The ORCA Centres and Topics

ORCA Centres

The eleven ORCA Centres will cover 22 topics related to organic agriculture.


Energy Flows

Conversion to organic production reduces farmers’ dependence on energy and off-farm inputs and can increase efficiency of energy use. Proper use of manure, green manures, crop rotation, and weeding strategies are critical in organic systems and can provide an energy savings by removing the manufacturing, packaging, and shipping costs associated with synthetic pesticides and nitrogen fertilizers.Organic farming also improves soil organic matter by enhancing fertility through increased nitrogen in the soil and reducing water (and energy) demand by increasing storage of rainfall. Forage production also requires less energy than grain production; for example, production of beef protein on good organic pasture has been found to require half as much energy as grain-fed beef.

Research to document these energy savings and flows throughout organic systems will help farmers and policymakers understand the cost savings associated with organic agriculture, both economically and environmentally. Improving efficiency of moving food from farm to fork can also have trickle down effects such as facilitating local access to foods. Organic research into energy flows is just beginning. There is a gap in research determining the energy savings of organic agriculture.

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