There are many reasons why choosing organic over conventional, industrial agriculture is climate-smart. We’ll highlight three:
- Organic systems celebrate diversity by growing a variety of crops free from insecticides. Not only does this provide a haven for pollinators, birds and other wildlife, diversity can help protect organic farms from pests and offers resilience in the face of an erratic climate. By contrast, industrial systems promote mono-cropping – large fields of the same crop on the same piece of land year after year. From a climate point of view, this is like putting all of your eggs in one basket. If a drought, flood or some other extreme weather event comes along, the crop may be wiped out and there will be nothing to fall back on.
- Organic agriculture uses less energy than conventional, industrial agriculture. In fact, on average, conventional agriculture produces 40% more greenhouse gas emissions! A large portion of this difference is related to synthetic fertilizers and pesticides relied upon in conventional systems. Not only are these inputs energy intensive to manufacture, they emit nitrous oxide (N2O), a GHG 296 times more potent than CO2.
- Organic systems have the potential to build soil health and healthy soil in turn stores carbon. While excess carbon in the atmosphere is a problem, carbon in the soil does wonderful things like filter and store water and grow food. A study by the Rodale Institute projects that the planet’s 3.5 billion tillable acres could sequester nearly 40 percent of current CO2 emissions if they were converted to regenerative organic agriculture practices. The same 10-year study estimates that if all U.S. cropland --434 million acres – were converted to organic farming we could reduce nearly 25 percent of our total greenhouse gas emissions.
For more detailed information about the multiple benefits of organic agriculture please visit CFS’s “Organic & Beyond” campaign.