©2008 Rodale Institute
Regenerative Organic Farming:
A Solution to Global Warming
Tim J. LaSalle, Ph.D., CEO
Paul Hepperly, Ph.D., Director of Research and Fulbright Scholar
Agriculture is an undervalued and underestimated climate change tool that could be one of the most
powerful strategies in the ﬁght against global warming. Nearly 30 years of Rodale Institute soil carbon data
show conclusively that improved global terrestrial stewardship--speciﬁcally including regenerative organic
agricultural practices--can be the most effective currently available strategy for mitigating CO2 emissions.
Rodale Institute’s Farming Systems Trial® (FST) is the longest-running side-by-side comparison of organic
and conventional farming systems in the U.S. and one of the oldest trials in the world. It has documented
the beneﬁts of an integrated systems approach to farming using regenerative organic practices. These
include cover crops, composting and crop rotation to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide by pulling it from
the air and storing it in the soil as carbon. Results from these practices—corroborated at other research
centers that include University of California at Davis, University of Illinois, Iowa State University and USDA
Beltsville, Maryland, research facility—reiterate the vast, untapped potential of organic agricultural prac-
tices to solve global warming.
Agricultural carbon sequestration has the potential to substantially mitigate global warming impacts. When
using biologically based regenerative practices, this dramatic beneﬁt can be accomplished with no de-
crease in yields or farmer proﬁts. Even though climate and soil type affect sequestration capacities, these
multiple research efforts verify that practical organic agriculture, if practiced on the planet’s 3.5 billion
tillable acres, could sequester nearly 40 percent of current CO2 emissions.
Rodale Institute advocates a rapid, nationwide transition from today’s prevailing, petroleum-based farm-
ing methods to more advanced “post-modern“ systems incorporating best practices based on replicated
research. We call this approach regenerative organic agriculture to signify its focus on renewing resources
through complementary biological systems which feed and improve the soil as well as avoiding harmful
synthetic inputs. This is the full meaning of our preferred farming style in this discussion.
The problem with modern agriculture
Modern farming practices are one of the largest contributors to global warming.
Current farming practices are not sustainable for a number of reasons. Some Midwestern soils that in the
1950s were composed of up to 20 percent carbon are now between 1- and 2-percent carbon. This carbon
loss contributes to: soil erosion, by degrading soil structure; increasing vulnerability to drought, by greatly
reducing the level of water-holding carbon in the soil; and the loss of soil’s native nutrient value.
In addition, prevailing farming practices break down soil carbon into carbon dioxide that is released into
the atmosphere, greatly contributing to global warming. Surprising analysis of the nation’s oldest continu-
ous cropping test plots in Illinois showed that, contrary to long-held beliefs, nitrogen fertilization does not
build up soil organic matter. New data from U.S. government research show that with agriculture using
chemical fertilizers and herbicides, the U.S. food system contributes nearly 20 percent of the nation’s
carbon dioxide emissions. On a global scale, ﬁgures from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC) say that agricultural land use contributes 12 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Other negative effects of the modern-farming paradigm include: nutrient overload in our waterways from
the use of synthetic nitrogen, loss of energy reserves due to the abundant use of petrol-based chemicals
(which put an increasing ﬁnancial burden on farmers as oil prices rise), degradation of our soils (due to
mono-cropping that requires use of synthetic fertilizer for fertility) and animal health and welfare concerns.
The soil solution: solving global warming…and more
Rodale Institute’s Farming Systems Trial (FST) was the ﬁrst study that proved regenerative organic agricul-
tural practices store or sequester carbon in the soil by removing it from the air, thereby signiﬁcantly revers-
ing the impact of global warming.
Regenerative organic farming methods can transform agriculture from part of the global warming problem
to a major part of the solution, by changing how we farm. Farmers can transition to new practices relatively
quickly and inexpensively using low-cost tools.
