How more organic farming could worsen global warming

From PBS

By —Courtney Vinopal

Science Updated on Oct 23, 2019 10:00 AM EDT — Published on Oct 22, 2019 3:56 PM EDT

For decades, the conventional wisdom surrounding organic farming has been that it produces crops that are healthier and better for the environment as a whole.

In the U.S., where organic food sales totaled nearly $50 billion last year and made up 5.7 percent of total food sales, companies such as Annie’s and Organic Valley market their products as leaving a low carbon footprint. They remind consumers that their ingredients “matter…to the planet we all share,” or that their farming practices “remove excess carbon dioxide from the air.” The International Federation of Agriculture Movements promises in its literature that organic farming can “help reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the agricultural sector of the European Union and beyond.”

But a new study out this week challenges this narrative, predicting that a wholesale shift to organic farming could increase net greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 21 percent.

“We’re not saying that organic is wrong,” said Adrian Williams, an associate professor of environmental systems at Cranfield University in the U.K., but that consumers and environmental organizations would be wise to consider what these farming practices would look like on a much larger scale before making assumptions about the environmental impacts. Williams worked on the study published in Nature Communications on Tuesday.

While it’s unlikely that any country will pursue a complete, 100 percent transition to organic farming anytime soon, the study falls in line with others that raise questions about the degree to which these practices can mitigate the effects of climate change — and how market forces limit their ability to do so.

What would a shift to 100 percent organic look like?

Much research has been done about the link between organic farming and greenhouse gas emissions in smaller, niche settings, from grassland farms in Southern Germany to suckler-beef producers in Ireland. Results have been varied — while organic farming practices lowered greenhouse gases in some scenarios, in others, emissions grew or remained constant.

A team at Cranfield University sought to expand this scope of research by predicting how far the food supply would carry if England and Wales made a switch to 100 percent organic farming.

“The question was, how much could we produce using only organic methods?” Williams said.

Forty percent less, it turns out. Organic farming typically produces lower crop yields due to factors such as the lower potency fertilizers used in the soil, which are limited to natural sources such as beans and other legumes. Williams’ model found that a 100 percent organic farming system in England and Wales would mean much smaller crop yields. For wheat and barley, for example, their production would be halved relative to conventional farming.

“Having established that there would be a shortfall in massive production, the gap would be filled by increased imports, ” Williams said.

If we try to have the same diet and convert to organic, we can’t really do it without expanding agricultural land demands.

This outcome could lead to a 21 percent rise in greenhouse gas emissions from England and Wales because those imports would likely be raised overseas through conventional agriculture. Such a transition would render moot the potential reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that would otherwise be achieved by the switch.

Full article here.

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122 thoughts on “How more organic farming could worsen global warming

  1. No it wouldnt. It would lead to a 40% reduction in population (ideally), or a dramatic change in diet to support the same population (less then ideal). Remember that the purpose of the Green New Deal in the US is to force a two-tiered society, with out Media Party masters leading recognizably modern lives while the rest of us are spread out across America engaged in subsistence farming and supplementing with protein from the carcasses of bats and birds killed by the windmills.

  2. I’m sorry, who does inorganic farming anyway? This whole “organic thing” just frustrates me. I don’t want food grown in manure, thank you.

    • “Dan Sudlik October 24, 2019 at 2:17 pm
      I’m sorry, who does inorganic farming anyway? This whole “organic thing” just frustrates me. I don’t want food grown in manure, thank you.”

      Not even the hydroponic growers can promise 100% manure free plants.

      Everything planted in soil has manure added. Some of the hydroponics put manure into solution to supply the necessary fertilizers.
      e.g. From an article about farmland auction prices in Sioux County, Iowa:

      Tract 1 started at $9,000 to open, and got to $15,000 before it slowed down. By the time the gavel fell, the high bid was $18,300, which could very well be the top price we see in Iowa this fall.

      WHY SO HIGH?
      Northwest Iowa is unique because of its strong livestock influence. “We have more manure than we have land,” says Beyer, explaining that farmers need farmland on which to spread manure on their farm fields.”

      Farmers return manure and plant wastes back to the land. Saves paying high prices for synthesized fertilizers.

