Published 22.11.2022

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The climate impact of organic farming

In some areas, farming organically can reduce greenhouse gas emission from agriculture.

Research into life cycle analysis of feed and food products shows that the climate footprints of organically and conventionally produced food are currently approximately equal. Neither organic nor conventional agriculture in Denmark is on target in terms of climate impact and both production systems must reduce emissions considerably.

  • There are several direct and indirect reasons why producing organically can reduce the climate impact of agriculture.
  • No energy-consuming auxiliaries such as artificial fertilizers and synthetic pesticides are used.
  • There are fewer livestock per hectare, i.e. a better balance between crop production and livestock production, greater self-sufficiency and less transport of feed.
  • There are more fields for grazing which absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere and sequester carbon (C) in the soil via the roots.
  • Kitchens and canteens that serve organic meals generally strive to produce a largely plant-based diet and to reduce food waste.
  • Organic consumers generally eat more vegetables and less meat.

Organic agriculture has challenges as well, however. Among these are typically lower crop and stable yields and mechanical tillage, which increases the risk of the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide being formed and emitted.

The ESGreenTool has been developed to calculate the climate impact on each farm specifically and provide instructions on how to reduce the impact.