Agriculture Glossary

  • Aerobic: “With oxygen.” Aerobic bacteria that require oxygen to carry out their life functions will produce sweet, earthy-smelling compost.
  • Aggregation: Clustering, as of soil particles, to form granules that aid in aeration and water penetration.
  • Aggregate soil: Many soil particles held in a single mass or cluster, such as a clod, crumb, block, or prism.
  • Agriculture: A term coming from French meaning field cultivation (agar = field + cultura = cultivation), the science, art, or prac­tice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the result­ing products.
  • Agronomy: Science of agriculture that deal with all aspect of field crop production and soil management.
  • Alternative farming and alternative agriculture are general terms that apply to agricultural production methods, agricultural enterprises and/or crops that are different from traditional or conventional ones.
  • Accreditation: Procedure by which an authoritative body gives formal recognition that a body or person is competent to carry out specific tasks.
  • Agro-forestry: Combines agriculture and forestry techniques to create more permanent, integrated, diverse, productive, profitable, healthy and sustainable land-use systems designed to mimic the structure and function of natural systems.
  • Agribusiness: An industry engaged in the producing operations of a farm, the manu­facture and distribution of farm equipment and supplies, and the processing, storage, and distribution of farm commodities. (The term was coined in 1955.)
  • Agricultural product/product of agricultural origin: Any product or commodity, raw or processed, that is marketed for human consumption (excluding water, salt and additives) or animal feed.
  • Agro-chemical: Chemical used in agricultural production (as an herbicide or an insecticide.)
  • Agro-ecology: The study of agro-ecosystems, including all environmental and human elements, their interrelationships and the processes in which they are involved, e.g. symbiosis, competition, successional change.
  • Agrarian system: A historically constituted and durable mode of exploration of the environment; a technique system adapted to the bioclimatic conditions of a given areas and which complies with its social conditions and needs at the moment.
  • Agriculture production system: The whole structured set of plants, animals and activities selected by a farmer for his production unit to achieve its goals. It is a global system that is finalised by farmer socio-economic objectives and related management strategy.
  • Agro-climatic: Relating to the relationship between crop adaptation and climate.
  • Agroecological zone: Geographical mapping units based on climatic conditions and land reforms that determine relatively homogeneous crop growing environment.
  • Agro-ecosystem: Land used for crops, pasture, and livestock; the adjacent uncultivated land that supports other vegetation and wildlife; and the associated atmosphere, the underlying soils, groundwater, and drainage networks.
  • Agro-economic: The economics of agriculture.
  • Agro-ecology: The study of the interrelationships of living organisms with each other and with their environment in an agricultural system.
  • Amend: To improve soil through the addition of various substances.
  • Anaerobic: “Without oxygen.” In compost, anaerobic bacteria that live in the absence of oxygen will give off rotten odors.
  • Annual plant: Plant that completes its life cycle (from seed to seed) within a single growing season.
  • Alley cropping: Growing annual crops in spaces between two rows of trees or shrubs, often leguminous ones that tolerate heavy and regular coppicing. The leafy and woody material of the trees and shrubs is used as mulch in the crops and often as fodder, tim­ber, fuel, etc. The lines of shrubs are also called hedgerows, hence the synonym ‘hedgerow intercropping’.
  • Atmosphere: The least massive, yet a fun­damental part of Earth life. Through the atmosphere pass nearly all of the elements that go to form living organisms. The atmos­phere protects life from the rigors of space and establishes the climate.
  • Aquaculture: Managed production of aquatic plants and/or animals in fresh, brackish or salt water in a circumscribed environment.
  • Best Management Practices (BMPs) are methods or techniques designed to minimize the environmental impact of plant and crop production on water and soil quality. For example, BMPs address the problem of pesticide run-off into natural water sources.
  • Biodiversity: A measure of the variety of species comprising a community.
  • Biodynamic: A type of organic farming system developed by Austrian scientist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the early 1900’s. Biodynamic farming takes into consideration both biological cycles and also “dynamic”—metaphysical or spiritual—aspects of the farm, with the intention of achieving balance between physical and non-physical realms.
  • Biodynamic agriculture is a concept of agriculture which sees the farm as a living, dynamic, spiritual entity and attempts to bring it into balance. The Demeter Association establishes the specific guidelines for Biodynamic production and certification. While generally considered a type of organic farming system, Biodynamic agriculture is considerably more rigorous.
  • Biointensive agriculture is an organic agricultural system that is practiced on a relatively small scale. It is also referred to as biointensive mini-farming or biointensive gardening. This system focuses both on obtaining maximum yields from a minimal area of land and on long term sustainability in a closed system.
  • Biointensive IPM is an attempt to take integrated pest management back to its ecological roots. It emphasizes many of the concepts inherent in IPM, such as understanding pest biology, crop rotations to disrupt pest life cycles, and using resistant varieties. However, only reduced risk pesticides are used, and then only as a last resort after other preventative tactics have proved ineffective.
  • Biodegradable: Types of material subject to break down by biochemical process.
  • Bio-Intensive: A combination of biodynamic and the French-intensive method of farming, which involves the use of raised beds, with crops planted very close together and in combination with other crops.
  • Biological control: The practice of using beneficial organisms—such as insect predators or parasites of pest insects, pest disease agents, insect-eating birds and bats—to keep pest populations at a tolerable level.
  • Biological insect pest control: A method of pest control that relies on beneficial enemies to reduce pest populations to tolerable levels. It involves human manipulation of natural enemies of insects.
  • Bio-technology: The science of gene modification, in which DNA is transferred from one organism to another, altering the molecular makeup of the recipient and resulting in the expression of new characteristics.
  • Biodegradable: Capable of being broken down into simpler components by living organisms.
  • Biological factors: Characteristics of the plant that influence the health, vitality and quality of harvested products.
  • Biological diversity (biodiversity): The variety of plant and animal species living in a specified geographical area.
  • Biological farming is the term often used in Europe to refer to organic farming.