      • oh lord I DREAM of being able to source tonnes of manure at afordable prices, and so do many others in Aus
        the Carp we dredge from the rivers gets nabbed by big agribiz and the piddling litres cost 11$ or more after they process em
        a truck of manure would cost me 700 or more and i need 20 truckloads
        rockdust is 66 for a bulker bag thats about a tonne
        bothe manure and rockdust have from 2 to 4 yrs ongoing benefits however commercial chem synth doesnt.
        and it kills soil biota

        and why do i guess whoever did that “research” is like the last anti organic post here
        a hidden but active consortium of big agri chem cos

    • Well try growing it without compost and see how far you get. Compost is often well rotted manure.

      From personal experience the yield comparison of compost vs no compost is no contest: compost wins hands down. Weed suppression, fewer plant losses, healthier and faster growing plants, larger harvests.

      Distinguish between horticulture and agriculture: fruit and vegetables should always be grown with compost, whereas grain crops may or may not benefit.

      • You can use compost without using manure. Compost is merely decomposing organic matter, it doesn’t require manure to be compost.

    • I follow FDA alerts about food recalled due to making people sick and I have noticed over the last few years a lot of it tends to be “natural” or “organic” brands.

  3. Of course there needs to be an “adjustment” for fewer people on our planet.

    Crop yields will be way down, with “organic” crops, and more people will starve.

    Without pesticides, the bugs will be happy, and multiply !

    And there will be lots of weeds.

    Happy bugs, lots of weeds, and starving people.

    The ultimate leftist dream.

    My only surprise was that PBS published this !

    • On the plus side, they’d have so many more people to work the land thus eliminating the pollution spewing farm machinery. Obviously none of them would be spectacle wearers. 🙂

      • you can do 3 passes to till n turn soils before planting and remove weeds plant and then the crops gain the advantage of germinating while the weeds are out for the count
        and a decent burnoff before tilling removes weed seeds which chem doesnt do anyway
        always laugh at p[eople spraying 3 conerjack/bindi yr after yr when a burnoff burns the hard cased seeds far better, and disking emergent weeds knocks the survivors off far better.

        if you have more land than you can manage ie massive industrial crops..then its time we split the land back to manageable lots and brought the people forced off the land back to it.

        • In the US, plowing land is disappearing. Only 25% of US cropland is still plowed.

          Another 35% is now routinely disc’ed.

          But over 35% is not plowed or disc’ed. [No-till managed].

          No-till is encouraged by the USDA and increasing in popularity every year. Most organic farms still plow in manure which puts them in the late adopters group.

        • Depending on where you live, burn off may not be an option. When I was a kid, everyone in Oregon burnt their fields but today only a few acres/yr are allowed to be burnt by state law. There was one spectacular case where a farmer did not follow the rules and caused a bad pileup with deaths on the interstate (no visibility smoke cloud crossing the road) along with asthma complaints led to law changes slowly ratcheting down the annual allowable burn acreage. This had the consequence of increasing the use of pesticides and fertilizers while trying to develop a market for all that straw (took years but a market was developed). Oregon has a lot of perennial crops so plowing straw back into the ground isn’t an option.

          One of my major complaints about organic in the US is it isn’t what people believe it is so they are wasting money, i.e. it is a marketing ploy. Rules of what is allowed to be called organic are watered down to the point that in most cases the difference between an organic farm and a non organic farm are mostly on paper.

        • You might want to look at the success Zimbabwe had with splitting land back to manageable lots, and bringing back people to farm them.

          • Zimbabwe’s ‘success’ proved the threats of murder and starvation are powerful motivators, and that if your incompetent government prevents you from acquiring fuel, it is sometimes possible to produce enough food with hand tools and manure to avoid mass starvation and total collapse.

            Zimbabwe’s experiment turned out less badly than the ones in the Ukraine and Cambodia, but maybe we should look at trying it again where you live?

    • and if you track to the actual study??
      it ALL about bloody CARBON sequestration
      and they reduced a lot of prior data to suit their agendas ie inputs consiered lesser for soil carbon
      and the managed to avoind mentioning the chem fertilisers use carbon to be created transported and they hold zip in soils
      saying legumes for N fixing?
      wtf?
      green manures like clover or buckwehet ploughed in provide far more as do manures.
      its another Carbon scam psuedo science and iots damned MODELS not reality

      • From the field study using clover (a legume) to provide nitrogen for corn:

        Nitrogen Replacement Value
        Corn grown in kura clover living mulch, as previously described, was fertilized with 0 to 80 lb N/acre (in the form of ammonium nitrate), in a side-dressed application at corn V5 stage. Whole plant corn yield, as for silage, was not increased by nitrogen fertilizer application (P <
        0.05), although there was a tendency for an increase in silage yield with the first increment of nitrogen fertilizer (Fig. 1). Likewise, there was no significant (P < 0.05) increase in corn grain yield associated with nitrogen fertilizer application to corn grown in kura clover living mulch (Fig. 1). We suspect that mineralization of nitrogen from kura clover residues contributes to nitrogen pools available for corn production. These data suggest that in this intercropping system, there seems to be no advantage to applying more than 20 lb/acre of nitrogen fertilizer, an amount that could easily be included in the starter fertilizer at planting.

