Forty nine giga tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – sounds quite a lot to me

Rob Haward - 09 February 2011

Rob Haward: Conversion of all of the world’s agricultural land to organic could reduce carbon dioxide equivalent emissions by 49 giga tonnes/year, delaying climate change by 4 to 5 years. The research presented by Urs Niggli at the conference, a professor at one of Europe’s leading research organisations, showed that in a 16 year trial organic farming offered the potential to sequester 2.4 tonnes of CO2e per year more carbon than an equivalent non organic farm.  The benefits were most marked in horticultural holdings but were demonstrable in every farm type.

Looked at in the context of the challenges we face does this really matter? Currently organic land only makes up 0.8% of the worlds agricultural land and at current growth rates the world would not become organic for another century. But surely tackling such a big problem will not be achieved by arriving at one solution – if this were the case I suspect we would have found it already. So as a part of the solution this is a really compelling benefit of organic farming – without even thinking about the energy use and nitrous oxide emissions associated with fertiliser and pesticide production that organic farming avoids. Perhaps the question should be how quickly can the worlds farming go organic so that the combined benefit really does make a significant different and quickly.

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rob haward
14 February 2011 20:56

HI, sorry for missing the unit. Its per hectare! thanks for reading.

simon wheeler
12 February 2011 22:24

Is that 2.4 tonnes extra C02e sequestered per farm or per acre, and if per farm what is the assumed average acreage ?

John Walker
09 February 2011 19:45

It's eye-opening stuff not just for farmers and growers - we need to look at how gardeners can help in this big carbon-sinking process. There are millions of gardeners in the UK and tens of millions worldwide. Organic gardeners are already making a substantial contribution to cutting carbon (even if they don't know it!). Thanks for blogging!

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