  • Biomass: That part of a given habitat consisting of living matter, expressed as weight of organisms per unit area.
  • Biopharming: Inserting genes into plants to make them manufacture drugs, vaccines, enzymes, antibodies, hormones or industrial chemicals such as plastics, detergents, and adhesives.
  • Buffer zone: An area located between a certified organic production operation or portion of a production operation and an adjacent land area that is not maintained under organic management. A buffer zone must be sufficient in size or other features (e.g., windbreaks or a diversion ditch) to prevent the possibility of unintended contact by prohibited substances applied to adjacent land areas with an area that is part of a certified operation.
  • Breeding: Selection of plants or animals to reproduce or further develop desired characteristics in succeeding generations.
  • Broad-acre farming: Type of farming that uses extensive parcels of land to produce crops and/or graze livestock on a large scale.
  • Cage: Enclosure made of mesh, bars or wire, used to confine or contain an animal.
  • Catch Crop: A crop grown to hold on to, or catch, excess nutrients still in the soil following an economic crop. Rather than being leached from the soil, the nutrients are taken up by the catch crop and then returned to the soil when the plants decompose.
  • Cash crop: Agricultural produce marketed for cash rather than retained for household use.
  • Carbon dioxide (CO2): A gas with a faintly pungent smell, present in the air at only 280 parts per million, but four percent in the human breath. Carbon dioxide in the air helps, through the greenhouse effect, to keep the earth warm, but too much may lead to overheating.
  • Caring capacity means how many organisms a given ecosystem can support at maximum. It is determined by the resources available. Caring capacity is a limit set by nature and cannot be evaded. Ecological studies show that natural ecosystems approximate optimum, rather than maximum populations.
  • Carcinogen Substance or radiation that if administered increases the probability of the eventual development of cancer.
  • Certification: Procedure by which a third party gives written assurance that a clearly identified process has been methodically assessed, such that there can be adequate confidence that specified products conform to specified requirements.
  • Certification body: Body that conducts certification procedures, as distinct from standard-setting and inspection.
  • Certification mark: Sign, symbol or logo of a certification body that identifies product(s) as being certified according to the rules of a programme operated by that body.
  • Certification programme: System operated by a certification body with its own rules, procedures and management practices for carrying out certification of conformity.
  • Certified Organic: Referring to a product that has been produced in accordance with specific regulations and that has been inspected and approved by an accredited certifying agent. The USDA Federal Rule governing organic certification requires that an organic production system is managed “to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”
  • Certified Farmers’ Market: A marketplace in which farmers sell their produce directly to consumers. In a certified farmers’ market, farmers are exempt from packing, sizing, and labeling requirements, however, they can only sell products that they have produced.
  • Certifying Agent: Certifying agents are associated with independent organizations who visit organic farms to ensure that USDA NOP standards are upheld.
  • Certified Naturally Grown: A non-profit organization that supports smaller local farmers that cannot afford to participate in the national organic certification program.
  • Chemical-free agriculture: Agricultural production system, which does not allow the use of fertilizers and pesticides during the cropping cycle.
  • Contamination means pollution of organic product or land, in contact with any material that would render the product impure
  • Conversion: The process of changing an agricultural system from conventional to organic management. This covers what is sometimes known as transition.
  • Conversion period: The time of the probable start of organic management, and the certification of crops and/or animals as organic: For annual crops: at least twenty four (24) months before the start of the production cycle; for perennials: at least thirty six (36) months of management according to the full standards requirements before the first harvest.
  • Conventional tillage: Preparation of soil for planting by using the moldboard plow followed by disking or harrowing. It usually breaks down aggregates, buries most crop residues and manures, and leaves the soil smooth.
  • Compost: Organic residues or a mixture of organic residues and soil that have been piled, moistened and allowed to undergo biological decomposition.
  • Composting: Process of controlled biological decomposition of biodegradable materials under managed conditions that are predominantly aerobic and that allow the development of thermophilic temperatures as a result of biologically produced heat, in order to achieve compost that is sanitary and stable.
  • Compost tea: The product of showering recirculated water through a porous bag of compost suspended over an open tank with the intention of maintaining aerobic conditions. The product of this method has also been termed “aerated compost tea” and “organic tea”. In the past, the term “compost tea” has not always been associated with an aerated fermentation process. It is important to distinguish between compost teas prepared using aerated and non-aerated processes, therefore the terms aerated compost tea (ACT) and non-aerated compost tea (NCT) are used in this review to refer to the two dominant compost fermentation methods. ACT will refer to any method in which the water extract is actively aerated during the fermentation process. NCT will refer to methods where the water extract is not aerated or receives minimal aeration during fermentation apart from during the initial mixing.
  • Compost extract: The filtered product of compost mixed with any solvent (usually water), but not fermented. This term has been used in the past to define water extracts prepared using a very wide range of different methods. In the past, the terms “compost extract”, “watery fermented compost extract”, “amended extract”, “compost steepage” and “compost slurry” have all been used to refer to non-aerated fermentations. “Compost extract”, “watery fermented compost extract” and “steepages” are approximate synonyms defined as a 1:5 to 1:10 (v:v) ratio of compost to water that is fermented without stirring at room temperature for a defined length of time. “Amended extracts” are compost extracts that have been fermented with the addition of specific nutrients or microorganisms prior to application.
  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): A farm that is funded by a group of community members. In exchange for a membership fee, members are entitled to an assortment of fresh-picked produce every week throughout the growing season.
  • Companion Crops: Crops that are planted close to one another to achieve some mutual benefit such as repelling insect pests or attracting beneficial insects, shade, wind protection, support, or nutrient enrichment.
  • Conservation Tillage (CT): A production system in which at least 30% of the soil surface is covered by residues from previous crops. Conservation tillage is practiced to reduce erosion and to conserve soil carbon. Surface organic mulches are heavily used in CT systems.
  • Conventional: Any material, production or processing practice that is not organic or organic ‘in-conversion’
  • Conventional (Agriculture): An industrialized agricultural system characterized by mechanization, monocultures, and the use of synthetic inputs such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides, with an emphasis on maximizing productivity and profitability. Industrialized agriculture has become “conventional” only within the last 60 or so years (since World War II).
