Skip Navigation

Organic Agriculture


Voluntary Conservation Works


This area of the NRCS New York web site provides New York agricultural producers, marketers and the general public access to information about organic production systems, educational opportunities and marketing possibilities. It also provides information especially relevant to New York, but includes access to regional and national sources of information as well.

Financial and Technical Assistance to Producers Transitioning to Organic Agriculture and Currently Certified Organic Producers for the Implementation of Conservation Practices

Organic Agriculture and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)

New! National Organic
Farming Handbook

The Handbook describes a range of conservation practices and key resources for use on organic operations – some the same in conventional operations, some different -- such as nutrient management, crop rotations, livestock grazing and pest management.

Learn more about the Handbook.

This document requires Adobe Reader.
(PDF; 5.5 MB)

The 2008 Farm Bill highlights the availability of financial and technical assistance to help producers of all commodities meet their conservation goals, including producers transitioning to organic agriculture and currently certified organic producers. The assistance from the Natural Resources Conservation Service through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) helps producers plan and implement conservation practices to allow their organic operations to be environmentally sustainable. EQIP is primarily used to provide financial and technical assistance to implement conservation practices to address soil, water, air, plant, animal, and energy resources. A new organic provision targets organic producers and producers transitioning to organic production. For more information, please visit our Organic Initiative Web site.

Organic Agriculture and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

The Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) involves enhancements that can be used to assist producers in meeting individual National Organic Program (NOP) rules while going through the period of transition to organic agriculture.

How Do I Become a Certified Organic Producer?

The National Organic Program (NOP) requires producers to develop an Organic System Plan that details the management practices that will be used to meet the NOP Production Practice Standards for crop rotation, soil fertility and crop nutrients, seeds and planting stock, and crop pest, weed and disease management. The Organic System Plan is agreed to by the producer and the certifying agent. NRCS advocates farming systems that use a combination of conservation practices to protect natural resources (soil, water, air, plant, and animal), promote long-term sustainability, and help move your farm forward on the “Crosswalk to Organic” farming. Producers can adopt many conservation practices during their “organic transitioning” period to improve soil quality, establish buffer zones, and meet NOP Crop Production Standards. Key practices include cover crops to improve soil quality, provide nutrients, and control pests; establishment of beneficial insect habitat; residue management; and composting manure.

If you are seeking certification as a Certified Organic producer, please contact an Accredited Certifying Agent.

The USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) Web site maintains a list of Accredited Certifying Agents in New York State.

The New York State Department of Ag and Markets web page provides an introduction to New York State organic farming and food and provides some guidance in locating resources available to learn more about organic agriculture and organically produced foods. The site also provides guidance on how to become a Certified Organic producer.

USDA Supported Programs

The USDA supports three major programs that offer sustainable agriculture information and assistance. Whether you are a farmer, an educator or a researcher seeking more information about sustainable agriculture in general, about a specific crop, or help with a specific problem, these programs can help.

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center (AFSIC)
The Alternative Farming Systems Information Center specializes in identifying resources about sustainable food systems and practices in support of USDA's effort to ensure a sustainable future for agriculture and farmers worldwide.

National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service (ATTRA)
The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service Web site features in-depth publications on production practices, alternative crop and livestock enterprises, innovative marketing, organic certification, and highlights of local, regional, USDA and other Federal sustainable agricultural activities.

NRCS Organic Agriculture WebinarsScience and Technology Training Library

Webinars are typically scheduled the first Tuesday of even-numbered months and start at 3:00 PM EST / 12:00 PM PST. They are free and participants may earn and continuing education credits and/or training certificates. Live webinars are recorded for later viewing. These webinars are presented in partnership with Oregon Tilth.

Other Webinars

Recipients of an NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant, The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) offers webinars on the conservation benefits of crop rotations, pest management and other topics designed to better integrate sustainable and organic agriculture production systems into NRCS planning and programs.

eOrganic, the online eXtension community focused on organic agriculture, offers additional online training videos.

