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Revisiting the original reasons for excluding inorganic fertilizers in organic farming-Why the ban is not consistent with our current scientific understanding

Kirchmann, Holger (2021). Revisiting the original reasons for excluding inorganic fertilizers in organic farming-Why the ban is not consistent with our current scientific understanding. Outlook On Agriculture. 50 , 107-115
[Article Review/Survey]

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Abstract

This paper reviews the original reasons of the organic farming movement for excluding mineral (inorganic) fertilizers. In this paper, their theories and decision criteria for excluding use of inorganic fertilizers in crop production were revisited. Original reasons for banning inorganic fertilizers were subjected to scientific scrutiny, which was not possible when they were formulated 50-100 years ago due to limited knowledge of the soil-crop system. The original reasons were as follows: Rudolf Steiner, the founder of biodynamic farming, played down the physical role of plant nutrients and pointed out "flow of forces" as being most important for soils and crops. Eve Balfour and Albert Howard, founders of the Soil Association in England, claimed that inorganic fertilizer increases the breakdown of humus in soil, leading to a decline in soil fertility. Hans-Peter Rusch, the founder of biological organic farming, considered inorganic fertilizers to be imbalanced products not matching crop composition and not in synchrony with crop demand. When testing these historical statements as scientific hypotheses, older and modern scientific literature was used for validation. Steiner's belief about the "flow of forces" has not be verified using current methodologies. The claim by Balfour and Howard that inorganic fertilizers accelerate soil organic matter decomposition is not substantiated by data from long-term field experiments on carbon and nitrogen cycling in soil-plant systems. The statement by Rusch that inorganic fertilizers supply crops inappropriately is difficult to uphold, as the composition, time, and rate of application and the placement of fertilizer in soil or on foliage can be fully adapted to crop requirements. In light of accumulated scientific evidence, the original arguments lack validity. The decision to ban inorganic fertilizers in organic farming is inconsistent with our current scientific understanding. Scientific stringency requires principles found to be erroneous to be abandoned.

Authors/Creators:Kirchmann, Holger
Title:Revisiting the original reasons for excluding inorganic fertilizers in organic farming-Why the ban is not consistent with our current scientific understanding
Series Name/Journal:Outlook On Agriculture
Year of publishing :2021
Volume:50
Page range:107-115
Number of Pages:9
Publisher:SAGE PUBLICATIONS LTD
ISSN:0030-7270
Language:English
Publication Type:Article Review/Survey
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 401 Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries > Soil Science
Keywords:Steiner, Balfour, Rusch, view on nature, test of core statements
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-112536
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-112536
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.1177/00307270211020025
Web of Science (WoS)000656033900001
ID Code:25498
Faculty:NJ - Fakulteten för naturresurser och jordbruksvetenskap
Department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Soil and Environment
(S) > Dept. of Soil and Environment
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:24 Sep 2021 06:25
Metadata Last Modified:24 Sep 2021 06:31

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