Organic farming support is an effective and cost-efficient measure to reach sustainability objectives in agriculture policies. Organic standards consist of strict and European-wide certifiable rules that require knowledge and ecosystem-based management responses from farmers, resulting in farm practices that contribute to an array of sustainability aspects. This dossier collects articles from different researchers, analysing available scientific results, approaching organic farming from different angles.
The first article, written by Susanne Padel and Nic Lampkin, explains the origin of the organic farming concept, organic agriculture as a holistic approach to sustainable food production, the development of organic standards and the role science plays in progressing organic practices.
Climate change is the issue of the second article, provided by Andreas Gattinger, highlighting the adaptation and mitigation potential of organic farming resulting from improved humus management, increased carbon sequestration in soil and the ban of chemical fertiliser use.
The inter-linkage between biodiversity and organic farming has been investigated by Sylvaine Simon. This third article explicates that longer crop sequences, spatial design and in general a higher tolerance level for wild plants and pests under organic farming result in increased biodiversity compared to conventional farmsystems.
Soil and water quality are the focus of Christine Watson’s and Elizabeth Stockdale’s article; they analyse the connection between organic farming practices such as crop rotation, nutrient recycling, restricted use of external inputs and crop mixtures with enhanced soil structure, long-term soil fertility and improved groundwater quality.
Myles Oelofse and Andreas de Neergaard further determine the efficiency of nutrient and energy use in organic farming, regarding the pressing need to make efficient use of natural resources. Nutrient recycling, the use of adapted plant varieties and energy-saving through the ban of synthetic nitrogen fertiliser are organic farming practices that enhance resource efficiency.
The last, concluding article has been provided by Urs Niggli, Christian Schader and Matthias Stolze. It delivers arguments why policy support for organic farming is an effective and cost-efficient measure to meet several sustainability goals, highlighting the combination of many different rules that may induce synergetic environmental effects, possibly lower transaction costs and enhanced consumer support through premium prices.