Peer-reviewed Article: Improving Energy Efficiency and GHG Mitigation Potentials in Canadian Organic Farming Systems

Journal of Sustainable Agriculture

R. J. Macrae, D. Lynch, and R. C. Martin, June 2010

Organic farming systems demonstrate greater energy efficiency and reduced green house gas (GHG) emissions per land unit and unit of production compared with conventional operations, usually attributable to the absence of synthetic fertilizers, particularly nitrogen, and synthetic pesticides. However, results suggest that the efficiency of organic systems can improve with research on optimizing yields/inputs, as comparisons of efficiency/output are not as robustly positive as those of efficiency/area. Organic systems also appear to have greater carbon sequestration potential. Organic systems can be significantly improved, pursuing both farm-level and sector-wide strategies. The specific conditions of organic farming, relative to conventional production, limit the number of currently promoted strategies that can fit into organic operations. Priority areas for future research to improve energy efficiency and GHG mitigation potential of organic systems are identified, including how energy crop production might be adapted to organic systems.

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