      • Nitrogen is typically applied to corn fields at 200 to 360 pounds per acre.

        Using clover to eliminate 90% or more of that nitrogen fertilizer:

        – maintains yields
        – reduces cost
        – encourages healthier soil

        And it happens to trigger soil carbon sequestration.

        US farmers can sign up with the Terraton Initiative to have their soil carbon levels tested and get paid $15/tonne CO2e for any increase they have. That can be another $150/acre without taking any drastic actions.

        More and more farmers every year are noting the above and making the switch.

  4. If the whole world practiced organic farming as mentioned there would be no increase in CO2, but many would starve.
    CO2 production wouldn’t increase from transporting crops because there would be no source from which to import the crop shortages.

  5. Whether the crops are better or not is rather moot if they cannot supply the needs of the population.
    In Engineering we have a saying: “Better” is the enemy of “good enough.”

    By making it better they sacrifice quantity for quality when the lack of quality is not an issue.
    “We’re going to take away all of your shoe laces, and we will replace them with much better shoe laces, but we will only give you one.”

  6. This Organic scam is another example of how when the Left wakes up and actually analyzes what it is doing, fleecing the ignorant public,and realize the opposite of what they intended is occurring. Green “organics” food movement is merely an absurdity.

    ” “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
    ― Voltaire

    Michael Moore recently fessed to this Liberal absurdity “Road to Hell” in his latest, “Planet of the Humans” exposé.

    “Mr. Gibbs and Mr. Moore critique wind energy for requiring enormous amounts of copper and rare earth minerals. Wind farms also require developing large tracts of land. Solar energy gets dinged for its dependence on mining coal and quartz. They were even shocked to find a company owned by Charles and David Koch receiving solar tax credits. Electric cars sound great, but they depend on the fossil-fuel-powered electrical grid.
    Even Al Gore gets dinged, with the film asserting that he’s more focused on cashing in than saving the planet.
    “It was kind of crushing to discover that the things I believed in weren’t real,” Mr. Gibbs told the AP. “Not only are the solar panels and wind turbines not going to save us … but (also) that there is this whole dark side of the corporate money.”

    “As Mr. Moore and Mr. Gibbs have uncovered, renewable energy proponents have been much better at making promises than keeping them. But the duo seem particularly aghast to discover that government subsidies are like lanterns to a moth and that any transition to green energy will require massive investment from evil industrialists and capitalists who might turn a profit. Who knew?”

    source: https://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-michael-moore-backed-film-criticizes-renewable-energy-1829377/

    Well duh!! “Who Knew” is anyone with a critical examining intellect of what has been happening. Unlike most of the Liberal-indoctrinated media journalists today promoting the green propaganda they’ve been programmed and paid to do, critical inquiry has been deficient by both the Left and the Right. It has been deficient for so long, it has allowed the GreenSlime’s (Michael Moore’s the Green corporatists and Green investors) Climate Scam to threaten the economic foundations of Western democracy and security from actual bad actors like China and Russia.

    And the “organic food is better for the environment” scam is just part of the societal programming for “Green” schemes.

    • Organic Soylent Green anyone? Organic Soylent Green is healthier and better for the environment than regular Soylent Green. And it only cost 50% more.

      Any takers?
      We know what the main ingredient is.
      Does it come from Kansas or LA’s Skid Row morning collection.

  7. Tolja so. Strange, but when I was in 2nd grade, it was pretty normal to have a family garden, so that you could stretch your food budget to feed your family. We had plenty of room for that. Now, a back yard garden is a “thing” with suburbanites, who also patronize the farmers’ markets and maybe get memberships in the truck farms around here.
    For me, it’s cheaper to just buy a 2-lb bag of frozen peas & carrots for about $1,90, because I can stretch it into several things like soup, stew and plate food. There’s no difference in the flavor or nutrient levels, either.
    Making everything “organic” is not necessarily the best idea to pursue, unless you’re planning on turning cow pies into pelleted fuels for heating and cooking. And being a (gag!) strict vegan only works if it’s what you want. Frankly, I want my chicken and beef and pork.
    I don’t set much store by any of these “studies” now. I don’t see any point to them. None of those ideas are tested for results. It’s all just virtue signaling, and not much else.

