Additionally, researchers affiliated with the Institute of Organic Agriculture in Switzerland and the Institute of Agricultural Sciences in Germany published a meta-study in which they conclude that organic farming methods lead to higher rates of carbon sequestration in soils. This work was published in a well respected journal, Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.

Building up soil carbon is a very good thing to do, and organic methods were the state-of-the-art method for doing that from around the 1920s to the 1960s. However, there are now newer and better ways to improve soil quality on farms, and they don’t have the huge carbon footprint problem that is so common with organic – emissions of the potent greenhouse gases methane and nitrous oxide which have 21 and 295 times as much greenhouse gas effect as carbon dioxide respectively.

 

 

All forms of farming including organic can lead to soil emissions of these gases, particularly the nitrous oxide. The glaring issue that is problematic for organic is the emissions of those gases associated with composting.  Most people might think of composting as a very “green” thing to do, but few realize that composting actually generates a significant amount of these harmful greenhouse gases.

 

 

Which brings us to perhaps the key point as to why organic food production isn’t in and of itself “sustainable.” The fact that organic farming isn’t more green than conventional is that while it might be better for local environments on the small scale, organic farms produce far less food per unit than conventional ones. Organic farms produce around 80 percent of what the same size conventional farm produces (some studies place organic yields below 50 percent of those of conventional farms.)

 

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