Organic Farming Is Part Of The Solution
Leading scientists and bodies such as the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) repeatedly acknowledge the positive role of organic farming in tackling climate change and securing a sustainable food system that can provide food for all in the future.
What makes organic farming more climate friendly than intensive industrialised agriculture?
Looking after the soil
Soils store carbon. How farms treat the soil is therefore vital. The UK has committed to increase soil carbon by 0.4% a year – it doesn’t sound much but it is enough to stop the annual rise in CO2 in the atmosphere, and we need to hold Government to it.1
More trees on farms
On average, a hectare of woodland locks up more greenhouse gases than a hectare of farmland emits. Weaving trees into our farming - known as agroforestry – can increase land productivity by up to 40%, at the same time as locking up carbon.2 On top of this, trees on farms can reduce floods and drought, and benefit wildlife, as well as protect the soil.
Organic farms generally emit fewer greenhouse gases3 and use less energy per hectare4 than non-organic farms, and store greater amounts of carbon in soils.5 Converting half of farm land to organic farming by 2030 would cut almost a quarter of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.6
But political leadership is needed…
Government support for a transition to zero-carbon-farming is a vital part of the puzzle, which is why we are calling for commitments from the Government to ensure the agriculture and food sector plays its part in tackling climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement.
At EU level, organic organisations are urging the Commission to ensure that agriculture is not let off the hook when it comes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, explaining that: “with existing policies, agriculture emissions are expected to only reduce by 2.3% by 2030, and are expected to represent one third of all EU emissions by 2050.”
A sustainable food future depends on redressing our use of natural resources, cutting waste, and eating less but better quality meat and dairy.
Organic farming provides a model for sustainable food production, and the methods and principles underlying organic systems must be central in this urgent process of transition. Commitments to ‘food security’ do not grant a blank cheque for ever-more intensive, industrialised agriculture – we need more than just food to survive: we need a stable climate, clean air and water, healthy soils and to restore biodiversity. Organic farming must be part of the solution.
But what can you do to help?
As food consumers, we have a part to play and we will need to change our diets and reduce waste if we are to secure a sustainable, climate-friendly food system. That includes less but better quality meat and dairy products. It is also key that we switch to a more plant-based diet, with more fruit, vegetables and wholegrains. Not only would this be good for the planet, it would be good for our health too. Eating locally produced fruit and vegetables is even better, without the carbon footprint of international transportation. These everyday changes we can make will define how the food industry responds on a grand scale and secure the sustainable future of our food.
How can I take action?
By donating today, you will help influence Government to include climate change solutions in the post-Brexit farming policy. You will help make these solutions a reality, cutting up to a third of greenhouse gas emissions, while we still have time. Donate now.
Want to find out more?
Discover how food and farming affect climate change, or what our solutions to the problem of agricultural emissions are, or read Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner's poem on the effects of climate change, The Butterfly Thief.
- Committee on Climate Change (2015) Sectoral scenarios for the Fifth Carbon Budget Technical report. November 2015. https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Sectoral-scenarios-for-the-fifth-carbon-budget-Committee-on-Climate-Change.pdf
- Based on info from Lampkin, N.H., Pearce, B.D., Leake, A.R., Creissen, H., Gerrard, C.L., Girling, R., Lloyd, S., Padel, S., Smith, J., Smith, L.G., Vieweger, A., Wolfe, M.S. (2015) The role of agroecology in sustainable intensification. Report for the Land Use Policy Group. ORC Elm Farm and GWC. http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A1652615.pdf
- Skinner, C, A. Gattinger, A. Mueller, P. Mäder, A. Fliessbach, R. Ruser, and U. Niggli 2014. Greenhouse gas fluxes from agricultural soils under organic and non-organic management – a global meta-analysis. Science of the Total Environment, 468-469, 553-563. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/263732258_Soil_greenhouse_gas_fluxes_under_organic_non-organic_agriculture_compared_First_measurement_results
- Reganold, J. P., & Wachter, J. M. (2016) ‘Organic agriculture in the twenty-first century’ Nature Plants, 2 (February), 15221. http://doi.org/10.1038/NPLANTS.2015.221
- Gattinger, A., Muller, A., Haeni, M., Skinner, C., Fliessbach, A., Buchmann, N., Niggli, U. (2012) ‘Enhanced top soil carbon stocks under organic farming’ Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(44), 18226–31. http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1209
- IFOAM EU (2017)Press statement, ‘Agriculture should play its part to prevent climate change’, published online on 26 April 2017. http://www.ifoam-eu.org/en/news/2017/04/26/press-statement-agriculture-should-play-its-part-prevent-climate-change