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Volume 1 (2001), Pages 822-829
Research Article

N-Losses and Energy Use in a Scenario for Conversion to Organic Farming

Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Agricultural Systems, Tjele, Denmark

Academic Editor: Joe Wisniewski

Copyright © 2001 Tommy Dalgaard et al.


The aims of organic farming include the recycling of nutrients and organic matter and the minimisa-tion of the environmental impact of agriculture. Reduced nitrogen (N)-losses and energy (E)-use are therefore fundamental objectives of conversion to organic farming. However, the case is not straightforward, and different scenarios for conversion to organic farming might lead to reduced or increased N-losses and E-use. This paper presents a scenario tool that uses a Geographical Information System in association with models for crop rotations, fertilisation practices, N-losses, and E-uses. The scenario tool has been developed within the multidisciplinary research project Land Use and Landscape Development Illustrated with Scenarios (ARLAS). A pilot scenario was carried out, where predicted changes in N-losses and E-uses following conversion to organic farming in areas with special interests in clean groundwater were compared. The N-surplus and E-use were on average reduced by 10 and 54%, respectively. However, these reductions following the predicted changes in crop rotations, livestock densities, and fertilisation practices were not large enough to ensure a statistically significant reduction at the 95% level. We therefore recommend further research in how conversion to organic farming or other changes in the agricultural practice might help to reduce N-surpluses and E-uses. In that context, the presented scenario tool would be useful.