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Join the Organic Trust

Everything you need to know about converting to organic farming

Frequently asked Questions

If you have questions about the becoming a member of the Organic Trust we have compiled the answers to some frequently asked questions below.

You can contact the Organic Trust for more information by phone on 045 882377 or email to [email protected]

APPLICATION

To join the Organic Trust you simply need to complete these two steps:

  1. Firstly, complete an application form to register with Organic Trust – click here to view the Application Form, or for a printer-friendly version you can click here.
  2. Secondly, you must complete some supporting documentation: an Animal Health Plan (needs to be stamped by a Vet), a Schedule of Areas, a Field History, a Crop Rotation Plan and a Commonage Form.

If you have any difficulty filling out the application form, you can take a look at the explanatory video below or contact us on 045 882 377 or [email protected]

If you would like to read some more detailed information on everything that's involved, you can check out the information booklet below - consider this your roadmap to becoming organically certified!

If you would like further advice, a list of organic advisors is available for your perusal.

Ofs plan

CONVERSION PLAN

Applicants must prepare a conversion plan which involves a detailed description of:

  • Management practices on the farm.
  • The changes required on the farm.
  • Soil and faecal analysis.
  • Livestock housing
  • Animal health
  • A land/crop rotation plan - the plan can be drawn up by the farmer alone or with the help of a farm advisor. The Organic Trust have included a template for a conversion plan in the Producer Application Form.
Ofs inspection

INSPECTION

Following review of your application form, we will organise an inspection of your holding at a time convenient to you.

Ofs certification

CERTIFICATION

Your inspector will submit an inspection report which will be reviewed by our certification panel. If everything is in order you will be issued with your first in-conversion licence.

Frequently asked Questions

Animal Housing

Frequently asked questions on organic Animal Housing

Yes, livestock can be outwintered but not at a rate higher than 1 LSU per hectare. Sacrifice paddocks are not permitted, and poaching must be minimal. Outwintering is acceptable where conditions permit provided that breeds are suitably hardy and/or there is adequate shelter to prevent any welfare problems.

All stock must have access to at least 50% bedded area. Straw/Rushes and Woodchip/Sawdust are most commonly used and permitted in organics. Woodchip/Sawdust cannot be from treated timber but straw may be from a conventional farm. Sufficient bedding must be provided for stock while housed. Peat is not permitted as it is not a renewable source of bedding.

Slats may be used but cannot be greater than 50% of the shed. If slats are larger than the solid area, the shed must be stocked to the maximum capacity of the solid area and not the slatted area.

Cubicles are permitted. They must be bedded with a bedding material. Mats can be used but additional bedding must be applied on top.

Cubicles must be of optimum size for the animals on the holding with regard to welfare. At least 3m2 of accessible/available floor area per individual animal must be allowed for dairy cows and larger animals, with lesser areas for smaller animals; cubicles with dimensions of 2.62m2 can be permitted provided the overall solid-bedded area is compliant with the Organic Food and Farming Standards in Ireland e.g. a 600 kg animal would require an overall solid-bedded area of 3m2, therefore, where cubicles less than 3m2 are used, an additional solid-bedded area must be made available to the animals.

Animals must have free access to cubicles and must have an adequate lounging area. Cubicles must be clean and dry and bedded at all times.

LIvestock type: Live weight (Kg:) m2 per head*:
Cattle Up to 100 1.5
Cattle Up to 200 2.5
Cattle Up to 350 4.0
Cattle Over 350 5 with a minimum of 1m2 per 100Kg
Dairy Cows N/a 6
Breeding Bulls N/a 10
Sheep N/a 1.5
Lambs N/a 0.35
Goats N/a 1.5
Kids N/a 0.35

Animal Health

Frequently asked questions on Animal Health

An Animal Health Plan is required even when only vaccines are administered. This must be updated according to the livestock characteristics and needs. It should contain any likely problems usually occurring on the holding - for example, mineral deficiencies and the use of licks. Treatments must be recorded in the Record Book provided by the Organic Trust. The Animal Health Plan template is available here and it must be stamped and signed by a vet.

No synchronization or hormonal treatments are permitted in Organic farming. Natural conception and AI are only permitted.

Animal welfare is the number one priority and antibiotics are permitted for use when the animal health and welfare are affected. Stricter withdrawal periods apply in organics and antibiotics must be recommended by a vet - they cannot be used as a preventative measure. Please see below how many courses of antibiotics are allowed until the respective animal loses its organic status or an in-conversion period of 15 months is applied.

