The Scottish Government is committed to support the transition to net zero, whilst restoring and regenerating biodiversity. Organic farming practices have the potential to deliver to both agendas.

This rapid evidence assessment and stakeholder engagement assesses the evidence for organic farming practices that contribute to the Biodiversity Strategy targets, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and making Scottish agricultural systems more resilient to the projected climatic conditions of 2045.

The review assessed greenhouse gas emissions in terms of both a reduction in emissions and an increase in soil carbon.

Key findings

The stakeholders emphasised that organic farming is a holistic approach to farming the land, and benefits arise from the combination of management practices adopted. The literature review supported the holistic nature of organic farming.

The research found that:

  • Organic farming practices offer benefits to biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, soil carbon, and how organic farming practices might help farmers adapt to a changing climate in Scotland over the next two decades to 2045.
  • The inclusion of specific measures such as leys and cover crops, organic bulky materials and crop residue management in organic systems tends to increase the soil carbon.
  • Organic systems are typically more diverse than conventional systems.
Conclusions

The wider adoption of organic farming practices will benefit the environment. This would require support for the industry to transition and maintain the system. Advice and training would be required.