Diana Jerkins, Research Program Director
December 4, 2018—Today the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) released the eighth guidebook in their immensely popular Soil Health and Organic Farming Series. Organic Practices for Climate Mitigation, Adaptation, and Carbon Sequestration examines research related to the capacity of sustainable organic systems and practices to sequester soil carbon and minimize nitrous oxide and methane emissions. The guide includes practical advice for reducing an organic farm’s “carbon footprint” and adapting to climate disruptions already underway.
“Research demonstrates that sustainable organic agriculture has great potential to sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance farm resilience,” said Dr. Diana Jerkins, Research Program Director at OFRF. “We believe it is the best approach because sustainable organic agriculture not only integrates best soil health management practices, it protects soil life from the potentially adverse effects of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.”
“Transitioning to sustainable organic systems won’t happen overnight though,” cautions Dr. Jerkins. “Many technical, educational, cultural, and policy hurdles will need to be cleared before we’ll see the benefits on a large scale.”
“Farmers and ranchers have a major stake in curbing further climate change and enhancing the resilience of their operations to the impacts of climate change,” adds OFRF’s Executive Director, Brise Tencer. “Ultimately, we believe this guide will be critical to informing the direction of new research, as well as policies and programs that address barriers to the adoption of practices that increase resilience and help reverse the effects of climate change.”
Climate change threatens agriculture and food security across the U.S. and around the world. Rising global mean temperatures have already intensified droughts, heat waves, and storms, and altered life cycles and geographical ranges of pests, weeds, and pathogens, making crop and livestock production more challenging. Intense rainstorms aggravate soil erosion and complicate water management, and higher temperatures accelerate oxidation of soil organic matter. Warming climates modify crop development regulated by growing degree-days or “chill hours,” and threaten production of perennial fruit and nut crops that have strict chilling requirements to initiate growth and fruit set.
Research shows that building soil health through sustainable organic management practices can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and lessen the impacts of climate change on production. Now, all we need to do is scale it.
The entire Soil Health and Organic Farming series is available to download for free at ofrf.org. Printed copies will be available upon request.
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production.