Thursday, September 29, 2011

Debunking the Myths of Organic Farms by the Numbers

The idea of organic farms outperforming conventional farms may come as a surprise to some and be seen as common knowledge to others, but no matter how you look at it, the numbers are compelling.  As reported in the Star Phoenix, Pennsylvania's Rodale Institute conducted a 30 year side-by-side study comparing conventional farming to organic, and came up with some interesting results.  According to this study and others like it, the truth is conventional thinking on farming - that we have to tolerate toxic chemicals because organic farming can't feed the world - is wrong.  Here are some of the hard findings:

-Over a three-year transition period, organic yields equalled conventional yields.
-In years of drought, organic corn yields were 31 per cent higher than conventional yields.
-Genetically modified (GM) "drought tolerant" varieties showed increases of only 6.7 per cent to 13.3 per cent over conventional (non-drought resistant) varieties.

-Organic systems were almost three times as profitable as the conventional systems, which reflects the premium organic farmers receive and consumers pay for.
-Even aside from the premium, however, the Rodale study found organic systems are competitive with the conventional systems because of marginally lower input costs.
-The most profitable grain crop was organically grown wheat netting $835/acre/year.
-The least profitable grain crop was no-till conventional corn, netting just $27/acre/year.

-Organic systems used 45 per cent less energy than conventional.
-Production efficiency was 28 per cent higher in the organic systems, with the conventional no-till system being the least efficient in terms of energy usage.
-Soil health, often measured by the amount of carbon present in the soil, increased over time in the organic systems, while the conventional systems remained essentially unchanged.
-Organic fields increased groundwater recharge and reduced run-off. Water volumes percolating through the soil were 15-20 per cent higher in the organic systems.

-A separate UN study showed organic farms create 30 per cent more jobs per hectare than nonorganic.

The Star Phoenix went on to ask, "With results like these, why does conventional wisdom favour chemical farming? Vested interests. Organic farming keeps more money on the farm and in rural communities and out of the pockets of chemical companies. As the major funders of research centres and universities, and major advertisers in the farm media, they effectively buy a pro-chemical bias."  Farming in developing countries, however, has been shifting to a more organic approach, as many independent studies are showing that small scale, organic farming is the best option for feeding the world now and in the future. In fact, agroecological farming methods, including organic farming, could double global food production in just 10 years, according to one UN report.
Read the full Star Phoenix article here.

1 comment:

  1. Buy Herbal Care Products online. We provide Natural Herbal Remedies, health and skin diseases information. Natural herbal products use men and women without side effects.