The conversion of all U. K. farmland to organic farming would achieve the equivalent carbon savings to taking nearly one million cars off the road, the Soil Association said Nov. 26.
Britain’s largest organic certification body, issuing results of a research project, said on average organic farming produces 28 per cent higher levels of soil carbon compared with non-organic farming in northern Europe.
“The widespread adoption of organic farming practices in the U. K. would offset 23 per cent of U. K. agricultural emissions through soil carbon sequestration alone, more than doubling the U. K. government’s pathetically low target of a six to 11 per cent reduction by 2020,” the Soil Association said.
“A worldwide switch to organic farming could offset 11 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions,” the organic group added.
Professor of Soils and Global Change at Aberdeen University Pete Smith said organic farming had many practices which increased soil carbon.
He said the main challenge, however, was whether a switch to organic farming would maintain the productivity of the land, adding it would be fairer to compare farming methods on a “per unit of product” basis.
“If you accept there could be lower production, you may need to spread agriculture to other areas of land,” he said.
“Any benefit on carbon you get could be more than wiped out by plowing up land elsewhere. The difference between organic and conventional is not so striking when you look at it on a per unit of product basis,” he said.