29 June 2018
Future regulation for organic farming

Producer meeting in Cirencester

3 July 2018
National Organic Combinable Crops 2018

Booking now open!



18 June 2018
Martin Wolfe receives lifetime achievement award

For services to plant breeding, diversity, the environment and sustainable food production.

11 June 2018
Impacts of conversion to 100% organic management

New research reveals the production impact of a large-scale conversion to organic management in England and Wales



18 June 2018
Government support needed for agroforestry

Parliamentary wake up call for putting trees at the heart of agriculture

An assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of a large-scale conversion to organic farming in the UK

Full project title:

PhD programme: An assessment of the environmental and economic impacts of a large-scale conversion to organic farming in the UK

Project code:

LS PhD

Contract period:

1 August 2011 to 31 July 2017

Main funder:

The Progressive Farming Trust Ltd

Contact staff at ORC:

Mr. Laurence Graham Smith

Other staff involved:

Bruce Pearce, Nic Lampkin, Susanne Padel

Project aims

The proposed work will aim to assess the environmental and economic implications of a large scale conversion to organic farming within England and Wales.

The specific objectives of the thesis are as follows:

  1. To review current knowledge on the environmental impacts of organic farming systems in Northern Europe, with particular regard to greenhouse gas emissions and acidification.
  2. To review approaches for scaling up organic agriculture at a national level and for modelling the impacts of a large-scale conversion, as the basis for the development of an assessment methodology.
  3. Using the method(s) identified in 2, to explore the implication of a 100% conversion of agriculture (by land area) within England and Wales, in terms of primary energy use, Global Warming Potential (GWP), soil carbon sequestration and Acidification Potential (AP).
  4. To examine how different types of organic production (i.e. farming systems) compare against each of the above environmental indicators.
  5. To explore the economic impacts of a 100% conversion to organic agriculture within the UK.

The work proposed will be a policy-focussed series of papers exploring the theme of a large-scale conversion to organic agriculture within the UK and the sector’s relative environmental and economic performance to non-organic/conventional farming. This work will help to highlight benefits and/or dis-benefits provided by the organic approach in the context of climate change and the broader sustainability agenda.

Rather than focus on a limited set of products and/or farm practices, as previous studies have tended to, the study will carry out assessments at a farm system level, investigating the potential for interactions and trade-offs, between the farming systems identified.

This work will build on the outputs from Defra project OF0386: Methodology for assessing the environmental economic and social characteristics of (organic and non-organic) farming systems, and will contribute to ongoing work within Defra project AC0114: Data management and modelling - part of the Greenhouse Gas Platform.

ORC's role

The Programme is being co-supervised by Dr Bruce Pearce, Prof. Nic Lampkin and Dr. Susanne Padel at the Organic Research Centre, Elm farm andr Dr. Adrian Williams, Prof Guy Kirk and Mr. Eric Audsley (special subject adviser) at Cranfield University.

Project leader and partners

Publications

Smith LG, Jones P, Kirk G, Pearce BD, Williams AG (2018). Modelling the impact of a widespread conversion to organic agriculture in England and Wales. Land Use Policy, 76 (July) 391-404.