What is the Soil Association Standard?
The Soil Association has a long history of promoting organic farming and soil health. It was founded in 1946 by Sir Albert Howard, who wrote the bestselling “An Agricultural Testament”. In this book he described how to build healthy soils using natural methods that are now known as Organic Farming. He also promoted the idea of returning land back into its original state after it had been farmed for many years.
How has the Soil Association Developed?
Since its formation, the Soil Association developed the world's first organic standards in the 60s and has remained an essential body in terms of farming regulation ever since. As more people are switching to using organic products, the Soil Association has become a more recognised group.
What do the Soil Association Regulations Say?
The Soil Association’s organic standards are the most widely used in Europe but have also been adopted by many other countries. They were developed over several years, with input from farmers, growers, scientists, retailers, and consumers. The standards cover all aspects of production – including soil fertility management, crop rotation, pest control, animal husbandry and food safety.
Why is the Soil Association Essential for Organic Products?
Soils need to be managed sustainably so that they can provide good yields year after year. This includes taking care not only of the plants themselves but also of the animals which graze on them. It involves managing pests as well as weeds, ensuring water flows freely through the land and protecting against erosion.
As an organisation we believe there should never be any compromise when it comes to our health and wellbeing. We want to see people using organic products grown in safe environments where chemicals are kept out of reach. That's why the Soil Association has set up strict rules around what you can use on your body and how far away those ingredients must travel before being used.
In addition to organically grown food and clothing, the Soil Association is also used as the standard for skincare products. One main reason for the switch towards organic products from many consumers, is because of the majority of cosmetics and healthcare products derived from non-organic sources may contain harmful chemicals such as parabens, phthalates and sulphates.
What Makes the Soil Association Standards so Important?
People that use organic produce want there to be some official regulation in place to ensure that the products they are using have actually met a certain set of standards. Many companies want to give off the impression that they are sustainable and environmentally friendly, but the Soil Association helps to act as proof that a company is truly having an impact.
Every year, all organic farms and food companies are inspected. They need robust systems in place, as well as paperwork that shows the standards are being met.
We believe these standards are the best for organic farming and food in the UK as they are supported by strong evidence and wide consultation. We have a strong mandate from the public and organic farming industry, who have helped to shape the standards and the vision for what they can achieve for the environment, animals, and people.