  • Cover Crop: A crop grown to prevent soil erosion by covering the soil with living vegetation and roots that hold on to the soil. Cover crops are also grown to help maintain soil organic matter and increase nitrogen availability (green manure crop), and to “hold on” to excess nutrients (a catch crop) still in the soil following an economic crop. Other benefits of cover crops include weed suppression and attraction of beneficial insects.
  • Companion planting: The cultivation of certain kinds of plants together in the same area, especially if one species will benefit from another, as planting an insect-repellent plant in a vegetable garden.
  • Contamination: Pollution of organic product or land or contact with any material that would render a product unsuitable for organic production or for being represented as an organic product.
  • Commingling: Physical contact between unpackaged organically produced and non-organically produced agricultural products during production, processing, transportation, storage or handling, other than during the manufacture of a multi-ingredient product containing both types of ingredients.
  • Compaction: The process by which soil particles are pressed together, forcing air out and creating a dense soil where plant roots have trouble getting oxygen and growing through the soil. Usually caused by walking or driving on soil.
  • Contour farming: Growing crops between contour lines stabilized by, e.g. earth bunds, stone ridges or hedges which conserve both soil and water. The contour lines are estab­lished by joining all places at the same height above sea level.
  • Crop Rotation: The practice of planting a sequence of different crops and cover crops on a specific field. Crop rotations can be used to help build soil fertility, reduce insect pest pressure, and suppress weeds.
  • Crop residue: The portion of a plant or crop that is left in the field after harvest, e.g. rice straw.
  • Cultivation: Digging up or cutting the soil to prepare a seed bed, control weeds, aerate the soil, or work organic matter, crop residues, or fertilizers into the soil.
  • Cultural methods: Methods used to enhance crop health and prevent weed, pest, or disease problems without the use of substances. Examples include the selection of appropriate varieties and planting sites; proper timing and density of plantings; irrigation; and extending a growing season by manipulating the microclimate with green houses, cold frames, or wind breaks.
  • Decomposers: Organisms that feed primarily on dead organic material, breaking it down into humus.
  • Detectable residue: The amount or presence of chemical residue or sample component that can be reliably observed or found in the sample matrix by current approved analytical methodology.
  • Disease vectors: Plants or animals that harbor or transmit disease organisms or pathogens which may attack crops or livestock.
  • Drift: The physical movement of prohibited substances from the intended target site onto an organic operation or portion thereof.
  • Direct source organism: Specific plant, animal or microbe that produce a given input or ingredient, or that gives rise to a secondary or indirect organism that produces an input or ingredient.
  • Ecology: The term ecology stems like econ­omy from the word oikos or house. Ecology is a branch of science concerned with the interrelationship of organisms and their envi­ronment. Ecology can also be understood as Nature’s household.
  • Ecological imbalance: A lack of functional relationships among parts of an ecosystem.
  • Ecosystem: Living things and the physical environment in which they live that form a complex, interconnected web of interactions and relationships.
  • Ecological farming is a term used in Europe to refer to organic agriculture, but with a greater emphasis on environmental concerns.
  • Environment Surroundings, including water, air, soil and living organisms and their interrelationships. It can be explained as the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and the living things) that act upon an organism or an eco­logical community and ultimately determine its form and survival. Under natural world we can understand the part of the environ­ment, which exists without human care or which is at least not totally controlled by people. Even in cultivated fields, especially in the soil, countless natural processes happen without being regulated by farmers
  • Environmentally friendly is a general term used to describe products or services that have resulted in minimal to no harm to the environment.
  • Equilibrium State at which the system does not tend to undergo any further change of its own accord.
  • Excluded methods: A variety of methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes and are not considered compatible with organic production. Such methods include cell fusion, microencapsulation and macroencapsulation, and recombinant DNA technology (including gene deletion, gene doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the positions of genes when achieved by recombinant DNA technology). Such methods do not include the use of traditional breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in-vitro fertilization, or tissue culture.
  • Erosion: The wearing or washing away of soil through the movement of water, wind, glaciers, or animals.
  • Exception: Permission given by a certification body that exempts an operator from the need to comply with the normal requirements of the standard. Exceptions are granted on the basis of clear criteria, with clear justification and for a limited time period only.
  • Extensive agriculture: Maximizing the amount of land used for agricultural production.
  • Fauna: The animal life of an area.
  • Farming system: The manner in which a particular set of farm resources is assembled within its environment, by means of technology, for the production of primary agricultural products.
  • Farmscaping: the practice of designing and maintaining habitats that attract and support beneficial organisms, used to improve crop pollination and to control pest species.
  • Farm: Total area of land under the control of one farmer or collective of farmers, including all related farming activities or enterprises.
  • Farm unit: Subset of a farm holding, including parcels of land or blocks or other subdivision.
  • FlameWeeding: The practice of using heat to kill weeds. Typically a flame torch is used to sear weed species in a manner that does not affect the crop species or at a time when the crop species is not present.

Fair Trade: Items that bear a fair trade label are internationally produced and include banana, pineapple, coffee, and chocolate that typically come from developing countries where workers aren’t always provided the best conditions. Fair trade labeling assures that farmers are paid better-than-conventional prices, are trained on sustainable agriculture practices, work directly with food cooperatives (co-ops), and are often organic

  • Gaia theory: present theory that sees the earth as a system where the evolution of the organisms is tightly coupled to the evolution of their environment. Self-regulation of climate and chemical compositions are emer­gent properties of the system.
  • Genetic erosion: Disappearance of genetic resources.
  • Genetic Engineering Seed: Science produced seed by using genetic method or “gene”.