    • Well said, Sara.
      I won’t harsh on the quoted study because they actually seem to be simply stating what we already know about the limitations of organic farming (and Cranfield is a very nearby and technically respected place for me!). The reporting article cited is the source of the more contentious statements.

      This stood out enough to make me chuckle:

      “Even though the Cranfield study is hypothetical in nature, environmental sociologist Julius McGee said “it’s a useful tool to pick apart agriculture’s relationship to climate change.”

      Hmm…most of climate change still remains hypothetical in nature, whatever an environmental sociologist (Portland State, not Cranfield) might claim. Thankfully, Cranfield’s roots are grounded in engineering and science models, not sociology models.

    • My grandfather who grew up in the Depression in central Texas always put in a big garden. I can remember the few years as a small kid seeing him work this garden and trying to help him some in the summer. But my Mother (his daughter) says he always observed that his garden was kind of unnecessary more a hobby.
      Because in good years with rain and good growing, all the neighbors also had extra vegetable to sell or give away, so you could always get vegetables for less cost than what it would have taken to plant and tend your own garden. For him, he could always exchange something like packages of the grass-fed prime beef from the 2 calves he had butchered in the freezer in exchange for the vegetables from the neighbors (he was a cattleman).
      And in the bad years (too hot – too dry), no one had vegetables. So in those years you’d have also thrown you money away trying grow your own garden when you could’ve just used the money to buy store bought vegetables brought in from somewhere else.

      Today we take for granted going in to the grocery store and being able to buy fresh produce transported from thousands of miles away. We get persnickety when the tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, citrus, or lettuce is not the quality we expect every time we walk into the grocery store’s produce section. But providing those greens and vegetables takes lots of petroleum to get it there. The Leftist-elites wants to take that away from the middle class by making them so high priced we have to buy SoylentGreen instead.

      • I think everyone should have the experience of growing a garden. It gives a person a lot of perspective. And a taste of hard work and a taste of a real, naturally ripened fresh tomato or strawberry.

        The amount of petroleum it takes to grow food and get it to the grocery store is insignificant compared to the amount it takes to go and get it from the store. Even if it’s Kiwi fruit flown in fresh from New Zealand.

        It’s pretty easy to tell how much petroleum goes into making anything, because ultimately it’s most of the cost.

        • Yep, and it’s now the case here in NZ that most of the cost of fertiliser elements is in the transport and application.
          The current trend is to fine grind the fertiliser and prill it with a binder. The increased surface area achieved in the grinding gives more response/$ expended because lower application rates suffice.

  8. First, NOBODY has shown that most of “warming” is caused by greenhouse gases.
    Everyone keeps discussing an assumption.

  9. Oh noes! The same type of folks who believe in, and can afford to buy “organic” are the same type to believe in “global warming”. Duelling delusions can be harmful to ones’ mental health, causing ‘splody heads.

    • I disagree: I grow my own food ‘organically’ as you call it and am a healthy climate skeptic. My growing yields are excellent, my planting densities far higher than traditional agriculture and my yields/sqm are very, very good. My ‘fertiliser’ is compost, sometimes containing manure, sometimes not. It transforms the fertility of the soil.

      The arguments about ‘nutrients’ is less compelling than the argument about pesticides. Pesticides in the diet are best avoided as they are harmful to healthy bacteria in the gut, not to mention having potentially toxic side effects when ingested.

      This site is full of far right extremists who have to link their pet hates to ‘socialism’.

      It is impossible not to conclude that Mr Watts is now a fully paid up shill, no longer a meteorologist.

      I refuse to say ‘what do socialists think?’ and think the opposite, just as I refuse to say ‘what do Republicans think?’ and then think the opposite.

      It makes me a political orphan, as no major UK party has political principles, only donor requirements.

      • Rhys,

        Your logic and reasoning are…questionable. Because this loosely moderated site has commenters that hate socialism, you conclude that Anthony is a paid shill? This isn’t just silly, it’s completely absurd.

