Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

In a Climate-Changing World, Organic Farms Yields Better Resilience

Scientists are in agreement that climate change and its effects are well under way, affecting everything from severe weather to sea levels to agriculture. Happily, new research shows that organic farming methods (not using chemical fertilizers or pesticides, diversifying crops, etc.) help crops and soil become more resistant to systemic shocks and more resilient to those shocks.

Organic farming: it’s a win-win.

From Solve Climate:

IPCC projections and models used to discuss climate change in the future tense: something we could head off. No more. As we’ve noticed, climate change discussions have switched tenses — glaciers will melt has become glaciers are melting. Agriculture will be stressed has become agriculture is stressed.

There’s a corollary. Talk of climate change prevention has become talk of mitigation and adaptation.

For cities, that means flood walls. For farms, it means a transition to agro-ecological farming methods, ways of farming that harmonize with natural processes rather than relying on external, artificial-or-chemical inputs, or genetic engineering, to increase yields.

That transition will have many benefits.

The first is that it will actually prevent climate change. Organic farming — one way of carrying out agro-ecological farming — has been shown to increase carbon sequestration in soil relative to non-organic methods. Furthermore, extensive research, most recently by agronomist David Pimentel of Cornell, has shown that transitioning to organic and local farming could cut energy inputs into the U.S. food system by 50 percent.

“United States agriculture is driven almost entirely by these non-renewable energy sources. Each person in the country on a per capita consumption basis requires approximately 2,000 liters per year in oil equivalents to supply his/her total food, which accounts for about 19 percent of the total national energy use,” Pimentel said.

In addition to cutting fossil fuel use and decreasing carbon emissions, a shift to organic farming and the resultant increases in carbon sequestration will make agriculture more resilient and more resistant to onrushing anthropogenic climate change.

Resistance and resilience are technical terms: as ecologist Alison Power observes, resistance is a system’s ability to not be affected by a “perturbation,” such as a sudden drought or hurricane. Resilience is the measure of the agricultural system’s ability to respond to a “perturbation” that does affect it—in other words, how quickly it returns to its former level of functioning, or how close to its former level of functioning it can get to.

There is strong evidence that organic-farming systems, which are usually a mix of diverse-plant communities—the furthest thing from the plains of monocultures that are the mainstay of American agriculture—are both more resistant and more resilient than other types of planting systems.

Read the whole article here.


Related Articles:

We are Farmily: Everyday Life on Sole Food Street Farm

Food is the medium. The message is nourishment in its most elemental and spiritual form.That’s how author Michael Ableman sees the role of Sole Food Street Farm and the food it sells to markets, restaurants, and individuals.In the following excerpt from his new book, Street Farm: Growing Food, Jobs, and Hope on the Urban Frontier, […] Read More

Who Produces More Eggs: Ducks or Chickens?

During our monthlong focus on homesteading in September, we received a number of great questions with several of them centered on … ducks and chickens.Here is one such question that came in via Facebook:“I have read that ducks produce more eggs over a longer lifetime of productivity than chickens, but recently talked with a farmer […] Read More

From Farm-to-Table to Farm-to-Everything

No longer restricted to the elite segments of society, the farm-to-table movement now reaches a wide spectrum of Americans from hospital and office cafeterias to elementary schools and fast-casual restaurants.Nearly a century ago, the idea of “local food” would have seemed perplexing, since virtually all food was local. Today, most of the food consumed in […] Read More

The Three Cs of Farm-to-School

Most people know about the three “R’s” – reading, writing, and arithmetic. But, have you heard about the three “C’s”?If you, or your kid, is at a school that takes part in the Farm-to-School movement, then you may already know about them.October is National Farm-to-School month, and in their book Farm to Table, authors Darryl […] Read More

Homesteading: Highlighting Our Need For Each Other

Homesteading isn’t meant to be a solitary adventure, or done in isolation.Building and living on the independent farmstead takes at least one partner, if not several. That’s the advice of authors Shawn and Beth Dougherty. In their book The Independent Farmstead, The Sow’s Ear model for regenerating the land and growing food covers everything from […] Read More
Follow us
Get every new post delivered to your inbox
Join millions of other followers
Powered By