Crop Rotation on Organic Farms

"Crop Rotation on Organic Farms: A Planning Manual” provides an in-depth review of the applications of crop rotation-including improving soil quality and health, and managing pests, diseases, and weeds. Consulting with expert organic farmers, the authors share rotation strategies that can be applied under various field conditions and with a wide range of crops.

Cover Crop Chart
Full Screen View

Cover Crop Chart

A Cover Crop Chart, available on the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Northern Plains Area web site, is designed to assist producers with decisions on the use of cover crops in crop and forage production systems.

The chart, patterned after the periodic table of elements, includes information on 46 crop species that may be planted individually or in cocktail mixtures.


Cornell University Cover Crop Decision Tool

Cover Crops for Vegetable Growers

The Cornell University Cover Crop Decision Tool helps you quickly narrow the choices of cover crop for your situation. 

This tool is based on

  1. the reason you need a cover crop;
  2. when you have a chance to plant; and
  3. how long it can stay in the field until you need to plant your next crop.

<<< Full Screen View
















Information Resources

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM)
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements is the worldwide umbrella organization for the organic movement, uniting more than 750 member organizations in 108 countries.

National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC)
The National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture is a nationwide partnership of diverse individuals and organizations cultivating grass roots efforts to engage in policy development processes that result in food and agricultural systems and rural communities that are healthy, environmentally sound, profitable, humane and just.

New York State Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM)
The New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, a part of Cornell cooperative Extension, develops sustainable ways to manage pests and helps people to use methods that minimize environmental, health, and economic risks.

New York State Organic Farming Resource Center (New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets)
This Web page provides an introduction to New York State organic farming and food and provides some guidance in locating resources available to learn more about organic agriculture and organically produced foods.

Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)
The mission of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance is to enable organic dairy family farmers, situated across an extensive area, to have informed discussion about matters critical to the well being of the organic dairy industry. Visit the NODPA Events Calendar. There may be an event nearby that is of interest and benefit to you.

Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (NESAWG)
NESAWG is a regional network of member organizations and individuals working together to create a more sustainable and secure regional food system - one that is economically viable, environmentally sound and socially just and produces safe and healthful food.

Organic at Cornell - Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station
This Web site is sponsored by the Cornell Organic Production and Marketing Program Work Team, also known as the Cornell Organic Working Group. The mission of the Organic Production and Marketing Program Work Team is to foster and increase meaningful applied and basic research, teaching and extension programs in all aspects of organic agriculture for New York State.

Organic Farmers’ Agency for Relationship Marketing (OFARM)
The Organic Farmer's Agency for Relationship Marketing s a farmer marketing agency-in-common. We represent organic field crop cooperatives and farmer marketing associations in a region that spans the major grain producing areas of the United States and Canada. The mission of OFARM is to coordinate the efforts of producer marketing groups to benefit and sustain organic producers.

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF)
The mission of the Organic Farming Research Foundation is to sponsor research related to organic farming, disseminate research results to organic farmers and to growers interested in adopting organic production systems, and to educate the public and decision-makers about organic farming issues.

Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)
The Organic Materials Review Institute provides organic certifiers, growers, manufacturers, and suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production, handling, and processing. OMRI listed or approved products may be used on operations that are certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program.

Organic Trade Association (OTA)
The mission of the Organic Trade Association is to promote and protect organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public, and the economy. The OTA envisions organic products becoming a significant part of everyday life, enhancing people's lives and the environment.

Rodale Institute
The Rodale Institute is a nonprofit institute that creates global solutions from the ground up. Their goal is to improve the health and well-being of people and the planet.

Sustainable Agriculture - Definitions and Terms
USDA Alternative Farming Systems Information Center

Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory (SASL)
The Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory determines principles and practices that support the development of sustainable agricultural systems. Emphasis is placed on multi-disciplinary research to understand fundamental agro-ecological processes underlying the functioning of sustainable systems.

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) - Organic Agriculture
NIFA's unique mission is to advance knowledge for agriculture, the environment, human health and well-being, and communities by supporting research, education, and extension programs in the Land-Grant University System and other partner organizations. NIFA is the former Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CRESS).Service Center Locator