) standards. Even with these strict regulations, many farmers are switching to nonconventional methods. Ultimately creating better products.
If you are a new landowner looking to start a farm, there are many strategies you can take. Research and learn what you can do to create the best products to raise your profit margin.
So what actually is nonconventional farming and why are people switching to it?
Nonconventional farming is a broad-based term that is broken down into several sectors. Here’s the gist. Landowners can choose field crops from specialty vegetables to feed and forage plants.
- Field crops: (Feed and forage) Fiber, fuel, edible and industrial oils. Food grains, pseudocereals, and legumes.
- Specialty and ethnic vegetables.
- Fruits and nuts.
- Horticultural/Nursery plants.
- Agroforestry/forest products.
Additionally, others use sustainable systems and alternative growing methods:
- Certified organic
- Vertical growing
Comparatively, along with different farm crops and cultivation methods, farmers can raise uncommon livestock, like Beefalo, goats, and free-range poultry. Talk about nonconventional! I’ll take a beefalo burger, please…
As you can see, even if you are not looking to go completely organic, there are methods you can take to create a better product. After all, many homesteaders are successfully using hydroponics and vertical growing. It is just a matter of how many steps you would like to take towards organic farming.
How do I get started?
Farm crop diversification is essential for organic farming, so it’s important to consider your options and learn how you’ll profit from various methods. To put it plainly, do your research!
Non-conventional farming requires thorough research into the potential benefits and risks of alternate crops and systems. The best place to start is the USDA website.
What if I don’t want to go full-blown organic?
If you’re not interested in selling the usual choices on the market, then it’s time to look into specialty crops. However, say you don’t want to compete on the market, but you don’t want to use pesticides either. Then you can still invest in non-conventional methods without going full blown organic.
Adaptability to changing demands and environments is crucial for profitable long-term farming investments. Experienced or new, consider whether simple switches or a complete change will benefit your farm.
For more information on how you can start or improve your products contact the Organic Crop Improvement Association (402) 477-2323.