  • Genetic engineering: Set of techniques used in molecular biology by which the genetic material of plants, animals, microorganisms, cells and other biological units are altered in ways, or with results, that could not be obtained by methods of natural mating and reproduction or natural recombination. Techniques used in genetic modification include, but are not limited to, creation of recombinant DNA, cell fusion, micro and microinjection, encapsulation, and gene deletion and doubling. Genetically engineered organisms do not include organisms that result from techniques such as conjugation, transduction and natural hybridisation.
  • Genetically modified organism (GMO): Plant, animal or microbe that has been transformed using genetic engineering techniques.
  • Good Agricultural Practices is a nation-wide, voluntary program that addresses the issue of microbial contamination in fresh produce. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the University of Kentucky Extension have joined together to provide producers with the information and tools they need to minimize contamination risks during all phases of production and marketing.
  • GMO-Free or No GMO products were produced without the use of GMOs.
  • Genetic resources: Genetic material of actual or potential value.
  • Green refers to environmentally friendly products that are derived from recycled materials or renewable resources.
  • Greenhouse gases: Gases that increase the temperature of the earth’s surface. They include water vapour, tropospheric ozone, chlorofluorocarbons, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, methane and nitrous oxide.
  • Green manure – crop grown for the sole purpose of being incorporated into the soil to improve soil fertility.
  • Green and wood waste – vegetable waste from gardens and municipal parks, tree cuttings, branches, grass, leaves (with the exception of street sweepings), sawdust, wood chips and other wood waste not treated with heavy metals or organic compounds.
  • Growing medium – material other than soils in situ, in which plants are grown.
  • Habitat: Area in which a plant or animal species naturally exists, or the area where a species occurs. The term is also used to indicate specific types of areas, e.g. seashore, riverbank, woodland and grassland.
  • Heavy soil. Nowadays usually called “fine texture” soil, it contains a lot of clay and is usually more difficult to work than coarser texture soil. It normally drains slowly following rain.
  • Home garden: Traditional cropping prac­tice around the house usually includes fruit and fuel wood trees, vegetables, root crops, poultry and smaller livestock and occasion­ally a fishpond, also called forest garden.
  • Holistic Management is a sustainable farm planning tool that views the farm, the family and the community as a whole, rather than as separate entities. Holistic management emphasizes the establishment of long-range goals, while also meeting immediate needs. Other related concepts include whole farm planning, comprehensive farm planning, and integrated farm management.
  • Homeopathic treatment: Treatment of disease based on administration of remedies prepared through successive dilutions of a substance that in larger amounts produces symptoms in healthy subjects similar to those of the disease itself.
  • Humus: Well-decomposed organic matter which is resistant to further decomposition and which may persist for hundreds of years. Humus holds on to some nutrients, storing them for slow release to plants.
  • Inspection means the examination of food or systems for control of food, raw materials, processing, and distribution, in order to verify that they conform to requirements. For chemical free food, inspection includes the examination of the production and processing system.
  • Internal control system (ICS): A system that safeguards the integrity of the organic quality of the products. It is a system, in which all persons, dealing with the products (growers, buyers, storekeepers, handlers, etc.) are identified, registered, instructed on the requirements for organic certification and contracted to ensure compliance. The activities of these persons involved are then monitored in a system of regular visits and documentary control.
  • Integrated Pest Management (IPM): A strategy of pest management that focuses on long-term prevention of pests or their damage through a combination of techniques such as biological control, habitat manipulation, modification of cultural practices, and use of resistant varieties. Pesticides are used only after monitoring indicates they are needed according to established guidelines, and treatments are made with the goal of removing only the target organism. Pest control materials are selected and applied in a manner that minimizes risks to human health, beneficial and non-target organisms, and the environment.
  • Intercropping: Growing two or more crops simultaneously in alternating rows or sets of rows in the same plot.
  • International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM): IFOAM’s mission is to lead, unite, and assist the organic movement in its full diversity with a goal of worldwide adoption of ecologically, socially, and economically sound systems that are based on the principles of organic agriculture.
  • Irradiation: Exposure to ionizing radiation. Food irradiation is a synthetic process that is not allowed in organic production.
  • Inert ingredient: Any substance (or group of substances with similar chemical structures if designated by the Environmental Protection Agency) other than an active ingredient which is intentionally included in any pesticide product.
  • Ingredient statement: The list of ingredients contained in a product shown in their common and usual names in the descending order of predominance.
  • Inspector: Any person retained or used by a certifying agent to conduct inspections of certification applicants or certified production or handling operations.
  • Inspection: The act of examining and evaluating the production or handling operation of an applicant for certification or certified operation to determine compliance with the Act and the regulations in this part.
  • In-conversion: Crop that is grown both organically and non-organically (conventional or in-conversion production) on the same farm.
  • Ingredient: Any substance, including a food additive, used in the manufacture or preparation of food and non-food products and present in the final product (although possibly in a modified form).
  • Ionising radiation: Processing of food products by gamma rays, X-rays or accelerated electrons to destroy or inactivate organisms that cause spoilage and decomposition; the process is used for the purpose of controlling microbial contaminants, pathogens, parasites and pests in food, preserving food or inhibiting physiological processes such as sprouting or ripening.
  • Chemicals that are not made from chains or rings of carbon atoms (for example, soil clay minerals, nitrate, and calcium).
  • Labelling: Any written, printed or graphic matter that is present on the label, accompanies the food, or is displayed near the food, including that for the purpose of promoting its sale or disposal.
  • Larvae: The immature, wingless stage in the life of insects, after hatching from an egg but before metamorphosing into pupas or adults.
  • Legume: A group of plants including beans, peas, clovers, and alfalfa that forms a symbiotic relationship with nitrogen-fixing bacteria living in their roots. These bacteria help to supply plants with an available source of nitrogen.
  • Lot: Any number of containers which contain an agricultural product of the same kind located in the same conveyance, warehouse, or packing house and which are available for inspection at the same time.
  • Marketing: Holding for sale or displaying for sale, offering for sale, selling, delivering or placing on the market in any other form.
  • Metabolite: A metabolite is any substance produced during metabolism of another substance. Can also refer to the end product (what is remaining after metabolism) or a by-product of another compound (i.e., the compound dimethylthiophosphate is the metabolite byproduct of the organophosphate Phosmet).
