Good afternoon, Mr. Chair, and members of Parliament on this committee. Thank you for inviting me here to be part of today's hearing. While I have the floor I also want to thank all of the members of this committee for being vocal supporters of Canada's organic industry. This interest in and commitment to organics resulted in funding recently announced by the Honourable Minister MacAulay for the Canadian organic standards. Thank you for being a part of that and recognizing that Canada is and should continue to be a world leader in organic food and farming, and that organic standards are integral in achieving that.
As a professional agronomist specializing in organic agriculture, I am pleased to speak to you today about the energy efficient and climate-smart practices used in organic agriculture that mitigate climate change, enhance soil health, and protect water resources.
Organic agriculture combines tradition, innovation and science to benefit the environment and our economy. A key aspect of these techniques is that they allow a farmer to enhance soil health and fertility, and retain soil carbon, without the need for external inputs such as nitrogen fertilizers, which, as we know, contribute to over 70% of total noxious oxide greenhouse gas emissions. The largest terrestrial storehouse of carbon is soil organic matter. In fact, a protein produced by a mycorrhizal fungi called glomalin is integral in accumulating soil organic carbon.
A number of studies have shown that organic practices such as longer crop rotations and the use of perennial legumes and green manures lead to a greater organic soil matter and therefore greater carbon sequestration, which is important in climate change mitigation. This addition of soil organic matter also drives soil health. As a result, organic systems have been found to perform particularly well under environmental stress. For example, organic systems have enhanced yield stability under periods of drought because water and soil erosion is reduced and water retention and plant-available water is improved.
There is much more to say on the benefits of organic agriculture, but the point I wanted to make is that the agronomic practices used by organic farmers build soil organic matter, which leads to greater carbon sequestration, better soil health and improved water conservation. These are principal components of climate-smart agricultural strategies that are being promoted globally, because they mitigate climate change and create farming systems that are more resilient in the face of more extreme weather events.
Reflecting on this and on behalf of the Canadian Organic Growers, I strongly recommend that the Government of Canada continue to make strategic investments in soil carbon studies and measurement tools along with organic research, knowledge transfer, and standards maintenance in order to continue driving the adoption of climate-smart organic farming practices in Canada.
Now I'll pass over to Ms. Cornish for more on carbon sequestration.