The Real Climate Impact of Organic Farming

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The Real Climate Impact of Organic Farming is an article written on foodprint.org as a response to many reports that have been surfacing that organic farming is actually WORSE for the environment. The article mentions that these studies exist alongside those that prove that organic systems do reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The author, Lisa Held states that we must do our proper research to get to the heart of organic agriculture’s environmental impact.

She begins by stating that agriculture in general is damaging to the environment due to the natural environments that are cleared to make room for farms. Natural ecosystems are highly efficient at sequestering carbon and replacing them with farmlands has a detrimental effect on the climate.

This is the fact that some of the detractors of organic agriculture chose to focus on, stating that organic farms’ lower yields requires us to use more farmlands. However this comparison often only takes into account organic farms that still adhere to CONVENTIONAL systems.

A proper, sustainable organic farm focuses on building the soil first and foremost. The Rodale Institute, an organization that does studies on soil health have proven that after the first few years, organic farms begin to perform at par with conventional ones1. That is because the soil microbiome which is essential to plant health, needs time to be restored. Once restored, organic soil produces superior yields with superior quality!

Another very important point is that organic soil produced up to 30% more during extreme weather conditions such as drought or flood. This is highly relevant as we enter an era of climate crisis. Thankfully, the focus on soil building in sustainable agriculture goes a long way towards mitigating this.

She wraps up by saying that in order to achieve superior results, organic systems need to be diverse and well-planned. It is important that we focus on creating practices that are regenerative and sustainable. By integrating such values and practices into our farms, we can create systems that provide for our needs without damaging the environment.

Editors Note:

Once again we see the importance of differentiating between organic and sustainable farms. The gap between farms that focus on soil ecosystems and those which are more input-oriented is huge.

Carbon Sequestration is one of the biggest benefits that sustainable farming holds for all of humanity. The practice of returning as much organic matter into the soil returns atmospheric carbon into the earth. This goes a long way towards mitigating climate change, especially the more farms focus on soil health.

When an organic farm places a priority on regenerating the soil, it rewards them with greater yields, nutrient content and farm resilience. They also have a positive impact on the environment. The FACTS are clear. There is no longer any basis to saying organic agriculture is worse for the environments.

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Footnotes

  1. https://rodaleinstitute.org/science/farming-systems-trial/

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