Organic yields lag conventional by 20% in developed countries, 43% in Africa, meta-analyses find

crops
Photo: Ian Umeda via Earth Island Journal

In most regions of the world, row-crop farming is primarily conducted in [large] fields, but knowledge of processes and management recommendations are typically based on research in [small] experimental plots. This scale mismatch has long raised questions about inferences that are made from plot-scale experiments to entire fields or farms

Experimental-scale–related yield gaps for organic grain crops can be especially substantial. Recent meta-analyses of plot-scale studies suggest organic yield penalties of 20–25% on average, although possibly as low as 8%. Farmer surveys, on the other hand, report organic grain yield penalties of 27–34%.

[Key highlights]

  • The corn yield under conventional management was almost twice that in the organic management when precipitation levels exceeded 500 mm.
  • Conventional management was more resilient to field-scale challenges than alternative practices, which were more dependent on timely management interventions; in particular, mechanical weed control.
  • Corn yields in the field-scale experiment Bio [organic] treatment were >45% lower than in Conv [conventional] management, and wheat Bio yields were >30% lower than in Conv management
  • [S]oybean [organic] yield reductions were 55%, 27%, and 88% in 2010, 2011, and 2012, respectively.

[O]rganic performance in developing countries to be even more challenged than in developed countries (43% yield penalties for developing vs. 20% for developed countries). Our findings suggest that this difference will be still greater at the farm scale, emphasizing the special need in developing countries to create technologies that are less time-sensitive and make efficient use of labor. This will be especially important where reduced-input farming is pursued out of necessity rather than choice, for example, in sub-Saharan Africa.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion and analysis. Read full, original post: Field-scale experiments reveal persistent yield gaps in low-input and organic cropping systems

Outbreak
Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
ft covidresponseus feature

Video: Viewpoint: The US wrote the global playbook on the coronavirus and then ignored it

A year ago, the United States was regarded as the country best prepared for a pandemic. Our government had spent ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...
favicon

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend