To address the environmental challenges of nitrogen pollution, many advocate for a universal switch to organic farming, which eliminates the use of synthetic fertilizer. But talking about “organic” as a monolithic category doesn’t make very much sense: organic encapsulates both animal manure and green manure (cover crops), which have very different impacts. While green manure is, overall, carbon-negative, animal manure disproportionately contributes to nitrogen pollution. Instead of one-dimensional debates, we should focus on broader ways to reduce nitrogen pollution from all types of fertilizer.
To Cut Nitrogen Pollution, Move Past the Synthetic-Organic Debate, Dan Blaustein-Rejto, Kenton de Kirby, and Linus Blomqvist