Policy research

Feeding the world

Organic and other agro-ecological farming systems can help the world feed itself, but as well as changing our farming systems, we need to eat differently, feed our livestock differently, and waste less food. Our report 'Feeding the Future' provides a summary of the latest research on how organic food can feed the world.

Manufactured nitrogen

Evidence suggests that farming systems that use legumes and clover to fix nitrogen naturally behave differently in terms of nitrogen retention and loss than those that use manufactured nitrogen fertilisers. A move away from manufactured nitrogen would also help mitigate the climate change. Our report 'Just say N2O' explores the latest evidence around the use of manufactured nitrogen on farms.

Resource depletion

Our report reveals that supplies of phosphate rock are running out faster than previously thought and that declining supplies and higher prices of phosphate are a new threat to global food security. A rock and a hard place: Peak phosphorus and the threat to our food security highlights the urgent need for farming to become less reliant on phosphate rock-based fertiliser.

Sustainable animal feed

Our report, Feeding the animals that feed us, opens the urgently needed debate on how we can move away from feeding our farm animals grains and imported proteins, and promotes more sustainable alternatives such as increased grazing and use of home-grown feed.

Soil carbon and organic farming

Research from the Soil Association reveals that if all UK farmland was converted to organic farming, at least 3.2 million tonnes of carbon would be taken up by the soil each year - the equivalent of taking nearly 1 million cars off the road. The full report is a review of the biological factors and agricultural practices that determine soil carbon levels, from the benefit of the wider perspective of organic farming.

Strategies for change

Our current food systems are precarious and vulnerable to external ‘shocks’. A combination of one or more external factors, such as extreme weather conditions, global conflict or trade disputes could easily disrupt the continuity of food supplies unless we make fundamental changes to the way we farm, process, distribute and eat our food over the next 20 years. That’s the stark message behind our Food Futures report which outlines what we believe should be a blueprint for a more sustainable approach to food and farming.

Access a full list of our policy reports

image "Organic principles have to underpin the practice, and once they are understood and really taken on board most of the rest of it is common sense."