Organic Fertilizer Can Cut Greenhouse Gases

Article excerpt

Findings from a 15-year study at the Rodale Institute, Kutztown, Pa., might lead to a solution that could help reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The researchers suggest that regenerative agricultural management systems based on organic fertilizer can preserve carbon and nitrogen in the soil, thus reducing emissions. Moreover, they maintain that organic methods can produce the same yields as conventional systems that use synthetic fertilizer. If the major corn/soybean growing region of the U.S. were to adopt these organic practices, they say, the percentage of estimated annual carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere from fossil fuel combustion in the nation could be reduced by one to two percent (based on 1994 emissions).

"This would be a significant contribution in light of the Kyoto protocol, equivalent to the total carbon dioxide emissions for countries like Iraq, Egypt, Greece, Denmark, and Sweden," indicates Laurie Drinkwater, director of U.S. programs at the Rodale Institute. "At a time when rapid adjustment of industrial and automobile emissions could have a negative impact on the economy, the implementation of these soil management practices could allow the U.S. to reduce net emissions while technological improvements are developed in the energy sector."

The Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial is the first long-term experiment to quantify [CO.sub.2] and nitrogen balances in organically managed cropping systems. A replicated experiment covers six acres and compares highly productive, intensive corn/soybean systems under conventional and organic management. …