Organic Systems, Environment and Climate Change


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Andre Leu, Chairman of the Organic Federation of Australia, declares that organic farming is the most natural form of "Carbon Farming" and explains why.

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Organic Systems, Environment and Climate Change

  1. 1. Organic Systems, Environment and Climate Change Andre Leu – Chairman Organic Federation of Australia IFOAM World Board Member Organic Federation of Australia
  2. 2. Definition of Organic Agriculture <ul><li>“ Healthy soil is the prerequisite for healthy plants, animals and products. With organic farming, the care of a living soil and consequently the maintenance or improvement of soil structure, fertility and nutrient cycling is fundamental to all measures adopted’ (National Standard 2005). </li></ul>
  3. 3. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><li>A 21-year study published in Science </li></ul><ul><li>Organic farming achieves: </li></ul><ul><li>More energy-efficiency </li></ul><ul><li>Healthier soils </li></ul><ul><li>Greater diversity & number of organisms </li></ul><ul><li>Greater efficiency in using nutrients </li></ul>
  4. 4. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><li>Scientific Review by Cornell University into a 22 year-long Field Study </li></ul><ul><li>The improved soil allowed the organic land to generate yields equal to or greater than the conventional crops after 5 years </li></ul><ul><li>The conventional crops collapsed during drought years. </li></ul><ul><li>The organic crops fluctuated only slightly during drought years, due to greater water holding capacity in the enriched soil. </li></ul><ul><li>The organic crops used 30% less fossil energy inputs than the conventional crops. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Published in the Journal Bioscience </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><ul><li>Research Shows that Organic Systems use Water More Efficiently </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ Soil water held in the crop root zone was measured and shown to be consistently higher … in the organic plots than the conventional plots, due to the higher organic matter ...’ (Lotter 2003) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><ul><li>Research Shows that Organic Systems use Water More Efficiently </li></ul></ul><ul><li>‘ The exceptional water capture capability of the organic treatments stood out during the torrential downpours during hurricane Floyd in September of 1999. </li></ul><ul><li>The organic systems captured about twice as much water as the conventional treatment during that two day event’ (Lotter 2003) </li></ul>
  7. 7. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><ul><li>Research Shows that Organic Systems use Water More Efficiently </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Volume of Water Retained /ha (to 30 cm) in relation to soil organic matter (OM). </li></ul><ul><li>0.5% OM = 80,000 litres (average 2004 level) </li></ul><ul><li>1 % OM = 160,000 litres </li></ul><ul><li>2 % OM = 320,000 litres </li></ul><ul><li>3 % OM = 480,000 litres </li></ul><ul><li>4 % OM = 640,000 litres </li></ul><ul><li>5 % OM = 800,000 litres (pre-settlement level) </li></ul>
  8. 8. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><li>Soil Carbon Systems Have Less Soil Erosion </li></ul><ul><li>The results of a study that compared erosion in organic and conventional farming over 38 years. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ This study indicates that, in the long term, the organic farming system was more effective than the conventional farming system in reducing soil erosion and, therefore, in maintaining soil productivity’ (Reganold et al. 1987). </li></ul>
  9. 9. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><li>Soil Carbon Systems Improve Soil </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;Results of this research suggest that organic farming systems can provide greater long-term soil improvement than conventional no-tillage systems, despite the use of tillage in organic systems.” </li></ul><ul><li>Journal of Soil and Water Conservation entitled &quot;Strategies for Soil Conservation in No-tillage and Organic Farming Systems&quot; (Nov/Dec 2007, Vol. 62, Number 6). </li></ul>
