Controlled Environment Agriculture Center

Research, Instruction & Extension for Producing Crops
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Organic Hydroponics

Listen to Dr. Stacy Tollefson summarize points made by the Hydroponic & Aquaponic Taskforce, and describe where they see hydroponics fitting into organics.

0:38 “There is a discrepancy in the way that the current regulations are being interpreted.”

1:18 “It’s a marketing issue… organics is public perception of the growing methods.”

1:44 “Are there misconception about hydroponics in organics?... Yes…there are systems that are hybrids of hydroponics that use organic inputs.”

3:45 “The public doesn’t understand… there are still comments… online where people are still referring to hydroponics as mineral fertilizers, as if we want to make those organic, and that is not the case."

5:30 “The thing is, in the regulations there is no definition of ‘soil’.”

8:40 “One of the key issues of organic is not just in not using synthetic substances, but it’s the role of biological diversity in the system…  We just don’t have the data to show the biological count and biological diversity.“


Dr. Stacy Tollefson frames the Hydroponic & Aquaponic Taskforce's stance in the hydroponics in organics debate to offer clarification and address misconceptions.

The special panel discussion taking place on October 12th, 2016 is being held in response to the recently distributed “National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Hydroponic and Aquaponic Task Force Report”.

Comments submitted to the National Organic Standards Board regarding hydroponics place in organics portray a misconception on what the Hydroponic and Aquaponic Taskforce is promoting. The H&A Taskforce distinguishes between hydroponic and bioponic systems.

This NOSB report provides technical information about organic-based hydroponics and aquaponics systems and represents both sides of the debate on whether or not non-soil systems should continue to be eligible for organic certification. It also provides clarification of the previous 2010 NOSB recommendations. 

This report can be viewed at: https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/2016%20Hydroponic%20Task%20Force%20Report.PDF

Everyone can submit their comments to the USDA about Organic Hydroponics by October 26th. Go to: http://www.regulations.gov/docketBrowser?rpp=25&so=DESC&sb=commentDueDate&po=0&dct=PS&D=AMS-NOP-16-0049