One of big differences between organic and conventional farming is where the nitrogen needed to fertilize the soil comes from.* In conventional farming, much of the nitrogen comes from synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, which takes a lot of energy to produce. (That energy comes mostly from burning fossil fuels.) On the other hand, in organic farming, much of the nitrogen comes from animal waste being applied to fields, which releases methane, another carbon based greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. [citation 1]
Much of the potential to sequester carbon in the soil actually comes from no-till farming and other agricultural practices (like selecting for variates of crops which break down more slowing in the soil, increasing the amount of soil organic matter which is good for both the quality of the soil and sequestering carbon) which can be adopted by both conventional AND organic farmers. [citation 2]
*Both systems also get soil nitrogen from growing crops like soybeans that fix nitrogen from the atmosphere into biologically useful forms in a symbiotic relationship with bacteria.
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