Breaking News on Status of Sodium Nitate Under the NOP Organic Regulations

Breaking News on Status of Sodium Nitate Under the NOP Organic Regulations
Jonathan - Sun Sep 16, 2012 @ 10:04AM
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September 15, 2012

Breaking News on the Use of Chilean Nitrate/Sodium Nitrate: USDA Pauses Pending Action: Future Action Unclear

Organic growers will want to take special note of the USDA’s latest guidance on the use of Chilean Nitrate/Sodium Nitrate. Please review the bullet point summary below. You can also access the NOP’s announcement directly by following the provided link. At the conclusion of this announcement, Americert International provides some commentary and discussion on how Americert client’s should proceed in this uncertain area.

Summary of USDA Guidance

·         The NOP has not yet acted on the National Organic Standards Board recommendation to remove sodium nitrate as an allowed natural fertilizer under the USDA NOP organic regulations.

·         By failing to take rulemaking action however, the lack of action actually has the opposite effect than the NOSB intended. Because sodium nitrate is a natural substance, by failing to take action to make sodium nitrate a prohibited natural, the existing restriction (that sodium nitrate is restricted to 20% of nitrogen needs of the crop) lapses and sodium nitrate use is unregulated and allowed at any rate with only the same restrictions as any natural fertilizer.

·         The NOP expects to undertake future rulemaking on sodium nitrate but it is not clear what the rule will be or when it will be enacted. Presumably the NOP when it does take action, will make sodium nitrate a prohibited natural in accordance with the NOSB recommendation.



To read the full text of the USDA guidance on sodium nitrate please click here:


Americert International Guidance to Its Certified Growers:

Prior to October 21, 2012, operations must not:

·         Meet more than 20 percent of an organic crop's nitrogen requirement with sodium nitrate.
Regulatory reference: 7CFR section 205.602(g)

On or after October 21, 2012, operations using sodium nitrate must still:

·         Maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.
Regulatory reference: 7CFR section 205.200

·         Comply with crop nutrient and soil fertility requirements. 
Regulatory reference: 7CFR section 205.203


Operations must use great caution in the timing of purchases and use of sodium nitrate as this is an area where there will be future rulemaking by the NOP and while we expect to have plenty of notice of the new rule, there is unlikely to be any provision to allow the using up of any stockpiled sodium nitrate past a specific compliance date to be set by the NOP. Accordingly, Americert highly recommends purchasing only what you intend to use and to use it immediately (but responsibly). Watch for updates and news of rulemaking in this area.


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