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March 28th, 2018 / Alliance for Science, US

It’s become popular in recent years for some to call for a shift away from conventional farming and wholly into organic. But is this even feasible? Not when you compare the yields of both farming methods. Organic yields are usually 20-30 percent below conventional yields, with the sometimes exception of fodder legumes. In the US, organic crop yields in 2008 and 2011 were at best 80 percent of conventional and for many crops only 30-65 percent.

In theory, if enough manure is applied to supply sufficient nitrogen, yields of organic crops should at least equal those of crops supplied with nitrogen through synthetic fertilizers. The problem of using manure, however, is one of scale. Not only would there not be enough agricultural or grazing land available for the cattle, there would also be the problem of disposing of the livestock products. One calculation indicated that in the US, an extra 44 million hectares (100.8 million acres) would be required to achieve the same production if all crops were organic.

Although organic farming will not be able to feed a growing global population and its increasing demand for livestock products, there is no doubt that the organic food market still has a bright future. Read more