A report released today by the Worldwatch Institute finds that organic farming across the globe is on the rise, and in a major way.
The world’s organic farms now encompass 37 million hectares (a threefold increase from 1999 levels) and 84 countries now implement organic regulations, up from 74 in 2009.
The report defines organic farming as "a production system that relies on ecological processes, such as waste recycling, rather than the use of synthetic inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides," and while some might think of organic farming as only a fad, it’s actually better for the environment as well as long-term crop health.
As more farmers worldwide realize that conventional farming methods may have higher yields in the short run but organic is more sustainable, they’re making the switch. Conventional farming also removes more water from the soil, which could pose a major problem during times of drought. Organic farming uses 50 percent less fossil fuel, and organic practices like rotating crops and maintaining perennial shrubs and trees usually lead to much higher biodiversity than conventional farms.
While just about every region on Earth increased its organic farmland, Europe was the clear leader, with 10 million hectares added between 2009 and 2010. And while the U.S. lags behind other nations in organic farmland creation, the organic industry in the States has grown in leaps and bounds, expanding by 9.5 percent in 2011 to reach $31.5 billion in sales.