  • Animals for meat consumption: 1 course of treatment of chemically synthesised allopathic veterinary medicinal products or antibiotics is allowed within a twelve-month period.
  • Animals for breeding: 2 courses of treatment within a twelve-month period.
  • For dairy mastitis control: 2 courses of treatment for dairy mastitis control are allowed within a twelve-month period

Dosing is permitted for livestock but evidence of requirement is needed - a fecal sample result or liver analysis will suffice. There are many permitted products in organics and it is best to check with the Organic Trust prior to purchase.

Dips and spot on are permitted but any product containing an organophosphate is strictly prohibited. There are many permitted products in organics and it is best to check with the Organic Trust before purchase.

Mineral buckets and boluses are permitted if required and should be included on the Animal Health Plan if you intend to use them. Please ensure there are no feed additives or genetically-modified ingredients in the licks.

There are a number of suppliers of Organic concentrates in Ireland - they are more expensive, so some farmers decide to feed organic grain mixes instead. Some of our members supply these mixes in bulk. Feed bought in must be organic.

All veterinary treatments observe double the normal withdrawal period. It is important to check with Organic processors if they have stricter requirements in relation to veterinary treatments.

Horticulture and Tillage

Frequently asked questions for Horticulture and Tillage farmers

There are several providers of Organic seed in Ireland. Organic seed should be sought in the first instance. If you cannot source Organic seed and it is not available on the Organic Seed Database, you must obtain a derogation for non-organic seed from the Organic Trust prior to sowing. The non-organic seed must be undressed/untreated.

Animal manures may be imported as long as they don’t come from a factory farming setting. Soil tests in the last five years must show justification for the import. Composts with a PAS100 certificate may be used on an Organic holding.

Chemical fertilisers are not permitted for use on Organic farms. There are some alternatives available for nutrients and these are naturally-derived products, i.e. Patent Kali. Soil tests in the last five years must show justification for the import. Granulated and powder Lime are both permitted if warranted by soil test results.

Some plant protection products are permitted for specific crops, i.e. Bluestone for blight in potatoes and Organic slug pellets. Pesticides or herbicides are not permitted. It is best to check with the Organic Trust if a product is permitted before use.

Sheep

Frequently Asked Questions for organic sheep farmers

Lambs born and conceived after conversion started will achieve Organic status simultaneously with your land.

Your current stock can be retained for breeding purpose only. Ewes kept from before conversion began will never achieve Organic status but may be used for breeding.

You can visit the Organic Trading Hub if you would like to buy organic sheep from private organic farmers. Alternatively, there are dedicated organic marts throughout Ireland - you can view a list of these on the Organic Marts page on our website.

IMPORTANT: Any organic stock brought onto an in-conversion farm in the first 3 months from the start of the conversion period lose their organic status.

Organic livestock should be sourced in the first instance. If not available, a derogation for non-organic livestock representing 20% of your adult stock must be obtained from the Organic Trust prior to purchase (non-Organic for replacement purposes). A non-organic ram can be purchased for breeding at any time.

You can visit the Organic Trading Hub if you would like to sell organic sheep. Alternatively, there are dedicated organic marts throughout Ireland - you can view a list of these on the Organic Marts page on our website.

IMPORTANT: Any organic stock brought onto an in-conversion farm in the first 3 months from the start of the conversion period lose their organic status.

Cattle

Frequently Asked Questions for organic cattle farmers

You can visit the Organic Trading Hub if you would like to buy organic cattle from private organic farmers. Alternatively, there are dedicated organic marts throughout Ireland - you can view a list of these on the Organic Marts page on our website.

IMPORTANT: Any organic stock brought onto an in-conversion farm in the first 3 months from the start of the conversion period lose their organic status.

Organic livestock should be sourced in the first instance. If not available, a derogation for non-organic livestock representing 10% of your adult stock must be obtained from the Organic Trust prior to purchase (non-Organic for replacement purposes). A non-organic bull can be purchased for breeding at any time.

Your current stock can be retained for breeding purpose only. Cows kept from before conversion began will never achieve Organic status but may be used for breeding.

Calves born 3 months after conversion started will achieve Organic status simultaneously with your land.

Cattle can be sold privately, in marts or to organic processors. Cattle can still be sold conventionally if this is required. During the in-conversion period the animals cannot be sold as organic.

You can visit the Organic Trading Hub if you would like to buy organic cattle. Alternatively, there are dedicated organic marts throughout Ireland - you can view a list of these on the Organic Marts page on our website.

IMPORTANT: Any organic stock brought onto an in-conversion farm in the first 3 months from the start of the conversion period lose their organic status.

Yes. However, sexed semen is not permitted. Any non-organic male breeding animal may be purchased as required for breeding purposes.