Monday, July 16, 2007

Organic Farming Saves Resources and The Climate

Promoting organic farming means mitigating climate change!

Organic agriculture achieves high plant yields by making efficient use of organic residues: To fertilize soils, it uses composted harvest residues and animal manure. This saves 50 to 150 kg, depending upon the crop, in synthetic nitrogen fertilizer per hectare which would otherwise need to be produced using non-renewable fuels.

Studies have shown that conventional arable farming operations in England consume some 17,000 litres of fossil fuels embodied in fertilizers per 100 hectare of land each year. Worldwide, 90 million tonnes of mineral oil or natural gas are processed to nitrogen fertilizer every year. This generates 250 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

With their low-impact methods, organic farmers boost soil fertility and the humus content of soils. The result is that the greenhouse gas CO2 is returned to the biomass of the soil. Long-term field trials conducted over many years in Switzerland have shown that compared to other methods of farming (conventional, integrated production) organic farming enriches 12 to 15 percent more carbon dioxide in the soil, as FiBL soil researcher Andreas Fliessbach explains. This means that organic farms return 575 to 700 kg CO2 to the soil per hectare and year more than other farmers. Organic farming thus reduces CO2 emissions by eliminating synthetic fertilizers, and at the same time reduces atmospheric concentrations of this gas by storing it in the soil - a true win-win strategy.

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