These standards are for use by growers on a voluntary, self-certifying basis. Growers that make any claims that their produce is grown in accordance with these standards are solely responsible for substantiating those claims. Written documentation of compliance with the standards is highly recommended. Such documentation should be legible and thorough. Maintaining a ring binder containing all field maps, soil tests, scouting reports, and records of pesticide, fertilizer and manure applications is suggested.
An annual map must be made that shows the location of all crops and green manures planted. A record must be kept of the names, rates and dates of application of all fertilizers, manures, composts, and pesticides.
Evaluation of each field must be done using the UVM soil test lab, or other reputable lab, for macro nutrients, trace elements, organic matter level and pH at least once every three years.
Fertilizers and lime must be applied in accordance with soil test recommendations. For N applications, this requires calculation of an N budget for each field that estimates the crop need then subtracts credits for manure, cover crop and/or compost. If bagged N fertilizers are applied, they may not be broadcast over the entire field in excess of 50 lb/acre total N. Any additional N must be applied by banding at planting, incorporation into individual beds, and/or side dressing or top dressing. Fertilizer and manure spreader(s) must be calibrated yearly, or other method described for determining that application rates are accurate. A winter cover crop must be planted to protect against erosion on at least 3/4 of all fields. At least 1/10 of tillable crop land must be temporarily taken out of crop production each year and planted to soil-improving cover crop(s), either as a 'summer fallow' between crops or as a season-long fallow.
Annual crops must be rotated so that plants in same botanical family do not follow one another in the same place from year to year. The exception is sweet corn, which may be grown for 2 consecutive years in the same place if necessary. Pesticide applications must be based on crop scouting and/or environmental conditions (for disease prevention). The grower must keep scouting and/or weather records to show that these applications were justified. Scouting should be done regularly during the growing season, and observations recorded. Pesticide sprayer(s) must be calibrated prior to the growing season. Herbicides may not be the primary means of weed control; other strategies must be used such as cultivation, mulches, smother crops and flame weeding. Use of biologically based insecticides, such as B.t., and Beauvaria bassiana, and use of biological fungicides, such as Trichoderma harzianum, should be substituted for more toxic synthetic materials when possible. Cultural practices should be used to prevent diseases, such as raised beds, wide row spacing and Planting of disease-resistant cultivars. A weed map of the farm must be made once each year, accurately identifying primary weed species in each field. Soil fumigation may not be used.
Genetically engineered crops may not be planted.