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A meta‐analysis of the differences in environmental impacts between organic and conventional farming

A meta‐analysis of the differences in environmental impacts between organic and conventional farming Purpose – This paper aims to perform a meta‐analysis of the literature comparing the environmental impacts of organic and conventional farming and linking these to differences in management practises. The studied environmental impacts are related to land use efficiency, organic matter content in the soil, nitrate and phosphate leaching to the water system, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity. Design/methodology/approach – The theoretic framework uses the driver‐state‐response framework and literature data were analysed using meta‐analysis methodology. Meta‐analysis is the statistical analysis of multiple study results. Data were obtained by screening peer reviewed literature. Findings – From the paper's meta‐analysis it can conclude that soils in organic farming systems have on average a higher content of organic matter. It can also conclude that organic farming contributes positively to agro‐biodiversity (breeds used by the farmers) and natural biodiversity (wild life). Concerning the impact of the organic farming system on nitrate and phosphorous leaching and greenhouse gas emissions the result of the analysis is not that straightforward. When expressed per production area organic farming scores better than conventional farming for these items. However, given the lower land use efficiency of organic farming in developed countries, this positive effect expressed per unit product is less pronounced or not present at all. Original value – Given the recent growth of organic farming and the general perception that organic farming is more environment friendly than its conventional counterpart, it is interesting to explore whether it meets the alleged benefits. By combining several studies in one analysis, the technique of meta‐analysis is powerful and may allow the generation of more nuanced findings and the generalisation of those findings. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png British Food Journal Emerald Publishing

A meta‐analysis of the differences in environmental impacts between organic and conventional farming

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0007-070X
DOI
10.1108/00070700910992925
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – This paper aims to perform a meta‐analysis of the literature comparing the environmental impacts of organic and conventional farming and linking these to differences in management practises. The studied environmental impacts are related to land use efficiency, organic matter content in the soil, nitrate and phosphate leaching to the water system, greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity. Design/methodology/approach – The theoretic framework uses the driver‐state‐response framework and literature data were analysed using meta‐analysis methodology. Meta‐analysis is the statistical analysis of multiple study results. Data were obtained by screening peer reviewed literature. Findings – From the paper's meta‐analysis it can conclude that soils in organic farming systems have on average a higher content of organic matter. It can also conclude that organic farming contributes positively to agro‐biodiversity (breeds used by the farmers) and natural biodiversity (wild life). Concerning the impact of the organic farming system on nitrate and phosphorous leaching and greenhouse gas emissions the result of the analysis is not that straightforward. When expressed per production area organic farming scores better than conventional farming for these items. However, given the lower land use efficiency of organic farming in developed countries, this positive effect expressed per unit product is less pronounced or not present at all. Original value – Given the recent growth of organic farming and the general perception that organic farming is more environment friendly than its conventional counterpart, it is interesting to explore whether it meets the alleged benefits. By combining several studies in one analysis, the technique of meta‐analysis is powerful and may allow the generation of more nuanced findings and the generalisation of those findings.

Journal

British Food JournalEmerald Publishing

Published: Sep 26, 2009

Keywords: Organic foods; Agriculture; Europe; Environmental management

References