As a professional agronomist whose first two degrees were in geology and geo-chemistry before moving on to soil science and agronomy, I must register my vigorous opposition to any certification as "organic" of hydroponic operations.
During the course of my career I have inspected over 800,000 acres for organic certification, in seven different countries and working in three different languages. I also spent a decade operating some 15,000 square feet of ornamental flower greenhouses and consequently am thoroughly familiar with fertilization regimes in such circumstances.
Quite categorically, effective inspection of such operations is absolutely impossible absent continuous third-party observation of their fertilization regime and practices, which is utterly cost-prohibitive.
To shift from the "organic" program to something based entirely on a conventional product such as Peters 21-5-20 requires no more effort that shifting the Dosmatic's uptake tube from the for-show organic solution bucket to the we'll-make-a-bunch-of-money bucket full of totally conventional fertilizer working solution based on one pound per gallon of the fert, and diluted about 100-to-1.
Such ease of cheating is impossible in the field -- rotations and stuff -- but with hydroponic operations it is but a matter of depressingly simple course.
Hydroponic operations cannot be inspected effectively, even by someone with my extensive chemical training and organic inspection experience.
There is only one appropriate response ... the cancellation of all purported organic certifications and the militant refusal ever to make the same mistake again.
Bart Hall P.Ag
Bart is a long time leader in the organic movement. He has been active in OCIA since its inception. He has also been a long time certifier. He currently farms vegetables in Kansas with his wife, Margit Kaltenekker Hall.