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Study shows organic helps curb nitrogen pollution

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Nitrogen is essential for plants but too much causes problems.

Nitrogen is essential for plants but too much causes problems. Photo © Oekolandbau.de

In anticipation of its activities at Natural Products Expo West, The Organic Center released new research findings from the University of Virginia in collaboration with The Organic Center showing that organic farming can help reduce nitrogen pollution on a global scale.

This comes on the heels of The Center’s groundbreaking study last year showing how organic soils help to diminish climate change. This latest study offers even more solid proof that organic food and farming create a cleaner global environment. Climate change, smog, acid rain, dead zones and the ozone hole are real issues affecting the planet, and nitrogen pollution plays a key role in each of them.

Organic farming recycles nitrogen

Plants need nitrogen to grow, it is essential to life on earth and is present in all living systems. But too much of that same nitrogen can cause environmental problems. The University of Virginia and The Organic Center collaboration finds that organic farming – through its recycling of nitrogen – contributes far less to the pool of new reactive nitrogen in the environment and can help to alleviate the critical problem of nitrogen pollution. The study - led by a team of researchers in Dr. James Galloway’s lab at the University of Virginia - found that organic farming helps prevent nitrogen pollution by recycling – or reusing -- three times more reactive nitrogen than conventional farming. Instead of adding to the reactive nitrogen pool in the environment, organic farming recycles nitrogen in its practices.


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