Dozens of species of plants and animals go extinct each day and by mid-century, as many as 30 to 50 percent of the total species found on Earth will have disappeared.
Intensive agriculture, and its heavy use of pesticides, is a key driver of these declines. Organic farming has a huge potential to soften the blow of climate change and help preserve our species.
Together with Clipper Teas* I want to explore what organic farming practices look like and shed some light on why organic farming is better for the planet. Read on to learn more about the work Clipper is doing and join me on my Instagram channel on 30th June for a live organic cook-along.
Organic farming and its benefits
First, let’s look at what organic farming actually means.
The term ‘organic’ refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed. While the regulations vary from country to country, organic farming is generally referring to practices growing crops without the use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides. It’s a system that considers potential environmental and social impacts, while promoting and enhancing agro-ecosystem health. So what does this mean in practice and what are the benefits of organic farming?
1. Creating healthier soils
The first step in growing healthy food is to create healthy soil. Organic farming is widely considered to have a better long-term impact on the soil quality. Why? Through its ability to store carbon in the soil, organic farming contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming. Avoiding the use of pesticides also enhances biodiversity and reduces pollution from fertilisers and pesticide runoff.
In fact, conventional pesticides can cause severe damage, not only to the soil but also to our environment once they reach the water system including:
- Polluting the water making it unsafe to drink
- Killing fish and marine animals
- Disrupting the food chain
Healthy, organic soils on the other hand can store up to five times more carbon than forests, stopping more CO2 from entering the atmosphere. Moreover healthy soil is able to hold more healthy bacteria and supply a steady release of nutrients to plants.
But what does organic soil have to do with Clipper’s delightful teas? Clipper is fiercely committed to being organic and anything new they make will be certified by the Soil Association, who developed the world’s first organic standards in the 1960s. Like Clipper, they believe that organic agriculture should sustain and enhance the health of soil, plant, animal and human as one and indivisible. You can read more about their work here.
By limiting the kinds and amount of pesticides used, Clipper does their bit to create healthier soil, healthier plants and more wildlife! Ultimately, doing better for our planet. Read more about their organic practices here.
2. Boosting biodiversity and protecting wildlife
The current rate of global diversity loss is about 1,000 times higher than the natural rate. And biodiversity – the variety of life found on earth – is the foundation of all agriculture.
It ensures the sustainable productivity of soils and supports our entire food system – from seeds to soil organisms to pollinators.
What’s more, about 40% of the world’s insect species are declining and a third are endangered. Across the world, wildlife is becoming extinct up to 10,000 times faster than the natural rate. Intensive agriculture –and its heavy use of pesticides – is the main driver of the declines.
So how can organic farming protect wildlife? It’s not only about the farm itself but also the natural areas around them. Along with the absence of harsh pesticides and chemicals, organic farms and their surrounding environment create more suitable habitats for wild species and allows species to grow both in number and variety.
Clipper’s organic tea estates in India, for instance, have seen the emergence of wild bison, black panthers and rare orchid species, providing proof that endangered wildlife can coexist with humans.
3. Fighting global warming
As mentioned above, organic soils are one of our most important weapons in slowing down the impacts of global warming on our planet and the world’s species. A 30-year study conducted by the Rodale Institute (the longest running comparative study of its kind in the world) shows that organic farming uses 45% less energy and is overall more efficient, while conventional systems produce 40% more greenhouse gases. According to the study:
“If only 10,000 medium-sized farms in the U.S. converted to organic production, they would store so much carbon in the soil that it would be equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road, or reducing car miles driven by 14.62 billion miles.”
The study also proves that organic yields match conventional yields and outperforms conventional farming in years of drought.
This shows quite clearly that failing to promote organic practices will have a severe impact on our ability to grow food and adapt to a changing climate.
*this blog post was created as part of a paid partnership with Clipper Teas
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Co-Founder of Veano