Typical conventional agricultural practices were implemented on our farm during the years prior to our organic certification. We began to have growing concern about the high rates of chemical fertilizers and herbicides being recommended by our farm consultants. Also, large volumes of poultry and beef manure being produced on the farm began to negatively impact the health of our soils. As a result, we began decreasing our fertilizer rates and by the 1990's had ceased chemical fertilizer applications with the exception of some nitrogen on corn and wheat crops. We also began reducing herbicide rates and discontinued them completely when beginning our transition for organic certification in 1997. It became apparent to us that in order to restore balance to our soils, we would have to export manure. Thus began our composting journey which subsequently took the place of manure application. As we learned about humus composting and the value of humus in soil biology, structure, and mineralization; we became interested in organic production.
There was also the issue of economics. We separated our farm enterprises for accounting purposes to evaluate each for its economic feasability. This showed that our profits for conventional crops were very low! Our goal was to increase returns without turning to government subsidies. Becoming certified organic put us on the path toward economic stability. And so began our rewarding quest in organic agriculture with the first crops being harvested organically in 2000.
We owe our thanks to Pennsylvania Certified Organics for organic certification. We greatly appreciate the services that they provide.
Ever since our decision for organic agriculture, we have been enjoying the freedom of not dealing with toxic chemicals and the fulfillment of producing healthy crops from healthy soils. Farming has become fun again with the challenge of working with and improving all three aspects of the soil (biology, chemistry, physiology).
It is not sufficient enough for us to simply be "organic." We believe that the absence of chemicals is only the beginning of organics. True organic agriculture should seek to bring health to the soils with the added benefit of no risks of chemical residues! We "grow" our soils so that our crops can express their full potential - LIFE IS IN THE SOIL!