Carbon dioxide levels are minimized in summer when lush vegetation promotes a sponging action, and
are maximized in winter when plants go dormant. However, the greenhouse gas sponging ability of the soil
itself may make more of a difference than what’s growing on the land. On a global scale, soils hold more
than twice as much carbon (an estimated 1.74 trillion U.S. tons) as does terrestrial vegetation (672 billion
U.S. tons). Data from Rodale Institute and other studies indicate that regenerative and organic practices
can dramatically alter the carbon storage of arable lands, building soil “humic” substances (also known as
soil organic matter) that remain as stable carbon compounds for many years.
The key to greater, more stable carbon sequestration lies in the handling of soil organic matter (SOM). Be-
cause SOM is primarily carbon, increases in these levels will be directly correlated with carbon sequestra-
tion. While prevailing farming practices using synthetic inputs typically deplete SOM, regenerative farming
practices, including the integration of crop and animal production, build it.
Before forests and grasslands were converted to ﬁeld agriculture, SOM generally composed 6 to 10 percent
of the soil volume, well over the 1- to 3-percent levels typical of today’s agricultural ﬁeld systems. Building
soil organic matter by better nurturing our agricultural lands can capture the excess atmospheric carbon
dioxide and begin returning this lost carbon to the soil. Forests and rangelands hold a greater capacity for
carbon sequestration than the aboveground biomass measurements often used in equating their values.
Organically managed soils can convert carbon from a greenhouse gas into a food-producing asset. Soils
that are rich in carbon conserve water and support healthier plants that are more resistant to drought
stress, pests and diseases. Our studies of organic systems have shown an increase of almost 30 percent in-
soil carbon over 27 years. The petroleum-based system showed no signiﬁcant increase in soil carbon in the
same time period and some studies have shown that these systems, in fact, may lose carbon.
Researchers are ﬂeshing out the mechanisms by
which this soil carbon sequestration takes place. One
of the most signiﬁcant ﬁndings is the high correlation
between increased soil carbon levels and very high
amounts of mycorrhizal fungi. These fungi help slow
down the decay of organic matter. Beginning with our
Farming Systems Trial, collaborative studies by the
USDA’s Agriculture Research Service (ARS) led by
David Douds, Ph.D., show that the biological support
system of mycorrhizal fungi are more prevalent and
diverse in organically managed systems than in soils
that depend on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.
These fungi work to conserve organic matter by aggre-
gating organic matter with clay and minerals. In soil
aggregates, carbon is more resistant to degradation
than in free form and thus more likely to be con-
served. These ﬁndings demonstrate that mycorrhizal
fungi produce a potent glue-like substance called
glomalin that stimulates increased aggregation of soil
Mycorrhizal fungi structures enhance the ability of
plant roots to access soil moisture and nutrients,
produce stable compounds to sequester carbon di-
oxide as soil carbon , and slow decay of soil organic
particles. This results in an increased ability of
soil to retain carbon. These ﬁndings are based on
analysis by ARS researchers at the Northern Great
Plains Research Lab in Mandan, North Dakota.
In Rodale Institute’s FST, soil carbon levels in-
creased more in the manure-based organic system
than in the legume-based organic system, presum-
ably because the manure stimulates the soil to
sequester carbon in more stable forms. The study
also showed that soil carbon depends on more
than just total carbon additions to the system, be-
cause cropping diversity or carbon-to-nitrogen ra-
tios of inputs may also have an effect. We believe
the answer lies in the decay rates of soil organic
matter under different management systems. The
application of soluble nitrogen fertilizers in the
petroleum-based system stimulates more rapid and complete decay of organic matter, sending carbon into
the atmosphere instead of retaining it in the soil as the organic systems do.
Reducing emissions, maintaining yield, cutting chemical run-off
Beyond the beneﬁt of carbon sequestration, regenerative practices bring dramatic reductions in energy use
and carbon dioxide emissions.
An energy analysis of the FST shows a 33-percent reduction in fossil-fuel use for organic corn/soybean
farming systems that use cover crops or compost instead of chemical fertilizer. This translates to less
Soils improved over time through organic farming
methods gain in stored organic matter, which enhances
biological cycling of nutrients and management of water
for the beneﬁt of crops.
