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Soil Association : Soil carbon

Soil carbon

New research from the Soil Association reveals that if all UK farmland was converted to organic farming, at least 3.2 million tonnes of carbon would be taken up by the soil each year - the equivalent of taking nearly 1 million cars off the road. The full report is a review of the biological factors and agricultural practices that determine soil carbon levels, from the benefit of the wider perspective of organic farming.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 89% of agriculture’s global greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation potential is from carbon sequestration – a fact that Governments seem to be ignoring in the critical run-up to climate change talks in Copenhagen (COP 15) in December.

The research’s key findings are:
  • The widespread adoption of organic farming practices in the UK would offset 23% of UK agricultural emissions through soil carbon sequestration alone, more than doubling the UK Government’s pathetically low target of a 6-11% reduction by 2020
  • A worldwide switch to organic farming could offset 11% of all global greenhouse gas emissions. Raising soil carbon levels would also make farming worldwide more resilient to extremes of climate like droughts and floods, leading to greater food security
  • On average organic farming produces 28% higher levels of soil carbon compared to non-organic farming in Northern Europe, and 20% higher for all countries studied (in Europe, North America and Australasia)
  • In the UK, grasslands and mixed farming systems also have a vital role to play, and soil carbon may go a long way to offsetting the methane emissions from grass-fed cattle and sheep.

Read the report to find out more

Soil Carbon and organic farming. A review of the evidence of agriculture’s potential to combat climate change.

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Soil carbon and organic farming

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