DECEMBER 5, 2010: Organic farming can play an important role in countering climate change, a new report suggests.

Use of organic methods means that the soil takes up much more carbon, which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide to boost global warming, according to the report from the Soil Association, the organic food and farming charity. Soil is a major store of carbon, the report says, containing three times as much as the atmosphere and five times as much as forests. About 60 per cent of this is in the form of organic matter in the soil. On average, organic farming produces 28 per cent higher levels of soil carbon compared to non-organic farming in northern Europe, according to the report, and 20 per cent higher for all countries studied (in Europe, North America and Australasia). The report suggests that widespread adoption of organic farming practices would offset 23 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture through soil carbon sequestration alone, more than doubling the Government’s target of a 6-11 per cent reduction by 2020. If all UK farmland were converted to organic, the report says, at least 3.2 million tonnes of carbon would be taken up by the soil each year – the equivalent of taking nearly 1 million cars off the road.