Organic farming wins performance comparison
by Leo Frühschütz (comments: 0)
German scientists have presented the most comprehensive study to date on the ecological and social performance of organic agriculture. The result is clear: Organic farming leads in five out of seven areas.
22 scientists, coordinated by the Thünen Institute and the University of Kassel, evaluated 528 studies comparing organic and conventional farming. In doing so, they looked at the performance in seven areas.
In the following areas, organic beats conventional agriculture:
- water protection
- soil fertility
- adaptation to more extreme climatic conditions
- efficient use of nitrogen
Climate protection and emissions
In the area of climate protection, it was found that ecologically managed soils contained 10% more organic soil carbon and can store more carbon. Emissions of the extremely climate-damaging laughing gas were also a quarter lower. However, since yields per hectare are also lower, these advantages disappear when they are converted to the quantity harvested. In the absence of reliable data, the scientists came to the conclusion: "probably comparable performance to conventional agriculture".
Achievements for animal welfare
On the subject of animal welfare, the study states: "Across all farm animal species and production directions, the results did not provide a clear picture of whether organic farms provide higher animal welfare services than conventional ones. " The management seems to be more decisive than the economic method.
Key technology for sustainable land use
From their evaluations, the authors of the study conclude that "organic farming can make a relevant contribution to solving the environmental and resource policy challenges of our time and is rightly regarded as a key technology for sustainable land use".
"Organic works. The organic farming system does a lot to protect the environment and the climate," commented Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, chairman of the German organic umbrella organisation BÖLW, on the study. He emphasised that farmers who practise agriculture suitable for grandchildren would have to be rewarded for this. "Every Euro for organic means an investment in clean water, healthy soils and climate protection". Here it is the politicians' turn. The reform of EU agricultural policy offers the best opportunity for this.