Posted by: Mahdi Ebrahimi | September 11, 2007

Can organic farming compete?

Despite what critics say, organic farming methods can produce enough food to sustain Earth’s current population.

That’s according to Catherine Badgley of the University of Michigan, who is lead author of a 2007 study comparing yields for organic versus conventional food production across the globe. Badgley told Earth & Sky that in developing countries, where farmers lack advanced agricultural technologies, modern organic methods can increase crop production by as much as 300 percent.

Badgley: Organic agriculture consists of a large wealth of ecological knowledge about how to improve soil fertility, how to manage water, how to manage pests with natural enemies, how to grow plants in combinations that will optimize the yields.

Badgley said that, in the developed world, organic farming does tend to yield less produce than conventional farming methods. But her study indicates that organic farming methods are adequate to provide enough food on a per capita basis to sustain Earth’s current population – plus an even larger population – without increasing the 40% of Earth’s land surface now being used for agriculture.

She said she hopes that future incentives will encourage more organic farming in the U.S. and abroad.



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