Regenerative organic systems sharply reduce energy use, according to re-
search by David Pimentel, Ph.D.
No-till Tillage No-till
Energy Used in Different Corn Production Systems
(gallons of diesel per acre)
greenhouse gas emissions as farmers adopt more regenerative production methods. Moreover, Rodale
Institute’s organic rotational no-till system can reduce the fossil fuel needed to produce each no-till crop in
the rotation by up to 75 percent compared to standard-tilled organic crops. Research beginning this year
at Rodale Institute will compare organic and petroleum-based no-till and tilled systems for the ﬁrst time
within the ongoing FST regime.
Research ﬁndings have shown that the
biggest energetic input in a conventional,
modern corn and soybean system is nitrogen
fertilizer for corn, followed by herbicides for
both corn and soybean production. The abil-
ity of regenerative organic agriculture to be
a signiﬁcant carbon sink and less dependent
on fossil-fuel inputs has long-term implica-
tions for global agriculture and its role in
air-quality policies and programs.
There are economic beneﬁts beyond the
reduced input costs to growers. Our FST
showed that in all systems, corn and soy-
bean yields from the organic systems
matched the yields from conventional sys-
tems, except in drought years, when regen-
erative systems yielded about 30 per cent
more corn than the petroleum-based system. This yield advantage in drought years is due to the fact that
soils higher in carbon can capture more water and keep it available to crop plants.
Further, economic analysis by James Hanson, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland has shown that organic
systems in Rodale Institute’s FST are competitive in returns with conventional corn and soybean farming—
even without market-based organic premiums. These have been consistent for more than a decade, with
certiﬁed-organic crop prices ranging from 40 to 150 percent higher than standard crop prices.
Farming for carbon capture is also compatible with
other environmental and social goals, such as reduc-
ing erosion and minimizing impact on native ecosys-
This approach utilizes the natural carbon cycle to re-
duce the use of purchased synthetic inputs. Because
chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not used,
nutrient and chemical pollution in waterways is sig-
niﬁcantly reduced. Not only does this translate into
long-term cleaner waterways, but it will also save in
environmental cleanup costs at the state and federal
level. The immensity of the societal cost of over-fer-
tilization is illustrated by the watersheds feeding into
the East Coast’s Chesapeake Bay. Despite millions of
dollars spent over the past 25 years to help farmers
reduce agricultural nutrient losses to the bay, roughly
300 millions pounds of nitrogen (39 percent from
agricultural sources) still reaches the bay annually.
Better water inﬁltration, retention and delivery to plants helps to
sustain yield during drought.
Organically improved healthy soil develops high levels
of complex organic compounds which are not readily
water soluble yet create micropores that help to man-
age water better than non-organic soils.
Research and proofs
Rodale Institute’s FST research was conceived as a way to test the assumptions about organic farming
methods in a systematic way that would be scientiﬁcally rigorous and practically relevant on a large scale.
Data from nearly three decades of research trials indicate that wide-scale implementation of established,
scientiﬁcally researched and proven practical farming methods will change agriculture from a global warm-
ing contributor to a global warming inhibitor, from a problem to a solution.
In the FST organic plots, carbon was sequestered into the soil at the rate of 875 lbs/ac/year in a crop rota-
tion utilizing raw manure, and at a rate of about 500 lbs/ac/year in a rotation using legume cover crops.
During the 1990s, results from the Compost Utilization Trial (CUT) at Rodale Institute—a 10-year study
comparing the use of composts, manures and synthetic chemical fertilizer—show that the use of composted
manure with crop rotations in organic systems can result in carbon sequestration of up to 2,000 lbs/ac/year.
By contrast, ﬁelds under standard tillage relying on chemical fertilizers lost almost 300 pounds of carbon
per acre per year. Storing—or sequestering—up to 2,000 lbs/ac/year of carbon means that more than 7,000
pounds of carbon dioxide are taken from the air and trapped in that ﬁeld soil.
