Organic Farming Outperforms Conventional Practices in 30-Year Study

Organic farming produces yields that match or surpass those of conventional farming systems, especially during times of drought, according to a 30-year study.

The non-profit Rodale Institute today announced the results of its Farming Systems Trial, America’s longest running side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional farming practices, encompassing productivity, soil quality, energy and economics.

Rodale finds that organic methods improve the nutritional profile of food, the health of soil and water, and the conditions of rural areas.

"Organic agriculture creates more jobs, provides a livable income for farmers, and can restore America’s confidence in our farming community and food system," they say.

Key findings include:

  • Organic yields match or surpass conventional yields;
  • Organic yields outperform conventional yields in years of drought;
  • Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic matter, making it a more sustainable system;
  • Organic farming uses 45% less energy and is more efficient;
  • Conventional agricultural systems produce 40% more greenhouse gases;
  • Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional farming systems.

These results are congruent with a legion of shorter term studies, that uniformly demonstrate the superiority of organic agriculture to that of chemical-based monoculture farming.

It’s also widely reported that organic farming sequesters carbon in the soil, providing a pivotal way to address climate change. In contrast, conventional farming releases the carbon in the soil, adding carbon to the atmosphere.

"America’s farming techniques affect the health of our families, our communities, and our planet. The Farming Systems Trial shows that organic farming is the healthiest and safest way to feed the world, provide much-needed jobs, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and protect precious natural resources," says Mark Smallwood, Executive Director of Rodale Institute.

"The Farming Systems Trial clearly documents in a replicated, scientific fashion, that many of the current myths are not true. Organic agriculture does not result in the grower losing money, does not result in lower yields, or more expensive management practices," says Dr. Elaine Ingham, Chief Scientist at Rodale Institute. "The next step forward is to educate growers, whether they are conventional or organic, in the methods used in the Farming Systems Trial to assure equal or better yields through farming practices that do not harm the environment."

The trial will continue with a new focus on nutrition and human health. "We have shown that organic can feed the world. Now it is time to take on the matter of feeding the world well," says Smallwood.

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Comments on “Organic Farming Outperforms Conventional Practices in 30-Year Study”

  1. Doubtful

    It is not a surprise that they got the result they wanted. They did their own study! Where is the objectivity? How can that be called scientific?

  2. tenacious

    Why be doubtful. They were the only ones willing to put the money up for 30 years – most certainly not manufacturers of fertilizer or genetically modified foods.


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