  • Metabolize: The process by which chemical changes in cells convert food into energy, assimilate nutrients, and release waste products.
  • Metamorphosis: The process that insects go through in developing into adults. In complete metamorphosis, the cycle begins with an egg, followed by a wingless larva, followed by a resting pupa stage where the insect forms a cocoon and emerges as a very different-looking, flying adult. In incomplete metamorphosis, an egg hatches into a wingless nymph, which grows into a winged adult that closely resembles the larva.
  • Mechanical weed: Removing weeds with the use of a mechanized interrow cultivator or other machines.
  • Mechanical measure: Method by using manpower to dissipate misfortune factor such as catch, beat, crush…
  • Microbes: Very minute living things, whether plant or animal, including bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and actinomycetes.
  • Monoculture: Production of the same crop in the same field year after year.
  • Microorganism: Very small and simple organism such as bacteria and fungi.
  • Microclimate: A localized area or habitat that has a uniform climate.
  • Mulch: Any material such as straw, saw­dust, and leaves that is spread upon the sur­face of the soil to protect the soil and plant roots. Stubble mulch includes the stubble or crop residues left in place on the land as a surface cover before and during the prepara­tion of the seedbed and at least partly during the growing of a succeeding crop.
  • Multiplication: Growing on of seed stock or plant material to increase supply for future planting.
  • Multiple cropping: Growing two or more crops in the same field in a year, at the same time, or one after the other, or a combination of both.
  • Multistory Cropping: Growing tall crops, often perennials, and shorter crops (often annuals) simultaneously
  • Nature contradictory to the thinking of most economists, scientists and engineers, ecologists see Nature as an interconnected web of myriad of organisms, which depend on each other. Humans are only a part of this web. To sustain life on earth people have to recognize this web. The human economy is still dependent on Nature or more precisely on Nature’s household.
  • Natural: Natural foods do not contain additives or preservatives but ingredients may have been grown using conventional farming methods or genetically engineered grain. Because natural products are not regulated, it is important not to confuse them with organic.
  • Natural farming is a highly refined method of working closely with nature to obtain high yields with little labor involvement. The founder, Japanese farmer Masanobu Fukuoka, refers to his method as “do-nothing farming.”
  • Naturally grown is a general term that suggests the crop was produced without pesticides or other synthetic chemicals.
  • Natural product: Products were produced by simple processing which chemical components were not used.
  • Natural fibre: Non-synthetic filament of plant or animal origin.
  • Natural vegetation: the vegetative cover that exist in an area where humans do not interfere.
  • National Organic Standards Board (NOSB): This group is a government-appointed panel that advises the National Organic Program to assist in the development of standards for substances to be used in organic production and to advise on any other aspects of the implementation of the National Organic Program. .
  • National Organic Program (NOP): In 1990, Congress passed the Organic Food Production Act, which called on the USDA to establish national standards for growing, processing, and marketing organic products. NOP was established to create a system of criteria for certifying organic food by the USDA.
  • No Preservatives: A product that is not made with any of the ingredients nitrates, nitrites, BHT, and sulfites.
  • Nematodes: Small (usually microscopic) roundworms with both free-living and parasitic forms. Not all nematodes are pests.
  • Nectar: A sweet substance produced inside a flower that attracts and acts as a food source for insects.
  • Nitrate: A salt of nitric acid. Potassium nitrate or sodium nitrate used as fertilizers produce nitrates that, if overabundant, can leach out of the soil into crops and into water supplies.
  • Nitrogen fixation: The biological conver­sion of elemental nitrogen (N2) to organic combinations or to a form readily utilizable in biological processes.
  • Non-point source pollution (NPS): Nonpoint source pollution occurs when water runs over land or through the ground, picks up pollutants, and deposits them in surface waters (lakes, rivers, estuaries, coastal waters) or introduces them into groundwater.
  • Non-synthetic (natural): A substance that is derived from mineral, plant, or animal matter and does not undergo a synthetic process as defined in section 6502(21) of the Act (7 U.S.C. 6502(21)). Nonsynthetic is a synonym for natural as the term is used in the Act.
  • Nontoxic: Not known to cause any adverse physiological effects in animals, plants, humans, or the environment.
  • Nutrient management relates to managing the amount, timing, form and placement of soil amendments used in plant production. The current focus is on optimizing crop production and economic returns while also taking into consideration environmental concerns.
  • Organic: Of, relating to or derived from living organisms. Being composed of or containing matter of plant and animal origin.
  • Organic food: Food that has been produced on an organic farm without any use of synthetic chemicals or GMOs. Recent studies have proved conclusively that organic foods are higher in nutrient content than conventional foods, as well as being free of pesticide residues, additives and preservatives.
  • Organic fertilizer: Product of processing plant or animal substances that contain suffi­cient plant nutrients to be of value as fertiliz­ers, often composted organic materials.
  • Organic chemicals: Originally, chemical substances that had been produced by living organisms were called ‘organic’ chemicals, as opposed to the ‘inorganic’ chemicals such as rocks and water, which had not been produced by living organisms. Nowadays, the term ‘organic chemical’ refers to any carbon-based compound, including the synthetic organic chemicals. The original meaning is retained in terms such as organic and inorganic fertilizers, farming, etc.
  • 100% organic products contain only certified organically produced ingredients (with the exception of salt and water). Producers and handlers must be certified organic in order to sell, label or represent their products as 100% organic.
  • Organic: products that are at least 95 percent organic.
  • Made with organic ingredients: These are products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients. The organic seal can’t be used on these packages.
  • Organically inclined means the producer prefers organic crop production techniques, but it does not guarantee that organic methods were used exclusively.
  • Organic matter: The fraction of the soil that includes plant and animal residues at various stages of decomposition and substances synthesised by the soil populations of various organisms.
  • Organic phosphorus: Phosphorus present as a constituent of an organic compound or a group of organic compounds such as glycerophosoric acid, inositol phosphoric acid, cytidylic acid etc.
