How can organic farming benefit the climate?

Climate change leads to major insecurities for the world food supply, says the FAO. There is ample scientific proof that organic farming can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and is a more resilient approach in a changing climate. The improved water holding capacity of organic soils makes it easier to deal with wet and dry intervals. Organic farmers can even have a positive climate impact, by sequestring carbon in their soils.

Agriculture and climate

Agriculture produces 14% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. If we look at the whole agricultural production chain, from fertilizer production to packaging, it even produces 33% of all emissions. Organic agriculture pays a positive part in this debate because it lead to less emissions of greenhouse gases, less energy expenditure and more carbon sequestration.

The food sector is responsible for 33% of all greenhouse gas emissions

CO2-sequestration

There is convincing evidence that organic agriculture manages to keep more carbon stored in the soil. Of course, striving for a high percentage of organic matter in the soil is the basic premisse of organic agriculture, and the reason why it is called "organic." This lowers the amount of CO2 in the atmoshpere.

Water holding capacity

International studies in the USA and Germany have shown conclusively that organic soils have a better water holding capacity. This manifests itself in dry years, when organic soils give better yields than conventional soils. Conversely, when the water levels are high, organic soils offer much better protection against erosion and flooding.

Soils are the key to the climate solution

Recently the EU published the report "Soil - the hidden part of the climate cycle". The report shows that soils are by far the largest carbon stores on our planet that we can actually manage. Our soils are sequestring more carbon than the atmospere and all life forms together. And we can increase the amount of carbon that is stored in the soil, by turning to organic agriculture.

Greenhouse gasses

Greenhouse gasses are gassed that tend to heat up the atmosphere, because they absorb infrared radiation. The main greenhouse gasses are CO2 (carbon dioxide), CH4 (methane), and N2O (nitrous oxide, laughing gas). The greenhouse effect of methane is 4 times as strong as carbon dioxide, while nitrous oxide is 300 times as strong. Emission of nitrous oxide is mainly caused by production and use of artificial fertilizers, but also by the use of normal manure and by ploughing grassland.

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