The life of soil is the starting point for organic plant production.
Since the use of soluble fertilisers is strictly limited - in particular mineral nitrogen fertilisers are not permitted - it is crucial to boost the natural fertility of the soil through the activity of soil organisms (bacteria, fungi, etc) which can transfer nutrients to the plants.
Organic farmers use multiannual crop rotation, including legumes and other green manure crops, and apply livestock manure or organic material in order to increase the fertility and the biological activity of the soil. In order to maintain or increase the soil organic matter, and enhance soil stability and soil biodiversity, appropriate cultivation practices, like tillage, are preferred. The use of biodynamic preparations is allowed.
To prevent the development of pests, diseases and weeds, organic farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides or herbicides. This is the reason why the choice of resistant species and varieties is favoured. Multiannual crop rotation and appropriate cultivation techniques play a role in the protection of plants against pests, diseases and weeds. Organic farmers can also rely on thermal processes, the use of natural pest enemies, like ladybugs or trichogramma, an, in the case of an established threat to a crop, plant protection products authorised for use in organic production.
The collection of wild plants, growing naturally in natural areas, forests and agricultural areas is considered an organic production method provided that those areas have not, for a period of at least three years before the collection, received treatment with products other than those authorised for use in organic production. Additionally, the collection must not affect the stability of the natural habitat or the maintenance of the species in the collection area.
Basic substances allowed in organic agriculture comply with two criteria: i) they are of vegetable or animal origin ii) they are considered to be "foodstuff" (Annex II of Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008). This document contains the list of basic substances allowed in EU organic farming (December 2016) in accordance with Annex II of Commission Regulation (EC) No 889/2008. The references to conditions that apply for their use are included in the list.