Organic plan

4 Organic plan 

4.1 The operator shall prepare an organic plan outlining the details of transition, production, preparation and 

management practices. 

4.2 The organic plan shall be updated annually to address changes to the plan or management system, problems 

encountered in executing the plan, and measures taken to overcome such problems. 

4.3 The organic plan shall include a description of the internal record-keeping system, with documents sufficient 

to meet traceability requirements as specified in 4.4.2 and other record-keeping requirements. 

4.4 Record keeping and identification 

4.4.1 The operator shall maintain records and relevant supporting documentation such as visual aids (for example, 

maps, work-flow charts) concerning inputs and details of their use, production, preparation and transport of organic 

crops, livestock and products. The operator shall maintain the organic integrity of products and shall fully record 

and disclose all activities and transactions in sufficient detail to be easily understood and sufficient to demonstrate 

compliance with this standard. 

4.4.2 Records shall make it possible to trace 

  1. a) the origin, nature and quantity of organic products that have been delivered to the production unit or operation;
  2. b) the nature, quantity and consignees of products that have left the production unit;
  3. c) any other information for the purposes of verification, such as the origin, nature and quantity of ingredients,

additives and manufacturing aids delivered to the unit, and the composition of processed products; 

  1. d) activities or processes that demonstrate compliance with this standard.

4.4.3 An identification system shall be implemented to distinguish organic and non-organic crops, livestock (for 

example, general appearance, colour, variety and types) and products. 

4.4.4 The operator shall design and implement a risk management plan to prevent GE contamination which may 

include strategies such as physical barriers, border rows, delayed planting, testing of seeds, isolation distances and 

equipment and storage sanitation protocols. 

4.4.5 Records shall be maintained for at least five years beyond their creation. 

4.4.6 If pest and disease control substances that are not listed in CAN/CGSB-32.311 are used under any 

mandatory government program, the operator shall monitor and document their use. 

NOTE In the event of emergency pest or disease treatment, Canadian operators are required to notify their certification body 

immediately of any change that may affect organic product certification. 

5 Crop production 

Subclause 8.4 on Transport also applies to crops. 

5.1 Land requirements for organic crop production 

5.1.1 This standard shall be fully applied on a production unit for at least 12 months before the first harvest of 

organic products. Prohibited substances shall not have been used for at least 36 months before the harvest of an 

organic crop. 

5.1.2 When new production units are added to an existing organic operation, the operator shall provide records 

to show that prohibited substances have not been used for at least 36 months (see 5.1.1) and verification shall be 

conducted before the first harvest of product from this new production unit. 

NOTE The Canadian Organic Products Regulations require operators to document that they have not used prohibited 

substances. The Regulations also require that, in the case of an initial application for an organic certification of field crops, the 

application shall be filed 15 months before the day on which the product is expected to be marketed. During that period of time, 

compliance with this standard will be assessed by the certification body and this assessment must include at least one inspection 

of the production unit, during production, in the year before field crops may be eligible for certification and one inspection, during 

production, in the year field crops are eligible for certification. These or similar regulatory requirements may eventually be found 

in new regulations that would replace the Organic Products Regulations, 2009. Current regulations should be consulted to 

ensure accuracy of regulatory requirements. 

5.1.3 The enterprise shall aim at a complete transition of its production. During the transition period, the enterprise 

can maintain, in addition to the production in transition, a non-organic system of production (split operation) that 

shall be entirely separate and identified separately, pending its incorporation into the overall transition process. 

5.1.4 The enterprise can be converted one unit at a time, and each converted unit shall respect the requirements 

of this standard. The exception to this norm, parallel production, is only allowed in the following cases: perennial 

crops (already planted), agricultural research facilities and production of seed, vegetative propagating materials and 


5.1.5 The following special conditions shall be observed for parallel production: 

  1. a) The operator shall clearly demonstrate that the identity of the crops so produced can be maintained duringtheir

production, harvesting, storage, processing, packaging and marketing; 

  1. b) The operator shall maintain verifiable, accurate records of both non-organic and organic produce and product

storage, transportation, processing and marketing. 

