January 17th, 2012 by Zachary Shahan
Here’s some good news for you organic addicts: a 30-year, side-by-side farming study has found that organic farming methods at Pennsylvania’s Rodale Institute beat conventional farming methods in every category.
The Farming Systems Trial (FST)® at the Rodale Institute is the “longest running, side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture” in the U.S. “After an initial decline in yields during the first few years of transition, Rodale Institute claims the organic system soon rebounded to match or surpass the conventional system,” Spence Cooper at FriendsEat writes.
Some key findings:
- In years of drought, organic farming yields were higher than conventional yields. Organic corn yields were 31% higher in years of drought (and even much higher than GM corn crops.) Why? “Organic fields increased groundwater recharge and reduced run-off.” (In other years, yields were essentially the same.)
- Organic farming improved the health of the soil. (No effect was discerned in conventional farming.)
- Organic farming uses a whopping 45% less energy!
- Conventional farming produces 40% more greenhouse gases.
- Organic farming is more profitable, almost 3 times more profitable over the course of 30 years!
It was also noted that organic farming “helps sustain rural communities by creating more jobs; a UN study shows organic farms create 30 per cent more jobs per hectare than nonorganic. More of the money in organic farming goes to paying local people, rather than to farm inputs.”
“The global food security community, which focuses on poor farmers in developing countries, is shifting to an organic approach,” Paul Hanley of the StarPhoenix notes. “Numerous independent studies show that small scale, organic farming is the best option for feeding the world now and in the future.” I’ve also written on this numerous times over on Eat Drink Better, as have others there.
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