One of the first studies to quantify on a global scale how much organic practices contribute to nitrogen pollution versus conventional practices has been conducted by The University of Virginia and The Organic Center.
“The results show that organic far exceeds conventional in recycling nitrogen. Conventional farming relies heavily on the creation of new reactive nitrogen: 60 to 100 percent of conventional inputs are from new nitrogen sources. Organic farms primarily utilize already existing reactive nitrogen: 80 to 95 percent of organic’s inputs are from recycled nitrogen sources. The study found that organic production releases 64 percent less new reactive nitrogen to the environment than conventional production.
“Since nitrogen is an element, it cannot be created or destroyed,” said Dr. Tracy Misiewicz, Associate Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. “The total number of nitrogen atoms on Earth remains constant, so we need to understand what proportion of the total is present in a polluting form vs. a non-polluting form. This research shows that rather than converting benign nitrogen into polluting nitrogen, organic farming practices overwhelmingly recycle reactive nitrogen instead of introducing new reactive nitrogen into our environment.””
To read more about farming practises and polluting and non-polluting nitrogen, go to The Organic Center article.