Is organic important for agriculture

What does organic do for the environment?

On the way to sustainable agriculture

When considering the relative extent of the environmental impacts, one must not forget that both ecological and conventional farming develop dynamically and therefore the environmental impacts of the individual systems can change over time.

An analysis of the environmental impacts of various farming systems must therefore be time and situation-related. The best possible conservation of non-renewable resources and the long-term care of renewable resources should be the goal of every type of land management. In view of the long periods of time from decades to centuries that they need for their regeneration after pollution and overexploitation, soils and groundwater are actually to be regarded as non-renewable resources on a human time scale. They form the essential basis of any land management. It is all the more important to make agriculture as environmentally friendly as possible.

Especially with regard to the careful use of non-renewable resources, such as fossil fuels, organic farming still offers potential: At farm level, in the sense of closed cycles, for example, biomass can also be used on a smaller scale in biogas plants, which primarily contain insufficiently used plant material, such as B. Catch crops, grass clover, manure, liquid manure, harvest residues, and refine them. Even if primary energy crops are cultivated (cf. mixed cultivation), they can contribute to optimizing crop rotation and overall nutrient management [12; 13]. Companies can also become more energy self-sufficient by pursuing closed heat utilization concepts (e.g. for greenhouse heating), growing oil plants for their own fuel production, pursuing their own wood for heat production, etc. Organic farming is already taking on a pioneering role in this regard.


[1] Mäder, P. et al. (2002): Soil fertility and biodiversity in organic farming. Science 296, pp. 1694-1697.

[2] Schnug, E. and Haneklaus, S. (2002): Agricultural production technology and infiltration of soils: Contribution of organic farming to preventive flood protection. Agricultural research Völkenrode 52, p. 197-203.

[3] Meuser, H. (1989): Influence of different forms of fertilization on soil and plants. Studies on the water and nutrient balance of the soil and on plant growth. Department 14 of the TU Berlin, landscape development and environmental research, dissertation, p. 67.

[4] Stolze, M. et al. (2000): Environmental impacts of organic farming in Europe. Organic Farming in Europe: Economics and Policy, Vol. 6, University of Hohenheim.

[5] Tauscher, B. et al. (2003): Evaluation of foods from different production processes - status report 2003. Senate of the Federal Research Centers.

[6] Haas, G. (2001): Organic farming in groundwater protection areas. Performance and optimization of crop nitrogen management. Habilitation thesis, University of Bonn. Series of publications by the Institute for Organic Agriculture 18, Verlag Dr. Köster, Berlin.

[7] Paffrath, A. (1993): N-dynamics on selected areas of the Boscheide farm and the conventional comparison farm. In: MLUR (Hrsg.): Final report on research and development project "Alternative Landbau Boscheide Hof" 1979–1992. Research and Advice 49, pp. 56-66.

[8] Sattelberger R. (1999): Medicinal residues in the environment. Inventory and problem description. Federal Environment Agency, Report R-162, Vienna.

[9] Bockisch, F. J. et al. (Ed.) (2000): Evaluation of processes in ecological and conventional agricultural production with regard to the use of energy and certain harmful gas emissions. Landbauforschung Völkenrode, special issue 211, pp. 1–206.

[10] Dabbert, S., Häring, A. M. and Zanoli, R. (2002): Politics for organic farming. Ulmer Verlag, Stuttgart.

[11] Nemecek, T. et al. (2005): Life cycle assessment of cultivation systems in Swiss arable and forage production. Series of publications by FAL 58, Zurich.

[12] Anspach, V. and Möller, D. (2009): Concepts and strategies of biogas production in organic farming - Results of the bio-biogas monitoring 2007, Market and Climate Change - Contributions to the 10th Scientific Conference on Organic Farming, ETH Zurich.

[13] Paulsen, H.-M. and Rahmann, G. (2004): What does the energy self-sufficient farm look like with an optimized nutrient balance in 2005? From the Institute for Organic Agriculture Trenthorst, Federal Research Center for Agriculture FAL, Braunschweig.

[14] Hülsbergen, K.-J. and Schmidt, H. (2010): Emissions from agriculturally used soils. KTBL publication 483: 229-483.

[15] Helmut, F., Schmid, H. and Hülsbergen, K.-J. (2011): Analysis of energy use and energy efficiency in feed production in dairy farming. Lecture at: 11th Scientific Conference on Organic Farming, Giessen, 16. – 18. March 2011.

[16] Ponti, de, T., Rijk, B. and van Ittersum M. K. (2012): The crop yield gap between organic and conventional agriculture.

[17] Seufert, V., Ramankutty N. and Foley, J. A. (2012): Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture. Nature 485: 229-232.