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Organic Agriculture and Climate Change

Znaor, Darko (Ed.) (2009) Organic Agriculture and Climate Change. Avalon Foundation, Wommels, pp. 181. Proceedings of International Conference on Organic Agriculture and Climate Change, Sofia , September 28-29, 2009.

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The problem
Climate change is one of the most challenging issues the mankind faces today. The Earth is warming up! The burning of fossil fuels, the cutting of forests and environmentally – unfriendly farming practices are the key reasons why the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has risen by 0.74 °C since the end of the 19th century. The temperature rise causes glaciers, permafrost and sea ice melting. It disturbs and destroys ecosystems and species, causes sea levels rising, seasons changing and more extreme weather, resulting in more frequent flooding and drought, more disease, more famine and hundreds of millions of environmental refugees.
The role of agriculture
Contrary to most other sectors, agriculture is both the source of greenhouse emissions (GHG) and a likely victim of climate change. Agriculture is a significant source of two greenhouse gases: nitrous oxide and methane. Agricultural soils and livestock directly emit GHG, while agriculture’s indirect emissions include fossil fuel use in farm operations, the production of agrochemicals and the conversion of land to agricultural use from forests. Agricultural direct emissions globally make up 14% of all anthropogenic GHG emissions. However, the total global contribution of the agricultural sector, including all direct and indirect emissions, is in the range of 17%-32% of all global human – caused GHG emissions. Livestock farming and fertiliser use are by far the two most significant sources of GHG deriving from agriculture. Through enteric fermentation in the rumen, ruminant livestock (cattle, sheep and goats) produce methane, contributes to about 60% of all global methane emissions. Additionally, both methane and nitrous oxide are emitted from the storage, application and decomposition of manure in the soil. Nitrogen fertilisers applied on agricultural land emit nitrous oxide, a gas whose global warming potential is nearly 300 times greater than of CO2. Besides livestock farming and fertilisers, agriculture emits GHG through the production of legume crops, residue burning and land use change (e.g. conversion of carbon - rich grassland soils or forests into arable land).
Organic farming and GHG emissions
Organic farming contributes to the reduction GHG emissions because it reduces the consumption of fossil fuels (notably those used in fertiliser manufacturing), reduces emissions of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide. It also reduces vulnerability of soils to erosion, while at the same time increasing carbon stocks in the soil. Consequently, conversion to organic farming is believed to be a viable way of reducing GHG emissions. Depending on the commodity produced, organic farming emits 6%-60% less GHGs than non–organic farming. However, when calculated per kg of product, in the case of substantially lower yields, organic farming can result in a higher global warming potential.
The conference objectives were to:
1. Inform about potentials and challenges of organic farming in regard to climate protection.
2. Provide opportunity to exchange ideas about research, education and demonstration projects and opportunities on organic farming and climate change.
3. Inspire to adopt policies fostering development of organic farming and promoting the spread of its practices.

EPrint Type:Proceedings
Keywords:Organic farming and climate change; Environmental impact of organic farming
Subjects: Food systems > Food security, food quality and human health
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy > Systems research and participatory research
Soil > Nutrient turnover
Farming Systems > Social aspects
Environmental aspects > Air and water emissions
Food systems > Policy environments and social economy
Environmental aspects
Research affiliation: Netherlands
Deposited By: Znaor, Dr Darko
ID Code:26390
Deposited On:20 Jun 2014 10:20
Last Modified:20 Jun 2014 10:20
Document Language:English

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