30-year study: organic superior

Sound Consumer | November 2011

The Rodale Institute has completed 30 years of its Farming Systems Trial (FST), America’s longest-running side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture, and the results are in: organic rules!

Started in 1981 to study what happens during the transition from chemical to organic agriculture, even early results from the FST surprised a food community that still scoffed at organic practices.

After an initial decline in yields during the first few years of transition, the organic system soon rebounded to match or surpass the conventional system.

Today, the FST’s data showing the superiority of organics are even more robust. Organic methods are improving the health of our soils and water, reinvigorating rural areas, creating more jobs, providing a livable income for farmers, and restoring America’s confidence in our food system — facts hardly surprising to us organic consumers, whose demand has made it possible.

The findings:

  • Organic yields match conventional yields.
  • Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.
  • Organic farming systems build rather than deplete soil organic matter.
  • Organic farming uses 45 percent less energy and is more efficient.
  • Conventional systems produce 40 percent more greenhouse gases.
  • Organic farming systems are more profitable.

Read the entire report at rodaleinstitute.org/fst30years..

More about: farming, organic food

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