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Natural Awakenings

Superior Soil: Organic Farming Sustains Earth’s Richness

Feb 28, 2013 11:55AM

Famed as the happiest country on Earth, the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is now aiming to become 100 percent organic, phasing out artificial chemicals in farming in the next 10 years. Agence France-Presse reports that Bhutan currently sends rare mushrooms to Japan, vegetables to up-market hotels in Thailand, its highly prized apples to India and red rice to the United States.

Jurmi Dorji, of southern Bhutan’s 103-member Daga Shingdrey Pshogpa farmers’ association, says their members are in favor of the policy. “More than a decade ago, people realized that the chemicals were not good for farming,” he says. “I cannot say everyone has stopped using chemicals, but almost 90 percent have.”

An international metastudy published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science that analyzed 74 studies on soils in fields under organic or conventional farming practices has found that over time, the carbon content in the organic fields significantly increased. For farmers everywhere, that means organic agriculture results in a richer, more productive soil, with plenty of humus, which is conducive to higher yields.

Peter Melchett, policy director at Britain’s Organic Soil Association, says a primary benefit of a country becoming 100 percent organic is an assurance of quality to consumers that creates both an international reputation and associated market advantage.

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