Lifecycle analysis supports emission reduction credits for organic farming

Photo credit: United Soybean Board Photo credit: United Soybean Board

A recent study published in Journal of Cleaner Production sought to determine if the reduction in emissions associated with organic production was sufficient to warrant benchmarking emission reduction credits for organic farms. Emission reduction credits are typically earned when an operation or organization reduces its emissions below the standard required of them. These credits can then be sold to other operations that need to offset their emissions, to provide a source of income. Researchers used a lifecycle analysis to compare carbon footprints of organic and conventional operations and, as a case study, assessed all of the environmental impacts of organic vs conventional potato production. Their results suggested that the carbon footprint was determined by the size of the farm equipment used and the level to which plant material was incorporated into the soil.  When comparing conventional and organic potato production, they found that the environmental impact of organic production averaged three times lower than conventional potato production. The authors concluded that their results support the use of emission reduction credits for farmers who utilize organic production methods.