Researchers from the University of Reading, Cranfield University and the Royal Agricultural College found that while organic farming generally creates lower greenhouse gas (GHG), up to 20% lower for crops and 4% for livestock, it also produces less food energy output per hectare. The paper was recently published in Nature Communications and suggests that 100% organic farming would yield up to 40% less food if the nation did not change its diet, leading to increased imports and a net increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
Philip Jones, Senior Research Fellow in the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development at the University of Reading said:
“At present we use somewhere in the region of two million hectares of land to supplement our national diets. We estimate that were organic farming to be adopted wholesale without any change in diet, we would need nearly six million more hectares of land – much of which would need to come from Europe. This has an associated impact on the environment, adding potentially unnecessary food miles and greenhouse gas emissions to our food systems.”