NOTE Parallel production crops, both organic and non-organic, are inspected just prior to harvest and an audit of all parallel 

production crops occurs after harvest. 

5.1.6 All production units shall have distinct, defined boundaries. 

5.1.7 Production methods shall not alternate between organic and non-organic on a production unit. 

5.2 Environmental factors 

5.2.1 Measures shall be taken to minimize the physical movement of prohibited substances onto organic land 

and crops from: 

  1. a) adjacent areas;
  2. b) equipment used for both organic and non-organic crops.

5.2.2 If unintended contact with prohibited substances is possible, distinct buffer zones or other features sufficient 

to prevent contamination are required: 

  1. a) buffer zones shall be at least 8 m (26 ft 3 in.) wide;
  2. b) permanent hedgerows or windbreaks, artificial windbreaks, permanent roads or other physical barriers may be

used instead of buffer zones; 

  1. c) crops grown in buffer zones shall not be considered organicwhether or notthey are used on the operation; 
  2. d) crops at risk of contamination from commercialized GE crops shall be protected from cross-pollination. Mitigation

strategies such as but not limited to physical barriers, border rows, strategic testing or delayed planting shall 

be implemented unless generally accepted isolation distances for the at risk crop type are present (see Note 


NOTE Generally accepted isolation distances for crops at risk of contamination from commercialized GE crop types include: 

soybeans – 10 m (33 ft), corn – 300 m (984 ft), canola, alfalfa (for seed production) and apples– 3 km (1.8 mi.). 

5.2.3 Fence posts or wood treated with substances listed in Table 4.3 of CAN/CGSB-32.311 are permitted. 

  1. a) For new installations or replacement purposes, fence posts or wood treated with prohibited substances are

prohibited unless alternatives such as metal, plastic, concrete, or protective sleeves, are not commercially 


  1. b) Recycling of existing fence posts within the operation is permitted.

5.3 Seeds and planting stock 

Organic seed, bulbs, tubers, cuttings, annual seedlings, transplants and other propagules shall be used. The 

following exceptions or conditions apply: 

  1. a) Non-organic, untreated seed and planting stock or seed treated with substances listed in Table 4.3 of

CAN/CGSB-32.311 are permitted provided that the organic seed or planting stock variety is: 

1) not produced on or available from within the operation; or 

2) not commercially available, and a reasonable search involving potential, known organic suppliers has 

been conducted. 

  1. b) Non-organic perennial planting stock treated with substances prohibited by 1.4 d), 1.4 e), 1.4 f) or 1.4 g) shall

be managed in accordance with this standard for at least 12 months before the first harvest of organic product. 

The land on which non-organic stock is planted is subject to the requirements of 5.1.1. 

5.4 Soil fertility and crop nutrient management 

5.4.1 The main objective of the soil fertility and crop nutrient management program shall be to establish and 

maintain a fertile soil using practices that maintain or increase soil humus levels, that promote an optimum balance 

and supply of nutrients, and that stimulate biological activity within the soil. 

5.4.2 Where appropriate, the soil fertility and biological activity shall be maintained or increased, through: 

  1. a) crop rotations that are as varied as possible and include plough-down, legumes, catch crops and deep-rooting


  1. b) incorporation of plant and animal matter in compliance with this standard and with Table 4.2 of CAN/CGSB-

32.311, including the following: 

1) composted animal and plant matter; 

2) non-composted plant matter, specifically legumes, plough-down crops or deep-rooting plants within the 

framework of an appropriate multiyear rotation plan; and 

3) unprocessed animal manure, including liquid manure and slurry, subject to the requirements of 5.5.1. 

5.4.3 Tillage and cultivation practices shall maintain or improve the physical, chemical and biological condition of 

soil, and minimize damage to the structure and tilth of soil, and soil erosion. 

5.4.4 Plant and livestock materials shall be managed to maintain or improve soil organic matter content, crop 

nutrients, and soil fertility, and in a manner that does not contribute to the contamination of crops, soil or water, by 

plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals or prohibited substances residue. 

