Lower organic yields dampen the upside of environmental and climate cost savings, German study finds
Published: April 4, 2023
Category: Organic Farming and Food
Though organic agriculture yields still lag behind conventional, organic farming could save as much as $4.33 billion in climate and environmental costs, a ten-year German study has found.
The EU aims for organic farming to occupy 25% of arable land by 2030. The Munich Technical University study included data from 40 organic and 40 conventional farms; it found that conventional farming costs—when accounting for negative impacts from nitrogen and greenhouse gas emissions—exceed organic costs. Organic production used 20 kg of nitrogen per hectare vs. 80-100 kg for conventional; eliminating nitrogen-based fertilizers cuts energy consumption significantly.
But there is “a yield gap compared to conventional farming,” noted lead author Kurt- Jürgen Hülsbergen.
“Organic farming offers many advantages: from stable prices to reduced nutrient and active ingredient inputs into the environment,” said Peter Breunig of Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University.
But organic requires almost twice as much land per unit of grain as conventional. A dearth of farmland already exists, and with more removed for organic, less is available for climate mitigation measures.
“The fact that the expansion of organic agriculture always leads to biodiversity and climate benefits is therefore increasingly being questioned in the scientific community,” Breunig concluded. Hülsbergen feels organic could work, however, with optimization of systems.
Tina Andres of BÖLW cites organic production’s resilience—the price of conventional butter rose 59% compared to a 29% rise for organic last year. “Organic …works as an inflation brake,” Andres argues.
To view source article, visit: https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/study-organic-farming-saves-billions-but-yields-not-up-to-par/
Organic & Non-GMO Insights April 2023