In 2006, U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion were estimated at nearly 6.5 billion
tons. If 7000 lb/CO2/ac/year sequestration rate was achieved on all 434 million acres of cropland in the
United States, nearly 1.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide would be sequestered per year, mitigating close to
one quarter of the country’s total fossil fuel emissions.
This is the emissions-cutting equivalent of taking one car off the road for every two acres under organic re-
generative agricultural management, based on a vehicle average of 15,000 miles per year at 23 mpg (U.S.
Organic agricultural practices are established and have been successfully commercialized, and we believe
that these methods are applicable in all scale operations as shown by farmers across the United States—
from family truck farms to commercial operations of many thousands of acres.
Four European countries have changed their emission-reduction targets for the Kyoto Protocol to include
contributions from organic agriculture policy based on Rodale Institute research. These are: the United
Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. France has recently invited Paul Hepperly, Ph.D.—
research director at Rodale Institute—as a contributing scientist in their exploration of how organic agricul-
tural practices can be useful in ﬁghting greenhouse gases.
Challenges to success
The technology, techniques and practices of regenerative organic agriculture are proven. Research provides
a sound basis for a national phasing out of environmentally harmful agricultural methods and phasing in of
regenerative organic systems.
Widespread implementation will dramatically beneﬁt from additional support for research and development.
For example, more research is needed on the mechanisms responsible for the deep carbon sequestration
we see in organically managed agricultural soils and forests. The role of mycorrhizae and glomalin in soil
carbon retention requires further investigation, as do other biological mechanisms that result in greater
ability to sequester carbon naturally and improve soil properties. While these methods have been replicated
in a variety of soils and climates—from California to Senegal—further research is needed to systematically
measure carbon-sequestration results in various soils, climates and crops. To date, Rodale Institute’s FST
and ARS researchers at Beltsville have studied rotations using mainly grains, and UC Davis has tested cot-
ton and tomatoes.
Measurement of carbon in soil is also key. For widespread commercialization, better tools are needed for
more predictive, quicker and more precise in-ﬁeld soil-carbon measurement. Rodale Institute is currently
testing mineralization of soil nitrogen as a way to estimate soil carbon levels. Another opportunity that may
show great potential is analysis of satellite views of the earth to determine soil-carbon amounts. This ap-
proach requires taking into consideration yearly global carbon ﬂux dynamics that track carbon and carbon
dioxide ﬂows between atmospheric and biospheric (terrestrial and oceanic) sources, driven in part by sea-
sonal changes of photosynthetic activity.
Knowledge of carbon sequestration in forestry, range and pasture land needs to be combined and evalu-
ated with Rodale Institute’s research to gain a global terrestrial perspective on how much carbon could be
sequestered to mitigate global warming.
The economic implications of improved soil health, increased biodiversity, improved human health, water
savings, stream and bay cleanup, as well as climate change mitigation also need to be evaluated to help
shape public policy and international accords.
While research needs are clear, data from research trials and commercial practice have established that
the obstacles to nationwide implementation are neither technical nor economic. Rather, the largest ob-
stacles to success are human factors. Public education, cause marketing, retraining—these are the types
of programs needed to change behaviors in both farming practices as well as the way people shop and buy.
Consumers may be ahead of the market in this case. Demand for organic, no-pesticide and hormone-free
products in the United States has increased 20 percent or more each year for the past 14 years. Yet there
has only been a 3-percent increase in acres dedicated to organic practices.
Public education, training in organic regenerative farming and public policy
The current environmental emergency requires a major paradigm shift in the way we provide incentives for
our farmers. Incremental changes over a period of many decades are a prescription for continued global
warming and other environmental degradation.
Successful implementation of regenerative organic farming practices on a national basis will depend on
two factors: a strong bottom-up demand for change, and a top-down shift in state and national policy to
support farmers in this transition.
