Organic farming delivers several environmental benefits such as increased biodiversity, clean water and fertile soils. This is stated in a new report where researchers at the Thünen Institute analyzed the results from 528 studies that compared organic and conventional agriculture.
On organic farms, there is 86 percent higher species richness of plants and 49 percent greater diversity of animals and insects.
Thanks to the very limited use of pesticides in organic farming, the surface and groundwater are protected.
There is more biomass in the soil and more worms in the soil in organic farming, which contributes to higher soil fertility.
Of the studies included in the report, only a few took animal welfare aspects into account in the broadest sense, but these show that organic animal husbandry promotes the animals' natural behavior and well-being.
Greenhouse gas emissions are lower from soils where organic farming was practiced, but when emissions are adjusted according to harvest levels, they end up at about the same level organically and conventionally. However, the report shows that the varied crop rotation of organic farming makes it better adapted to the climate.
In short, we can state that the results from the Thünen Institute report confirm that organic farming contributes with a number of environmental benefits and also has several advantages in terms of climate adaptation.
We welcome this type of research that weighs in on several different perspectives and factors. It is only when we look at the whole that we can really have a constructive conversation about what tomorrow's sustainable agriculture should look like.
- Link to the report which is currently only available in German: Achievements of organic farming for environment and society.
- Link to a longer compilation of EPOK - Center for Organic Production and Consumption: New literature study: How does organic production contribute to environmental and societal benefits?