With recent research finding that organic farming and climate change are interconnected enough so that the global decision to go organic could even save the world, it’s unfortunate to know that chemical farming is still the most prevalent farming method being used today.
Chemical farming, for one, doesn’t foster rich carbon-sequestering soil. Damaging farming practices like tilling the soil and growing one crop year after year makes carbon dioxide escape and deplete the nutritional value of soil. Farmers attempt to add nitrogen-stuffed fertilizers, which offer another source of dangerous greenhouse gases. Anything still living in the soil frequently gets killed with pesticides, and many livestock farmers only make the issue more serious by stuffing large amounts of animals into small areas– where they give off methane, another harmful greenhouse gas, says Mark Smallwood, the Rodale Institute’s executive director.
“Over the past decade, these direct agricultural emissions have increased about 1 percent a year…or about 10 percent of total annual emissions,” a review of research on the connection between organic farming and climate change writes. “The food system at large, including feed, fertilizer and pesticide manufacture, processing, transportation, refrigeration, and waste disposal, accounts for 30 percent or more of total annual global greenhouse-gas emissions.”
Though organic farming can’t do away with emissions caused from transportation, refrigeration, and disposal, it can keep those emissions to a minimum by using “regenerative” practices that lead to healthier soil while countering the serious harm caused from carbon dioxide on our wonderful world.
Better still, organic farming will feed the world– feeding the world population has been the calling card of chemical agriculture for years, the paper admits, but research from across the globe indicates that organic can outdo chemical agriculture for all commodity crops. That includes corn, soy, wheat, rice, and even sunflowers, Smallwood says. “Their whole play is that bringing on genetically modified crops is going to increase yield, and that’s a lie. We’ve proven that.” Organic farms yielded more crops over a 31-year period than conventional ones by 28 to 34 percent, research from the Rodale Institute found.
“Soil, in my view, is the stomach of the earth, where nutrients are exchanged. It is the most valuable resource we have,” Smallwood concludes. “It provides the one thing everyone will need forever—food. And we’re destroying it.”
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