Valuation of soil ecosystem services of organic farming agroecosystem as an approach to natural resource management at Gasa, Bhutan

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Serki Wangmo
Chuleemas Boonthai Iwai


Bhutan officially commenced organic farming (OF) since 2004 declaring Gasa as 100% organic district. OF is one of the proven approaches to improve soil quality. Therefore, the value of soil ecosystem services (ES) of organic agroecosystem were studied at Gasa, Bhutan. Study was carried out at Goenkhatoe and Goenkhamae gewog (village block) under Gasa district. The ES was assessed include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (NPK), soil formation, and soil moisture regulation and carbon sequestration. The two comparative studies on the state of ES were performed: (1) between the two study areas and (2) among the soils growing carrot, garlic, potato, and the forest. The economic value was determined using the cost avoided valuation method. The economic value was estimated from the total cultivated area of 296.36 acres (farms growing certified crops: carrot, garlic and potato). Results showed that soil quality was good enough requiring no external synthetic inputs to provide ample ES without compromising the crop yield. The soil ES of OF was found higher at Goenkhatoe than Goenkhamae. When comparing the ES of soils of OF and forest, the ES were not significantly different except for nitrogen and phosphorus. Moreover, farmers could avoid the cost of USD 21,124.03 for not having to buy NPK fertilizer, USD0.406 from soil formation, USD 824,939.11 from carbon capture and USD345,501 for not having to irrigate field. This study reveals OF has the potential to enhance soil ES by sustaining the good soil quality. Moreover, OF could reap huge economic benefits for not having to depend on external inputs. These findings would provide holistic knowledge about the potential of OF in soil ES provision for the decision makers and other farmers to make authentic decision. However, we recommend conducting similar studies at a regular basis since the result is subject to vary over time due to varied geophysical factors. An aggregate of such results over time would contribute to better decision making.


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