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

Koen Mondelaers UGent, Joris Aertsens UGent and Guido Van Huylenbroeck UGent (2009) BRITISH FOOD JOURNAL. 111(10). p.1098-1119
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.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
journalArticle (review)
publication status
published
subject
keyword
MODELING APPROACH, SOUTHERN GERMANY, NEW-ZEALAND, CROPPING SYSTEMS, LONG-TERM CHANGES, SOIL QUALITY INDICATORS, GREENHOUSE-GAS EMISSIONS, Organic foods, Agriculture, Environmental management, Europe, LEACHING LOSSES, NITROUS-OXIDE, PHOSPHORUS P
journal title
BRITISH FOOD JOURNAL
Br. Food J.
volume
111
issue
10
pages
1098 - 1119
Web of Science type
Review
Web of Science id
000272625600005
JCR category
FOOD SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
JCR impact factor
0.752 (2009)
JCR rank
71/117 (2009)
JCR quartile
3 (2009)
ISSN
0007-070X
DOI
10.1108/00070700910992925
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
A1
copyright statement
I have transferred the copyright for this publication to the publisher
id
682772
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-682772
date created
2009-06-08 13:59:32
date last changed
2010-03-10 16:33:13
@article{682772,
  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.},
  author       = {Mondelaers, Koen and Aertsens, Joris and Van Huylenbroeck, Guido},
  issn         = {0007-070X},
  journal      = {BRITISH FOOD JOURNAL},
  keyword      = {MODELING APPROACH,SOUTHERN GERMANY,NEW-ZEALAND,CROPPING SYSTEMS,LONG-TERM CHANGES,SOIL QUALITY INDICATORS,GREENHOUSE-GAS EMISSIONS,Organic foods,Agriculture,Environmental management,Europe,LEACHING LOSSES,NITROUS-OXIDE,PHOSPHORUS P},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {10},
  pages        = {1098--1119},
  title        = {A meta-analysis of the differences in environmental impacts between organic and conventional farming},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/00070700910992925},
  volume       = {111},
  year         = {2009},
}

Chicago
Mondelaers, Koen, Joris Aertsens, and Guido Van Huylenbroeck. 2009. “A Meta-analysis of the Differences in Environmental Impacts Between Organic and Conventional Farming.” British Food Journal 111 (10): 1098–1119.
APA
Mondelaers, K., Aertsens, J., & Van Huylenbroeck, G. (2009). A meta-analysis of the differences in environmental impacts between organic and conventional farming. BRITISH FOOD JOURNAL, 111(10), 1098–1119.
Vancouver
1.
Mondelaers K, Aertsens J, Van Huylenbroeck G. A meta-analysis of the differences in environmental impacts between organic and conventional farming. BRITISH FOOD JOURNAL. 2009;111(10):1098–119.
MLA
Mondelaers, Koen, Joris Aertsens, and Guido Van Huylenbroeck. “A Meta-analysis of the Differences in Environmental Impacts Between Organic and Conventional Farming.” BRITISH FOOD JOURNAL 111.10 (2009): 1098–1119. Print.