        And further, your opinion regarding pesticides seems to be just that…an opinion. I mean, if you want to believe that, feel free. I couldn’t possibly care less. But if you want others to believe the same thing, you might consider offering up more than mere bald assertions.

        rip

      • Rhys Jaggar you do yourself no service by spouting such illogical nonsense as “This site is full of far right extremists ” therefore ” Mr Watts is now a fully paid up shill”. Mr Watts is not responsible for what other people say or do any more than you are responsible for what other people say or do, after all, by your logic “This site is full of far right extremists” and as Rhys Jaggar posts here, It is therefore impossible not to conclude that Rhys Jaggar is either a “far right extremists” and/or “a fully paid up shill”.

    • I understand global warming and climate change are cons AND I eat mostly organic. So much for your theory.
      I’m amazed by all those here that apparently love ingesting glyphosate. Yum. Bon appetite.

      • I’ve seen reports of hundreds of illness linked to contaminated organic food, especially bean sprouts. I’ve seen none attributable to the ingestion of glyphosate.

        If you can show me contradictory data, I will re-evaluate my position, but until then, it is clear to me which of us is taking the greater risk.

        • I suppose neither of you have heard of MIT professor Dr Stephanie Seneff. If you’re at all interested you can easily find many of her interviews on how incredibly toxic glyphosate is. Brilliant doctor. I’ll gladly defer to her research.

          • Jerry Steiner, the executive vice president of sustainability at Monsanto, said in an interview regarding the study that “We are very confident in the long track record that glyphosate has. It has been very, very extensively studied.”[11] Seneff’s claim that glyphosate is a major cause of autism and that, “At today’s rates, by 2025, half the kids born will be diagnosed with autism,” has also been criticized. For example, Pacific Standard noted that, contrary to Seneff’s claims, many scientific reviews have found that the rise in autism rates over the past 20 years is due to changes in diagnostic practices, and that a number of studies, including a 2012 review in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, have found little evidence that glyphosate is associated with adverse development outcomes.

            Stephanie Seneff (born April 20, 1948)[1]:249 is a senior research scientist at the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Working primarily in the Spoken Language Systems group, her research at CSAIL relates to human-computer interaction, and algorithms for language understanding and speech recognition. In 2011, she began publishing controversial papers in low-impact, open access journals on biology and medical topics; the articles have received “heated objections from experts in almost every field she’s delved into,” according to columnist Ari LeVaux.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephanie_Seneff

            Dr Seneff is a computer expert, and has no expertise in biology. She publishes garbage in “low-impact, open access journals”. She is not worth my time. Four decades of studies show no adverse effects from glyphosate, at all. Zero.

      • Glyphosate is far safer than “organic” farming. To date, there has never been a confirmed illness linked to glyphosate. There are numerous people who have died from ingesting “organic” foods.

        The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which first assessed glyphosate in the 1980s and has reviewed it several times since, says it has “low toxicity for humans.” The European Food Safety Authority and the European Chemicals Agency, which advise the 28 members of the EU, have also assessed glyphosate within the past two years and ruled it safe.

        https://www.google.com/amp/s/mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKBN1CO251

  10. The Greenies just can’t get out of their own way.
    Everything they get WeeWee’ed up about, will cause them to paint themselves into another corner.

  11. I can’t think of any group more unqualified to dictate farm policy than the vocal screaming greenies who have never grown anything but African Violets. For pity sake please let the farmers who depend on their hunk of dirt to remain viable and useful to feed us and their families make decisions based on reality, fact sustainability. These guys are educated smart people capable in their own right as smart as any good engineer who has worked for me. Certainly better than any government weenie incapable of running even our post office.

    BTW, the whole high water use baloney for meat holds no water. Water is completely recyclable and in most of the US, plentiful. Any deep beliefs you have, exercise them at the check out with your selections. The smart guys driving tractors will make sure food is there if you just let them. If you want to starve, please do it alone without micromanaging the rest of us.

  12. The most absurd thing is that the same people who are vegans also want organic farming which is impossible without manure.

    And no, growing more legumes isn’t going to work. It will provide nitrogen, but crops need several other nutrients.

    • Actually 100%
      Petroleum is a naturally occurring mineral which consists of organic compounds called hydrocarbons. It is found in liquid, gas and even solid forms.
      The guys who work in refineries are called organic chemists.
      These maroons ought to pick up a dictionary once in a while.

