Organic farming should be recognised as 'carbon farming' – IFOAM – Agriland

April 27, 2022 11:21 am
IFOAM Organics Europe has urged the need for a holistic and multi-dimensional approach to carbon farming, focusing not only on the amount of carbon stored in soils, but also on biodiversity protection and the systemic transition of farming systems towards agroecology.
Jan Plagge, IFOAM Organics Europe president, said: “Practices that are common in organic farming are already contributing to higher soil carbon stocks on organic farms, while providing benefits for soil health, water quality and biodiversity protection.

“Organic farming should therefore be recognised as a carbon farming practice.

“Organic farming should therefore be recognised as a carbon farming practice.
“It is important to make sure that the efforts of first movers, like organic farmers, are not penalised but recognised as well, so that it is not those who have failed to take action in the past who will be mostly rewarded by a carbon farming scheme.”
Eric Gall, IFOAM Organics Europe policy manager, added that “the adoption of beneficial management practices for carbon sequestration and biodiversity protection in the agricultural sector should be encouraged and farmers should be remunerated for their efforts”.
He explained that absolute emissions reductions are needed in all sectors and the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report made it clear that the land sector cannot compensate for delayed emissions reductions in other sectors.
“Organic farmers therefore doubt that carbon markets are the right policy tool to provide fair and reliable funding to farmers to enhance carbon sequestration in their soils,” Gall stated.

Call to MEPs

Ahead of the upcoming vote of the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) on the report on the revision of the LULUCF (land use and forestry regulation) Regulation, the organic movement has called on MEPs to ensure that enhancing carbon sinks does not undermine biodiversity protection objectives and that strong safeguards are ensured.
The LULUCF Regulation implements the agreement between EU leaders in October 2014 that all sectors should contribute to the EU’s 2030 emission reduction target.
IFOAM Organics Europe has said that biodiversity is not simply a ‘co-benefit’ of carbon sequestration in soils, but well-functioning ecosystems are a necessary condition for agriculture ecosystems resilience, climate mitigation and adaptation.
The movement added that emissions reductions have to be achieved in all sectors, therefore stressed that agricultural emissions should not be hidden by forestry removals, which it said could be the case in the AFOLU (agriculture, forestry, and other land use) pillar, as proposed by the European Commission.
Organic farming has multiple benefits for the climate and biodiversity, including increased carbon sequestration in soils, a lower energy input, 30% more biodiversity on the farm and an increased resilience of the farming system, according to the group.

Organic farming and carbon farming

According to IFOAM Organics Europe, organic farming consumes less energy and reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions adding that it incorporates the following benefits:

  • Instead of being dependent on external fossil-fuel intensive fertiliser or pesticide inputs, organic farming relies on establishing closed nutrient cycles and minimising nitrogen losses, reducing global agricultural GHG emissions by around 20%;
  • Refraining from synthetic fertiliser use reduces nitrous oxide emissions from soil by 40% per hectare in organic systems;
  • Animals in organic systems have access to free range areas, allowed to graze as much as possible and 60% of the feed has to come from the farm or the same region. The reduced number of animals and grassland-based systems reduce emissions and improve carbon stocks in soil;
  • Organic agriculture often uses improved manure management such as manure composting which can reduce nitrous oxide and methane emissions from manure by 50% and 70% respectively;
  • Organic agriculture has a higher energy efficiency and a lower energy use per hectare. It consumes around 15% less energy per unit produced compared to conventional agriculture.

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