What is a hydroponic or container-based system?

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Most people think of hydroponic as an indoor system where roots are suspended in water. However, these systems are rare in organic production. Most systems broadly referred to as hydroponic use substrate and the majority operate with natural light.

The NOP does not define hydroponic versus other types of container systems, so CCOF Certification Services broadly uses the term “container-based systems” to refer to a range of productions, including but not limited to: open-field container production, greenhouse production with crops not in the ground, mushrooms, rooftop gardens, sprouts, microgreens, transplants, and planting stock.

We estimate that over 90 percent of CCOF members grow in the ground and about 10 percent grow in containers (open-field container production, greenhouse production with crops not in the ground, mushrooms, roof top gardens, sprouts, microgreens, transplants, and planting stock). We estimate that over 99 percent of CCOF members grow in soil and/or substrate.