  13. I don’t believe going totally “organic” would make any difference in the climate. One thing it would do is completely remove global warming from everyone’s concern list due to high food prices, limited food, and the starvation of multitudes.

  14. “This outcome could lead to a 21 percent rise in greenhouse gas emissions from England and Wales ”
    ===================
    I always knew it was the whales.

  15. 100% “organic” farming might reduce CO2 emissions. But it will cause an absolutely HUGE spike in the “far more potent greenhouse gas” – methane. Coming from the decomposing corpses of the six billion or so that they will have to kill off for the remainder to survive.

  16. I noticed they misspelled “marketing hype” as “conventional wisdom.”

    Organic is the biggest crock yet conceived by the food industry.

  17. How could global warming get any worse. I saw alfalfa fields burning in Nevada. It was so hot that they simply burst into flame. I did find it odd that it was snowingat the time though

  18. If we make food, transport, heat, everything expensive enough, I suppose starvation and exposure to the elements might reduce the population, which has long been a green fanatic party goal.

  19. So if England and Wales will not be able to fully supply themselves with internal organic farming, the balance will need to be made up with imports?

    Well I guess those rainforests were going to need to be burnt down sooner or later.

    Proof again that to truly screw up the environment, you need an environmentalist.

    • It’s possible to understand plant nutrition and still try to stick to natural sources like bone meal for phosphorous, as long as one doesn’t look too far up the chain to how that natural bone meal is made or whether the animal ate only ‘organic’ food.

      In some regions these minerals are refreshed by volcanic action and spread by weather but nowhere is it better to be ignorant of how things work or dogmatic and stubborn about one’s ignorance.

      The best store tomato here is seldom as good as the worst garden tomato because it wasn’t trucked 3000 miles, not because it’s not ‘organic’.

    • I have never met Prime Minister Trudeau the Younger either, but it would be rude to call him that.

  20. The fundamentals of organic farming are unsustainable in the longer term.
    Each time you take produce away from the farm and its soil, you take away nutrients like potassium and phosphorus. These are “refreshed” in the agriculture cycle with mining products. If your belief prevents you from topping up P and K from mines, then your soil will lose its ability to produce, at first efficiently, then at all.
    This is probably well-known to all cocerned. However, when you are following a trend or an ideology, adverse knowledge does not stand in your way. You simply proceed as if nobody told you that your system was doomed.
    This is the same poor logic that saw renewable energy suddenly grow, despite knowledge that in time, it would fail because of intermittencies that were well known in advance. Geoff S

    • Geoff , if your beliefs about organic farming prevent you from acknowledging that organic farmers use P, K, Ca, Mg, S, to amend soils so as to maintain productivity, then one wonders what else you are prepared to believe in defiance of the facts.

      • Organic farming is based on an ideology that does not accept the use of Super phosphate and Potassium Chloride .
        The true believers also do not allow artificial nitrogen to be used .
        They use finely ground reactive phosphate rock and potassium sulphate and will only use organic chicken manure or similar .
        I challenge any one to blind taste produce from organic and conventional producers .
        Plants absorb nutrients as they require and growth is limited by a deficiency in any one ,be it major such as phosphate calcium, potassium. sulphur or nitrogen
        Other minor elements such as boron and sodium as salt are applied for certain crops.
        Super phosphate according to organic manuals is injurious to soil life as it is acidic but as the majority of soils around the world are acidic and require liming this is never a problem and sulphur is applied in the super phosphate .
        The majority of New Zealands organic livestock farms are low producing as the soil fertility is kept low and no artificial nitrogen is allowed to be applied .
        One small dairy farm that a friend of mine brought was organic and he gave it a good top dressing of NPK and in the first 5 months his milk production exceeded the total for the farm in the previous year .

        • That ideology that you refer to is Sustainability. It’s fairly widely held.
          “Organic” is just one approach or manifestation.
          And of course it must be a continuum. It will be more or less sustainable depending on the practices..

    • It’s possible to understand plant nutrition and still try to stick to natural sources like bone meal for phosphorous, as long as one doesn’t look too far up the chain to how that natural bone meal is made or whether the animal ate only ‘organic’ food.

      In some regions these minerals are refreshed by volcanic action and spread by weather but nowhere is it better to be ignorant of how things work or dogmatic and stubborn about one’s ignorance.

      The best store tomato here is seldom as good as the worst garden tomato because it wasn’t trucked 3000 miles, not because it’s not ‘organic’.