  10. 10. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><li>Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilisers Deplete Carbon </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists from the University of Illinois analysed the results of a 50 year agricultural trial and found that synthetic nitrogen fertiliser resulted in all the carbon residues from the crop disappearing as well as an average loss of around 10,000 kg of soil carbon per hectare. </li></ul><ul><li>This is around 33,000 kg of carbon dioxide per hectare on top of the many thousands of kilograms of crop residue that is converted in to CO 2 every year. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><li>Synthetic Nitrogen Fertilisers Deplete Carbon </li></ul><ul><li>The researchers found that the higher the application of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser the greater the amount of soil carbon lost as CO 2 . </li></ul><ul><li>This is one of the major reasons why conventional agricultural systems have a decline in soil carbon while organic systems increase soil carbon. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><li>Rodale Institute </li></ul><ul><li>“ U.S. agriculture as currently practiced emits a total of 1.5 trillion pounds of CO2 annually into the atmosphere. </li></ul><ul><li>Converting all U.S. cropland to organic would not only wipe out agriculture's massive emission problem. By eliminating energy-costly chemical fertilizers, it would actually give us a net increase in soil carbon of 734 billion pounds.” </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rodale (2003) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><li>Rodale Institute Long Term Trails </li></ul><ul><li>organic farming practices, can remove about 7,000 kilos of carbon dioxide from the air each year and sequester it in a hectare of farmland </li></ul><ul><li>organic practices farms could counteract up to 40 percent of global greenhouse gas output. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rodale (2008) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Benefits to Agriculture <ul><li>Rodale Institute </li></ul><ul><li>The scientists estimated that if all of America’s 100 million hectares of cropland were converted to organic practices, it would be the equivalent of taking 217 million cars off the road. </li></ul><ul><li>This is nearly 88 percent of all cars in the USA and more than a third of all the cars in the world. </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rodale (2008) </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  15. 15. <ul><li>Organic carbon, particularly humus </li></ul><ul><li>is critical to successful soil Health </li></ul><ul><li>Nutrient availability: </li></ul><ul><li>Stores 90 to 95% of the nitrogen in the soil, 15 to 80% of phosphorus and 50 to 20% of sulphur in the soil </li></ul><ul><li>SEVERELY REDUCES THE LEACHING OF NUTRIENTS </li></ul><ul><li>Increases the soils TEC Total ion Exchange Capacity </li></ul><ul><li>Stores cations, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and all trace elements </li></ul><ul><li>Organic acids (humic and fulvic) make minerals available by dissolving locked up minerals </li></ul>
  16. 16. <ul><li>Organic carbon, particularly humus </li></ul><ul><li>is critical to successful soil Health </li></ul><ul><li>Nutrient availability : </li></ul><ul><li>Prevents mineral ions from being locked up </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages a range of microbes that make locked up minerals available to plants. </li></ul><ul><li>Helps to neutralise the pH </li></ul><ul><li>Buffers the soil from strong changes in pH </li></ul>
  17. 17. 2+
  18. 21. MANAGING GROUND COVERS Cut plants add organic carbon into the soil to feed the microorganisms and the crop
  19. 22. MANAGING GROUND COVERS Biological activity in soil is stimulated by rootmass activity which feeds microbe communities and generates soil carbon and nutrients for the crop
  22. 26. Minimum Till without Herbicides
  23. 27. Minimum Till without Herbicides
  24. 28. Pasture Cropping Onions Growing in Rye Grass
  25. 29. Pasture Cropping Oats Sown into Pasture
  26. 30. Pasture Cropping Oats Sown into Pasture
  27. 32. Precision Tillage Systems <ul><li>Reduce soil disturbance and erosion </li></ul><ul><li>Precision weed control replaces herbicides </li></ul>
  28. 36. <ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul><ul><li>A large body of published science shows: </li></ul><ul><li>Organic agricultural systems can ameliorate Climate Change </li></ul><ul><li>reduce greenhouse gases </li></ul><ul><li>sequester carbon into the soil </li></ul><ul><li>use less water </li></ul><ul><li>reduce soil erosion and nutrient run off </li></ul><ul><li>no chemical run off </li></ul><ul><li>more resilient in adverse weather events </li></ul><ul><li>achieve good yields of high quality produce </li></ul>
  29. 37. Thank You