Rodale Institute’s experience in training thousands of farmers from around the world has proven that the
shift to regenerative farming practices is both doable and practical. It’s the decision to change that’s hard.
Government farm policy must be transformed in a way that incentivizes farmers and drives behavioral
change toward wide-scale adoption of regenerative farming practices. Success requires a sustained, multi-
faceted national public education campaign, training for farmers in regenerative agricultural methods and
From a climate change and global warming perspective alone, it would seem imperative that the 2012
Farm Bill replace the system of commodity payments with a program that rewards farmers for conservation
and other carbon-enhancing farm practices. Farmers should be paid on the basis of how much carbon they
can put into and keep in their soil, not only how many bushels of grain they can produce. Incentives will
encourage resource conservation and other carbon-enhancing means of producing crops for food, feed and
ﬁber. The current, antiquated method of paying for a single year’s crop would be eliminated.
Rodale Institute’s research demands a Farm Bill paradigm shift that invests in environmentally sound
systems and monetizes the ecological cost of fossil-fuel use (directly as fuel and indirectly in the manufac-
ture of synthetic inputs for non-regenerative systems). In 2008 global food demand is testing the capac-
ity of petroleum-dependent, export-focused commodity agriculture. This system has not served developed
nations as food prices soar—inﬂamed by biofuel demand and fuel prices—and greenhouse gas emissions
increase. It has especially hurt developing nations already struggling with food security issues.
Further, U.S. subsidies allow its exported commodity crops to be sold at artiﬁcially low prices in foreign
markets, running afoul of World Trade Organization (WTO) provisions for free trade. The United States has
lost every major challenge to these “trade distorting” subsidies before the WTO, but has yet to seriously
explore the EU approach of “green payments” that support ecological services apart from yield.
The following chart outlines some comparative differences between the current Farm Bill structure—which
rewards high-volume production of commodities such as wheat, soybeans, corn and oilseeds—and the
proposed carbon-reward system of incentives.
Improves crop biodiversity – Rewarding all
farmers, regardless of crops & acreage, for
carbon stored will stimulate a variety of crops,
rather than traditional commodity crops. Crop
rotations also allow soil to replenish itself
Rewards “green” practices – Regenerative
methods reduce greenhouse gas emissions,
avoid waterway pollution, limit erosion, and
improve soil health
Economically independent – By creating an
integrated system that doesn’t depend on
artiﬁcial inputs tied to historically increasing
petroleum prices, farmers are more economi-
Long-term strategic land use – More perennial
crops, including pasture and trees, focused on
land stewardship to create a holistic farm plan
Reduces Erosion – More acres covered with
growing crops for more months of the year
reduce the risk of soil erosion
Energy saving – Reduces or eliminates petro-
leum-dependent chemical fertilizer and pesti-
cide inputs. Integrated systems reduce need for
artiﬁcial inputs with high energy costs.
Spurs independent, entrepreneurial seed
production – Increases demand for a broader
range of crop seeds with carbon beneﬁts, spur-
ring new growth in regional and entrepreneurial
seed companies that are often independent of
Opens marketplace – Creates non-traditional
opportunities to enter commercial markets,
meeting surging demand for local and regional
production in the Midwest and East. Allows
more diverse farmers into the market
Limits crops – Limiting ﬁnancial incentives to
commodity crops – corn, soybeans, wheat, rice,
cotton – directs farmers to choose same small
number of crops. Growing single crops each
year also depletes nutrients from the soil
Environmentally harmful – Petroleum-based
inputs release greenhouse gases, leach nitro-
gen and phosphorus into the water and deplete
naturally occurring soil nutrients, making it
more dependent on chemical fertilizer
Petroleum-industry dependent – Farmers’
proﬁts are tied to increases in petroleum-based
fertilizer and pesticide prices,
creating a cycle of dependency
Short-term ﬁeld focus – Annual crops (tilled
and no-till) are the main focus on a year-to-year
Erosion-prone – Current systems that leave
ﬁelds fallow for large portions of the year are
much more vulnerable to soil loss
High energy use – Continues and increases
use of petroleum-dependent chemical fertilizer
and pesticide inputs that take a great deal of
energy to produce and transport.
