Step By Step Guide
1. Information gathering
2. Decide which certification body to register with
3. Obtain copy of relevant standards
4. Decide on farm unit / area / fields to be converted
5. Decide on ideal enterprise mix for the farm
6. Decide on ideal crop rotation
7. Assess current farm infrastructure
- Livestock housing and fencing: does housing meet the standards (e.g. slats), does fencing need upgraded?
- Manure storage and handling: are they adequate?
- Machinery: will you need to invest in equipment, e.g. a comb harrow?
8. Assess current livestock system
- Mix of enterprises? Classes of stock?
- Breeds? For example, Easycare sheep are well adapted to environment, and well adapted to a forage-based system.
- Self-contained herds, flocks? Source of replacements?
- Calving, lambing date: April, May, June?
- Grassland management: clean grazing; level of intensity (stocking rate and current use of bagged N); management for early bite; silage quality?
- Feeding system: proportions of forage/concentrate currently fed; proportions of bought-in feeds; ingredients/feeds currently fed that are prohibited in an organic system?
- Housing system: bedding/slats; space allocation (overall and trough); ventilation?
- Manure storage and handling system: storage capacity and efficiency; application dates?
- Stockmanship skills: stress minimisation; weaning management; stable groupings?
- Existing / regularly occurring health problems?
- Existing veterinary strategy: do you operate an animal health and welfare management; do you carry out preventative management practices?
- Management skills?
- Staff flexibility?
9. Assess each field individually
- Cropping history: if arable crops were grown previously, sow grass/clover mixture.
- Clover content: improve this if necessary.
- Soil fertility: consider ameliorating deficiencies before starting conversion.
- Weed problems: consider spraying to control problematic perennial weeds such as couch and docks before starting conversion.
10. Enquire about funding for conversion
- Inform Certification Body that you wish to be certified with them.
- Complete, or get an agent to complete, an application for funding through the SRDP. This application will include an environmental outcome plan and full proposal, and may also include a business plan.
- There is a degree of uncertainty over whether there will be more funding from the current SRDP.
11. Prepare conversion plan
- Cropping sequence for each field.
- Timing of start of conversion.
- Organic husbandry techniques.
- Soil management.
- Crop rotations and nutrient supply, including manure management.
- Weed and pest control strategy.
- Livestock health and welfare management plan, including:
- Grazing management
- Housing and welfare
- Feeding regimes
- Health strategy
12. Complete and return conversion plan to certification body
- Receive letter of acknowledgement and comments.
- Begin conversion.
- Have an initial inspection.
- Receive formal acceptance letter from certification body.