Find out how organic farming provides a sustainable solution to agriculture, while also supporting a thriving future for people and planet. This article was contributed by one of our sponsors, Chantal Organics.
Organic farming is a holistic approach that prioritizes the long-term health of the soil, land and waterways. This directly supports a sustainable future through ecological balance, environmental quality and healthy workers and animals.
Let’s take a closer look at how organic practices support a sustainable planet.
- Organics Support Better Soil . Healthy soil is the cornerstone of organic farming. Healthy, resilient soil contains more bacteria to help plants fight disease and pests (reducing the need for harmful pesticides), provides plants more nutrition (providing higher crop yields) and also holds more water (reducing runoff and soil erosion).
Soil also plays a key role in absorbing carbon, filtering water and growing healthy crops. It is estimated that 20-30% of our current greenhouse gases are from soil loss. The May 2019 UN report stated that if current farming practices continue, there is just 60 years of farmable topsoil remaining. Some say in 25 years, we will hit a point of no return.
On conventional farms, soil loses organic carbon through farming methods such as: synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, tillage, monocropping and yield-based management.
- Organics are Better for the Waterways. Healthy topsoil absorbs water when it rains, while depleted soil is too dry to do so, therefore producing water runoff. This runoff is dangerous as it carries any applied toxic fertilizer or pesticides into rivers, streams and the ocean. Supporting organic soil matter and eliminating the use of chemicals, supports fresh clean water for us all.
- Organics Help to Fight Climate Change. Carbon sequestration is the capture of atmospheric carbon in the soil and ground foliage. Many people don’t realise the planet’s soil stores more carbon than the atmosphere, plants and forests combined. Improving soil health and planting perennials are two of the best ways to help soil sequester carbon from the atmosphere.
As you can see, healthy soil has become a key component in the fight against climate change. Organic farmers support this by planting nitrogen-rich legumes rather than using synthetic fertilisers, and maintaining healthy soils through crop rotations and composting.
- Organic Farming can Provide Better Yields. Often it is thought organic farming might provide lower yields, however evidence suggests otherwise. The Rodale Institute Farming System Trial has shown organic crops, grown without GMOs and synthetic pesticides are actually more resilient to extreme weather. For example, during a drought, organic systems produced up to 24-34% higher yields.
- Organics Support a Sustainable Future for NZ Humanity has come to a critical point in history, where food production must become innovative to support a growing population and the planet.
Here in NZ, the organization Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ), have a vision to make the world more sustainable through organics. They have a mission to nurture and protect the environment and to enhance the wellbeing of New Zealanders.
OANZ have created 4 principles of organic agriculture which include Health, Ecology, Fairness and Care. Through this focus, they have put together the 2022 New Zealand Organic Sector Strategy, which will be used to take New Zealand’s fast-growing organic industry to the next level. It’s inspiring to see action being taken in NZ, for New Zealanders.
Is organic food worth the price tag?
Simply put, organic farming costs more. The sustainable production processes reviewed above are more labour intensive and certainly more expensive. Rather than using commercially subsidized synthetic pesticides, organic farmers utilize crop rotation and manure or seaweed for healthy soils, which can add to labour costs. Organic certifications themselves also take time and money.
Organic food appears more expensive when considering the monetary price alone. However, when you consider the true cost of food, which includes the price on the planet and on our health, it may be a more realistic price than the cheap conventionally grown food. So, the question is: Is organic food worth it to you?
For a few tips and tricks on how to eat more organics while sticking to a budget, check out, 7 Simple Steps to Going Organic.
Chantal Organics is a Napier-based, organic producer of award-winning granolas and spreads, along with offering a range of organic snacks and pantry staples. Sharing the same values around organics, they have been a regular sponsor of Organic Week.