Organic & Conventional Farming Face-Off In 22-Year Study

The July issue of the journal Bioscience reviewed a 22-year-long field study by the Rodale Institute which compared organic and conventional farming on similar plots of land with similar crops.

The study found that in the initial five years of the study, the conventional crops (i.e. crops grown with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers) had slightly better yields than the organic crops. But during that same initial period, the organic farming practices were building up higher levels of soil mass and biodiversity which then allowed the organic land to generate yields equal to or greater than the conventional crops. The conventional crops collapsed during drought years, while the organic crops fluctuated only slightly, due to greater water holding potential in the organic enriched soil. The conventional crop also had pesticides leaching into the water at levels exceeding the EPA's safety limits. Over the 22 year period, the organic crops used 30% less fossil energy inputs than the conventional crops.

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