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Study claims agroecology closes organic yield deficit with conventional farming

| | December 11, 2014
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This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The more scientists actually study agroecology, the better it looks.

The largest meta-analysis to date comparing yields of organic and conventional agriculture concluded that the “yield gap” between the two is much smaller than previously claimed and for some crops, doesn’t exist at all.

In a new study released in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London entitled Diversification Practices Reduce Organic to Conventional Yield Gap, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley found that when organic farms employ agroecological practices like intercropping and crop rotations, the organic-conventional yield gap all but disappears. For legumes, there is no yield difference.

Agroecology — the science of sustainable agriculture — must be taken seriously by policy makers, land grant universities, the National Science Foundation and big philanthropy, all of whom have preferred to invest in high-input, industrial agriculture for the past 50 years.

Agroecology will not only get the yields we need without chemical inputs, genetically engineered seeds and expensive precision farming, it will bring us resiliency. Unlike genetically engineered crops (GMOs) that attempt to build resilience into the genomes of specific cultivars one trait at a time, agroecology strengthens the resilience of the entire agroecosystem. Not all organic farms are agroecological, of course. Some are vast industrial monocultures that are as climate-vulnerable as their conventional counterparts. What this new study shows is that agroecology — not organic agriculture per se — is the key to yield and sustainability.

Read full, original article: Agroecology and the Disappearing Yield Gap

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