  • Organic soil: A soil which contains a high percentage (>15 or 20%) of organic matter.
  • Organic solvent: A chemical compound (usually liquid) containing carbon to dissolve another substance (the solute).
  • Organic farming: A form of sustainable agriculture defined in EU law. Organic farming is a production system which excludes the use of synthetically compounded fertilisers, pesticides, growth regulators and livestock feed additives. To the maximum extent feasible, organic systems rely on crop rotations, residues, animal manures, legumes, green manures, off-farm organic wastes and aspects of biological control to maintain soil productivity and tilth, to supply plant nutrients and to control insects, weeds and other pests.
  • Organic farming system: A farming system runs in accordance with the organic standards.
  • Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA International): A nonprofit, member-owned organization that is one of the world’s oldest and largest leaders in the organic certification industry. OCIA is committed to environmentally sound stewardship and dedicated to providing the highest quality organic certification services and access to global organic markets.
  • Organic Consumers Association (OCA): A research and action center for the organic and fair trade movements that campaigns for what they refer to as health, justice, and sustainability. The OCA is a proponent of labeling for genetically engineered food.
  • Organic Trade Association (OTA): The Organic Trade Association is a membership-based business association that focuses on the organic business community in North America. The OTA’s mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public, and the economy. The OTA is a member of IFOAM.
  • Organic production: A production system that is managed in accordance with the act and regulations to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.
  • Organic beef: Beef from cattle raised without antibiotics, growth hormones, or synthetic chemicals.
  • Organic management plan: Plan developed and documented by operators that identifies how they will maintain the integrity of their operation in accordance with this standard; the plan also includes a map or floor plan of the production or processing unit.
  • Organic product: Product that has been produced processed and handled in compliance with this standard.
  • Organic seed and planting material: Seed and planting material that is produced by organic agriculture.
  • Operator: Individual or organization responsible for ensuring that the production system and resulting products meet this standard.
  • Ozone layer: A layer of air 15-50 km above the earth’s surface, where most atmospheric ozone is found. It absorbs some of ultraviolet radiation of the sun, and in doing so grows warmer and serves to lessen the ultraviolet received at the surface. It is now being depleted to some extent by a com­plex sequence of reactions involving man-made emissions from earth’s surface like methane, chlorine, and nitrogen compounds.
  • Parallel production: Simultaneous production of conventional, in conversion and/or organic crops, which cannot be distinguished from each other.
  • Parasitizing: The process by which certain insects lay eggs inside or on the bodies of other insects. As the eggs hatch, the larvae feed on the host insect, eventually killing it.
  • Paraben-Free: Used to describe products that do not have parabens, which are chemical preservatives added to personal-care products for extending shelf life, and widely used in tens of thousands of types of cosmetic products today. They are suspected of presenting risks to the reproductive system. The four main parabens in use are methyl, ethyl, propyl, and butylparabens.
  • Plant protection product: Any substance intended for preventing, destroying, attracting, repelling, or controlling any pest or disease including unwanted species of plants or animals during the production, storage, transport, distribution and processing of food, agricultural commodities, or animal feeds.
  • Permaculture is a contraction of the words “permanent agriculture” and “permanent culture.” Based on the work of Australian Bill Bollison, permaculture incorporates techniques from tribal, traditional and scientific cultures around the world. It is a sustainable form of agriculture that attempts to integrate the production of crops and animals into a low maintenance, balanced system. The three core values are: earth-care, people-care and fair-share.
  • Persistence: A substance’s tendency to remain chemically active for a long time.
  • Persistent toxic chemicals: Detrimental materials that remain active for a long time after their application and can be found in the environment years, and even decades, after they were used.
  • Pest: Insect, rodent, nematode, fungus, weed or other form of terrestrial or aquatic animal or plant life that is injurious to health or the environment.
  • Pest control: The control of pests in the ricefield by selective cultivation methods influencing natural factors or predators or by using chemical/physical control methods to reduce pest damage to rice plants.
  • Pesticide: Any toxic substance used to kill animals or plants that damage crops or ornamental plants or that are hazardous to the health of domestic animals or humans. All pesticides act by interfering with the target species’ normal metabolism. They are often classified by the type of organism they are intended to control (e.g., insecticide, herbicide, fungicide). Some inadvertently affect other organisms in the environment, either directly by their toxic effects or via elimination of the target organism.
  • Pesticide residue refers to the pesticides, including active substances, metabolites and/or breakdown or reaction products of active substances currently or formerly used in plant protection products that may remain on or in food after they are applied to food crops.
  • Pesticide-free crops are those that have been produced without the use of insecticides, herbicides, fungicides or rodenticides. Products that bear the Pesticide Free Production logo (trademark of University of Manitoba) have not been treated with pesticides from seedling emergence to market, are non-GMO, and have not been grown where residual pesticides are commercially active.
  • Precision agriculture (aka site-specific farming) employs the use of modern technology (e.g. computers, GIS, GPS and remote sensing) to achieve its goal of optimizing the application of production inputs (seeds, fertilizers, etc). Inputs are applied precisely only when and products (bagged mixed greens), and packaging (individually wrapped melon portions). Distribution (getting the product to a more convenient buying location, such as the Internet) and added service (creating floral arrangements where needed, based on detailed, site-specific information.
  • Pesticide residue: refers to pesticides, including active substances, metabolites and/or breakdown or reaction products of active substances currently or formerly used in plant protection products that may remain on or in food after they are applied to food crops.
  • Persistent Toxic Chemicals: Detrimental materials that remain active for a long time after their application and can be found in the environment years, and even decades, after they were used.
  • Physical measure: Dissipated misfortune factor method by natural character such as digging trench and canal, drainage, burn…
  • Preparation means post harvest handling, processing, and packaging of agricultural products and also alterations made to the labelling concerning the presentation of the organic production method.
  • Processing: Cooking, baking, heating, drying, mixing, grinding, churning, separating, extracting, cutting, freezing or otherwise manufacturing of a food, and the packaging, canning or otherwise enclosing such food in a container. It does not include sorting or cleaning if such is done with water.
