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Organic agriculture produces lower yields compared to conventional farming

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A new study shows organic agriculture has lower yields than conventional farming.

Credit:

Sean Gallup

A new study says that organic farming produces lower yields than convential methods of farming by at least one quarter.

The results have put into question whether organic agriculture could sustain a world inhabited by nearly seven billion people.

According to Nature, scientists at McGill University in Montreal and the University of Minnesota analyzed 66 studies comparing organic farming and conventional methods across 34 crop species. 

“Conventional yields are typically higher than organic yields," says lead author and McGill University researcher Verena Seufert, according to Voice of America

"But with certain management practices, certain environmental conditions, and certain crop species this yield difference can be quite small.” 

According to BBC, fruit produced nearly the same yields whether organically grown or conventionally.

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Yet, for vegetables, organic yields are about 33 percent less than conventional yields, with barley and wheat being the lowest yields when produced organically.

According to the Scientific American, the key difference seems to be the nitrogen, as large doses of it can sustain high demands during growing season more so than compost or manure used in organic farming.

The study contradicts others that say organic and convential farming yield about the same amount on each crop.

Advocates of organic farming, however, emphasize that yields are not the only concern in agriculture - with sustainability and environmental issues also of great importance.

The paper, “Comparing the yields of organic and conventional agriculture,” was published in the journal Nature.