Pitgaveny farms around 700 acres organically and around 75 acres is let out to other farmers who produce organic carrots and potatoes. The majority of Pitgaveny’s organic land is devoted to grazing, much of it for sheep but we also have 50 organic Aberdeen Angus cattle.
Pitgaveny started the process of farming some fields organically in 1999. A ‘fallow’ period of two years has to be left between farming conventionally and organically so that the ground is free of chemicals.
At present we farm 300 hectares organically and 1500 hectares conventionally.
We work with the Scottish Organic Producers Association to ensure that our farming practice adheres to the official organic guidelines.
The following from SOPA explains about organic farming and production:
If you want to know what is in the food you eat, the organic standards are very specific about what is permitted in the growing and processing of organic food.
- No Genetically Modified Organisms
- No pesticides
- No artificial fertilisers
- No Cloned or artificial genetic breeding
- No artificial additives
- No hydrogenated fats
All organic farms follow common practices such as long crop rotations and non-chemical pest & weed control. Organic farmers take a holistic view of their farm management, always aiming for balance. Careful planning is critical – there are few short-term solutions and a long-term approach is vital.
- crop rotations provide habitat variety and support more biodiversity
- contributes no fossil fuels in the making of pesticides and artificial fertilisers
- stores more carbon in permanent grassland
- recycles nutrients
- more organic farms are GYO (Grow Your own) so they buy in less feed and
- all organic animals are Free-Range
- organic animals receive fewer antibiotics
- organic farming protects soil from pollution and erosion
- there is more wildlife on organic farms because of the holistic approach to all elements of the ecosystem
Organic livestock must be kept to the Five Freedoms:
- Freedom from malnutrition
- Freedom from thermal and physical discomfort
- Freedom from injury and disease
- Freedom from fear and distress
- Freedom from unnecessary restrictions of behavior
The SOPA Organic Standards also require our organic farmers to respect native breeds and livestock traditions
This includes practices such as hefting, which we believe to be a valuable historical culture in livestock rearing.
Organic animals are always free range
- Organic animals are reared on grass and grass-products like hay or silage.
- There is a strict limit to the amount of non-grass feed permitted in each individual animal’s diet. No GM feed is permitted and all livestock feeds for ruminants MUST be 100% organic.
- Veterinary medicines are very closely monitored on organic livestock farms
- Without exception, if an animal is sick or hurt it must be treated by a vet. However, many preventative actions can be taken to improve the core health of the herd or flock to reduce the incidence of disease.
- Many years ago it was a common misperception that organic farmers could not use any veterinary medicines. But this is a complete fallacy.
- Every SOPA farmer who rears livestock must work to a Livestock Management Plan that is approved by the SOPA Certification team. The Livestock Management Plan is specific to the animals on each farm. It documents health history, assesses the risk of disease and what medicines are used when animals are sick. The plan is reviewed at least annually, and veterinary input is not always necessary.
- The organic principles are based on precautionary practices to avoid disease and illness in livestock. This is achieved by simple practices such as mixed and rotational grazing to manage worm burdens.
- Vaccinations are permitted.