    • That’s why regenerative agriculture is twice as popular in the US as organic. Regenerative farmers focus on using cover crops to provide as much soil nutrients as they can, but then supplement with traditional fertilizers.

      Regenerative farmers are seeing a 80-100% reduction in fertilizer expense/application.

  21. I’m an organic farmer. More CO2 is better for crops and for all farmers. But most of us here already know that. Lot of weirdos in the organic hierarchy.

  22. When I did PR for the British Chemical Industry trade association I used to ask organists what was the difference chemically between organic and non carrots. Never got a useful reply.

    • well my homegrown organic carrots dont develop black mouldy spots in around 5 days after picking
      the store bought ones now do
      they didnt used to
      I suspect sparytopping before harvest to be the main cause
      once we bought carrots with the tops and the chooks rabbits or guinea pigs got a feed as well

    • You didn’t get a useful reply, because there isn’t one. “organic” is marketing. The food is fundamentally the same, the difference is in the farming methods not the food.

  23. In the US there’s 5 million acres of certified organic cropland/rangeland.

    But the new thing is regenerative farming. It is not yet recognized by the USDA, nor is there a in place certification for cropland. There is a certification for rangeland: https://www.savory.global/land-to-market/

    At least 10 million acres of US agricultural land is managed for regenerative agriculture. Ie. It is already twice as popular with farmers as organic.

    Annie’s (from the main article) has a couple products they sell as sourced from regenerative farms. General Mills is a massive company and they have invested at least $100 million into companies focused on regenerative agriculture. Their family of companies includes Epic Provisions which sells meat snacks from animals raised regeneratively.

    • In the normal course of events , all living soils are regenerative because – the carbon cycle , the water cycle and the nitrogen cycle. Oh and a little thing called Sol.
      The soil /plant complex is , so far , the only useful self-replicating solar panel . It’s an impressive achievement .

      • All souls are regenerative until you start plowing it. Plowing breaks the cycle. A couple hundred years later the civilization dependent on that farmland dies.

        The soil requiring amendments like manure or fertilizers shows it isn’t regenerative. The goal of regenerative farmers is to use cover crops (green manure) to keep nutrients in the soil.

        Egypt was the exception because the Nile flooding brought new soil every year.

        • Not quite right for mine. One or two ploughings can be helpful.
          I think you mean that continuous cultivation is usually degenerative.
          Where the soil parent material has deficiencies,say among the major cations, then even the regenerating soil will require amending from time to time.
          The need to maintain the correct pH is also ever present.

          • The USDA is really pushing no-till in the US.

            Tillage kills many of the soil organisms, and arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) in particular.

            Indigo Ag is selling a billions dollars a year worth of seeds coated with microorganism spores and nutrients to feed the spores. If you’re going to plow using coated seeds probably makes a lot of sense.

            Even better, you can build a low cost Johnson-Su Composting Bioreactor ($50-$100) and make a compost highly dense in beneficial microorganism and fungi spores. David Johnson’s test have found it increases yields the most if you make a slurry of 8-parts whole milk, 1-part molasses, and lots of his compost. Then coat your seeds with the slurry. 1 liter of slurry for every hectare worth of seeds as I recall. He found drilling the seeds into the field wet worked best.

            Using cover crops is recently a big educational push from the USDA.

            You might enjoy this 23-minute video about 5 farmers that set up small acreage test plots on their farms to test cover crop usage in South Carolina’s notoriously acidic clay soil.

            https://www.farmers.gov/connect/blog/conservation/farmer-scientists-five-trials-managing-soil-health

            They saw an 80% drop in fertilizer application with the combination of no-till and cover crops.

            You said you have pasture land. As you know the more soil organic matter the healthier the soil. Here’s a recent paper about using adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) grazing to build soil organic matter levels.

            https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308521X17310338#.WpHorNqe0qU.twitter

            AMP is slowly gaining popularity in the US.

  24. “They remind consumers that their ingredients ‘matter…to the planet we all share,'”…

    Party planners recommend allowing 6 square feet per person for a stand-up cocktail party. I think that’s a little restrictive. Something more like 20 square feet per person seems more comfortable. The state of Connecticut in the U.S. has an area of 5,543 square miles – and the 7.7 billion people of the Earth could all fit in there with 20 square feet per person – three times as much room as party planners recommend.

    The land area of Connecticut is, in turn, 0.00964% of the land area of the Earth, and 0.00281% of the total surface area of the Earth.

