Urban farming is better for soils than conventional agriculture

Photo credit: Mercedesfromtheeighties Photo credit: Mercedesfromtheeighties

A recent study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology has found that small-scale urban farming can significantly contribute to global food security because it does not deplete soil quality like conventional agricultural farming does. Researchers in the United Kingdom compared different indicators of healthy soils including soil organic carbon, total nitrogen, the carbon/nitrogen ratio, and bulk density between urban gardens, and green-spaces and conventional farms. They also used a questionnaire to assess land management practices. Results demonstrated that urban allotments had significantly healthier soils than nearby conventionally managed agricultural lands. Urban gardens and green-spaces had 32 percent more soil organic carbon, 36 percent higher carbon/nitrogen ratio, 25 percent more total nitrogen and 10 percent lower bulk density than conventionally managed agricultural lands. Based on questionnaire results, the authors attributed the difference in soil health to the application of organic fertilizers and composts in urban gardens.