Rodale Institute has been running a side-by-side comparison of organic
and chemical agriculture since 1981.
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. Over time, FST became a comparison between the long
term potential of the two systems.
And now comes evidence from the very heart of Big Ag: rural Iowa, where
Iowa State University’s Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture runs
the Long-Term Agroecological Research Experiment (LTAR), which began in
1998, which has just released its latest results.
At the LTAR fields in Adair County, the (LTAR) runs four fields: one
managed with the Midwest-standard two-year corn-soy rotation featuring
the full range of agrochemicals; and the other ones organically managed
with three different crop-rotation systems. The chart below records the
yield averages of all the systems, comparing them to the average yields
achieved by actual conventional growers in Adair County:
Norman Borlaug, instigator of the “green revolution”
of no-till and pesticides, when asked in 2000
whether organic agriculture could feed the world, said:
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India’s struggling farmers are starting to profit from a budding interest
in organic living. Not only are the incomes of organic farmers soaring
– by 30% to 200%, according to organic experts – but their yields
are rising as the pesticide-poisoned land is repaired through natural
How did this happen?
Organic farming only took off in the country about seven years
ago. Farmers are turning back to traditional farming methods for a number