Global analysis shows organic farming contributes to climate change mitigation

04 October 2013

The results of a new meta-analysis published in the Science of the Total Environment journal 1reveal that organically farmed lands emit less nitrous oxide and take up greater amounts of atmospheric methane, helping to combat climate change.  

This is the result of an evaluation of 19 comparative studies from around the globe conducted by a team of experts at FiBL (Research Institute of Organic Agriculture based in Switzerland) and the University of Hohenheim.

Nitrous oxide emissions from organically managed soils are on average 492 kg CO2 eq. per hectare and year lower than those from non-organically managed soils. The researchers found that the reason for this appears to be the due to soil quality. Moreover, uptake of atmospheric methane on organically farmed lands is slightly higher. The study only assessed emissions from soil on agricultural land and did not take into account emissions arising for example in nitrogen fertilizer production or farm-waste management.

Emma Hockridge, head of policy at the Soil Association said; “This study provides further evidence on the benefits of organic farming systems in terms of climate change mitigation. It also further highlights the additional benefits of the high quality of soils found within organic systems.


1. Skinner, C, A. Gattinger, A. Mueller, P. Mäder, A. Fliessbach, R. Ruser, and U. Niggli 2014. Greenhouse gas fluxes from agricultural soils under organic and non-organic management – a global meta-analysis. Science of the Total Environment, 468-469, 553-563.

2. Just say N2O: From manufactured fertiliser to biologically-fixed nitrogen 


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