Organic

More good news for organic farming enthusiasts. Despite longstanding opinions that organic farming could not successfully challenge the perceived efficacy or durability of conventional farming, or the big push from Monsanto and other manufacturers of genetically modified seeds that claim to provide higher yield and less dependence on pesticides, the benefits of organic farming are becoming more apparent and desirable.

Mother Jones’ Tom Philpott reports that organic farming has proven to be just as productive in the field as chemical-intensive farm methods.”[O]rganic proves just as productive in terms of gross yield—and brings many other advantages to the table as well,” writes Philpott, citing that that The Rodale Institute’s test plots in Pennsylvania have been doing just that for years.

And new research from Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture also supports the benefits of organic crops,  according to Philpott, “in yield terms, both of the organic rotations featuring corn beat the Adair County average and came close to the conventional patch. Two of the three organic rotations featuring soybeans beat both the county average and the conventional patch; and both of the organic rotations featuring oats trounced the county average.”

Another major advantage for organic farmers: market prices. The economic incentives for adopting organic farming methods are significant to note especially as the Farm Bill is doing less to support smaller family farms, including organic farmers.

Soil quality improves with organic crops, too, with nitrogen increases as much as 33 percent, and higher concentrations of carbon, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and calcium, according to the Leopold findings.

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Image: Jill Ettinger