Want better yields and the same or more profit? Stop buying pesticides, rotate more crops over longer periods, and mix in animals. Yet another study confirms this. Oh, and a hundred times less disease-causing pesticides in streams, and presumably also less pesticides in the food going to market.
Mark Bittman wrote for NYTimes today, A Simple Fix for Farming,
The study was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer.
The paper’s Figure 3 (above) illustrates that labor increased with crop rotation length, but so did yield, and profit remained the same or better. How can this be? Continue reading