    So this planet that “we all share” is 35,522 times larger than an uncrowded cocktail party.

    I just like putting things in perspective. So sue me.

  25. Best irrational quote:“Having established that there would be a shortfall in massive production, the gap would be filled by increased imports, ” Williams said.

    If a nation is loney enough to go “full organic” then only “organic” foods would be imported from those “organic” countries that would experience the same “shortfall”. Using the reduction figure assuming the mechanized US ag industry could even come close to only a 40% reduction and assuming those nations would accept GMO food, only 5% to 10% of current US exports of soybeans and corn would be “organic exportable”. This means there simply won’t be enough food to ship to other fully organic nations and massive, worldwide famines would occur. It’s anyones guess what geo-political chaos that will have.

    • Indeed. It’s a bit like enviro-looney states lake Cali going full wind & solar, it requires other states still using fossil fuels/nuclear to supply them energy when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. If everyone went full wind & solar, they’re screwed every time the wind stops blows and the sun isn’t shining. newer go full wind & solar.

  26. Organic claims about superior produce have been shot down for years, yet people still believe the claims

  27. Organic claims about superior produce have been shot down for years, yet people still believe the claims

  28. This just shows that radical environmentalists are not really concerned about saving the environment. They are anti-human and will do anything to prevent humans from doing anything to improve their lot in life. They are a death cult in that everything they promote would result in eventual death for humans. If they really felt that the human race needed to be drastically reduced , they could start with themselves.

  29. “Having established that there would be a shortfall in massive production, the gap would be filled by increased imports, ” Williams said.

    Not if everywhere else also converted to 100% organic farming, as they’d all have shortfalls too – meaning they would have no extra to export for you to import. Since you won’t have enough food to feed your population you’ll have to reduce your population – which is the ultimate goal.

    • True John, mostly.
      But my pastoral farm produces just as much (if not more) now, as it did before it got a quality assurance/traceability system (organic cert.) in place, because the farm has changed very little (except for the size of the “paper trail”) .
      This farm had no history of using nitrogen fertilisers because clover-based pastures supplied sufficient , to the point where it was verified that the result was higher levels of mineraliseable nitrogen than the control. The other significant trends were -increased earthworm biomass
      -lower bulk density (more spaces)
      -higher respiration rate ( sinful I know).

  30. I’m some one who dabbles in organic produce, for myself and her indoors,and live in a farming area,nitrogen is heavily applied for grazing and hay/silage in my area ,after around 7 years the ground is exhausted which leads to ploughing and reseeding, a lot of farms mix in with manure from the sheds,which extends the period before reseeding ,the moral of the story is nitrogen only feeds the roots of a particular crop, it adds very little to the soil,were as applying rotted down muck bulks the soil up in lost minerals.now heres the thing legislation is making it more difficult for farmers to store and apply manure ,including slurry,while at the same time trying to reduce the amount of bought in nitrogen applied to the land,complicated by rules of when you can plough,eg any pasture not been ploughed in the last 15 years its illegal to plough, unless you a get special permission or you apply any type of fertiliser, and any piece of land classed as semi wild you have to have permission to plough and fertilise, it gets better every square inch of ground in the UK has been graded,for its soil type,location ,altitude, rivers,streams, ect ect, and is regularly spied upon by satellites,farmers have been stopped to dredge rivers(hence more flooding) it’s become a bureaucratic nightmare to do anything on your own holding,to much interference from the state telling farmers how to farm,via secret lobbyists like rewild Britain XR green slime and the such, which causes clashes in the local communitys = https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-50117566, a very rare victory for the farmers,as a footnote from me ,this area is not a intensive farming area,its mainly sheep on mainly marginal land, steep valleys Moreland and tons of forestry,some ancient and protected, a point sadly missing on the eco nuts, perhaps they should try there rewilding in the southeast of England, nope to much money down there so they pick on poor marginalised communities,

  31. Look, some people choose to do things differently than you do.

    That’s ok.

    I don’t pour pesticides on my lettuce. I’m sorry if that offends you.

      • And selected fertilisers. And animal remedies, including antibiotics, anthelminthics, etc.
        Organic certification is just a system of protocols for quality assurance.
        Sustainable agriculture is whatever looks like being viable at any time.

  32. Science proves that real food is bad for the environment. You couldn’t make it up. Thankfully we have industrial agriculture to save us all.

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