20 year trial reveals benefits of organic production
Story Added : 20th April 2011
Organic production was found to have less net carbon emissions, was more water saving, and at least as financially profitable for farmers as conventional farming methods.
Founded by the Rodale Institute, the research focused on corn and soybean crops and looked at three core farming systems: a manure–based organic system, a legume-based organic system, and a synthetic inputs-based conventional system.
BFA Director Dr Andrew Monk said the Farming Systems Trial has shown what organic growers have been claiming for many years.
“Organic systems can have a significant benefit to producers, particularly in times of climate extremes, and are therefore going to be important for increasing the resilience of our agricultural sector in the coming years,” Dr Monk said.
“This long-term study disproves the myth that organic cannot yield more than conventional systems – as yields are always one dimensional.
“With an increasing need for resilience in the face of climate realities, demand on our water resources increasing by the day, and biodiversity being stretched and threatened by current agricultural systems, there has never been a better or more important time for farmers to consider organic and biological agricultural methods, for their own health and the health of the earth.”
A summary of the results are as follows:
Organic systems produced 31 per cent higher corn yields than the conventional system during moderate droughts
Weed competition in organic production methods were tolerated better than in conventional farming methods
Carbon sequestration is highest in manure-based organic production, followed by legume-based organic production
Groundwater appears to increase in organic systems with 15-20 per cent higher volume of percolating water and reduced runoff
Herbicides were detected in the conventional system, with atrazine levels reaching a level known to produce deformities in frogs
Energy use in the conventional system was higher than in the organic systems
Initial costs to set up organic systems were 10 per cent higher than conventional, but organic premiums ranged from 65-140 per cent
For a full report, visit www.rodaleinstitute.org/fst