Generates dependence on monopolistic seed
and input companies – Continues concentra-
tion of seed production focused on high-input
varieties that trap farmers into cycle of depen-
dency with a few large companies producing a
small variety of crops.
Discourages new farmers and innovative crop
production – Commodity programs include
strong disincentives that discourage commodity
crop farmers to diversify.
Section Seven: A Call to Action
Compared to expensive, experimental, high-technology projects, global transition to biologically based
farming can be achieved without new technology or expensive investment. Changing the emphasis from
commodity to carbon will profoundly affect the economic drivers at the farm level. Farmers will creatively
adapt to this economic prescription and shift to ecologically sound agricultural practices as they fulﬁll
consumer demand, supported by a practical policy that makes a transition to these practices economically
With a problem so dire, a need so urgent, and a solution so available, the path to responsible terrestrial
stewardship is clear. And because the practices of 21st Century regenerative organic agriculture are scal-
able globally, it’s a solution that can be adapted all over the world.
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Rodale Institute: An overview of our work
with organic and sustainable farming
Rodale Institute is located on a 333-acre certiﬁed organic farm in Kutztown, Pennsylvania and has spent
60 years doing extensive research to provide farmers with the know-how, tools and techniques they need
to succeed, policy-makers the information they need to best support our farmers and consumers with the
resources they need to make informed decisions about the food they buy and eat both in the United States
From aquaculture and amaranth studies to vetch varietals trials and design and experimentation with a
cutting-edge roller-crimper tool for low-cost, low-input no-till, the on-farm and collaborative research of
the Rodale Institute has spanned the width and breadth of agriculture. The farm is perhaps best known
for its Farming Systems Trial® (FST), the United State’s longest-running scientiﬁc experiment speciﬁcally
designed to compare organic and conventional farming practices.
The Institute was created by visionary J.I. Rodale who moved from New York in the late 1930s to rural
Pennsylvania, where he was able to realize his keen personal interest in farming. He learned about organic
food-growing concepts being promoted by Lady Eve Balfour and Sir Albert Howard and theorized, based on
their work and his own observations, that to preserve and improve our health we must restore and pro-
tect the natural health of the soil. Developing and demonstrating practical methods of rebuilding natural
soil fertility became J.I. Rodale’s primary goal when World War II’s sudden shortage of nitrogen fertilizer
– diverted to making munitions – exposed the natural nutrient poverty of the nation’s soil. In 1947, J.I.
founded the Soil and Health Foundation, forerunner to the Rodale Institute. He also created successful
periodicals, including Health Bulletin, Organic Farming and Gardening and Prevention magazines.
The concept of “organic” was simple but revolutionary in the post World War II era. Manure, cover crops
and crop mixtures were standard practices through World War I, but chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbi-
cides, artiﬁcial ingredients, preservatives and additives for taste and appearance in the years since the war
had rapidly changed agriculture. As J.I. Rodale communicated the idea of creating soil rich in nutrients
and free of contaminants, however, people began to listen and acceptance grew.
J.I. Rodale died in 1971. His son Robert expanded the farm and health-related research with the pur-
chase of the 333-acre farm near Kutztown, Pennsylvania. With his wife Ardath, Robert established what
is now the Rodale Institute and an era of research began that continues today. Powerful testimony by
Robert Rodale, and the farmers and scientists who swore by the sustainable methods pioneered at Rodale,
convinced the U.S. Congress to include funds for regenerative agriculture in the 1985 Farm Bill. Today,
federal, state and local governments, land-grant universities and other organizations nationwide are pursu-
ing regenerative agriculture research and education programs.