  • pH: An expression for degree of acidity and alkalinity based upon the hydrogen ion concentration. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14: pH7 is neutral; less than 7 is acid; greater than 7 is alkaline.
  • Photosynthesis: The process by which green parts of plants are able to convert water and carbon dioxide molecules in to a sugar molecule, using light energy from the sun to break and rearrange the molecular bonds.
  • Pollen: A mass of tiny spores appearing as a fine powdery substance found on flowers. Pollen grains contain the male reproductive cells of plants.
  • Pollinate: The action by which pollen from one flower is received by the stigma of another flower of the same species. Once a flower has been pollinated, the pollen grains travel down pollen tubes into the ovaries of the flower, where a fruit or seed case will develop.
  • Polyculture: Growth of more than one crop in a field at the same time.
  • Perennial: A plant that lives for more than 2 years and often many years. These plants usually develop woody trunks and stems.
  • Precautionary principle: The principle that states that when an activity raises threats of harm to the environment or human health, precautionary measures should be taken, even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.
  • Predator: An animal that eats other animals.
  • Prey: An animal that is eaten by other animals.
  • Protected Harvest is an independent non-profit organization which certifies crops that have been produced according to their strict environmental standards. Based in Wisconsin, this program stresses biointensive IPM and sustainable agriculture. It is currently being expanded from potatoes to include other crops.
  • Prohibited substance: A substance the use of which in any aspect of organic production or handling is prohibited or not provided for in the Act or its regulations.
  • Production means the operations undertaken to supply agricultural products in the state in which they occur on the farm, including initial packaging and labelling of the product.
  • Pupa: The resting stage in complete metamorphosis during which an insect creates a cocoon. The insect lives in this cocoon until it emerges as a winged adult.
  • Polyculture: Intensive growing of two or more crops either simultaneously or in sequence on the same piece of land.
  • Primary ecosystem: Forest or other habitat that has not been subject to any past human-induced disturbance, such as logging or burning.
  • Processing aid: Any substance (not including apparatus or utensils), not consumed as a food itself, that is used in the processing of raw materials, foods, or ingredients to achieve a technical purpose during treatment or processing and that may result in the presence of residues or derivatives in the final product.
  • Propagation: Reproduction of plants either sexually (i.e. through seed) or asexually (i.e. through cuttings, root division).
  • Quality Assurance International, Inc. (QAI, Inc.): Quality Assurance International is considered to be the global leader in organic certification services has now certified more than a quarter of a million organic products. QAI offers organic certification under the National Organic Program for producers, processors, private labelers, distributors, retailers, restaurants, wild crop harvesters, greenhouse, mushrooms, and facilities. QAI also offers “fiber certification” under the American Organic Standards.
  • Regenerative agriculture is used to describe a sustainable agricultural system that focuses on restoring soil health and the balance of nature.
  • Residue-free signifies that a product does not have pesticide residues above an established limit set by the producer or company. This label does not mean that pesticides were not used at any time nor does it indicate that the product is 100% free of any chemical residue.
  • Restricted tillage: Any tillage system that includes only limited and localized soil disturbance in bands where plant rows are to be established. For example, no-till, zone-till, strip-till and ridge-till. Compare with fullfield tillage.
  • Residue testing: An official or validated analytical procedure that detects, identifies, and measures the presence of chemical substances, their metabolites, or degradations in or on raw or processed agricultural products.
  • Resistance: The process of insects adapting to a pesticide over a period of time, making the pesticide progressively less effective and requiring larger and stronger applications of the pesticide to achieve the same result.
  • Rotation effect: The crop-yield benefit from rotations that includes better nutrient availability, fewer pest problems, and better soil structure.
  • Soil degradation The damage to and the de­struction of soils and of soil functions in the form of erosion by wind and water, salinzation, acidification, contamination and various pollutions, the damage to life in soils and other forms of damage to the soil conditions such as compaction, surface sealing, excavation and other negative effects from human activities.
  • Soil fertility means the capacity of soil to feed plants and animals depending on the natural supply of nutrients and the volume f water available for plant growth. Different forms of land use and cultivation influence soil fertility. The activities of organisms living in sols are of particular importance for soil fertility.
  • Shifting cultivation: A form of agriculture in which soil fertility is maintained by rotat­ing fields rather than by crops. New plots are usually cleared by “slash and burn” and cropped until soil exhaustion. The land is left to regenerate naturally while cultivation is done elsewhere.
  • Synthetic chemical substance: Chemical products were produced by industrial process such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers…
  • Standards: Model or measure to determine acceptable products quality including agricultural production that were processed after harvested period.
  • Stabilization: Process of biological activities that together with conditions in the composting mass give rise to compost that is stable.
  • Staple crop: The crop grown as the basic diet of the population of a particular country or areas.
  • Stable, stabilized, stability: Degree of biodegradation at which the rate of biological activity under conditions favourable for aerobic biodegradation has slowed and microbial respiration will not resurge under altered conditions, such as manipulation of moisture and oxygen levels or temperature.
  • Sanitise: Treat produce or food-contact surfaces by a process that is effective in destroying or substantially reducing the numbers of vegetative cells of microorganisms of public health concern, and other undesirable microorganisms; the treatment must not adversely affect the product or its safety for the consumer.
  • Slurry: Contains dung, urine and water with only small amounts of bedding. It flows by gravity and can be collected in slatted floor systems, below ground tanks or reception pits. You can store it for a long time in an above ground slurry store, or in an earth-banked structure.
  • Soil fertility: The capacity of the soil to support the crop being grown.
  • Soil health: The capacity of a specific kind of soil to function as a vital living system within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, to maintain or enhance water and air quality, and support human health and habitation.
  • Soil quality: The capacity of a soil to function within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries, to sustain biological productivity, maintain environmental quality and promote plant and animal health
  • Soil Association Certification Ltd.: United Kingdoms’ leading certifier. They certify up to 80% of Europe’s organic food sold in that country.
