Organic Farming for Climate Resilience2020-03-26T22:43:40+00:00

ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN THE FACE OF A CHANGING CLIMATE

– a Toolkit for Consumers, Advocates & Policymakers  –

Climate change poses critical risks for farmers and ranchers, and endangers the soil, water, and other resources on which food production depends. Rising temperatures have already intensified droughts, heat waves, and storms, making it harder to grow crops and raise livestock.

The good news is that organic systems that emphasize soil health help farmers and ranchers increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. There is also extensive research demonstrating the potential of organic systems to reduce agriculture’s contribution to climate change (i.e., mitigate climate change). Icon 1

Organic systems do this by capturing and storing more carbon (CO2) in the soil. Icon 2

They also release fewer greenhouse gases.  Icon 3

The USDA National Organic Standards require certified producers to implement crop rotation, cover cropping, tillage, nutrient management, and other practices that improve and maintain the physical, chemical, and biological condition of the soil.

Healthy soils store more carbon

The most practical and cost-effective way to remove excess carbon1 (C02) from the atmosphere is through living plants and soils.

While organic systems require some level of physical disturbance to control weeds, they eliminate synthetic inputs and can significantly reduce tillage. Reduced tillage, crop diversification, cover cropping, organic amendments, and sound nutrient management can enhance carbon sequestration and build climate resiliency in organic agricultural systems.

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Healthy soils release fewer greenhouse gases

Organic farmers do not use synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, one of the primary contributors of greenhouse gases.

Healthy soils help crops obtain nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients from organic soil organic matter. This reduces the need for fertilizers that can threaten water quality and minimizes the release of greenhouse gases from soils.

minimize disturbancemaximize biodiversitymaximize soil covermaximize presence of living roots

Healthy soils increase resilience

Climate change poses critical risks for farmers and ranchers, and endangers the soil, water, and other resources on which food production depends. Rising temperatures have already intensified droughts, heat waves, and storms, making it harder to grow crops and raise livestock.

The good news is that organic systems that emphasize soil health help farmers and ranchers increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. There is also extensive research demonstrating the potential of organic systems to reduce agriculture’s contribution to climate change (i.e., mitigate climate change).

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FARMERS’ STORIES

Learn how organic farmers and ranchers use regenerative organic practices to build soil health, store carbon, release fewer greenhouse gases, and build resilience to the effects of climate change.

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RESOURCES

Organic Practices for Climate Mitigation, Adaption, and Carbon Sequestration (guidebook and webinar)

Understanding and Managing Soil Biology for Soil Health and Crop Production (guidebook and webinar)

Reducing Risk through Soil Management

Contribution of OFRF-funded Research to Climate Resilience and Mitigation in Organic Production Systems

Long term trials have shown that cover crops + compost can enhance SOM up to two meters below the surface.

Applying compost and rotating crops can enhance soil organic matter (SOM) and soil Aggregation.

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