CO2 emissions are around 40 per cent lower in organically farmed areas than they are on conventionally farmed plots.
Photo: ©shutterstock/Sunet Sueskakunkhrit

29.03.2019

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Cropland farmed organically over a longer period emits 40 per cent less greenhouse gases per hectare than conventionally farmed cropland. This has been revealed in results from a world-wide unique long-term field trial. Diversified crop sequencing is a precondition.

Cropland farmed organically over a longer period emits less greenhouse gases per hectare than conventionally farmed soils. This value is also lower per tonne of yield or, in the case of maize crops, is at the same level. These results have been presented in a study on a long-term field trial that is the first of its kind world-wide and was headed by Andreas Gattinger, a professor at Justus Liebig University Gießen/Germany. The results have been published in the online version of the science journal “Scientific Reports”.

Agriculture contributes around eleven per cent of world-wide greenhouse gas emissions, with soil emissions, above all in the form of laughing gas, accounting for the largest share. “Whereas the dominant assumption used to be that organically farmed areas emit more greenhouse gases per tonne of plant yield, our study presents a different picture,” Gattinger explains. “So organic farming contributes to mitigating climate change.” 

The examinations carried out in the context of this long-term trial comparing biological and conventional cultivation systems were carried out in co-operation with the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL) in Frick/Switzerland and the Swiss Centre of Excellence for Agricultural Research in Zurich/Switzerland.

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