When Robert Rodale was killed in a trafﬁc accident in Moscow in 1990, Ardath Rodale became the Insti-
tute chairman and John Haberern became president. In 1999 Robert and Ardath Rodale’s son, Anthony
became chairman of the board. Anthony and Florence, his wife, developed outreach efforts to children
during their period of active program involvement before Anthony became an international ambassador for
the Rodale Institute’s mission. Board member Paul McGinley became co-chair of the board with Ardath in
Timothy J. LaSalle became the ﬁrst CEO of the Institute in July 2007, bringing decades of experience in
academic, agricultural and non-proﬁt leadership to the task. Under his guidance, the Institute champions
organic solutions for the challenges of global climate change, better nutrition in food, famine prevention
and poverty reduction.
1941 1942 1947 1950 1954
1971 1978 1981 1987 1988 1990
J.I. Rodale buys a
farm near Emmaus,
PA to test food-
promoted by Lady
Eve Balfour and Sir
"Plants are not like money," J.I. noted in
the inaugural issue of Organic Farming
and Gardening magazine. "A one-dollar
bill always means 100 cents. But two
different pea pods each representing
the same weight do not have the same
amount of vitamins."
Soil and Health Foundation,
forerunner to the Rodale
Institute, is founded by J.I.
Rodale with the goal of
developing and demonstrating
practical methods of rebuilding
natural soil fertility.
J.I. Rodale speaks
about the merits of
organiculture (a term
he coined in 1948 to
gardening) to the
House Select Commit-
tee to Investigate the
Use of Chemicals in
"Organics is not a fad'" J.I. writes.
"It has been a long-established
practice - much more firmly
grounded than the current
chemical flair. Present agricultural
practices are leading us downhill."
After J.I. Rodale's
death, his son Robert
and his wife Ardath
expand the farm and
with the purchase of a
333-acre farm near
nia, establishing what is
now the Rodale
President Jimmy Carter charges
Agricultural Secretary Bob
Bergland to have USDA ARS
personnel study alternative
agriculture approaches includ-
ing organic practices.
Rodale Institute works with
USDA to start the Farming
Systems Trial® (FST) studying
the transition to organic produc-
tion and comparing it to conven-
tional agriculture. Robert Rodale
first describes regenerative
agriculture: "We must go beyond
sustainability, to renew and to
regenerate our agricultural
Thanks largely to Robert
Rodale’s lobbying efforts,
Congress passes the
first-ever federal sustainable
$3.9 million—planting the
seeds for the Sustainable
Agriculture Research and
Education (SARE) and Low
Input Sustainable Agricul-
ture (LISA) programs.
yield for corn,
soybean and small
grains in organic
Production Act is
signed into law as
part of the Farm Bill
and Robert Rodale
dies in a traffic
accident in Moscow.
and John Haberern
©2008 Rodale Institute
1991 1993 1996 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007
The Rodale Institute
sponsors the world's
Conference on the
Monitoring of Soil
Quality. More than
two dozen specialists
from five countries
comparing the use
article in Nature
and nitrogen in the
soil scientist Sara F.
glomalin, soil "super
glue," implicated as
a key component of
Organic systems in
Trial are shown to
higher yields under
severe drought and
tion in the Farming
Systems Trial and
paper on the
have on mitigating
Rodale Institute research
carbon sequestration in
the Compost Utilization
Trial and finds
that regenerative farming
techniques can become
the single largest wedge
to actively combating
and USDA ARS show
carbon and nitrogen
energy efficiency of
organic agriculture in
emeritus for the
Rodale Institute, and
Ardath Rodale and
Paul McGinely take
over as co-chairs.
levels in San
similar to Rodale
University of Illinois at Morrow
Plots shows nitrogen fertilizers do
not contribute to carbon sequestra-
tion corroborating Rodale Institute
Compost Utilization Trial results.
Henry A. Wallace Agricultural
Research Center shows that
organic farming can yield better
soil quality and sequestration
results compared to no-till alone.
Timothy J. LaSalle joins the Rodale
Institute as the first CEO. Under his
leadership, the Institute champions
organic solutions for the challenges
of global climate change, better
nutrition in food, famine prevention
and poverty reduction.
©2008 Rodale Institute