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New Study Shows Organic Farming Traps Carbon in Soil to Combat Climate Change

Summary posted by Meridian on 9/11/2017

Source: Civil Eats (11 Sep 2017)

Author(s): Lela Nargi

A new study from Northeastern University and The Organic Center, both in the United States, has found that soil from organic farms has 26 percent more potential for long-term carbon storage than soils from conventional farms. Soil from organic farms also had 13 percent more soil organic matter. Storing carbon in soil has many benefits, not the least of which is helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. It also improves soil health by supporting beneficial organisms, reducing erosion and compaction; as well as providing aeration, essential plant nutrients, and water retention. The researchers, for the study, analyzed soil samples from over 700 conventional farms in 48 states, as well as 659 samples from organic farms in 39 states. They found that the samples from conventional farms contained little to no humic substances, which are major components of healthy, fertile soil. “They’re important because they’re one of the biggest places carbon can get stored,” said TOC’s Director of Science Programs, Jessica Shade. The study’s authors, chemists Elham Ghabbour and Geoffrey Davies, hypothesized that the reason for the lack of humic substances could be due to the high-input practices of conventional farming, such as tilling and the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. “No one has ever compared this many organic and conventional soil samples before, or looked at these subsets of total organic matter,” said Michel Cavigelli, a soil scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who was not involved with the study. Overall, he added, the study is a positive “first step that shows us [where] we need to look in more detail in more controlled studies, and this gives us the impetus to do that.” The study will be published next month in the journal Advances in Agronomy.

The original article may still be available at http://civileats.com/2017/09/11/new-study-shows-organic-farming-traps-carbon-in-soil-to-combat-climate-change/

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