The Organic Federation of Australia (OFA) has recently released a report entitled “Improving the Capacity of Organic Producers to Manage climate Change”.  If you haven’t read it, please contact the Federation, it costs $40 but is well worth the read – absolutely fascinating and an incredible insight into organic farming methods

A recent OFA newsletter contained the following summary of the report.

“According to government figures, Australia has 473 million hectares of agricultural land and emitted 537 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) in 2009. Sequestering 1,100 kilos of CO2 per hectare per year would make Australia CO2 neutral.

2 independent global Meta reviews looked at the amount of CO2 that was sequestered on average by organic systems. A study by FiBL, the world’s largest organic scientific research organisation found that organic farming practices remove about 2,000 kilos of carbon dioxide from the air each year and sequester it in a hectare of farmland. The study by the UK Soil Association found that organic farming practices remove about 2,200 kilos of CO2 per hectare per year.

Both of these studies used data from Australian trials. This is critical information as it clearly shows that show that Australian organic farmers are currently sequestering significant amounts soil carbon. Very importantly this is not based on untested concepts like ‘carbon capture’ or ‘clean coal’. It is based on current practices that can easily be adopted by other land managers.

The widespread adoption of current organic practices would make Australia CO2 neutral.

Higher Levels of CO2 Sequestration can be Achieved
There is compelling data that significantly higher levels of CO2 sequestration can be achieved. The Rodale studies have demonstrated that over 7,400 kilos of CO2 can be sequestered per hectare per year for more than 30 years. There are other studies showing that organic systems have achieved over 30,000 kgs/ha per year.

Investing in organic research and development to ensure that that all farmers can consistently sequester these levels of CO2 will bring enormous benefits to the whole world.

Higher Levels of Soil Carbon Brings Numerous Adaption Benefits
CO2 sequestration is only one of the numerous benefits of increasing soil carbon. Scientific studies show that the multiple benefits of good levels of biologically active soil carbon are:

  • Increases in soil nitrogen
  • Better retention and efficiency of soil nutrients
  • Increase and conserve biodiversity
  • Increase resilience and drought proofing
  • Increase water use efficiency – reduce need for irrigation
  • Reduce soil erosion and eutrophication of aquatic systems
  • Achieve good yields of quality produce

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