  • Soil erosion: The process by which productive topsoil is eroded by wind or water action.
  • Sewage sludge: A solid, semisolid, or liquid residue generated during the treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment works. Sewage sludge includes but is not limited to: domestic septage; scum or solids removed in primary, secondary, or advanced wastewater treatment processes; and a material derived from sewage sludge. Sewage sludge does not include ash generated during the firing of sewage sludge in a sewage sludge incinerator, or grit and screenings generated during preliminary treatment of domestic sewage in a treatment works. (Note: Use of sewage sludge is not allowed in organic farming.)
  • Soil health: The condition of the soil, including its ecosystems (minerals, nutrients, and microbial activity), pH, and structure.
  • Soil texture: The relative proportions of sand, silt and clay particles in a soil.
  • Species: Basic category of biological classification, characterized by individuals that can breed together and produce offspring that can also produce young.
  • Stigma: The top part of the pistil in flowers where pollen from another flower must land for the flower to become pollinated.
  • Synthetic: A substance that is formulated or manufactured by a chemical process or by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring plant, animal, or mineral sources, except that such term shall not apply to substances created by naturally occurring biological processes.
  • Synthetic pesticide: Synthetic product intended to prevent, eliminate or control a pest.
  • Subsistence agriculture: Much older than the market economy is subsistence agriculture, an example for subsistence economy. This is a system that provides all or almost all the goods required by the farm family. The producer consumes a large part of final yield. Most subsistence systems involve production of some crops or animals for sale. A more recent definition is that subsistence farming is a system, which produces a mini­mum and often inadequate return to the farmer.
  • Sustainable: Capable of being continued with minimal long-term effect on the environment, as with sustainable agriculture, which integrates three main goals: environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities. Sustainable development recognizes the need to work with living environments in a balanced manner.
  • Sustainable agriculture is a philosophy that is committed to meeting current plant and animal production needs without compromising the earth’s natural resources for future generations. Sustainable practices are meant to allow a farm or farm system to continue to produce indefinitely. In addition to environmental quality concerns, sustainable agriculture also addresses the economic and social issues of the farm community.
  • Sustainable development: The perspective emphasizing the need to reconcile present and future economic needs through environmental management.
  • Strip cropping: Growing two or more crops in alternating strips, usually along the contour or perpendicular to the prevailing wind direction
  • Taboo: Prohibition that excludes something from use, approach or mention because of its sacred and inviolable nature.
  • Thinning: The process of removing some plants to provide room for the remaining plants to grow and develop.
  • Tolerance: The maximum legal level of a pesticide chemical residue in or on a raw or processed agricultural commodity or processed food.
  • Transplant: A seedling which has been removed from its original place of production, transported, and replanted.
  • Traceability: Ability to follow the movement of a food through specified stage(s) of production, processing and distribution.
  • Transitional refers to fields or farms that are in the process of being converted from conventional production to certified organic production.
  • Traditional agriculture: Farming based on practices such as crop rotation, use of animal manures instead of chemical fertilizers, and use of animal power.

Trap crop: A crop that is planted specifically to attract pests, rodents or birds away from the main crop

  • Unnatural products: Products were simple produced and without chemical substances.
  • Unavoidable residual environmental contamination (UREC): Background levels of naturally occurring or synthetic chemicals that are present in the soil or present in organically produced agricultural products that are below established tolerances.
  • Value-added refers to raw agricultural products that have been altered or processed in such a way that their value, and therefore their selling price, is increased. This can include processing (berries made into jam), combining with other from cut flowers) can also add value. Organic crops are often considered value-added since they are produced in a way that makes it possible to label the product “certified organic,” thus adding value to the final product.
  • Vermicast: A single worm casting or a quantity of worm castings. Worms “work” material by ingesting, excreting, and re-ingesting it. Vermicast is extensively worm-worked and re-worked. It may be overworked and has probably lost plant nutrients as compared vermicompost. Vermicast has a fine, smooth texture, which may dry with a crust on the surface.
  • Vermicompost: Mixture of partially decomposed organic waste, bedding, and worm castings (excretions). Contains recognizable fragments of plant, food, or worm bedding material, as well as cocoons, worms, and associated organisms. As a verb, “to carry out composting with worms.”
  • Vermicomposting: The process of using worms and associated organisms to break down organic waste into material containing nutrients for plant growth.
  • Volunteer: A plant that has grown on its own, without humans intentionally planting it.
  • Vegetarian: A person who does not eat meat.
  • Vegetable: An herbaceous plant grown for eating, usually eaten as part of a meal.
  • Vegetative: referring to asexual (stem, leaf, root) development in plants in contrast to sexual (flower, seed) development.
  • Vegetative phase/stage: The period from seed germination to the panicle initiation stage.
  • Weed control: Prevention or eradication of weeds by physical removal (hand weeding) or limiting their growth by mechanical or chemical means.
  • Wild-Crafted: also appears as “wildcrafted” and sometimes referred to as “wild crops.” A plant gathered in the wild in its natural habitat from a site that is not maintained under cultivation or other agricultural management for manufacturing into an herbal supplement.
  • Wild crop: Any plant or portion of a plant that is collected or harvested from a site that is not maintained under cultivation or other agricultural management.
  • Wild rice: Species of Oryza that are not cultivated.
  • Worm castings: Undigested material, soil, and bacteria deposited by a worm. Worm manure.
  • Xerophytes: Plants that grow in or on extremely dry soils or soil materials.
  • Yield: The amount of a specified substance produced.
  • Yield potential: The maximum grain yield of a given variety in a given environment without constraints involving water, nutrients, competition, pests, diseases or climatic conditions.
  • Yield components: The factors that contribute to grain yield – number of panicles per square metre, spikelets per panicle, percentage of fertile spikelets and weight of each single grain.
  • Zero discharge: The complete prevention pollutants from entering ecosystems.

Zero tillage: A practice where planting or seedling is directly done in untilled land