Organic farming: a sustainable choice for higher yields and profits

Is organic farming more resistant, higher yielding and more energy efficient and, therefore, more profitable? The latest report from the Rodale Institute, based on an experiment/comparison that lasted 30 years, claims yes

Organic farming not only protects the soil but also ensures higher yields during extreme weather events and proves more profitable for farmers. This conclusion comes from a forty-year study by the Rodale Institute, comparing organic farming techniques with conventional ones. The findings are clear: organic farming delivers equal or even superior yields compared to conventional methods, along with economic and environmental benefits.

The Farming Systems Trial (FST)

The Farming Systems Trial (FST) is a long-term research project initiated by the Rodale Institute in 1981. Its primary goal is to document the long-term impacts of organic and conventional farming practices.

The difference between organic and conventional farming

The key difference between organic and conventional farming lies in their approach to pest and weed control. Conventional farming relies on chemical interventions, including synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.

In contrast, organic farming employs natural principles such as biodiversity and composting. It not only avoids conventional chemical inputs but also utilizes age-old techniques like crop rotation, composted animal manure, and green manure crops in economically sustainable ways.

The study

The FST compares three main farming systems: a conventional system using chemical inputs (like synthetic nitrogen for fertility and chemical herbicides), a legume-based organic system, and a manure-based organic system. The research took place on five hectares (about 12 acres) of land divided into 72 plots near the Rodale Institute in Kutztown, Pennsylvania.

Biological agriculture vs conventional

The results revealed that organically managed soils have a better ability to retain carbon dioxide, keeping it out of the atmosphere, and water infiltration is faster with long-term organic management compared to conventional practices. Furthermore, organic yields are comparable to conventional ones, especially under extreme weather conditions. For instance, during droughts, organic corn yields were 31% higher than conventional corn. Additionally, analysis of labor, costs, returns, and risks indicated that the manure-based organic system is the most profitable for farmers.

“While GM seeds and chemical inputs damage our soils and inhibit their long-term vitality, soil in organic plots becomes healthier year after year, costs are lower, and net crop returns are higher,” concludes Jeff Moyer, CEO of the Rodale Institute. “We see regenerative organic agriculture as a solution to many of the environmental, economic, and social challenges facing the world today.”

Condividi su Whatsapp Condividi su Linkedin