5.4.5 The organic matter produced on the operation shall be the basis of the nutrient cycling program. It may be 

supplemented with other organic and non-organic nutrient sources. Non-organic sources shall be listed in Table 4.2 

of CAN/CGSB-32.311. Manure is also subject to the requirements of 5.5.1. 

5.4.6 Burning to dispose of crop residue produced on the operation is prohibited. However, burning may be used 

for documented pest, disease or weed problems (see 5.6.1) or to stimulate seed germination. 

5.5 Manure management 

5.5.1 Manure sources 

Animal manure produced on the operation shall be used first. When all available manure is used up, organic 

manure from other sources may be used. If organic manure is not commercially available, non-organic manure is 

permitted provided that: 

  1. a) the non-organic source is not a fully caged system in which livestock cannot turn 360°; and
  2. b) livestock is not permanently kept in the dark; and
  3. c) the source and quantity of manure, type of livestock, and evaluation of the criteria in 5.5.1 a) and 5.5.1 b) shall

be recorded. 

NOTE Organic operations should make it a priority to use manure obtained from transitional or extensive livestock operations, 

not from landless livestock production units or from livestock operations that use genetically engineered (GE) ingredients and/or 

GE derivatives in animal feeds. 

5.5.2 Land application of manure The manure application program shall address land area, rate of application, time of application, 

incorporation into the soil and retention of nutrient components. Soil amendments including liquid manure, slurries, compost tea, solid manure, raw manure, compost and 

other substances listed in Table 4.2 of CAN/CGSB-32.311, shall be applied to land in accordance with good nutrient 

management practices. 

NOTE In Canada, some additional provincial requirements may also apply. Where manure is applied, the soil shall be sufficiently warm and moist to ensure active bio-oxidation. The seasonal timing, rate and method of application shall ensure that manure does not: 

  1. a) contribute to the contamination of crops by pathogenic bacteria;
  2. b) run off, significantly, into ponds, rivers and streams;
  3. c) contribute, significantly, to ground and surface water contamination. The non-composted solid or liquid manure shall be 

  1. a) incorporated into the soil at least 90 days before the harvest of crops that do notcome into contact withsoil and 

are intended for human consumption; or 

  1. b) incorporated into the soil at least 120 days before the harvest of crops that have edible parts that come into

direct contact with the surface of the soil or with soil particles. If livestock is used as part of the cropping or pest control program, a management plan shall be in place 

to ensure that livestock is controlled and that manure or manure related contamination does not reach the portion 

of the crop intended for harvest. 

5.5.3 Manure processing 

Processing of animal manure using physical (for example, dehydration), biological or chemical treatment with 

substances listed in Table 4.2 of CAN/CGSB-32.311 is permitted. Loss of nutritional elements due to processing 

shall be minimized. 

5.6 Crop pest, disease and weed management 

5.6.1 Pest, disease and weed control practices shall focus on organic management practices that enhance crop 

health and reduce losses due to weeds, disease and pests. Management practices include cultural practices (for 

example, rotations, establishment of a balanced ecosystem, and use of resistant varieties), mechanical techniques 

(for example, sanitation measures, cultivation, traps, mulches and grazing) and physical techniques (for example, 

flaming against weeds, heat against diseases). 

5.6.2 When organic management practices alone cannot prevent or control crop pests, disease or weeds, a 

biological or botanical substance, or other substances listed in Table 4.3 of CAN/CGSB-32.311, may be used. 

Conditions for and of the use of substances shall be documented in the organic plan (see clause 4). 

5.6.3 If application equipment, such as sprayers, is used to apply prohibited substances, it shall be thoroughly 

cleaned prior to use in an organic crop. 

5.7 Irrigation 

The irrigation of organic crops is permitted provided that the operator documents precautions taken to prevent 

contamination of land and products with substances not included in CAN/CGSB-32.311. 

5.8 Crop product preparation 

Wherever organic product preparation takes place, 8.1 and 8.2 apply. 

5.9 Facility pest management 

Subclause 8.3 applies to pest management practices in and around crop facilities.