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Environmental Impacts of Organic Farming

  • Klaus Birkhofer
  • Henrik G. Smith
  • Maj Rundlöf
Publishing year: 2016-07
Language: English
Pages: 1-7
Document type: Article in encyclopedia
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd

Abstract english

Organic agriculture is a production system that aims at sustaining healthy soils, ecosystems and people by prohibiting the application of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers in crop production and by emphasising animal welfare in livestock breeding. This article shows that organic agriculture is characterised by higher soil quality and reduced nutrient or pesticide leaching compared to nonorganic agriculture, but that positive effects on biological control services or emission of greenhouse gases are less evident. Yield gaps between organic and nonorganic agriculture are on average 20%, but vary between crops and regions. Given the environmental risks that are associated with intensive, nonorganic agriculture, farming practices should be modified to decrease risks. Organic agriculture can be a more environmentally friendly alternative, but individual farming practices need improvement to meet the demands of a growing human population. Further growth of the organic farming sector will contribute to reduce the negative environmental impact of agriculture.


  • Environmental Sciences
  • Agricultural Sciences


  • ISBN: 9780470015902