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CLIMATE CHANGE: the Organic farming CONTRIBUTION FOR REDUCTION it is real?

Climatic changes had always been recorded over the thousands of years the planet Earth has. The problem now is due to the fact that in the last century, the pace of these climate variations have suffered a sharp acceleration, with the tendency to increase proportions if no measures are taken.

The occurrence of these climate changes (with heat waves, droughts, and extreme and unpredictable weather events) are increasingly frequent and one of the biggest threats of the 21st century, which has transversal effects on different sectors, from the environment, health, migration (of humans and other living beings), to the economy where the consequent crop losses (due for instance to the extinction of bees) represent real injuries to the world’s economies.

At the heart of these changes are the so-called greenhouse gases (GHG) whose emissions have suffered a sharp rise. Of all the GHG, the water vapor (which is the most important natural gas), CO2 (carbon dioxide) and CH4 (methane) are the ones with the most negative effects.

The main sources of GHG of human origin are:

  • burning of fossil fuels (coal, petroleum and gas) in electricity generation, transports, industry and domestic use (CO2);
  • agriculture (CH4) and changes in land use such as deforestation (CO2);
  • landfills (CH4);
  • the use of fluorinated industrial gases.

One of the principles of organic farming is the Precautionary Principle, that indicates us that this type of agriculture should be managed cautiously and responsibly in order to protect the environment, health and well-being of current and future generations.

The effect of Organic Agriculture on climate change in comparison with conventional agriculture has been studied, and it is estimated that its contribution minimizes these changes:
· The CO2 retention in organic production (OP), in the soil was estimated to be from 12% to 15% compared with conventional agriculture, which it is a return of more 575 kg to 700 kg of CO2 per hectare per year (Fliessbach, 2007). In OP the increase and maintenance of soil organic matter (i) contribute to carbon sequestration, decreasing its release into the atmosphere. This process is more evident in mixed systems with livestock production and use of pastures (ii) and through the use green fertilization (iii), which play an important role in the management of crop fertilization. On the other hand, a multi-annual of diverse cultures, with proper use of the soil (iv) increases the carbon flow from the atmosphere to the soil through a greater amount of CO2 absorbed by photosynthesis. However, this carbon retention is best achieved by perennial plants than herbaceous plants, and also by conventional agriculture than organic farming due to the higher productivities achieved.

Regarding to the emission of greenhouse gases, it is estimated that the OP reduces the CO2 emissions from 48% to 60% (FAO, 2007), mainly because of not using chemical synthetic fertilizers (v).

The nitrogen losses to the atmosphere are also lower, due to the lower application of nitrogen in OP (vi). Considering that the emissions of N2O (and NH3) sharply increase when the nitrogen fertilization exceeds the needs of the crops, the probability of this occurrence is lower in OP (Aubert, 2007).

  • Because it is not be allowed the use of synthetic chemical pesticides, the pest and disease fight depends mainly of the use of consenting products of OP (like the Bordeaux mixture) or the denominated phytosanitary products commonly designated as “biopesticides” (herbal preparations with insecticide and/or repellent of pests and diseases properties).

On this last point, the OpenPD mobile app can now also be considered as an useful tool that is available to all. With this app you can display your problem to a forum consideration, whose knowledge will support you quickly and easily in the identification of the detected pest or disease.

And what is your opinion about these topics:

 Do you think that Organic Farming through the practices indicated, may be the most viable way?

– Will this type of agriculture ensure a sufficient production of food to fed the world population?

– Are the mobile technologies compatible with agriculture, regardless of the mode of production?

Leave us your comment on the OpenPD blog (http://blog.openpd.eu/) or FB (https://goo.gl/nJXDyc).

Sources:
http://www.ci.esapl.pt/off/maiores23anos-2012/agricultura-biologica.pdf
http://www.wwf.pt/o_nosso_planeta/alteracoes_climaticas/
http://www.eea.europa.eu/pt/themes/climate/intro

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The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement no. 632738.

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