30 Year Study: Organic Farming Outperforms Conventional, Chemical Farming

By friendseat.com

Based on a 30-year side-by-side trial [See full report pdf] of conventional and organic farming methods at Pennsylvania’s Rodale Institute, organic farming outperformed conventional farming in every category.

Rodale Institute, a nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research, claims the Farming Systems Trial (FST) ® at Rodale Institute is America’s longest running, side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture.

The farming trial started in 1981 for the purpose of studying what happens during the transition from chemical to organic agriculture.

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. Over time, FST became a comparison between the long term potential of the two systems.

Fast Facts

*Organic yields match conventional yields.

*Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought. Organic fields increased groundwater recharge and reduced run-off.

*Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic matter, making it a more sustainable system. Soil health in the organic systems has increased over time while the conventional systems remain essentially unchanged.

*Organic farming uses 45% less energy and is more efficient.

*Conventional systems produce 40% more greenhouse gases.

*Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional.

Organic farming also 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 Rodale trials showed organic crops were more resilient, and organic corn yields were 31 percent higher than conventional in years of drought, compared to genetically modified (GM) “drought tolerant” varieties, which showed increases of only 6.7 per cent to 13.3 per cent over conventional (non-drought resistant) varieties.

Commenting on the report, Paul Hanley with the StarPhoenix points out that income is more important than yield from the farmer’s perspective, and organic is clearly superior.

“The 30-year comparison showed organic systems were almost three times as profitable as the conventional systems. The average net return for the organic systems was $558/acre/ year versus just $190/acre/year for the conventional systems. The much higher income reflects the premium organic farmers receive and consumers pay for.”

Hanley adds:

“The global food security community, which focuses on poor farmers in developing countries, is shifting to an organic approach. Numerous independent studies show that small scale, organic farming is the best option for feeding the world now and in the future.”

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  • ben

    just wondering, if organic out performs conventional methods in all areas, how come organic costs so much more at the super market?

    • brittbot

      Supply and demand is definitely part of what is in effect here. Also, many conventional farms are owned by large corporations driving for bottom dollar and bankrupting hard working farmers. (See documentary “Food,Inc” for some insight). It is also true that most organic produce is not irradiated, which conventional uses to increase shelf life and destroy bacteria. It also destroys helpful enzymes without which we would have much more difficulty digesting our foods, among many other important bodily functions on a cellular level.
      Like all other American business, there are always politics of big business involved, but you can start your own research on that.
      The best way to lower prices of organics is to tip the scale of supply and demand by buying organic.

      • Ray

        Absolutely. Conventional farming is also subsidized by tax dollars. Imagine if that were applied to organic farming instead of conventional.

    • Tiana

      Because our government gives money to livestock industry and profits off of Monsanto and livestock industry!! Wake up

  • Chris Higginson

    And what will be the comparison between the two systems in thirty years from now?
    Would anyone like to guess?

    • [email protected]

      yes, the Organic will be doing better than ever- and the other, the skull and X bones is fitting.

  • Tom

    We should skip right over normal organic and go right to indoor hydroponic/organic. Hydroponic skyscrapers. Producing more crops in less space, year round without pesticides or even run off.

    • Wake Up World

      Or take it one step further from hydroponics and implement Aquaponics….. No chemicals or fertilizers involved 🙂

      Check out the amazing benefits of Aquaponics here – http://wakeup-world.com/category/gardening/aquaponics/

    • Tarna Jasmine

      the problem with hydroponics is energy consumption, and the fact it is not easily done. It is a very exacting science behind it. You can do one thing wrong and you can loose a whole crop. People who just beginning have a hard time if they are not well educated on the process and do not have a “mentor” to assist.
      Dirt farming is more forgiving. I have found that if done right terris and trellis gardening can create more space to produce more. it is learning how to use the space you have productively.
      Also, it all depends on what the person is comfortable with. The most important thing I have learned with farming is about getting in touch with how our food is grown and respecting the work that does into it. IMHO

  • arts

    Look up “Back to Eden” film (watch it for free). Anyone can grow organic and feed their families with little to no effort. We need to get educated.

  • Alyssa

    Why are the links to the original article/study broken? I’d love to share this, but I need to do my own verification of accuracy. Without the ability to fact-check, this article is just anecdotal.

    • Wake Up World

      Sorry about the links Alyssa. All are now active once again.